How to promote your small business with events: an interview with entrepreneur Peter Wallhead

Posted by: corina Thursday 3rd May 2012
Categories: Event Planning, Latest News

After recently highlighting 5 tips for running events to promote your small business, we’re expanding on this theme by interviewing someone who has done just that.

Peter Wallhead

Peter Wallhead is the founder of Wallhead Web, a web design, development and marketing agency in Hobart Tasmania, and Jobric, a microsourcing site designed to help people find the expertise and stuff they need.

Peter spoke to us about his experience running events to promote his business and the lessons he has learned along the way.

EV: Where did you first get the idea of using workshops as a way to expand your business?

PW: I was given advice from the Startup Tasmania (ST) community that the best way to increase brand awareness for Wallhead Web was to demonstrate in some way that I was an expert in my field. Running workshops on topics I was very knowledgeable in seemed like the next logical step to expand my business.

EV: What kind of process did you go through to plan & develop your first workshop?

PW: I first asked members of the ST community if they thought there would be enough demand for my chosen workshop topic (in this case Social Media for Business). After receiving an overwhelming positive response to the idea I carried out extensive research on the topic. From this research I developed a slideshow presentation and then worked backwards to extract the juiciest bits of copy to use for my marketing materials.

I utilised Facebook, Twitter and an email campaign to current clients to market the workshop.

EV: What elements do you think contributed to the success of your first workshop?

PW: Lots of word-of-mouth advertising using Twitter, Facebook and email. Both existing clients and friends of Wallhead Web including ST helped to spread the word. A low ticket price and two guest speakers (Polly McGee from ST and Jodi Telha from Edible Social Media) provided a lot of value for attendees. I also chose a topic that was of high interest to the business community, which was my target audience.

EV: What lessons did you learn from running your first workshop?

PW: Next time I would ask any guest speakers to sign a Non-compete Agreement to prevent them from working with workshop participants in the future. To save catering costs, I wouldn’t run the workshop over a lunch period again and I would adjust the ticket price to more accurately reflect the time and effort involved to run the workshop.

When marketing the event, I would be more careful to clearly explain who the target market is, to prevent beginners from attending an advanced workshop.

EV: What did you do different when planning/developing your second workshop?

PW: I didn’t include lunch and downgraded from barista made coffees to self-serve to save on costs. I  also increased the ticket price from $25 to $40 to better compensate for the time and effort required to run the workshop. Instead of hiring guest speakers again, I researched the topic (Business Mobile Strategy Development) more thoroughly so I could present the workshop myself.

EV: Your second workshop garnered less interest than your first one. What elements do you think contributed to that?

PW: The timing of the workshop was right after the Easter break which is normally a major crunch week for business owners, who were my target market. There was also a very short lead time before the workshop so the word-of-mouth marketing may not have spread as far as it could have.

The price increase may have also been too much. Potential participants may have wondered why this workshop was $40 when the last one was only $25. More explanation for the price increase could have helped to ease this concern.

Lastly, without a basic understanding of my chosen topic, people would be unlikely to know if they need help with it or not, which could have affected registration numbers.

EV: What lessons did you learn from your second experience?

PW: To make sure that there is enough demand for the topic and have a legitimate reason for increasing ticket prices, especially if it’s a sudden increase. Also, to never try to run a workshop in a post holiday period.

EV: What is the best nugget of advice you could give to someone planning their first business workshop?

PW: Leverage every personal, business and community connection you have to promote your workshop to the greatest target audience in the shortest amount of time.

EV: What will you do differently next time?

PW: I will choose a topic that is clearly in demand, run the workshop after lunch and market it early and often to a clearly defined target market.

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