Hosting free events, business summits, conferences, or workshops is an excellent way to connect with your audience and provide them with valuable insights. However, the true power of these events lies in your ability to convert free event attendees into paying clients.
We’ll outline a strategic three-step approach to help you make this transition effectively, whether it be virtual or in-person, drawing inspiration from our podcast episode featuring Windsor Western, co-founder of HerCampus Media.
The first challenge in converting event attendees into paying clients is getting them to attend your business summits in the first place. A quick post on social media or sharing the link in an email likely won’t have people dying to claim their spot, so your messaging needs to be really compelling.
In episode 214, Windsor highlights a critical point: people are naturally hesitant when they sense a sales pitch. To overcome this resistance, it’s essential to offer incentives that make attending your event an attractive proposition:
Your free event should be more than just a promotional platform. Make it clear that your event will be focusing on delivering exclusive, actionable value that they will be able to immediately apply to their professional lives.
Position your event as a unique opportunity for attendees to enhance their skills through interactive sessions, participate in networking opportunities, stay updated on industry trends, and impress their superiors. By demonstrating how you can help them succeed in their careers, you create a powerful motivation for participation.
Generate excitement and urgency by limiting the number of available spots for your event, whether it’s a digital workshop or an in-person gathering. The perception of scarcity can prompt individuals to secure their place and prioritize attendance.
The primary objective in this step is to encourage people to attend your event so that you can begin establishing a meaningful relationship with them.
Once attendees are engaged in your event, the next goal is to showcase your expertise and credibility. Windsor suggests using emerging data and panel discussions to achieve this:
Offer attendees insights backed by original data you’ve either observed through your work in the industry, or collected directly from the source (like Her Campus did by conducting their own surveys for the trend-setting 18-24 crowd that so many brands want to tap into). When your potential clients see you as an authority in a specific space, they are more likely to trust your recommendations.
Hosting live panel discussions, particularly when you may not be part of the target demographic, adds a layer of credibility. You can present insights rooted in original research, and then have a representative from the target demographic affirm and elaborate on your message. This blend of quantitative data and qualitative stories reinforces your expertise.
Encourage interaction and questions from your audience during your presentation. This not only keeps participants actively involved, but also underscores your willingness to share knowledge and engage in meaningful conversations as a thought leader on the topic.
The final step involves presenting your services or solutions in a way that makes it irresistible for attendees to consider working with you.
At your business summits, you are likely sharing the insights and strategies the attendees need to achieve a goal in their business. While they are perfectly capable of implementing this new knowledge on their own, be sure to communicate that your services can help them seamlessly put these strategies into action. Hiring you allows them to avoid spending valuable company time strategizing solutions and training others on the topic, thus creating the space for them to focus on other areas of the business.
Throughout your event, share success stories that illustrate the effectiveness of your services. This can be done through formal case studies or informal comments in your presentation, but these concrete examples showcase how you’ve helped other clients achieve success through your knowledge and expertise.
Develop an understanding of the unique needs, objectives, and challenges of your attendees, and provide tailored solutions that align precisely with their goals. Each client has their own priorities, so by crafting personalized packages based on their needs, budget, and timeline, you can meet them right where they need you.
Transforming free event attendees into paying clients requires a well-thought-out approach. These three steps are just a few suggestions to effectively convert attendees into long-term clients and partnerships for big and small businesses alike. But when it comes to strategizing your own summit, the number one question you should be asking is ‘How can you provide value upfront and create services that makes it a no brainer to hire you?‘. This isn’t just about closing deals and generating revenue, but about nurturing relationships that benefit both parties in the long run.
If you want to hear more about how Windsor Western used her free marketing summit to increase brand partnerships revenue by 10,000%, listen to episode 214 of Cubicle to CEO – available everywhere you listen to podcasts!
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