Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lunch and Learns Can Help Build Appetite for a Business

In this area there is a growing interest in holding free (or very low cost) seminars, workshops, lunch-and-learns, or whatever else you might call them.  Small business owners are using these as clever promotional tools, sharing information closely related to their products and services and selling "soft": inspiring attendees to take a greater interest in those products and services.

My own experience is that these can work very well in both B2B and B2C settings, although my sense of things is that consumers need to be incentivized by a free meal or some other tangible come-on for attending.  In the case of a B2B business owners seem to be sufficiently motivated to better understand the offerings provided they have a low cost of trial, or access.

What can the presenter do to make these "lunch and learns" effective?

First, be prepared to promote the event.  A single posting on Eventbrite or equivalents may not be enough to fill a room.  The event should be talked up in networking, on social media, via flyers and anything else that occurs.

Second, keep the hard sell to a minimum.  Don't hesitate to lay out brochures, price sheets, and other materials, and even to state at the end (succinctly) what sorts of things you can do to help.  But I have have been at workshops where the sales pressure at the end of the event was quite off putting and destroyed the value of the event.

Third, do offer food.  Even water and snack items is a nice gesture to those prepared to sit and listen for 60 to 90 minutes.  Another nice "goodie" could be a drawing for a prize of some kind at the end, perhaps even a coupon for one of your services or products.

Bottom line: use a "soft" vehicle like a free seminar to introduce yourself to new customers.  Such an event can be a wonderful way to share valuable information and your expertise.

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