When you were a kid, summer was probably your favorite time of the year – no school, warm weather, joining a baseball or soccer summer league, maybe even taking a family trip. But as a school owner, the reasoning behind summer’s superiority has now become the source of your stress.
Every school experiences that summer burnout. Students’ schedules change, people get involved in other things, and no one seems to be starting a new activity like the martial arts. But hope is not lost! In fact, we have a secret weapon that may just be your saving grace – seminars.
Holding seminars has many benefits for you, your school, and your community. Not only can you generate an immediate income, but you have the opportunity to build new leads for the future. According to Sport Karate Superstar and World Forms Champion Jackson Rudolph (who has hundreds of seminars under his belt), “A properly marketed seminar should produce a net profit of at least $25 per participant.” (Jan. 2017 Issue, MASuccess Magazine)
For existing students, seminars offer a way to supplement their regular training and keep them engaged…this also means fewer summer dropouts! But seminars don’t just build your relationship with current students, they also encourage prospects to join a class.
A common objection to taking martial arts classes is a lack of time. We get it, life is busy! But attending a seminar may just be the nudge that potential student needs. If people come away from your seminar feeling like they have learned a new skill, they will be motivated to seriously consider taking a regular class from you. When it comes to non-students, seminars can be the perfect way to showcase your school, enhance your reputation as an expert in your community, and generate new leads.
Seminars have the ability to not just help you, but also help your community. If you want to create a resource for those in your area, offer seminars that teach self-defense for women or bully prevention for kids. Programs such as these are not only beneficial for those in your community, but will generate goodwill for your school and pay dividends down the road.
So, we’ve convinced you and you’ve decided to hold your first-ever seminar. How do you start planning? What are the critical execution steps to holding a successful seminar? Read ahead for the answers to all of your burning questions:
1.) WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TEACH?
In order to hold a seminar, you need to begin by simply figuring out what it will be about. Pick a topic that will appeal to your target audience. What are some current concerns and needs within your community? Here’s an example – it’s a sad reality, but senior citizens are often the targets of crime. An article by AARP said it best, “violence prevention for this group deserves more awareness.” For this reason, self-defense designed specifically for seniors may be a service people in your area are seeking.
As we previously touched on, bully prevention is a major topic of conversation today. If you are considering this as a seminar topic, the recipe is in the research. Educate yourself using reliable, credible resources. Here are a few great articles to get you started:
If you put in the time to do thoughtful research and ensure that all of your resources are credible, ideas and inspiration are sure to follow. What would your students like to further their training on? Whatever you decide to teach on, keep the subject matter narrow. After all, you’ll have your audience for a very limited time.
Here’s some advice: never attempt to teach something you don’t know exceptionally well. If you aren’t fully qualified to teach on the subject matter you are considering, don’t teach it! Instead, consider bringing in an outside expert. Research and vet each candidate carefully. After you have decided on your expert guest, contact them to check their availability and cost. While hosting a guest teacher will raise your seminar costs, having a known expert will also allow you to charge more.
2.) PLAN THE NUMBERS
When estimating how many people you expect to attend your seminar, be realistic. Depending on your location and the date of your event, COVID-19 restrictions are likely to come into play. Keep this in mind as you set your participation target. While this number of expected attendees will merely be an educated guess, having something in mind will help you establish your budget and pricing.
As tempting as it can be to save a few bucks, don’t cut corners when planning. Providing a high value experience to guests should be your top priority. For example, if you will need staff available to assist you during the seminar, plan and budget accordingly. With a profit goal in mind, set your expense budget and cost to attendees.
(A bonus tip – sometimes sponsors can be recruited to help fund your seminar!)
3.) SET THE DATE AND DETERMINE HOW YOU WILL PROMOTE YOUR EVENT
When selecting a date and time, prioritize your audience and what’s most convenient for them. But the preparations don’t stop there – you should begin promoting your seminar at least 30 days in advance of your selected date. Now we know that marketing can be tricky, so here are a few pointers:
- If you have hired an outside expert, mention it! By including your guest’s experience and background in your marketing, you’ll make possible attendees even more excited about the event.
- Tell participants what to wear – are sweats and a t-shirt appropriate? That’s for you to decide, just let them know well in advance.
- Hey, if you’re paying for that software, take advantage of it! Promote your event by emailing or texting students and parents about the upcoming seminar and how they can register. If you’re a Kicksite user, you can utilize your automated alerts, general announcements, or marketing message flows to do this.
- Don’t be afraid to venture into social media. It seems like just about everyone is on Facebook, so start by creating a Facebook event. In order to collect registration information, try adding a registration page to your website. Be sure to give the deadline for registering, then list your seminar on online event calendars, such as this one.
4.) PERFORM A FEW DRY RUNS BEFORE THE EVENT
As a school owner and instructor, you’re not exactly lacking in teaching experience. But beware – hosting a seminar may put you out of your comfort zone, especially if it’s your first event. We’re sure you’ve heard it too many times to count, but practice makes perfect. Being well-prepared will alleviate any lingering anxiety when the event rolls around. Here a few additional pointers:
- Remember – it’s all about first (and last) impressions. The best seminars start and finish strong!
- Begin by introducing yourself and sharing your experience (and/or that of your guest). Next, dive into an overview of what you will be teaching and the process you will use (i.e., breaking into groups). This way, attendees will know what to expect.
- As you teach, make sure everyone is involved. Make eye contact and move around the room. You can be serious about what you are teaching while also finding ways to have fun!
- Depending on the length of your seminar and the amount of energy your participants will be exerting, allow for short breaks. Don’t forget to have bottled water available.
- Wrap up by sharing key takeaways you want attendees to leave your school with. You may even consider offering a free trial class or a free certificate of completion.
Okay, we’ve covered a lot. Here are a few final words of wisdom to take with you:
- Think of seminars as an opportunity to show off your school. Make sure your school is immaculately clean and your presentation is polished.
- If there will be non-students in attendance, put up signage on the day of the event to help participants find your school.
- Nowadays, social media is a must for any business. Consider recruiting someone to take photos and videos to share on your social media pages following the event. (Be sure you have participants’ release to use their image!)
- Before sharing hand-out materials, double check that they are high-quality. After all, these will be a tangible reflection of your brand.
- While you may have a lot on your plate, try to greet all of the participants as they arrive. Approachability is key – remember, some participants will be intimidated by that black belt and all those stripes!
- If the main goal of your seminar is to attract non-students in hopes of generating leads, don’t oversell. The less you pitch during the seminar, the more comfortable people will become with you, and the more likely they are to sign up. Before anything else, it’s supposed to be a learning experience, not a sales pitch!
- Keep an eye on the clock and make sure to end at the promised time. This will demonstrate that you stick by your word and respect their time.
- It may feel awkward, but don’t hesitate to ask for feedback at the end of the event.
We’ll leave you with this – be enthusiastic and exude confidence! If you don’t enjoy the seminar, neither will the participants. By providing everyone a memorable experience, attendees will probably come back next time…and just might sign up for full-time classes while they’re at it!