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I had a really entertaining and enlivening talk today with my friend Scott Stratten. Earlier this year, Scott shared a few nuggets of Twitter wisdom with me that really made an impact and for that, I’m truly grateful. Especially, because at the time, I was a total Twitter newbie and doing it all freaking wrong.
So today Scott says, “Hey Marie, how’d your Rich, Happy & Hot Live event go last week? I saw some pictures online and it looked awesome. Totally different than anything else out there…”
I told Scott that my event felt like an un-seminar. It was honestly one of the best things I’ve done in my life and turned out far better than I could have hoped.
Here’s the deal. Over the past 5 years or so, I’ve been to more business seminars and live events then you could imagine. And for the most part, I’ve seen the same “kinds of things” done over and over again.
Meaning? The business seminars are not really seminars at all. They’re pitch fests.
You get a big plastic binder and pay a bunch of money to learn about how to grow your business (which is really important stuff to know, by the way) and at the end of each presentation, an order form is handed out and you have the opportunity, should you so choose, to buy that person’s product or program.
And sometimes, there’s a big ticket item (like a high-end mastermind, retreat or coaching program) being sold as well.
And that’s usually when the pressure in the room gets cranked up.
Like if you don’t “go for” the big ticket item, you’re not really serious about your business, will likely fail and are headed to hell in a hand-basket. (not a great feeling after you just threw down a few grand to attend the event in the first place.)
Now let’s be clear.
I’ve spoken and sold at events and the folks who have had me on their stage have been awesome.
Anytime I’m invited to speak to a crowd I’m humbled and grateful – both to the event presenters and to the audience. But more and more these days, when asked to speak I say yes, but I have no desire to “sell.” I just want to teach.
I’ve learned a lot over the past few years, both as a presenter and as an attendee. And to be fair, no one holds a gun to your head to make you buy anything. It’s all your choice. (and yes, I’ve purchased stuff at events too, and most of it was good.)
But when it came time to create my own seminar, I wanted to do things differently.
My vision for this event was to create a small, intimate and powerful experience where each participant felt truly taken care of and left feeling like she got at least 10X the value of what she paid.
I wanted each person to leave so freakin’ educated and inspired that even if she never bought another thing from me again, she would take away tools that would not only put money in her pocket, but positively impact the rest of her life.
So here’s how we rolled at the first ever RHH Live seminar.
1. No plastic binders. We had gorgous, eco-friendly watermelon colored journals for notes, inspiration and ideas.
2. No powerpoint or laptops. We took a total technology break. Super good for the soul and incredibly powerful for deep learning and transformation.
3. Music, dancing & physical activity. Hip-hop is my thang so we had special “themed songs” to anchor in ideas and have regular dance breaks. We also had a 3 hour, totally killer physical segment on Friday night.
4. Expert, generous, heart-felt teachers who didn’t sell. Josh Pais, Lisa Wilder, Laura Roeder and Laura Belgray all taught RIDICULOUSLY genius content sans the order forms.
5. A crazy cool and different location. Rather than a typical hotel ballroom, we had the honor of being in a boutique and chic “living room” type setting.
6. Lots of time for Q&A and discussion. Some of the most brilliant insights come out of real-time coaching and Q&A. There’s also a ton of wisdom in the room from smart and insightful participants that often gets lost unless there’s enough time allotted for everyone to share.
7. No big-ticket item to buy. Here’s the deal. Typical seminar wisdom says to sell your big ticket item when you have everyone in the room and they’re all caught up in the high of the experience and sense of possibility. Yeah, I get it.
But after looking within my heart and checking in with my team, we collectively said, “Screw that.”
My high-end, year long Rich, Happy & Hot Mastery program is fu*king incredible. And it’s not cheap.
We only want people joining who are 1000% clear they want in and 1000% clear they can handle it. (in case you haven’t guessed, working with me is not always a walk in the park. I don’t let anything slide and I don’t let people quit.)
We’re opening up the program again for 2010 and shared about what it was, but we did not have registration forms at the event.
I mean, is it really that crazy to trust that the people who are meant to work with us will do it, without pressuring them to make a huge investment of time and money on the spot? I sure as hell hope not.
(Of course, there needs to be a deadline for enrollment in any program, but that’s more for logistics and planning purposes than anything else.)
So what’s the bottom line here? Am I saying it’s wrong to sell stuff at events? Of course not.
It would be just as silly to make a new rule about “not selling” at business events as it’s been for everyone to follow the “sell the crap out of them” rule that much of the industry currently seems to be caught up in.
Sometimes selling in person, at the event, is the most practical and beneficial-for-the-participant thing an event leader can do. But not always.
And let’s face it.
As my as my own events grow in size, it may make the most sense to offer registration for further programs right there on the spot.
We’ll see. But you can bet that I’ll always put my customer’s best interest first and be transparent as hell about exactly what I’m offering and why.
As a whole, I think the entire coaching/teaching community needs to step away from blueprints, roadmaps and modeling and innovate what we do and most importantly, how we do it.
We need to put the focus back on taking care of people. On serving, not selling. Even (and especially) if really taking care of people means we miss out on some “instant” sales.
Why? Because I really, really love the sh*t out of what I do.
And for those of us who were born to teach, speak and mentor, we have incredible value to share with those we are meant to serve.
I don’t want the whole seminar coaching/teaching/speaking industry going down the toilet simply because many people stuck in old models may give an otherwise amazing industry a bad name.
Got thoughts or personal experience on this whole seminar thing? Let me know. I’d love to hear it.