If you're not using seminars as a major part of your marketing strategy, you might as well start ripping up $100 bills right now. 

I know what you're thinking--you don't have the time or money for this. Plus, you're not even sure how to start and besides, you're not good at public speaking and don't like it. However, I'm going to prove to you that most of what you thought you knew about seminars and public speaking is dead wrong. If seminars are done properly, then can generate highly qualified leads and convert them into paying customers.

Most people think that doing seminars is difficult, time-consuming, expensive and even scary. But in reality, doing seminars is easy, takes very little time and costs less than you'll pay for today's lunch. And as for scary-let's get the issue of stage fright and fear of public speaking out of the way right up front. Many people say they're afraid to do any kind of public speaking. Sure, you may feel some jitters at first, but the reality is simply this: Once you get up and start speaking, your fear goes away in less than three minutes flat. That's been my experience and the experience of the many hundreds of my students over the last nine years. Once you do a seminar or two and discover this for yourself, you'll never be afraid of public speaking ever again, and in fact, you'll actually become addicted to doing seminars.

With stage fright and fear of public speaking out of the way, here's what you really need to be afraid of: The fallout due to the whole "sub-prime" mortgage mess. Everyone knows that the housing and construction business has already been hard-hit, and some experts are warning that the worst may be yet to come. With less business to go around, what are you going to do to survive, much less thrive? Unless you're one of the lucky few with more business than you can handle, you're going to have to scramble just to stay afloat. Lucky for you, doing seminars is the fastest, easiest, least expensive and most effective form of marketing that exists.

Why Are Seminars so Effective?

First, doing seminars is effective because it's "pull" marketing, as opposed to "push" marketing like advertising. In other words, it's when your seminar attendees are there because they're actually interested in your topic. You've got a room full of people eager to hear what you have to say. Those are highly qualified, hot prospects-they've already qualified themselves because if they didn't want to hear what you have to say, they wouldn't be at your seminar in the first place.

As you speak to that room full of hot prospects, they see you as an expert. After all, there you are up in front of the room speaking. On top of that, during the time that you speak, they "get a feel" for you and start to like you, believe you and trust you. People want to do business with people they like, believe and trust-especially in contracting.

Think about it: Do you want to do business with people you don't like or trust? Since people at your seminar are going to see you as the expert and as someone they like, believe and trust, who do you think they're going to call when they need a contractor? Who do you think they're going to refer to their friends, neighbors and relatives? That's right-you, the likable, believable, trustworthy contractor they met at your seminar! Doing seminars is the fastest, easiest and most fun way to pull in a huge number of qualified leads, period. Plus, why would those people show up to your seminar at all unless they're planning on hiring a contractor soon? These people are going to be very hot prospects, and they're going to want to do business with you.

But, with time and money as tight as it is, how are you going to set up and promote a seminar? Use the following blueprint to learn exactly how to do your own seminars for little or no money.

Title Your Seminar

First, you need an irresistible seminar title to pull in people like bees to honey. It has to be what I call a "grabber"-it has to get people's attention and practically force them to want to know more.

So, what would make an irresistible "grabber" for a seminar title? Stop and think about it-what kind of impression do a lot of people have about contractors and the contracting industry in general? The general public views contractors as dishonest. Use that to your advantage. Simply hold a seminar with a title like

  • "7 Secrets to Avoid Being Scammed by a Contractor"
  • "Top 10 Tips to Hiring a Contractor-Without Getting Burned"
  • "How to Remodel Your Home without Losing Your Mind or Your Money"

Seminar titles like that are going to grab people's attention, and they're going to want to know your seven secrets or ten tips. You have instant credibility because you're in the industry.

You are an expert at what you do. You know far more than the average consumer knows about your business and industry. You know how consumers can save money, how they can avoid dishonest contractors and how they can make sure they're not getting burned or scammed. Now, let me ask you a question: What do you suppose the people who attend your seminar are going to think about you? They're going to see you as the good guy/gal exactly because you're showing them how to save money, how to spot dishonest contractors and how to avoid being scammed. You can't be one of the dishonest scammers, because you're exposing dishonest tactics and revealing how to avoid scams. People will flock to your seminar to hear the invaluable information you'll be imparting.

You will have what I call "The Halo Effect" in your community-everyone will see you as someone to be liked, believed and trusted. Remember, people want to do business with people they like, believe and trust. Those people are going to want to do business with you, not someone else. When they need a contractor, you'll be the first one they think of and the first one they'll call. Plus, they'll want to refer their family, neighbors and friends to you, too.

Prepare a Script

Now that you have your irresistible seminar title, take ten minutes and sketch out a one-page bullet-point list of your seven secrets or ten tips-make the information juicy and hard-hitting. You can do this today while you eat your lunch. Make each secret or tip only one or two sentences long and number them. Voilà! Now you have your entire seminar presentation plus your handouts done all in one fell swoop.

Put your irresistible seminar title at the top, underneath that goes your list of seven secrets or ten tips, and guess what goes at the bottom of the page? That's right-all your contact information! Your business name, address, phone and fax number, e-mail, website-put your cell phone number on it, too. (You can download a free template from my website at www.seminaracademy.com to use as a model).

People are going to keep your seven secrets or ten tips handy because of the valuable information it contains, and it just happens to have all of your contact info right there. Make copies of this page to hand out to the attendees at your seminar. Use that page as your presentation, too.

When you speak at your seminar, just start with secret or tip No. 1, and talk about that for five or ten minutes. If you've got ten tips and you talk for about five minutes on each one, you're going to easily fill up an hour. Then, save the last half hour to take questions from the group. Let them know in the beginning that you'll first cover the ten tips, then take questions after that. That makes your total seminar time one hour and thirty minutes, which is a great length for a seminar. If you have a lot of material, you could go two or even three hours. But anywhere between one and three hours is long enough. At the end of the seminar, point out your cell phone number on their handout, and tell everyone that if they have any questions after the seminar, they should call you.

You may be concerned that you'll be swamped with calls, but don't worry about that; you'll see that people will be very respectful of your time if they do call you. It's your willingness to be available to them that will stand out in their minds. That goodwill will translate into new business and money in your bank account.

Pick Your Location

Finally, you need a place to hold your terrific seminar. And you need to promote it.

Go to your local main library, and ask to reserve a room to hold a community education meeting. Most main libraries have rooms exactly for this purpose. You will be allowed to use this room for free as long as you abide by their rules, which usually include that your meeting is going to benefit the community (and it will), and that you're not selling anything (which you're not). Your meeting is purely educational in nature, and you're definitely offering a huge benefit to the community. The library will be glad to post notices all over the place promoting your seminar. Just put together a simple one-page flyer that has your seminar's time, date, place and irresistible title, and they'll make copies and post it for you. You should make some copies to post on local community bulletin boards in local supermarkets, laundromats, etc.-those are places you drive by every day, so just make a quick stop and post your flyer. It'll take you less than a minute to stop and post your flyer.

Now you have created and promoted your seminar in very little time and at almost zero expense to you. The last step is to show up and deliver your terrific, educational seminar and then reap the many rewards.

Seminars are the best, fastest, easiest, most effective and least expensive way to generate and convert highly qualified leads, and it's fun! You'll get the edge on your competition and become known as THE contractor in your area. You have a complete blueprint for your seminar success. What are you waiting for? Start building your successful seminar right now!

Construction Business Owner, April 2008