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As with every business, you’ll have competition. If you don’t have any, you should be worried. This would mean that there may not be any demand for the kind or type of event you’re thinking of promoting. Since you have some competition, it’s a good idea to learn all you can about them.

Start your search on-line. If you’re doing a marketing seminar for chiropractors, go to your favorite search engines and enter in the words: “marketing seminar for chiropractors.” You’ll also want to search for variations on these terms as well. Look everywhere you can on-line and you’ll find what you’re looking for. (If you want help with this, buy my friend and colleague Dan Shafer’s amazing eBook, How to Find Anything on the Web in Less Than 10 Minutes, which is being published at the same time as this book. It’s available through our joint Web site, www.publishingprofit.com.)

You’ll also want to approach trade associations. Act like a naïve “newbie” and tell them you’re looking for a certain kind of event and ask who offers them.

As soon as you decide to do seminars in a given topic or area, attend every seminar that anyone else offers that is remotely related. Take extensive notes at these events. Monitor them not just for the information, but for how they present the content. Take what you can from their events and make changes where you feel they’re appropriate.

Talk to attendees. Ask them what they liked the most and least about the event. You can learn a lot by surveying the people who are there. Remember, their perspective will be very different from yours. They will be your future customers. While you’re at it, collect business cards for your database. They will be ideal prospects for your events.

Make sure that you are on the mailing lists for all of your competitors. Do this both on and offline. If they take you off their lists because they identify you, just ask a friend to get on their list and send you their promotions. (When competitors find their way onto my mailing lists, I don’t try and make it difficult for them. It actually takes too much work to ferret out a competitor.)

After attending their events, assess where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Assess your own skill and knowledge base and see where you can provide a different approach or where you can fill in the gaps and do some coaching work.

An example from the publishing industry may help to illustrate my point. I help small to medium sized publishers make more money. There are two or three people who do something related. When I started this business, I attended their events.

My assessment turned up that although the individuals sponsoring these events were intelligent and knowledgeable, their content and presentation were lacking. I came in and quickly gained huge market share at their expense by providing a much better seminar with a slightly different slant.

As soon as you identify your competition, you’ll want to see if they are amenable to a joint venture. In this case, a “joint venture” is a relationship in which they let you mail a promotion about your event to their customer base and you cut them in for 50% of what you make from their customers who attend. In many cases, you’ll be met by immediate hostility. Very few people can see the positive benefits to them of a joint venture for your seminar. They may or may not be right.

Here’s how I see it. If I’m really good at what I do, I won’t be scared to let my customers know about a seminar from one of my competitors. Why? Because they will inevitably be disappointed. I might as well get paid 50% by them to let them know about an event they will probably find on their own.

Another thing to remember about people and seminars. Many people will hop from guru to guru looking for the next greatest idea in a field. Still others just want to listen to everyone’s perspective on a given topic. Understanding these realities, it behooves you to make some money from your database in exchange for introducing them to the other gurus in the field. After all, they are highly likely to find them anyway. If they find them on their own, you won’t make a dime! 

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