Early Bird Pricing for Workshops – 6 Things to Consider

Early bird pricing is just one way to encourage customers to sign up for your workshop at the beginning of your promotional cycle, rather than waiting until the last minute.  Early registrations provide an influx of revenue to help cover costs and make planning easier for the actual event.  They are also an indicator of how appealing your event is and whether you will need to promote it more heavily than planned.  But before you decide to offer early bird pricing consider the following.

1 – How will it impact your revenue? Early Bird Pricing

Take time to consider various revenue goals for your event, and how early bird pricing will impact these.  For example, if you want to attract 50 attendees with an early bird price of $49 and a regular price of $79 consider the financial impact.  Assuming you will fill the event, the difference is $900 if 10 attendees sign up as early birds versus 40 attendees.   Don’t get hung up on the amount, but be aware of the general implications and possibilities.  Work through a few different scenarios to understand your numbers.  Review your costs and ensure that your early bird pricing is sufficient to cover them.

2 – Do you have a system that can handle early bird pricing?

If you use an online tool such as a shopping cart to process registrations think through how the system needs to be set up.  Is there an automatic tool that takes care of everything?  Or will you need to create 2 separate types of registrations?

If you will be processing the sales without an automated system you will need to create a chart to track purchases.

3 – What will your cut off date be?

Decide on a cut off date that fits with your event goals and timing.  If you are using other pricing incentives, consider whether they will be offered along with an early bird offer, or on their own.

4 – Think of the to do’s to be done when early bird pricing ends.

For example, will you need to change wording on your website?  In what areas?  If you are using print materials do you have 2 versions, one that promotes the early bird, and one the regular price?  Ideally, once the early bird deadline has passed, you want to remove mentions of it.

5 – Have a promotional plan.

There is no sense in having early bird pricing if no one knows about it.  You should have a promotional plan for the entire event, but be specific about how the early bird offer will be promoted.  For example, through your e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, website, handouts and other promotional tools.

6 – Do you feel comfortable promoting an early bird price?

It is important to be comfortable with the difference between your early bird and regular price so you don’t hesitate to promote it.  Make sure your regular price is realistic and not incredibly inflated to make the early bird price offer look even better.  The regular price should be at a level where you will still expect to make sales.

With proper planning and execution early bird pricing can be a great tool for attracting attendees to your workshop.  Having attendees sign up through the early bird offer is a great boost of confidence as you organize the event and assists with planning.  If your early bird offer is not successful, it can be an early warning sign to gear up promotional efforts.

*Looking for more event suggestions?  Another helpful blog post is …..#1 Benefit of Events & 7 Tips.

Getting Ready For Your Trade Show Display

You’ve made the decision and signed the contract to be an exhibitor at an upcoming event.  To increase your success keep the following in mind.

Be recognizable and branded.

Display your company name or preferably your logo prominently.  Ensure your booth reflects the style and feel of your brand as well as the colouring.  If someone was familiar with your logo and website before attending the event, would they automatically recognize what booth is yours?   For example, a Spa Sisters booth is instantly recognizable.  “We’ve worked hard to create an environment that’s eye-catching – who doesn’t love fuchsia??” say Kerri Foster Roberts and Tricia Foster-Mohan, owners of the Spa Sisters.  They add that other elements add to the bright, playful look that is their brand.  “The pink curtains, polka dot lamps and feather wreath catch people’s attention making them more likely to stop and look at our products.”

On a tight budget?  Use inexpensive frames painted in one of your brand colours, featuring large photos of your product to make your booth look more visual.  Bring a tablecloth in the same colour as your logo.

goodlines Decor at One of a Kind Spring 2012
Lois of goodlines Decor at One of a Kind Spring 2012
Know how you will stop customers in their tracks.

How will you ensure that individuals walking by your booth will stop?  Will you provide samples?  Will there be some kind of activity such as an equipment demonstration?  What will you say to initiate conversation?  Do you have a specific product or service you want to focus on?

Lois Ward, of goodlines Décor features her thought provoking quote pillows prominently.  “People are drawn right into the booth to read the quotes.  The display is lively but uncluttered and we ‘fluff’ product often to attract attention.  Warm friendly smiles from staff make people feel welcome.”

For the Spa Sisters, testers are the key.  “We’ve found that people love to sniff and sample body meringues and lotions, so we put them right out front so people feel comfortable trying them.  It’s a great way for us to begin a conversation with someone and we love hearing the instant feedback on which flavours people prefer,” say Kerri and Tricia.

Have Marketing Materials Available

Be sure to have brochures and business cards on hand – something that individuals can walk away with.  Your website address and contact information should be easy to find on these materials.  The conference organizers should be able to provide you with an estimate of the number of attendees.  Not everyone will choose to pick up your information but the estimate will at least provide a starting point.

If you have an e-newsletter, provide attendees with an opportunity to sign up for it.  This is a great way to build your list!  Be sure to enter their information to your list immediately after the event.

Think through the logistics

Make a list of everything you need to take to the event.  What steps do you need to take to prepare these items?  What other actions are required?  Take time to think through each step of the event.  How will you, your products and other supplies get there?  Will they fit in your vehicle or will you need to rent or borrow a van?  Do you need help to set up?  What do you want people to do when they visit your booth?  How will you cover bathroom and meal breaks?  Are there specific guidelines set by the organizers?

Plan for follow up & rest

Mark time in your calendar for follow up activities such as entering e-newsletter subscribers, unpacking, paying bills, filing paperwork, etc.  This is a major investment and you want to ensure you have the time to follow up properly.

You will also be tired and not want to return to a heavy personal or professional schedule immediately after the event.  Although it took time for Lois of goodlines Décor to regain some balance after her last show she did eventually make progress.  “About a month after the show I was able to once again create moments of relaxation by returning to yoga and meditation once a week, as well as spending time with family and friends,” she notes.

Getting Started

If you haven’t been involved in tradeshows before try a couple of lower cost, local shows before moving on to larger, multi-day events that may also require travel. Remember to create lists to help you prepare.  Add to the them as you get ready, review the lists after the event and keep them for future reference – even if they are covered in scribbles.  Your lists will help you be successful and make your next event even easier!

Enjoy the show!


Should You Sign Up For A Tradeshow Booth?

Making a decision on whether to participate in a conference or trade show can be difficult.  Organizers may show you charts outlining all of the amazing benefits.  You may feel pressured to respond because of an early bird deadline that is about to expire.  There are only x number of spots left and you don’t want to miss out!

Spa Sisters Display

Spa Sisters Display

Exhibiting at conferences can be a wonderful way to promote your business.  “The opportunity to interact with clients and hear their immediate feedback to our products continues to be the main reason why we do shows,” says Kerri Foster Roberts and Tricia Foster-Mohan of the Spa Sisters.

Lois Ward, of goodlines Décor echoes this sentiment.  “In addition to great sales volume, participating in the One of a Kind Christmas show confirmed what my most popular products are and provided further insight into the exact types of customers they appeal to.”

While there are lots of positives, there are also significant financial costs that need to be considered.  Not to be ignored are the demands placed on you and other staff.  Leading up to the trade show you may have to significantly increase production of your products, preparing your booth will take time and then there are the long hours of the show itself.

To determine if you should sign up consider the following questions.

Will you reach your target customer? 

Review the characteristics of your target customer.  Are they male or female?  Approximate age range?  Income level?  Education level?  Where do they live?  What interests and hobbies do they have?  Will you find lots of your target customers at this event or just a few?  More sophisticated events should be able to provide you with a demographic profile of their attendees.  Watch that your investments of money and time are comparable to how many target customers you expect to reach.  If you won’t be reaching your target market, don’t be an exhibitor.

How successful do you expect the event to be? 

Is this an event with many years of success or is it just starting out?  What efforts will the organizers take to promote the event?  Does the event offer an exciting experience to attendees such as a keynote speaker or a variety of workshops?  Have major sponsors been confirmed?  Look for events with a history of success or those with strong promotional efforts.

As Kerri and Tricia of the Spa Sisters note, “we look for shows that are well organized, well-publicized, and well-attended.  A show with a proven track record is much more likely to be successful for us.”

What is the true total cost? 

The most obvious cost is the initial fee for the booth space.  The other most significant cost will be your booth display that might include lighting, a backdrop, banner, signage, table cloth, shelving, etc.  (If you plan to re-use these materials you can divide their cost over the various events.)

You will also need marketing materials such as brochures, flyers and business cards.  The organizer should be able to provide an estimate regarding the number of attendees and then you will need to estimate how many of those may want to pick up your information.

As Lois Ward of goodlines Décor notes, “payment processing expenses also need to be considered – a point of purchase credit card device, credit card transaction fees and cash float.  From a comfort point of view I also invest in shoe insoles to combat standing on concrete floors all day.”

Other costs can include door prizes, meals, hotel accommodations, transportation and parking.  And although this isn’t a direct business related cost, assume you may do some personal shopping as well.

Are there added bonuses? 

Having a booth and meeting lots of potential new customers is great – but are there other ways you can market yourself?  Can you be featured in promotional material for the event?  If you provide a door prize will you be able to personally present it to the winner from the stage?  Can you be a workshop speaker?  The more bonuses there are the better.

Is there an alternative? 

Consider the alternatives to being an exhibitor.  Are there sponsorship opportunities?  Could you be a speaker without having a booth?  What if you attended and simply networked with other businesses and attendees?  If you feel you could realize similar benefits through other less costly alternatives then choose those.

Conferences and trade shows are often filled with energy and excitement.  They offer a great way to promote products and services.  Just remember to choose carefully to ensure your time and money are wisely spent.


#1 Benefit of Events & 7 Tips

I’ve organized and executed lots of events for different reasons over the years.  Events are both exciting and exhausting.  But why do them?

The #1 benefit of events is they bring FOCUS.

Everybody gets wrapped up in events – those leading the charge, fellow staff or volunteers helping out, customers, and the media.  (Who knows maybe your animals on the farm get excited when they know they are going to be greeted by hordes of children.)

An event can be a gardening workshop you are holding for 10 people, participation in a large yoga conference with a booth, or a themed festival day at your farm.

Events deserve focus.  They shine a spotlight on your company, its products and services – so you want to make sure that whatever type of event you are doing it’s done well.


7 Tips…
Know why you are doing the event. 

Be sure to have a clear purpose and goals for your event.  Are you trying to reach new customers?  Is it purely for additional sales?  Are you trying to get media coverage?  Be sure you plan your event to achieve those goals.

Start planning a minimum of 6 months in advance, ideally 1 year. 

3 months is possible but it’s tight.  Why so much time?  See the next point.

Promote it properly

Lead times are important so that you can cement all the necessary details – date/time/location/activities/speakers/sponsors etc.  This is especially important when printing materials such as a flyer.

For a simple event, promotion may mean 1 page flyers from your home printer, a listing on your website, and a series of emails to your newsletter subscribers.  For larger events, you may want to develop a specific graphic look for the event, print a professionally looking postcard or brochure, give it a page on your website, as well as promote it to your email list.

The more time you have the more people you can tell about the event, and the more successful it will be.

Be aware events are resource intensive.

To me this is the number one negative about events.  They can be incredibly resource intensive – requiring time and money.  For example, you may need to boost production to have more product ready and/or find additional people to staff your booth at the conference that weekend.

Map out a timeline

When you starting planning an event sit down and make a list of all the required steps.  Estimate how much time each step will take, and who will be responsible for it.  Keep the list updated as much as possible, although this always goes a bit off the track near the actual event.

I start an Excel spreadsheet and record every possible step I can think of on a separate line.  Then I go back and sort them by when they need to be completed.  I jot notes down on a printed copy and update the Excel file ongoing and after the event so that all of the information is there for next time.

Have a supplies list

Similar to the timeline I prefer to keep a list on Excel of everything needed for the event.  Use sub-categories as necessary – for example, before the event, at the event, follow up.  No item is too small.

Start with estimating everything you need and then note the actuals used.  For the next event it will all be in one place.  For example – 1,000 postcards printed / 700 distributed, 40 lbs of summer sausage used for samples/ 2 lbs leftover, next time bring 2 garbage pails for sample waste, etc.

Avoid one off events

Because events are resource intensive, avoid events that you will only hold one time.  Look for events that can be done on a regular basis.  Maybe every August you offer canning workshops.  Maybe your focus is attending 3 conferences each year.  Maybe it’s an annual Spring Open House.  The benefit is that your event will continually improve as you learn what works and you won’t be recreating the wheel each time when it comes to processes and promotional efforts.