What if No One Signs Up?
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the nightmare of every professional who offers group
programs. You design a powerful workshop, schedule
a date, broadcast your marketing message… and no one
registers. Then what?
Let's assume you have the basics down. You've chosen
a compelling topic, identified a likely audience,
and clearly described the benefits of participating
in your program. Even the price is right. You've already
sent information about your program to a list of strong
prospects. What else can you do?
First, let's back up a step. There are several measures
you can take early on in your promotion that will
improve your chances of full enrollment:
1. Offer your program in house instead of
to the general public. Selling your program
to a company, association, or learning center with
an established base of employees, members, or students
can be much easier than trying to sell each seat yourself.
You could also partner with an existing organization
with a track record of filling programs, and share
the profits in return for a full house.
2. Build your prospect list to equal 20-100
times the number of people you want to attend.
A typical response rate from a postal mailing is 1-2%.
Response to opt-in email is often even lower. (Don't
even consider using unsolicited email.) In general,
expect no more than 1% to respond if they don't know
your work and rarely more than 5% even when they know
you well. Make it a habit to capture the name and
address of every prospect and get their permission
to mail or email.
3. Plan to promote on multiple channels.
Your promotion plan should include announcements in
your ezine or newsletter, a description on your web
site, postal mail, a brochure or flyer to distribute,
calendar listings, and personal invitations. Don't
rely on just one or two avenues -- students are much
more likely to enroll when they see your program mentioned
in many different places.
If your program has low or no registrations as the
date approaches, here's what you can do to increase
1. Call everyone on your prospect list and
invite them personally. Don't count on mail
and email to do the job. Place a phone call to each
person you have a phone number for, give a brief description
of the program, and invite them to attend. You'll
be amazed how many people will say, "Thank you
for calling -- I've been meaning to sign up."
2. Ask clients and colleagues to make referrals.
Just mailing an announcement to potential referral
sources isn't the same as asking for their help. Call
or email people who respect your work, and ask them
to suggest two or three others who could benefit.
If they have suggestions for you, ask if they will
also contact those people themselves to endorse your
3. Make a special offer. Tell the
people who are already registered they can bring a
friend for half-price. You're not losing any revenue
that way if the space would otherwise be standing
empty. Offer a bonus gift with minimal cost to those
who enroll -- 30 minutes of your professional time,
or an ebook, audio, or report you've produced. To
encourage people to spread the word, offer the same
gift to people who refer students to you.
-If All Else Fails-
In the last few days before your program, if you still
have only a handful pre-registered:
1. Hold your program anyway. Invite
people to attend for free if necessary to have good
participation. Your clients will enjoy the chance
to spend more quality time with you; colleagues will
benefit from the opportunity to see you work and meet
other attendees. Ask people who attend at no charge
to write you glowing testimonials and refer paying
participants for the next time.
2. If you can't fix it, feature it.
The meaning of this classic sales maxim is that if
your product has an obvious flaw, make it a positive
selling point. When only six people enroll in your
big seminar, convert it to an intimate group experience.
If you have only two people for a group, turn it into
a success team. Your participants will be thrilled
to have more individual attention. Never apologize
for a smaller-than-expected turnout.
3. Plan ahead to do better next time. Analyze
what went wrong with your marketing and strategize
how to do it differently the next time around. Should
you have allowed more lead time? Does your mailing
list need to be larger? Do you need to factor in more
promotion channels instead of relying on mailings
or email alone? Make a list of all the key elements
you think are necessary to successfully promote your
Filling group programs becomes easier when you offer
them regularly. When students see the same program
advertised two or three times, they are much more
likely to enroll. Think of all your marketing efforts
as part of a long-term plan to make more people aware
of your business. If the outreach for your workshop
introduces your business to many new people, you may
ultimately find that much more valuable than just
filling one program.
Hayden is the author of Get Clients NOW!
Thousands of business owners and salespeople have
used her simple sales and marketing system to double
or triple their income. Get a free copy of "Five
Secrets to Finding All the Clients You'll Ever Need" at http://www.getclientsnow.com
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