Case Study: The “Brand Spark” Workshop
If you know your ideal audience, creating an informative workshop that helps them to solve their problems can set you apart by showing you are a specialist in your field.
It's a good idea to always have an event to invite your potential design clients to. Molly Mason, is a freelance web and graphic designer in Addison, MI, USA. In September 2014, Molly organized “Brand Spark”, a branding workshop in cooperation with Catrina Ossmann, a local marketing consultant.
Molly and Catrina targeted Brand Spark at small local businesses in Southern Michigan.
Hi Molly, why did you organize the event?
My goal was to provide knowledge to these small businesses that can help them achieve their goals. I wanted attendees to simply understand the definition of brand, and how it is different from branding, marketing and sales.
It was also a great way to tangibly show my ideal audience that I am knowledgeable in this area. I also stressed the importance of design to a successful brand.
I really wanted this event to be about education. My personal brand is not pitchy. It is informative and educational and this type of workshop really helps to reinforce that.
My clients come back to me because I truly keep their best interest at the forefront of any advice I give. If a project is a bad idea or a waste of money, I don’t hesitate to tell my client that and offer them a wiser and more effective solution to the problem.
(At Brand Spark) I wasn’t trying to sell them something, and I think that helped me get some really good leads after the event that have turned into projects.
Several attendees requested appointments afterwards, and it has led to several new projects.
It's now a bit more than a month since the event. So far I've been discussing two new projects, and I've sent two proposals.
The first project was an editable PDF commercial photography newsletter targeted to the food service industry.
The second project is a start-up business that needs help to establish their brand strategy and marketing plan. Future plans include a website and promotional print materials.
So far I've landed one new client, and $1,000 in new projects.
Also, Brand Spark allowed me to reinforce my credibility and brand with former clients, and I was able to increase my network and spread the word about what I do.
Are the results from Brand Spark typical for a speaking engagement of this type and size?
Yes, getting one or two good leads. I am looking to grow my business slowly and methodically, so it's a great result for me.
When I first began, this was a very important part of growing my business. I have grown my business by referral and through these speaking engagements.
In the past year and a half I have spoken on branding 6 times. The events have been conferences, workshops and networking events.
The speaking engagements have been more valuable and led to more income than any other marketing activities I have done.
How did you promote Brand Spark?
Coordinating with a colleague gives both the opportunity to reach a new audience that you may not have reached on your own.
We used Catrina’s email marketing list, LinkedIn posts, Facebook posts on our pages and in groups, and Twitter posts. I also sent an email blast to my contacts with a promotion beforehand.
In between of us we have an email list of about 150 people, 400 LinkedIn connections, 400 Facebook friends, and 500 Twitter followers.
About 15 registered online for the event. We sent a follow up email the day before the event to registered participants
A lesson learned is to require the registration fee ($10) up front. I think it improves the attendance if they have an investment in it up front.
We spent less than $100. We were able to use a local conference room for no cost. We coordinated the details over a lunch, and a few emails
The Event Itself
5 people showed up. Some previous clients, some new faces.
I talked about brand, branding and design, and why it has become so important in today’s business world. I also had a couple of exercises to demonstrate how brands get into our minds.
Catrina then spoke on implementing a social media strategy for your brand.
What did the attendees appreciate the most?
The attendees felt that they finally understood what “brand” meant in plain, simple terms. They also really appreciated the individual attention to their concerns.
How did you follow up?
You can get a good feeling on their interest after the event if it is a smaller event.
I followed up with any hot leads the following day.
For other, I connected with them on LinkedIn or followed them on Twitter sometime in the next few days.
Any advice on speaking?
Confused people say no. If you confuse your audience, it will be easy for them to say no.
Explain things in the simplest, clearest terms possible.
Really take a look at the words you choose, and be sure that anyone over the age of 12 understands them. If you use high-faluting jargon, people will stop listening to you.
I run into colleagues who use language that is very techy and makes them sound really intelligent. The problem is you can’t sell people on something they don’t understand.
Any other advice?
If you don’t consider yourself a specialist, start educating yourself until you feel comfortable teaching on a subject.
There is always something new to learn in this field, so be prepared to be a student for life! Books I recommend:
- The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design, by Marty Neumeier
- Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands, by Marty Neumeier
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, by Al & Laura Ries
Any tips on using speaking to market your creative services? Please comment!