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Getting Them to Sign Up

Information Marketing

Have a System
At a recent trade show I attended as a speaker, I witnessed a nightmare. The keynote speaker was due to speak at 9 a.m. People who were attempting to register before the speech encountered huge lines and an extremely inefficient registration process. Many of the people missed more than half of the keynoter’s speech. What a mess!

Admittedly, some of the people were trying to register at 8:58 a.m. and expecting to get in to see the speaker’s entire presentation. Most of them, however, had come well in advance. The fault clearly lay with the seminar promoter.

Don’t let the same thing happen to you.

When people show up to attend your seminar/workshop you must have a system for processing them efficiently. This system must take care of two things, payments and packets.

First, you need to make sure that payment is handled. Second, you need a way to make sure they get their packets of information. Third, you’ll want to make sure they sign something indicating they picked up their packets. Asking people to initial or quickly sign next to their names will assure that no one gets two sets of your potentially expensive materials. Also, you’ll occasionally have a sly operator who will slip in and give a common name like Bob Smith and try and pick up materials to steal them.

To help make this happen you need one alphabetized list (a roster) of everyone registered for the event. This list should show whether and how people have paid their fee. That same sheet can also be used as a “pick-up” sheet. Ask them to sign next to their name to indicate they picked up their packet of materials.

You should have each of the packets pre-prepared with everything including name badges, meal tickets, handouts, promotional material, etc.

Some people like to create participant name tags at the time of registration. The reason is the frequent misspelling of peoples’ names. This is a great concept, but it can dramatically slow down the registration process. If you carefully take their names down at the time of registration, you’ll only need to correct a few misspelled names. This is a lot more efficient than doing each one on site.

Those who haven’t paid should be sent to a separate line to take care of the payment process. Don’t let these folks hold up the rest of the group who are just picking up their materials for the event.

People who paid by credit card should have their credit card receipts in their packets. Be careful not to screw this one up. People hate the idea of someone else seeing their credit card numbers. If they get someone else’s credit card receipt, they know that someone else is running around with theirs.

If they paid by check, include some other kind of receipt. Even though I use my checks as my receipts, some people still want a separate receipt. Prepare one for them. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be included.

For those who pay at the event itself, you should make three forms of payment available.

Credit cards will account for the majority of your seminar registrations. For most people who do seminars credit cards represent more than 70% of their payments. You have two options. Either you can bring a credit card machine and process on-site or you can call them in immediately after people register.

It’s preferable to have a machine attached to a phone line so that you can do both immediately. This way you can generate a receipt and find out if a credit card is valid. If you can’t process at the time of registration (and I don’t do this at all my events, either), then make sure to process the charges immediately after registration. Try to do it before the first break if your numbers will allow it. Certainly get it done before the lunch break.

There are, of course, lots of reasons for a person’s credit card transaction not to go through. These run the gamut from errors on the card processing service’s end to theft and fraud. The person at your seminar may not know that his or her spouse just went on a shopping spree with that card. So if a credit card is refused (and you’ve tried to run it through at least twice, preferably three times), you should approach the individual discreetly and ask if they have another card since that one was declined. Be sure to do this early enough in the seminar so that you can be assured of being paid before they end up getting the seminar free.

Checks are a little tougher. I haven’t yet gone to a system which guarantees checks that I receive. I’m not even sure how such a system might work or if such systems exist for those of us who aren’t running cash-register operations. As I said earlier, if you take checks, you’ll occasionally get burned. It’s part of the cost of doing business. But if the amount of the check is sufficient, it’s probably worth hiring a collection bureau or, in some states at least, filing a criminal fraud complaint against the perpetrator.

Some people will want to pay by cash. Make sure you set up so they can. Always accept cash. Have a system for how it is handled. I usually want only my own people to handle the cash registrations. I would not delegate this to a temp or someone that I didn’t know that well. Figure out from the price of your seminar what kind of change you’re likely to need and have plenty of it on hand.

If you are doing a small group (25 or fewer), you can handle all this processing yourself with a minimum of problems. Make sure you have a good list of all the pre-registered attendees. Also make sure that next to the name you have an indication of whether or not they are paid and by what means.

I like the idea of having a registration table out in front of the room where you are holding the event. Make sure that you have name tags laid out in alphabetical order on the table. This way people can quickly and easily find their name badges and/or materials for the seminar.

Organize yourself properly and your life will be much easier. Follow my example or create a system of your own. Whichever way you go, have a system.

Online Registration
Assuming you have a Web site set up (you do, don’t you?), it also makes sense for you to allow people to register online as well.

If you have others remarketing your seminar, you can set up an affiliate program to automatically track who sent you the referral.

All of this can be done using tools like Web Marketing Magic at

Providing people with the option to register online is in keeping with the key principle of making it as easy as possible for people to give you their money.

Use Early Enrollment Incentives
You must give people some incentive to call immediately when they find out about your seminar. In the first seminar I offered on consulting, I gave people $10 off if they registered before the day of the seminar. This helped get people to sign up immediately.

Many seminar providers will give people a step stair discount based on how quickly they sign up. For example, a $225 seminar scheduled for March 28 might start out costing $175 before March 1, $195 before March 21, and the full $225 thereafter.

This will help to smooth out the demand curve. It will make the registrations come in at a more even pace. This will help reduce the drastic “heart attack curve.” You will get your registrations at a much more even pace.

Again, test this one.

My latest is to give the first 10 people who sign up a video worth $99. This seems to work, but it can be expensive.

The best incentive I’ve found is a critique coupon. This is a small piece of paper that I value at $150. It allows people to send me any piece of promotional literature for a critique. This has a very high perceived value to the potential seminar attendee and low cost to you. (Incidentally, I’ve found that most people don’t take advantage of these things anyway.)

This is the key to any incentive that you offer a potential seminar attendee. Think for yourself about coming up with something that is inexpensive, yet has high perceived value. This is what you will want to offer potential seminar attendees. 

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