Do you find Marketing your Workshops a Pleasure or a Pain?

The open workshops that I run are designed to help participants learn how to put a great workshop together. Feedback has been brilliant and people have come away with all sorts of wonderful ideas to put into their own amazing workshops. But there is one thing that I get asked all the time – how to market your workshop. For many people this is not a pleasure but a serious pain that sometimes prevents them from setting up their workshops in the first place.

marketing your workshop

Let’s face it, unless you are doing an in house workshop, getting bums on seats is hard. It’s all very well creating a dazzling workshop but if no one comes along to join in and and benefit from your expertise and knowledge then you might be left wondering why you bothered. It takes a long time to lovingly craft a workshop, so you really need to make sure people are going to turn up.

I’m not a marketing expert by any stretch of the imagination, but here’s what I have learnt so far:

  1. Find out what people want, it’s sounds simple, but make sure you listen. My workshops are all about how to structure and design an engaging workshop. I have spent a lot of time listening to what is needed, and tailored my workshops accordingly. This continues with every workshop as I collect the feedback at the end of each one.
  2. Be clear when you are advertising your workshop exactly what your are offering. And – make sure you have worked through your workshop plan before you advertise it so you know you can actually deliver what you say you are delivering! Although you are able to offer great expertise, will this all fit into the time you have given to your workshop?
  3. People (by which I mean your target audience) need to know why they might want to come on your workshop and what’s in it for them. Just because you think your workshop is just what everyone needs, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world does. What about writing blogs and articles and perhaps doing some videos (if you are brave enough) about your subject and linking this to your workshop? This not only gets people thinking, and understanding how your workshop can benefit them, but also shows that you know what you are talking about.
  4. The whole world doesn’t actually need to know about your workshops. Only a curious selection will be interested. So work out who they are and where they hang out and go and start a conversation. Remember though that a conversation is a two sided affair so rather than bombarding everyone with information, be interested, and when they show an interest in your workshop then talk about it some more.
  5. Ask for recommendations and referrals from past participants. If your workshop really hits the mark, most people are happy to give you a testimonial. But you could also ask them if they could recommend you, and if they could point any future enquiries in your direction.
  6. Give your workshops the edge. If there are other people doing similar workshops to yours, but you are the one who has a more creative workshop, that is far more likely to interest people. Think about how you can inject come some quirky and fun activities and include some especially engaging content that will make your workshops just a little bit different.creative workshops
  7. Think about how frequently you are going to put on your workshops and how much time in between them you will need to market them. In part this depends on what your market is like – for me, there are only so many people that may want to learn about workshops, so putting them every month wouldn’t make sense.
  8. Watch out for events that are bigger than yours on your chosen date. If you know a lot of your target audience is going to be going to a business show the same day as you propose doing your workshop, you may want to rethink when you do it. Check this in advance as changing the date will only induce a headache!
  9. In general workshops are best done on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. This is because Mondays are often a catching up day and on Fridays people are often thinking about the weekend. Think carefully about the time of year and things like school holidays. However, this does depend on your target audience. My next Workshop Essentials is on a Friday because I was asked to do one on a Friday by two of the people who have signed up!
  10. Sometimes venues will help you advertise your workshop – ask them about it when you book in, and tag them in Social Media posts. They will benefit as well as you from the publicity.

There are so many things I have learnt since I started putting on open workshops two years ago. Marketing them is hard and does take up a lot of time and effort, particularly if you are not a marketer yourself. It may turn out to be fun, but even if it is it can be very time consuming.

So, for the new year, in response to the question of how to effectively market your workshops, I have teamed up with an expert! On March 6th 2018 Kimba Cooper from Kimba Digital Marketing and I will be launching our very first  Marketing Your Workshop – Made Easy! 

Image may contain: one or more people and text

This workshop is aimed at helping you market your workshops to the right people by learning who your customers are and where you might find them so that you can create some robust and pain free plans. If you would like more information on this then please comment below or e-mail helene(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)jewellfacilitation.com or hello(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)kimbadigital.com

 

 

 

Fidget Spinners – annoying fad or a great workshop fiddle toy?

If you are a parent or someone who spends much time with school aged children, the fidget spinner can’t possibly have escaped your attention. If you are a teacher, I can almost hear you cursing under your breath!

If you have no idea what I am talking about, I got my 9 year old to do a demo:

 

I believe they were first created as a sort of stress reliever and are potentially useful for children with ADHD or Autism. Whatever their origins, they are now the latest playground craze set to drive any teacher up the wall and something that every child seems to rather love.

When I was at school we used to flick bic biros round our thumbs, but that was back in the dark ages……

I can imagine 28 children in a classroom all playing with these and not doing their maths, showing each other their latest moves (my daughter can make it spin on her head) and very much not paying attention. I am not about to enter into the ban them/not ban them in school debate.

I’m more interested in workshops! Could they actually be a good thing for a workshop full of eager adults?

I often provide my participants with fiddle toys, so now I’m wondering if these may just hit the mark.

A fiddle toy (or perhaps fidget toy) is something for a workshop participant to play with. It is something to fiddle with while they are learning. This could be something simple like lego or plasticine, or something more custom make for the job like stress balls, or bendy plastic figures. So, why are they helpful?

  • They are useful to keep people focused on the content of the workshop while giving their hands something to do, rather like doodling whilst talking on the phone to someone. Increasingly we are not great at paying attention these days and having some kind of small physical activity can be useful.
  • We all learn in different ways, with some people being predominantly kinaesthetic learners. These people need to touch and feel and play with things to learn, it helps information go in. Other people are happy to just listen, some people prefer things written or drawn and in reality we are all a bit of a combination.
  • There is some suggestion that regardless of how fidgeting helps to keep people’s attention on the task, it also helps with memory and retention of information.
  • Some people are just natural fidgets, and this is a good way to channel their fidgetry if you need them to sit down for a bit! We all know people who just seem to have excess nervous energy, well for those people having something to fiddle with can be an outlet. I actually think there is probably a fidget in us all…….
  • Some participants may be a bit nervous or anxious, and having something as a moderate distraction can be useful to put them at ease. It deflects a bit from a room full of expectancy that sometimes comes with a workshop!
  • I always think that fiddle toys are brilliantly adaptable for an ice breaker or energiser. What better way to get people talking than put some funny looking objects or toys on the table? I can already think of at least 3 different activities I could use them for…..

I’d love to know what you think.

Do you use fiddle toys in your workshops, and will you be trying fidget spinners? Or are they just another annoying fad?

To find out more about my nest workshops click here.

 

Communication discussion starter

If communication was a vehicle what would it be?

When doing my workshops, I do like a good analogy. I find that likening one thing to another helps us process what we are talking about and create a mental picture. Because I see a workshop and the discussions that take place as a journey, something that moves forwards and gains momentum as it does so, I frequently use analogies that involve moving. These are often related to vehicles, roads, rivers, maps and journeys, so I have created a short exercise, a discussion starter mapping communication onto different vehicles!

How does it work?

Well, first have a think about communication, what is it, what does it mean, how does it feel. Try to visualise it. Communication means different things to different people, and that’s where things can go a bit awry. So it’s good to create space to discuss it. For some it’s all about clarity, for some it’s about speed, for some it’s about quality. Perhaps listening is most important. It may be the two way nature, or it may be the versatility, or maybe the depth and range of things we can do with communication. It will inevitably be a combination of things, but different combinations for different people. Think for a couple of minutes what it means to you.

Next imagine if your idea of communication could be represented as a vehicle, what vehicle would it be? Perhaps you see communication as something that is slick and efficient, but perhaps (particularly with all the different mediums available to us) it can be a bit high maintenance. Perhaps a high end car. But maybe you think communication needs to be something that glides along smoothly, that you like it to be simple and uncomplicated, maybe that makes you think of a boat gliding down a river. It’s completely up to you.

Then you draw your vehicle.

Communication discussion starter

 

There is no right or wrong answer. I did a workshop recently where someone drew a picture of a tank! They saw communication as a bit of a struggle, and they needed it to be like a tank to get through, to get their message heard. The point is to use this as a discussion starter, to use the analogy to explore what different people think, to gather opinions and to get everyone thinking. One of the things you might find is that actually a certain vehicle is great for a number of things, but that there are many things it cannot do. One mode of transport does not quite represent all the facets of communication. It is a multidimensional thing. This exercise is a way of starting to explore that. From this starting point you may go on to dig deeper into communication problems, challenges, ideas for improvement, setting goals to move forwards, creating actions. But that’s the real heart of the workshop. This is just to warm you up.

It can also be a bit of fun and can be good to break the ice. This analogy can be used for other things too, not just to discuss communication – you can make it about anything you want.

Have a go and I’d love to hear the results, and I’d really like to see some pictures too!

What vehicle did you choose?

Brainstorming the business of how to make your horse thirsty….. and more.

Do you remember me talking about the power of a group in my last blog? If you didn’t get a chance to read it it’s here.

By way of a little follow up of the event I did for International Women’s Day, I thought I’d update you on how it all went and how we used the Brainstorm Booth to move forward with a few problems.

Brainstorm

The mini workshops were designed to enable participants (women at The Enterprise Network‘s conference for International Women’s Day) to bring along a problem to solve. Each session was an hour, which in itself presented a small conundrum to me – that old problem of time. How do you brainstorm 9 different problems in an hour?

The answer is you don’t. And you don’t get a fully fledged start to finish problem solving session. For that you need a far longer time frame – one where you can unpick problems slowly, piece by piece and bring them together in a way that gives you step by step actions to follow. When I facilitate in house with a group, perhaps to brainstorm ideas to move forwards with a project, or to think of ways to add value to a piece of work, we have at least half a day (a whole day if I’m lucky). But this was a taster, a mini workshop and chance to see just what was possible in an hour.

So, in the first place, not everyone had a particular problem to solve. Some people had come just to be a part of the discussion. For those that did, we started by presenting the problems, and then taking a look at whether there were any that shared some similarities. By pulling them all together, we realised that there were indeed issues that gelled together and that would benefit from being tackled in a broad sense by the same small group.

So that’s what we did, we set out the issues then pulled them together, gave them a heading and cracked on with the discussions in small groups.

Our two groups in the first session had the problems:

How to make your horse thirsty

AND

How to grow our businesses.

The second session discussed:

Appealing to different customers/potential employees

AND

What was important to start up a business and create a strategy

I probably need to explain the thirsty horse…..one of the participants told us a story based on the expression “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. Just like running a business, you can give people all sorts of information and tell them that your product or service is amazing. But you need them to want what you’re offering to become your customer. You need to make the horse thirsty. So team horse, were discussing ways to attract new customers and have quality engagement with them.

I facilitated the workshop so the participants could work through a process that I had designed for them, enabling each group came up with some brilliant ideas which they distilled into a handful of top tips. The sharing of thoughts, experiences and knowledge and the collaborative working to generate ideas really made the discussion valuable. Everyone seemed invested in the process and there was a wonderful energy in the room. These elements are some of the key ingredients for a good workshop, whatever its size.

There were some wonderful top tips that came out of the session, including:

Building up face to face relationships, being persistent and keeping on touch with potential leads to make the horse thirsty. Knowing your market and starting with a vision in mind for starting up a business and creating a strategy.

But it was much more that the things that were written down. It’s the process of the discussion itself that was powerful. Those little nuggets of information that come up, those shared stories, that confirmation that you are not alone in your dilemmas, that acknowledgement that running a business is not easy, but that we can share our insights and inspiration to move forwards.

A good brainstorm though, should not end there. It’s not about throwing the balls in the air, talking about them and leaving. It’s about what you do next. I gave each of the participants a shiny lightbulb to write down their best idea from the workshop, something to take away on act on, to remind them of the discussion and to create some continuity of the hard work everyone put it.

Shiny idea

Thank you to all the participants in both my workshops. You invested your time and energy into the sessions and made them a wonderful experience to be a part of.

What are your tops tips to make your horse thirsty?

 

 

Have you tapped into the power of a group?

A problem shared is a problem halved as they say. By sharing your problem with someone else, it often seems smaller as you gain perspective by talking it through. Sometimes that’s all you are looking for, a chance to mull over something out loud, an ear to bend. Talking it through can help those intangible blobs of seemingly unfathomable problem take shape and start to become clearer. If you’re lucky, you might actually realise that the problem isn’t a problem after all.

Unfortunately some problems, puzzles, or concerns are more tenacious and don’t move along quite so easily. Sometimes you get stuck with a half idea that won’t budge, it will neither go away nor gain momentum. Often it’s not just about talking it through and sharing or offloading. Resolutions and ideas for how to tackle the issue are required. Outlining next steps, creating tangible solutions and developing practical ways forward are essential. To give that problem a bit of a kick, to unstick it and to move it from its prime spot niggling away at you, you’ll need some deeper thought on the subject. And there’s nothing like the power of a well facilitated group to provide some much needed mental energy to help you move forwards.

group facilitation

Why a group?

Each individual has their own knowledge, skills, experiences and ideas. As individuals we can draw on the information available to us to offer advice and support to others. But as a group, each person brings something that can be built upon by others, their initial contribution magnified and enhanced. Whether these are complimentary or contradictory the process of bouncing information and ideas around is an important part of working through a dilemma or difficulty. Different people will come up with different questions based on what they know, to dig deep into any ideas. Teasing out different elements, sharing creative thoughts, sparking new ideas and discussing new information are functions that a group can provide. The collective energy of a group, when harnessed in the right way can be invaluable for helping to unstick those sticky problems.

Capturing that energy is not always easy, which is why it’s good to have a Facilitator on the job! Problems and ideas can be like flies trapped in a bottle; they can go round and round in circles without really resulting in very much. But with a well structured process and some key tools to address the task, the group can be guided through the problem by managing discussions, unpicking and unpacking the issues and coming out the other side with some possibilities to take forward.

Problem solving

If you have a team or department at your disposal just waiting for a Facilitator to come along and work with you, that’s great! But what if you are a small business owner, or sole trader who doesn’t have a ready made group of brains at their disposal?

Well, for a start, if you are a women in business then I have some great news for you! As part of International Women’s Day 2017 on 8th March, I am going to be running the Brainstorming Booth at The Enterprise Network’s Women in Business Conference. There will be two sessions during the day for you to come along with your problem, stumbling block, query or idea. You can share this with others who can work together to help you solve it, move it forward or at the very least provide some clarity. By being a part of the group you will also be able to share your own knowledge and expertise to help with someone else’s conundrum. It’s all about sharing and learning from each other. Many problems discussed may be common to quite a few people, and you quite possibly might find answers to questions that you didn’t even know you had, or surprise yourself with a new idea!

This is a really exciting opportunity, and this year’s theme is #beboldforchange. Perhaps you have things you want to change in your business, but aren’t sure how to go about it. Perhaps the power of a group can help!

And if this isn’t for you, then watch this space as I have another exciting brainstorming event coming up later on in March…..

For more information about this or about in-house facilitation of this kind please drop me an e-mail on helene(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)jewellfacilitation.com