5 Tips for Marketing Your Local Seminar

By Margarett DeGange, M.Ed.

Trunk shows or design seminars presented to your potential clients are not only fun, but they can help you to gain new prospects—those who are ready to buy your products and services, resulting in higher profits for you. Potential customers have a chance to “get to know you” without risk by watching how you relate to others through your presentation.

As a presenter, you have the opportunity to reach multiple prospects at one time. You can also use the excitement and positive group dynamics to foster good feelings toward you and what you are offering. Through giving seminars and presenting trunk shows, you help prepare your prospects to buy. People attend events for knowledge, solutions, and validation concerning their decorating choices. They want to know who the local authority is. They look to you for expert advice, and they trust you will give it to them.

More than ever before, the home has become a sought out retreat from life’s busyness and outside influences. People are returning to the home in droves for sanctuary, entertainment, and for family connection. Our customers and prospects are not simply looking for fabrics, furniture, and accessories— they are looking for a better life! You can make a solid connection with them through fun and informative decorating seminars and trunk shows that position you as the expert who cares and THE HERO who solves their decorating dilemmas. You gain quality leads, sales, and referrals, and they get solutions. Everyone wins!

I encourage you to get out there and do events. They translate to higher exposure and increased profits for you. Choose a single interesting topic such as color or furniture placement, and share a few helpful tips with your audience. For a trunk show, display your work and then “show and tell” the audience all about it, including your personal story about how you became a decorator. Once you have a topic, you have to get the word out.

Here are 5 tried and true, proven strategies to help ensure your success as you seek to market your local seminars:

1. Find out who meets each week or month
Contact your local chamber of commerce. Let them know you offer non-commercial speeches for any local group that needs a speaker. This means you ensure them you will not be “selling” anything during the talk. You will simply give an informative and entertaining presentation. Get a list of all the local groups that meet monthly (some even meet weekly) with contact information for chapter presidents. The chamber should have such a list. You can also contact local chapters of organizations like ABWA (American Business Women’s Association) to find out when they meet. Other groups that gather include local country club activities committees, Jaycees, and ladies auxiliary groups. Start with the chamber and go from there.

2. Know the audience you are targeting
Get an idea of the demographics that are represented by the local groups, and seek out groups whose members “look” like your ideal customers. Busy professionals and 2-income families are good prospects. Busy people don’t have time to take on major decorating projects themselves, and 2-income families may have more discretionary income. Do it yourselfers may not be your ideal crowd, and there would be no point in speaking to a group of farmers from the local tractor club if none of them were interested in decorating. A group such as American Business Women’s Association would be a much better fit.

3. Send a postcard to the local chapter leaders
Directly contact local club and organization leaders and officers with a friendly hand written postcard or note card. Inform the club leaders that you are a speaker. This will be good news to many of them since it is sometimes very difficult to find a local speaker month after month. Make sure you give them your contact information in the correspondence, and let them know you will be giving them a call about a week after they receive your postcard. Then, follow up. You will be amazed at how many group leaders will be thrilled to hear from you. Your call will be a welcome surprise. The note coupled with the call is a powerful motivator for the group leader and it gives them the chance to see you are responsible and thorough, the kind of people they look for as speakers. The follow up call is the most important part of the communication. At this time, try to set a date for a speech even if you both have to select 2 possible dates and check back with each other. You can always secure the exact date and time later, but get something on the calendar during the call.

4. Frame your topic so that it benefits the group
Many event coordinators seek out speakers with topics on both personal and professional development. However, if the group is very business oriented, you may need to frame your topic so it relates more to the business world. This is easy since beautifying interiors works for homes as well as office settings. A decorating topic can apply to both. Plus, every professional also has a home, so they may think of you later when they decide to make home improvements. Ask yourself, "How can what I know help business people or busy people who don't have time to decorate?" If you are a color consultant for example, you could frame your topic by creating a title that appeals to the audience, such as “how interior colors can help you accomplish goals and increase productivity at home and at work.”

5. Promote your seminars throughout your community
There are many ways to market your seminars through personal activities that cost little or no money. Here are a few suggestions. Deliver flyers to target neighborhoods (just let the city know, and for a small fee you will have their “permission”), post a flyer on the bulletin boards of local coffee houses, make an announcement at a nearby decorating college, and call the local television and radio stations as well as the newspaper to ask to be placed in the “what’s happening” segment, which is usually free. You can also call your past customers and let them know they are welcome to bring a friend (birds of a feather flock together). Join forces with other non-competing home improvement companies to tap into their lists. Co-sponsor a program, and have the other company or business person invite their past customers to your event. A real estate company for example might love for you to do a talk on staging, and a kitchen designer might appreciate your talk on color. You could prepare and deliver the content and have your co-sponsor provide the place and the refreshments. Invite people from both of your mailing and email lists and everyone benefits.

With a little effort you will enjoy the success of acquiring new leads and gaining new clients through local customer seminars and trunk shows. Not only will you be hailed as the local decorating expert, but you will add to your bottom line profits while having fun and meeting new friends.

Margarett (Margo) DeGange, M.Ed. is a Business Success Coach who has helped thousands professionals make higher profits, have more free time by working smarter, and create additional streams of income. She is President of The DeGangi Group and Decorating for Profits, 2 fantastic resources for design professionals and speakers who want to make more money and build success quickly. Her business-building products include both on-sight and on-line courses in decorating and business, ready-made curriculum for speakers and teachers in decorating, easy to use money-making business systems for entrepreneurs, trunk show success systems, and training kits for digital products creation and information marketing.

Margo is the Director of The DeGangi School of Interior Decoration and the Executive Director of the Decorators’ Alliance of North America. She is a Certified Human Behavior Coach who has helped business owners from all over the world to meet the needs of their clients and greatly increase sales and profits as a result.

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