Will teaching adult classes help increase your business? Teaching classes can yield several benefits: (1) people may come to your class who become customers or contacts, (2) the publicity you do for the course helps your image, and (3) the material you organize can be used to write blogs, make videos for your website and YouTube, webinars, and be the basis for articles you can place in local and trade publications.
Many factors go into determining if you’ll get a good attendance for an adult education program. Some you may have little control over, like the weather, other events being held at the same time or the location of the sponsoring organization. But others you can influence, like the topic you choose, the title and write-up used to promote the program, and the type and amount of publicity done beforehand.
Here are some steps you can take to make your next offering a success:
- If you haven’t given the program before, test interest in the topic, title and write-up beforehand with prospective attendees. Try to get a few commitments from people yourself before actually scheduling the workshop so you know at least three to four people who are interested in attending. You might even check what days or nights of the week would be best for your cadre of recruits before you negotiate scheduling your programs.
- Do publicity yourself. Don’t leave your success 100 percent in the hands of the organization sponsoring your class, as they usually have many other programs to promote. See if you can get a media interview, send post cards about the workshop to your own mailing list, post it on your Web site and so on.
- Arrange with the sponsoring organization to take reservations so you know beforehand how many people have signed up. Set a minimum enrollment. If there are fewer enrollees than your minimum, start calling colleagues and contacts and make personal invitations. Cancel if you don’t get enough pre-registrations and try a different time, topic or title.
- If you get just enough signups but are worried about having too small a group should a couple of people not show up, as inevitably happens, see if you can arrange to invite a few “complimentary guests” who you would love to have see what you do. This can assure that you’ll have a critical mass even if some pre-registrants don’t show.
Of course, arranging for the sponsoring organization to require payment upfront will help prevent no-shows. Another option for encouraging commitment is to offer multiple prices, a low price for early registration, a somewhat higher price for a later pre-registration date and an even higher price for signing up at the door.
If you’ve taken steps like these and find that your workshop is still not filling, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. First, rethink your topic and title to be sure you’re addressing a strongly felt need. Have you actually heard your target audience asking for or complaining about needing the kind of information or assistance you will be offering? What are the needs they’re expressing? What words do they use when they describe what they need? Refocus your workshop on these needs and use their words in your title and promotion.
Next, rethink where you are offering the program, through what means and how you are promoting it. Are you actually reaching the people who most need it? Are they getting the information? Do they know about it? Are you offering it in a way that is attractive and feasible for them? Do they have time for a workshop or might they prefer another vehicle, like a teleconference or an online workshop?
Finally, reevaluate whether a workshop is the best medium for connecting with your potential clients. Explore how they usually go about deciding on services like yours and consider reaching out to them in other ways.
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Adapted from a prior column in Entrepreneur magazine