I recently got this comment from an extremely frustrated speaker:

“Dear Joey,

The more I listen to you talk about how successful your 1-day speaking events are, the more incapable I feel. You get hundreds of people in your room but when I recently ran a preview night for my 1-day workshop only 12 people turned up and only 3 people booked! Now my 1-day workshop is coming up early next month and I’m afraid NO-ONE is going to show up. Do I really have to go and do another preview night? How else do I fill this room other than market to my list?

I’m on the verge of giving up.


In gratitude,


Sound familiar?!

Knowing how to market your seminars and filling your rooms are such a common source of pain for us speakers, I thought I would share her email and my response:

Hi Susan,

First of all do not give up!

I hear stories like yours ALL the time. I’m not going to lie, filling the room is the hardest thing about speaking. Far harder than actually standing on stage delivering the content!

And before I share some seminar marketing strategies with you, let’s get things straight. I haven’t always put on huge events! It’s easy to forget that because I now have a fantastic team around me, that when I first started I was just like you. Remember, we all have to start somewhere.

In fact, I remember the very first event I put on – it was a client appreciation night in my own home – and I invited less than 20 people and most of them were friends and family! I was racked with nerves too but I made a few sales and I was over the moon!

You see, that small success gave me the confidence to go onto bigger and better things which ultimately led to me setting up my own business and putting on my own 1-day events and becoming who I am today.

So wherever you are right now is the perfect place for you! Give yourself permission to be small when you start out and that means setting realistic targets.

(Honestly, the amount of times I hear people who have NO list say they’re going to get 150 people + in a room in less than 4 weeks time. Yes that can happen, but it’s the exception to filling a room and not the rule!)

Now in terms of the practical advice, here are 8 key guidelines for filling a room:

  1. 12 Week Lead-in

    Give yourself a 12 week lead-in for marketing your seminar. This means your sales page and promotional emails need to be prepared in advance of these 12 weeks. We’ve found anything between a 12-week to 8-week lead-in works best for our list.

    TIP: A lot of people either book right at the beginning or right on the deadline so remember to angle your email copy to those people specifically. Offer earlybird bonuses for booking quickly and then angle your copy to the ‘fence sitters’ toward the end.

  2. Is Your Event A No-Brainer?

    Make it a no-brainer to attend your preview night or workshop. Offer good quality free bonuses and make sure you deliver exceptional value – not a sales pitch. Make it such a feast that the only choice is to attend!

    TIP: Use testimonials from happy clients as social proof.

  3. Hire A Copywriter

    If you’re not a great copywriter, invest in someone to look over the copy for you. A few tweaks here and there could be all the difference between a 10% conversion or a 1% conversion on your sales page. The reason why copywriters can charge a lot of money is because of the money they make you!! Too often I see a great idea let down by weak copy. If you can’t afford a copywriter, then in your emails offer a clear message to market match, some clean bullets and at least 2 links to your registration page. Use of success stories also works well.

    TIP: Don’t be too salesy in your emails. Coming from the heart will create a stronger connection in today’s email saturated market place.

  4. Is Your Niche Clear?

    This is really important and something I talk about a lot – make sure the event has a clear niche and that you have a very clear message to market match! For example, our niche are small business owners, coaches, entreprenuers and our message is how to leverage your time through speaking so you stop trading time for money and start reaching more people. Not nailing the niche is one of the biggest reasons events don’t fill or why you don’t get great conversions.

    TIP! If you don’t do anything else, just do this one!

  5. Seek JV Partners and Alliances

    If you’ve only got a small list or even no list, I wouldn’t suggest going to the big promoters, but do find people who have approximately the same list size or a ‘step up’ from you. Offer them an incentive to send for you, for example a percentage of the ticket sales or if you do have a good-sized list, a reciprocal email for them.

    TIP! Make sure you write the promotional emails for their list – basically you want to give them everything on the plate already done to make it as easy as possible for send out to their list.

  6. Set-Up An Affiliate Program

    Set up an affiliate program and make it easy to join! Again, take away any effort to someone being an affiliate. Offer 50% or more on the front-end ticket price. If you are selling something at the event, your money will come on the back-end so you can afford to be generous on the front-end.

  7. Keep Building Your List

    Keep focusing on building your list with new prospects! The more new prospects, the more people you can market to with news of your 1-day event. Social media is a great way to engage new people, or guest talk on other’s webinars, write value packed blogs like this one and have your squeeze page offering a relevant free gift like ours:


    When you are building your list, the idea is to offer a free gift to draw people in and start a relationship with them. So you don’t want to be marketing your event to these new prospect straight away but at some point, you do want to let them know you’re putting on a live event to give them the opportunity to see you in person!

  8. Social Media

    If like Susan, you’re just putting on a preview night, then use social media to its fullest! Set up an event for it on Facebook and then invite your friends and ask them to share the link with as many people as possible. You might want to film a short video and post this too. You could even put on a free 60minute webinar in addition or as an alternative to get people into your 1-day.

    TIP: If you are using social media, then remember to ‘seed’ your idea with status updates/tweets which are about your topic and invite interaction.

  9. Be Realistic!

    Remember what I said at the beginning – keep your expectations realistic. If you’ve never put on an event before aiming for 20 people is a good start. Go up incrementally from that point on. Quality is always better than quantity in the beginning.

So, now you have some clear strategies for filling a room or getting people to attend your preview night. No-one ever said it was easy, but it doesn’t have to be that hard either!

If you’ve got any marketing seminar tips for how to fill a room, share them below or if you’re looking for JV partners, share that below too!

4 Responses to “How to Fill a Room…”

  1. Awesome!! Thank you for sharing this critical information for speakers, so many new speakers can be disheartened by not being able to fill a room to their expectations, then if they don’t convert to their expectations, they take another blow to their confidence. So follow the advise above to steer you straight & true.
    I will add…as a person that fills the room for myself and others, try making personal invites over the phone if your looking for small groups in rooms, it creates great influence.

  2. Hey Sally- SO TRUE! People get all tangled up with websites when they first start out. If you only want 10-20 people… get on the phone right!!?

  3. Joanna, You are such a STAR! Thank you for sharing this information. Consistently, you deliver such value. Thanks also to Susan for sharing her plight with you in the first place, without her initial email to you, we wouldn’t have your answer.

    Much love and gratitude.

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