Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What If No One Signs Up?

By C.J. Hayden, MCC

It's the nightmare of every professional who offers group programs. You design a powerful workshop, schedule a date, broadcast your marketing message...and no one registers. Then what?

Let's assume you have the basics down. You've chosen a compelling topic, identified a likely audience and clearly described the benefits of participating in your program. Even the price is right. You've already sent information about your program to a list of strong prospects. What else can you do?

Preventive Measures. First, let's back up a step. There are several measures you can take early on in your promotion that will improve your chances of full enrollment:
1. Offer your program in-house instead of to the general public. Selling your program to a company, association or learning center with an established base of employees, members or students can be much easier than trying to sell each seat yourself. You could also partner with an existing organization with a track record of filling programs and share the profits in return for a full house.
2. Build your prospect list to equal 20-100 times the number of people you want to attend. A typical response rate from a postal mailing is one to two percent. Response to opt-in email is often even lower. (Don't even consider using unsolicited email). In general, expect no more than one percent to respond if they don't know your work and rarely more than five percent even when they know you well. Make it a habit to capture the name and address of every prospect and get their permission to mail or email.
3. Plan to promote on multiple channels. Your promotion plan should include announcements in your ezine or newsletter, a description on your website, postal mail, a brochure or flyer to distribute, calendar listings and personal invitations. Don't rely on just one or two avenues -- students are much more likely to enroll when they see your program mentioned in many different areas.

Emergency Enrollment. If your program has low or no registration as the date approaches, here's what you can do to increase enrollment:
1. Call everyone on your prospect list and invite them personally. Don't count on mail and email to do the job. Place a phone call to each person you have a phone number for, give a brief description of the program, and invite them to attend. You'll be amazed at how many people will say, "Thank you for calling -- I've been meaning to sign up."
2. Ask clients and colleagues to make referrals. Just mailing an announcement to potential referral sources isn't the same as asking for their help. Call or email people who respect your work, and ask them to suggest two or three others who could benefit. If they have suggestions for you, ask if they will also contact those people themselves to endorse your program.
3. Make a special offer. Tell the people who are already registered they can bring a friend for half-price. You're not losing any revenue that way if the space would otherwise be standing empty. Offer a bonus gift with minimal cost to those who enroll -- 30 minutes of your professional time or an ebook, audio or report you've produced. To encourage people to spread the world, offer the same gift to people who refer students to you.

If All Else Fails. In the last few days before your program, if you still have only a handful pre-registered:
1. Hold your program anyway. Invite people to attend for free if necessary to have good participation. Your clients will enjoy the chance to spend more quality time with you; colleagues will benefit from the opportunity to see your work and meet other attendees. Ask people who attend at no charge to write you glowing testimonials and refer paying participants for the next time.
2. If you can't fix it, feature it. The meaning of this classic sales maxim is that if your product has an obvious flaw, make it a positive selling point. When only six people enroll in your big seminar, convert it to an intimate group experience. If you have only two people for a group, turn it into a success team. Your participants will be thrilled to have more individual attention. Never apologize for a smaller-than-expected turnout.
3. Plan ahead to do better next time. Analyze what went wrong with your marketing and strategize how to do it differently the next time around. Should you have allowed more lead time? Does your mailing list need to be larger? Do you need to factor in more promotion channels instead of relying on mailing or email alone? Make a list of all the key elements you think are necessary to successfully promote your next program.

Filling programs becomes easier when you offer them regularly. When students see the program advertised two or three times, they are much more likely to enroll. Think of all your marketing efforts as part of a long-term plan to make more people aware of your business. If the outreach for your workshop introduces your business to many new people, you may ultimately find that much more valuable than just filling one program.

(Copyright 2004, C.J. Hayden)

C.J. Hayden is the author of "Get Clients Now!" (TM) Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of "Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You'll Ever Need" at www.getclientsnow.com

[Photo Credit]

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What To Do When You Have The Post-Honeymoon Blues

After all the craziness and excitement of wedding prep, the big day and your honeymoon, you may be a little sad when everything is over. While it's perfectly normal to have the blues when the enthusiasm of being a bride-to-be has passed, it's important to remember that you have a lifetime with your honey to look forward to. Here are a few tips for maintaining that honeymoon high as you move to the next chapter of married life:

Celebrate a little milestone. More than likely, you won't celebrate every month you're married, but you can keep the momentum after your wedding by doing something simple on your first-month anniversary. It could be simply sharing a bottle of wine while watching your wedding video, flipping through your wedding photos or reading through your guest book.
Save a little fun for after the honeymoon. Wait until you get back from your honeymoon to open your wedding gifts. That way, you'll have something to look forward to other than getting back to work.
Have some girl time. After months of bride-centered activities, it's now time to switch the focus from you to your girls. Once the wedding frenzy is done, spend some quality time with them and catch up on what you may have missed in their lives. Grabbing some coffee, visiting the beach or going shopping will put you in a better mood in no time.
Make your house a home. The best way to get out of a funk? Start working on a project. Whether you and your hubby are moving in together for the first time or just finding somewhere for your gifts, most likely, you'll have to do some work at your house after the wedding. So, dedicate a weekend to home-work with your hubby; the experience will not only strengthen your bond, but the sense of accomplishment when you're done will get you excited about moving forward.
Catch up on missed hobbies. Since you won't be knee deep in bridal magazines and busy planning your wedding, you can spend your free time doing what you love. Restart your favorite hobbies by taking an art class, getting more active or tackling the books you've put aside.

Do you have tips to share? Please leave a comment!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

3 Tips for Finding Your Wedding Reading

Finding the right wedding reading is important because it helps set the tone, whether it's romantic, emotional, light-hearted or reflective. The right reading can be perfect in completing your already special day; so, you need to set some time aside to find a reading that mean something to you.

How to Decide
The best advice: Decide based on what hits your gut first and what draws you in. Next, be sure it's something that's not so vague that no one understands it. Additionally, you don't want it to be too shocking. You want the focus to be on you when you leave the room, not people whispering to each other about how sexy the poetry was. 

Who should read
Your wedding reading is a great way to involve your bridesmaids in the wedding ceremony. Or, you might be able to include that friend who didn't have time to be a bridesmaid or who live far away and couldn't commit to your schedule. Be sure that whoever you choose is comfortable speaking in front of a crowd.

Start your search
You should definitely consider involving your groom in the choosing process. You can find a couple of readings at our source. Other poems to consider: Love Of My Life by Mr. Dvyne, My Soul Mate by Jessica Ammons and I Wrote A Good Omelet by Nikki Giovanni.

Happy searching! : ) 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Your Checklist for Planning a Conference

Planning a conference? Check out these tips to help:

1. Determine possible dates. When you're looking at dates for your conference, it's helpful to have many possible dates in mind. At times, the location of your choice won't be available on the date you prefer, so you have to choose another date. Additionally, you want to be sure you're not holding the conference on any bank/public holidays, and avoid having it the same day as another industry-related conference.

2. Create a budget. The purpose of the budget is to provide the event planner with a limit financially. The budget should be specific and include revenues (sponsorship, ticket sales, etc.) and expenses (printing, location, food, etc.).

3. Find a conference venue. This is key for the well-being of both your attendees and speakers and for your conference's success. As soon as you have determined possible dates, you can begin the search for the best venue. One idea: a hotel that has conference rooms -- You'll have staff and a good infrastructure, which means less work for you. Also, the venue size should be ample enough for the conference and the expected number of attendees.

4. Program and speaker(s). Aside from networking, the topics and speakers are key reasons to attend a conference. For conference success, it's important to book well-known speakers early on: The'll help you gain more attention, attract more attendees and can help obtain other well-known speakers.

Additionally, before pre-selling conference registration, your agenda should be at least roughly determined. Be sure to make enough time for networking, and if you're having food, be sure there's enough catering.

5. Pre-sell and online registration. Since conference registrations are the primary revenues for the event and event planner, attendee registration and payment management is vital; it should look professional and be simple for attendees to use. You can also use the registration form to obtain attendee data for marketing activities after the conference.

Something else to keep in mind: Your website should have more than just a registration form. It should also include the agenda, speaker, directions and hotel recommendations. You should also be sure to have a reliable provider who offers several payment methods and currencies to make registration simple for attendees.

For five more tips, visit 10 Tips for your Conference: The Checklist.

[Photo Credit]

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Be A Great Party Host

A great party is a fun party. But it can be simple for a party to go from super fun to "have to run." If you're hosting a party or get-together soon, here are some tips to make sure you don't crash and burn.

Under Wraps. Begin by keeping everything under control...that means planning. A few days before your party, get your supplies; create a grocery list of all the things you'll need before you leave the house.

Next, take out all the silverware, platters and dishes you plan to use and take inventory. This will give you peace of mind, knowing that you have everything you need. And be sure to write down anything else you need from the store; one trip is easier than two.

Chill out. Relax -- it's your party, too, so enjoy it. If you're feeling a little anxious, it's okay to make yourself a drink before guests get there. And feel free to make a few extra ones to greet your guests with. Not only will it lighten the mood, but everyone will have a better time.

Create the mood. Make a playlist, and start playing the music before your guests arrive. Or, if you only know one song that suits your party perfectly, let Pandora do the work for you. Additional tips:
-- Keep the volume just above speaking level (so it won't be completely in the background)
-- Dim the lights, and consider adding some non-scented candles for ambiance.

Get assistance. You have a lot to do during your party: Answer the door, take coats, cook, set up, etc. So, you could probably use some extra hands. One idea is to ask the first few people that arrive to help you, as long as they agree. It'll keep them from awkwardly wandering around your home while you finish prepping, and it will free up more of your time, which will allow you to enjoy the party.

Introductions. Since some people are shy, be sure you introduce your guests. Don't just state names, though, say a little something that will start a conversation.

Do you have any tips to add? Please share below!

[Photo Credit; Source]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ways to Give Your Wedding Personality

Celebrity Wedding Planner Mindy Weiss
(Photo from bridalguide.com)
These days, planning a wedding can be very overwhelming with all the resources you could ever want available at your fingertips. But while you're getting all those ideas from everywhere, you may be leaving out the most important aspect of your big day: making it about you and your partner. To avoid this, here are some tips from Mindy Weiss, celebrity wedding planner:

When merging your two personalities into the wedding, ask yourself this: What is something about the two of us that people will recognize as soon as they walk into the room? What would make them say, "Oh, this is definitely ___ and ___'s wedding"?

More ideas:

  • Think of any meaningful locations from your relationship, like where you got engaged.
  • Take some time and effort to write your own vows; you won't regret including that personal touch in your ceremony.
  • A simple idea: Incorporate you and your partner's favorite colors into the wedding. 
  • Include the hobbies or sports you enjoy in the theme.
  • Choose a decade you both feel connected to, and  take your guests back in time with you.
  • Get inspired from other brides, asking them how they personalized their weddings. Also, take mental notes while attending others' weddings.

For more tips and ideas, check out Tips For Personalizing Your Wedding.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Choosing Thank You Gifts for Your Parents

More than likely, your parents have played a huge role in making your wedding day amazing. They raised you into the beautiful bride-to-be you are and have been by your side through the stress of planning, giving their input and maybe even funding the affair. Your parents -- and your fiance's parents -- deserve a great, big thank you. Here's how to choose the right gift:

Set a budget
Of course, you know by now that weddings are expensive. It's important that you include gift giving in your wedding budget. There are no particular rules when it comes to a specific amount to spend on a gift, but it's best to spend the same amount on both sets of parents and to choose gifts that are somewhat similar. Additionally, some couples give their parents a gift both mom and dad can use, while others select two separate gifts for each of them.

Giving your parents a thank you gift they can enjoy together can be very meaningful, and it can also allow you to spend a little more on each gift. A few things to consider include: 
  • Travel. Possible gift ideas are cruise tickets, hotel reservations for a weekend or a romantic retreat to a local resort.
  • A night out. Your parents deserve a night after the wedding, so consider getting them a gift card to their favorite restaurant, tickets to a show or a night of pampering, complete with a limo ride.
  • Gift baskets. Gourmet food collections, wine baskets or personalized his and her gift sets are a great way say "thanks" and can fit virtually any budget. 
  • Something personal. Oftentimes, creative gifts hold the most meaning. Think about making a personalized video or slide show for each set of parents, presenting them with a family photo calendar or framing your favorite wedding photos. Something else to consider: digital photo frames with a personal message. Those are huge hits with parents. 

If you decide to get the parents their own separate gifts, here are some ideas:
For Dad

  • Personalized cufflinks for the big day
  • Gift certificate to his favorite store
  • Wine and cheese assortment
  • Personalized golf accessories (or any other sport he may play)
  • Pens, interesting paperweights, monogrammed money clips or key chains

For Mom

  • Spa certificates
  • Jewelry for the wedding day
  • Candles, bath soaps and fragrances in a nice gift basket
  • Personalized photo albums, frames or a jewelry box
  • Charm bracelet or necklace with a family theme

Ultimately, think about your parents' interests, and you'll be sure to choose the perfect thank you gift they will love and remember for years to come.

[Source; Photo Credit]

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Planning Corporate Events Using the 5 W's

By Shirley Lee

Many organizations plan events yearly or for special occasions, such as anniversaries or for holidays. These events may be highly successful or they could turn out as a flop when it comes to meeting the goal for holding the event. Event success can often be determined by appropriate planning and decision making. To aid in the success of future events, below are five questions to consider when planning an event.

  1. Why should an event be held? This question helps to determine goals, possible outcomes and establishes an overall theme for the event. Once the purpose of the event is established, a budget must be determined to pay for the event, and travel costs must be considered as well. Knowing the event budget and goals before continuing with planning will help to keep the event within the desired scope. Never lose sight of the event goal; even if the budget does not allow for everything, there may be acceptable alternatives, so brainstorm along the way to meet all the event requirements.
  2. What needs to happen at the event? Asking this and brainstorming answers is the first step in creating an agenda for the day(s) of activity. The next step would be developing a project plan for event assignments that include pre- and post tasks as well as the event actions. Will there be speakers, announcements, videos, presentations, exhibits, meals, breaks, recognition or award ceremonies, team-building, fun interactive activities, break out training or discussion sessions? Determine if any particular equipment or room set-ups may be necessary to facilitate portions of the event. Decide what type of print materials may need to be available for the event, then begin putting that together and arranging appropriate copies and communications.
  3. Who should be invited to the event? Is it for a particular department, a set of executives, one or more work teams, individuals who achieved something or the entire company? Would this event be something to consider inviting key or potential customers and vendors to? Consider whether a keynote speaker or other special speakers should be part of the event, also, whether people with special skills such as event planners, coordinators, moderators or facilitators are needed for the success of the event or if this can be done in-house. If someone with speaker or special skills is needed, determine how arrangements for them get made and how this might impact the budget. Also, decide what communications need to be sent to those attending or working at the event, plus what follow-up is required and what the deadlines should be. 
  4. When would be the best date(s) and times for holding the event? Determine the length of time required to accomplish the event goals, and then select three preferred date options to allow for finding a location. The event may be a half day, full day or over several days. Advance planning makes it more likely to get the perfect location for the event during the preferred time period. As soon as the date is set, start sending communication to potential attendees so they can put it on their calendars. Then continue sending monthly reminders with new tidbits about the event to maintain their interest in attending. Be sure to send a final date/time/location reminder two to five business days before the event
  5. Where is the event to be held? After determining the happenings and attendance, a location that meets all the needs plus catering options can be selected. Consider whether the event should be held in the local area if it is a short time period and where most attendees are located. Be sure to consider travel requirements and communicate any special instructions for getting to the location for locals and others outside the area. If the event is multiple days and the selected location is away from the work area, after-hours activities or entertainment may also need to be considered. Before selecting a location, also determine if some activities are to be done outside or if everything will be done indoors.

To make an organizational event successful, whether it is for a special occasion or a yearly event, start with the five questions above when planning. These questions and associated planning should increase the chances of an event successfully meeting the organization's goal instead of being a flop where people after the event did not know why they spent their valuable time there.

Shirley Fine Lee has considerable training and expertise in leading effective meetings and projects as well as training others within the corporate world to be able to do the same. Her boom "R.A! R.A! A Meeting Wizard's Approach," is a much-needed guide to planning and conducting meetings so that they are as productive, effectual and smoothly run as possible. Find out more about her, her books and learning options she provides on her website.

Article Source

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

5 Beauty Tips for African-American Brides-to-be

The engagement period is usually a time for planning the wedding logistics, but it's also a time for the bride to step it up in the health and beauty departments. Check out these steps to follow so you look clear, radiant and beautiful on your special day:

1. Look at yourself from the inside out. It's a good idea to observe your body type. Many brides diet before their big day. So, if you're planning to drop a few pounds to fit comfortably into your dream gown, begin a regular exercise routine at a local gym. This has other benefits besides losing weight: 1) You'll be well on your way to better circulation (which will help your skin from the inside out); and 2) When you workout, you sweat, which eliminates lymphatic fluid and toxins, your body's method of naturally cleansing your skin. And not only will you look better, you'll feel better from your body's natural increase of endorphins (aka the "feel good" hormone).

2. Observe your skin's condition from head to toe. Taking care of your hair is a must. Some African-American hair tends to be dry, so be sure to moisturize your scalp and hair on a daily basis. And if you're wearing braids or weave, be sure your scalp is thoroughly conditioned, and see your hair stylist regularly to keep your hair healthy.

3. Be conscious of what you're putting into your body. As the saying goes, "You are what you eat." Your skin reflects what you eat and drink. According to some studies, eating essential fatty acid found in foods like salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds creates a huge benefit, enhancing the condition of hair and skin. General good health can be improved by eating fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes and drinking six to eight glasses of water daily. Also, don't over-indulge in junk food, but at the same time, don't deprive yourself. A small treat, while remembering portion control, is key.

4. Caffeine. Drink caffeine in moderation, and drink only one cup of coffee per morning. And drinking half decaf and half regular is a plus!

5. Cut back on alcohol consumption. Planning a wedding is full of special events along the way that frequently involve alcohol. But, keep in mind that alcohol can cause your skin to become dehydrated, which can cause a wrinkled appearance. With that said, drink in moderation.

Need more tips? Check out our source!