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I recently signed up to attend a seminar in my area. My primary reason for wanting to go was to hear new ideas about a topic I have an interest in. That, in addition to the possible contacts I might be able to make as well.
What happened was a lesson to anyone who does seminars. As many of you know, my best selling book (other than “Sell Your Brain Power”) is Marketing and Promoting Your Own Seminars and Workshops.
I signed up about a week ago and paid my $97 for a two day event. At that price point, I was a bit suspicious. Either there was going to be an attempt to sell me a lot of higher price products or services, or the seminar leader was just getting started.
That’s not what’s important here.
Earlier today, Wednesday, two days before the start of the event I received an email. I had been put on the seminar leader’s list, so I was receiving a generic blast to his subscribers.
I was informed in this email that he had 3 FREE tickets available to the event that I had paid $97 for. Hmmmmm . . .
I’ve done a LOT of seminars and events. I know what this means. The seminar is not pulling great numbers and the seminar promoter is trying to “paper the house”. Trying to get more people into the event at a lower cost, or free is not the issue here.
We’ve all been there!
The question here is HOW to do it . . . CORRECTLY!
If you are ever in this situation I suggest you do it this way. When you get to the point (usually a week or two before the event) where you realize you need to put more butts in seats, tell your list you have a few “scholarships” available.
I always ask people to send me a brief explanation as to WHY they can’t pay but NEED to be at the event. In most cases, depending on your list size, you’ll get a fair number of responses from people who found your price too high but still want to attend.
In doing it this way, you get to personally email those people who get in touch and listen to their story as to why you should let them come for FREE or for a REDUCED FEE. Depending on the number of seats you need to fill you can be more or less generous!
The way that things transpired in my case, you have a problem.
Here is how I reacted. I emailed the promoter and asked why it was that I was being charged to attend when his email just told me he was giving away 3 seats for free. He responded by saying that he would refund my money and I could come for free as well.
After thinking about it for a few minutes I decided I did not want to attend. Why? I felt duped! I was paying to attend an event that some, and perhaps many, were attending for free. Not good.
It made me concerned about how this was handled and it also made me wary of the quality of the attendees who might turn up.
What’s the lesson?
If you need to fill empty seats at an event, be CAREFUL!
When I have “comped” people at my events I do so under a few conditions. First, I make them do some kind of work if they attend. Run the mics, help with set up, help register people, etc. They always have to DO something in exchange for coming to the event for free or at a reduced rate.
The other condition of my letting them come for less than full sticker price is that I ask them NOT to let anyone know that they paid less to be there. I ask them to make it “our little secret”.
If you end up in a similar situation, make sure to follow this advice. It will prevent refunds and get you some extra help you may need at the event itself.