Workshops, or more often referred to as “Business Building Workshops” are simply about getting together a group of people and discussing how to build better business. If you are marketing a product or service of any kind, guess what, you are a business owner. You should treat it as a business and in doing so you have many concepts you could discuss with fellow business owners or like-minded individuals looking to start a business.
Hosting a business workshop is all about socialization. Networking with other people who have similar interests as yourself. You can exchange new ideas with people, swap business cards with each other, and possibly even barter for products or services. Most business owners are willing to consider working with you if it also means their business benefits.
If you are a decent public speaker then yes you should. In fact, even if you are not a good public speaker you should talk about business. You are most passionate about your business, so while you could have someone else do the talking, you should be willing to get up and discuss your own ideas and techniques for building business.
If you are hosting the workshop event, make sure you include your name and website on any materials being used for the event, such as any fliers or hand-outs that were created. Make sure you exchange your business cards with other business owners. If you have presentations, such as a video to share, make sure it is branded to your name. All of these options can increase traffic to your business and your websites.
If you had a successful workshop experience and attendance was good, consider hosting another one. As you get more comfortable with discussing business topics it will show. People may come to more than one of your workshops to learn new and interesting ideas, for which you can point them to your website for additional traffic increases on a recurring basis. If you can, record the audio and video of the workshop event too. Let people download it for free from your website.
1. Tailor the workshop to the economy. In other words, acknowledge the problem. So if your workshop is about helping women over 50 live their dreams, change it to Living Your Dreams Over 50 … Even When the Economy is Down. Or make it about finding your dreams after being laid off, or managing fear while pursuing your dreams in a poor economy. Your fundamental message doesn’t have to change … you just dress it up in slightly different clothing.
2. Use unconventional marketing methods. Advertising and flyers may not be the most effective way to enroll a workshop in lean times. For one thing, affordable ads are not usually big enough to effectively describe a workshop, unless it’s very targeted and easy to ‘get’, i.e. quitting smoking, or stress-reduction. If you’re teaching motivational or inspirational work, consider using an affiliate program, viral email marketing, distributing articles through targeted ezines, working your personal network, or making yourself available as a guest on local TV or radio talk shows. Best of all is a combination of all of the above.
3. Make your niche one with a pipeline. Be careful not to pick a tiny niche market that is hard to access. Instead, a good rule of thumb is to look for a niche market with marketing channels already in place. For instance, one successful workshop leader I know targets retirees on the RV-Camping circuit. Many US campgrounds offer classes and other stimulating perks to visitors, and since RV’ers often stay for several nights or even weeks, this makes a workshop a likely hit. She simply has to talk to management, and they put her workshop in place for her. Participants magically show! Hospitals with neighborhood ‘wellness’ programs, bookstores with evening events, and community center Teen programs are also good venues.
- Low Morale – Having a team building activity as a reactionary counter to low morale does not work or solve the problem which is causing the issue. Low morale among your staff has a root cause within the department, organization or business. Taking a day off to chat or do group exercises in the hope of bringing the group to a positive center is not going to solve the root problem.
- Change Management tool – A team building activity is not a change management tool. While in the last few years, with budgets being stretched to their limit many leaders have been tempted to lump the two together. It is important that we, as leaders treat these two very different activities with the unique attention that they deserve.
- Communication building – Communication, like low morale, is an in-house issue that is not going to be solved with a yearly shot of team building.
- Team building activities are not the place to share bad news about what is happening in the organization or business. Too often I have seen these activities degenerate into a few individuals holding a large group hostage to discuss every negative issue that exists in the work environment.
What is the Purpose of a Team Building Event?
The purpose of a team building event is to expose your staff to opportunities to learn new skills or discuss new ideas and ways of dealing with common issues in a non-threatening environment. The event is not meant to be an extended training session for skills that staff already possess, or are, learning on the job. Neither is the purpose to lecture staff and employees on what they “should” be doing to do their jobs better.
Rather, the event should provide alternatives to current behaviors in a positive and inspiring way that encourages and supports your staff to try new things, think in new ways, and step out of the “box” to see if they may have a skillset they have never thought about using in their current role within your organization.
Assessing Your Team Building Activity and Expectations
It is unfortunate that team building activities are usually thrown together as a reactionary act in a moment of desperation. We hire individuals who are not involved with our business, product or service to facilitate activities, plan the event, etc., “hoping” that what the staff need are what the facilitators will provide.
It is important that prior to deciding on a team building activity that you, as leader assess the need for the activity and what your expectations for the activity are. To do that you must first define what a Team Building Activity is and what your expectations of the activity are.
I have seen excellent team building events and have been honored to participate as a speaker at some. So, I would like to spend some time discussing a few of the items that made these team building events so memorable, well attended and well received by staff, leaders and visitors.
1) Ensure the topic is juicy enough in the first place
Before you start thinking about marketing, check in with: Do people genuinely want and need this? What quick question could you ask which goes to the heart of your workshop? e.g. “Want help with building a profitable business?” or “Want to free yourself from fear of failure?” If people will say “Yes!” to your question, then you have the basis of a marketable workshop.
2) Plan a steady, consistent campaign
Plan out on a calendar many opportunities to mention your workshop in different formats: your newsletter, others’ newsletters, in-person networking, social networking, existing clients etc. Use the question you identified above as the starting point for writing your promotional copy and for engaging in conversations.
3) Set early-bird prices and market towards them
A deadline gives your potential participants an incentive to commit and we all like to feel we’re getting a good deal. It also makes it easier for you to plan and prepare your resources when you know in advance how many people are likely to attend. You might even like to try a 3-tier pricing structure: Super Earlybird, Earlybird, Full price.