Ever notice how most of the guys and gals who achieve extraordinary success speak at seminars on a regular basis?
There’s just something about public speaking that sets a person apart from all the experts who prefer to hide behind their laptops.
In this post, I want to share with you the copy elements that should be included in a sales letter to fill a seminar, workshop, or live event. I’m also going to share a few insights I’ve picked up over the years.
Whether you end up using this information to help fill your own event — or another person’s event — is up to you. Either way, it will make filling an event easier.
I’ll list out all the copy elements in just a minute. But first…
What’s Different about Selling Seats at a Seminar?
The copy you write to fill seats at a live event will be similar to other types of copy, but there are a few unique elements you will want to include, and some that you may want to exclude.
For instance, most event letters don’t have many bullets, if any at all. This is because event organizers often don’t know exactly what a speaker is going to present. (Speakers are notorious for not providing the information you need to write stronger copy.)
Think about this. If you write a bullet that promises to deliver some nugget of information… and then the speaker fails to deliver… the event organizer is on the hook. Attendees may complain that they didn’t learn what was promised in the sales letter. You don’t want this to happen.
So instead of bullets, I suggest you write a list of “Reasons to Attend.” You can write as many reasons to attend as you want, but probably no less than three.
You may also want to include a section that answers the question, “Who is this seminar for?” This is an effective way to flag down your ideal attendee and get him or her to register.
What about Testimonials?
Here’s another potential challenge: If this is the first time this particular seminar is being held, you won’t have any testimonials. Why? Because the event has never been held before.
Of course, if this is the case, you can often use testimonials from other services, products, or events the organizer may have sold in the past. This is a technique I use often.
For instance, if my client has hosted a seminar before, I’ll say something like:
“Here’s what attendees said after the last seminar that happened last spring…”
Some events are held regularly. And events that are held on a regular schedule (annually, bi-annually, quarterly, etc.) should have plenty of testimonials. There might even be video testimonials for you to use. (Ever since the Flip video camera came out, video testimonials have become VERY easy to get.)
Copy Elements for a Seminar Sales Letter
Now, an event letter will have three unique copy elements:
- Speaker Profiles (if applicable)
- Hotel & Travel Information
- Date(s) of the Event
Speaker profiles often include, name, photo, brief bio information, plus a few general bullets on what the speaker will be talking about. Each profile should have a compelling mini-headline to suck “scanners” into the copy.
The hotel and travel information should include the hotel name and address where the event is being held, plus details about ground transportation to and from the airport. It’s also customary to include the special “code word” registrants should use to get a special room rate. (If this information is not included in the letter, it can be included in the first follow-up email after a person registers.)
Include the dates of the event, and also the days. So you should say, “The event will be held on Friday through Sunday, January 22-24, 2010.” Personally, I like to repeat this information multiple times throughout the copy so there’s no mistake about when the event is happening.
Suggestion: Read a few event letters to get familiar with how they look. They are often more graphics-intensive. If you know HTML, you can certainly add graphic elements yourself. Otherwise, you may want to make suggestions to the client or the client’s web designer.
With that in mind, here’s a complete list of copy elements and the order in which they normally appear in a seminar sales letter:
- Video (optional)
- Deck Copy (Subhead and/or a handful of bullets.)
- Lead Copy (Build excitement, introduce problem, etc.)
- Introduce Seminar Creator (Build credibility.)
- Introduce Seminar (Plus, the reason why you’re hosting it.)
- Explain Seminar in Detail (Date, days, location, etc.)
- Speaker Profiles (Mini-headline, photo, bio, bullets about presentation.)
- Who Should Come? (List ideal attendees — the people who should come.)
- Proof Elements, including…
- Picture of Hotel or Meeting Location (Include selling points; why is this a good place to meet?)
- Testimonials (Write “mini-headlines” for each one.)
- Value Build
- Price (Is there an “early bird” discount?)
- Cost Justification
- Guarantee or Risk Reversal
- Bonus Gifts or Incentives
- C.T.A. – Call to Action
- Order Link
- Post Script / P.S. (up to three)
This list includes most (if not all) of the copy elements you’ll want to include in your seminar sales letter in the approximate order they should appear.
Obviously, the higher the cost of the seminar, the more copy you’ll need to persuade people to attend. But — never forget — the cost of the seminar is often only HALF of the total cost each attendee will incur.
That’s because each attendee has to pay for travel, hotel, and meals. If you’re event is $500 a seat, you might actually pay MORE than that just for an airline ticket and hotel room.
It is for this reason that even “free” events have a hard cost associated with them.
So keep that in mind when you’re filling a seminar. You have to be offering very unique and timely information, or an unusually exciting experience, or fabulous networking opportunities, or exclusivity, or intimate one-on-one training, or a combination of all of these.
Rarely do you fill a seminar on a single promise or benefit.
Make sure you cover all your bases: include EVERY reason you can think of for a person to attend.
-Ryan M. Healy
P.S. Want to see some of the seminar sales letters I’ve written lately? Below I’ve included links to two sales letters I wrote in 2009. In both cases, I was under the gun and wrote the copy quickly. Still, the events turned out fairly well, all things considered.
The first one was for a “Customer Appreciation Seminar.” The second one was for “Secrets of Entrepreneurial Bootstrapping”; we were trying to get more small business owners to attend (instead of coaches), hence the focus on entrepreneurs. I used the first letter as a basis for the second one, so you’ll see some similarities.
Both sales letters are in PDF format for easy viewing and printing. (You will notice some blank spaces in the PDF documents — these are where I had included YouTube videos.)
And just in case you want to read a masterful event letter, you should definitely take time to read Ken McCarthy’s pitch for The System Seminar, his annual event for Internet marketers. Here’s a PDF:
(Remember: Video players do not show up in the PDF.)