(Max Joel from Solar1 speaking to a packed crowd. Notice the solar module to his left.)

Two weeks ago, I held my first building tour and energy workshop in NYC and it was a huge success. So, I wanted to provide a very specific walkthrough of what exactly I did, why, and how you can apply it to your business.

Recap

  • I spent about 15 hours marketing the event and delivering it
  • We had 20 RSVPs, a 50 person wait-list, and 20 people showed up the event.
  • 5 people said they were currently looking for solar on their roof, no one was doing remodeling work or wanted HVAC work done.
  • 2 solid leads, none have closed yet, but site visits are scheduled.

The case and strategy for workshop

  • Batch processes leads is the most efficient way to handle leads in terms of profit / time
  • Teaching someone is the best way to win the trust of potential clients.
  • The goal of marketing is to establish yourself as subject matter expert, and someone that property owners can respect, can trust, and can get good advice from. Teaching people does all this at once (hint: we do the same thing for Heatspring, notice how I’m teaching you something right now ;)
  • I’ve wrote some more details posts about holding workshops in the past. 

Step by step plan that you can use to create your own workshop

1 – Find a Location. 

  • I’m extremely lucky in that I have an amazing building to use, so obviously this was the best choice for me.
  • If you don’t have a building you could also consider 1) a project you did with a client that really loves you and their system. If you’re going to do this, you’ll have to limit the number of people significantly because you’ll be walking through someone’s property. Only a small number of clients will be okay with this, so pick wisely  or 2) use a community space that has an existing list in a space where you want to sell. This could be YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, etc.

2 – Invite Guest speakers – Why? What specifically do you do and look for?

I feel that having guest speakers is very key to a successful event, especially if it’s your first event, for a few reasons. It makes the event less about you and more about learning amazing material, which makes it easier to market. It adds credibility to the event, again, because it’s not just about you. Also, you can pick a speaker from an organization that has a list of people that you could sell to, so it increases your marketing reach. For my event, I had two guest speakers. Here are their bios.

I picked these speakers because they had something important to say, are very credible, and market to property owners that are also likely to buy my services. ALSO, these are also organizations that I personally am a huge fan of so it’s not hard for me talk them up and I WANT to help them as well.

About the Super Special Speaker: Max Rubinstein

Deconstruction Manager, Max Rubinstein, from Build It Green!NYC will be speaking about incorporating reuse and recycling in your next home renovation project. Deconstruction is the selective and careful dismantling of buildings to maximize re-use and recycling rates. Build It Green!NYC’s Deconstruction Team can professionally dismantle anything from a kitchen to a whole house, uninstalling the items carefully and removing the items as a tax deductible donation.  Decon is also your best environmental, and often financial, alternative to the landfill!

About BIG!NYC: Build It Green!NYC, is New York City’s only non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials. Our warehouse has everything from panel doors to high end refrigerators and shutters to movie props. Our mission is to keep these materials out of the landfill, while offering deep discounts on their resale. We are sponsored by Community Environmental Center (CEC)www.cecenter.org. Founded in late 2004, our Astoria warehouse opened in February of 2005. Our second reuse center opened in November 2011 and is now open 7 days a week in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Learn more at www.bignyc.org.

Speaker Bio: Max spearheads the Deconstruction program at Build It Green!NYC. The recurring scene of perfectly good building materials crushed at the bottom of a dumpster led him to BIG!NYC, and he’s never looked back. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Max attended Bard College where he received a Bachelor of Arts in film. Since then he has really cultivated his skills as a precision craftsman, having worked as a fabricator, cabinetmaker and carpenter, all in NYC.

About our Second Speaker: Max Joel, Solar One

Max Joel is the former Director of the Energy Connections Program at Solar One, a non-profit green energy, arts, and education center based in New York City. The Energy Connections Program develops education, outreach, and community partnership projects in an effort to make all New Yorkers part of our city’s ambitious efforts to combat climate change and develop a clean, green economy. Ongoing projects include Clean Energy Connections, a discussion series and networking hub for NYC’s emerging cleantech economy, and Whole Building Education, which trains the managers, staff, and residents of low-income housing in energy savings behaviors and management strategies. Max also served as a NYSERDA Energy $mart Communities Coordinator, helping building owners and businesses access incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Previously, Max was the Capital Projects Coordinator for the Queens Botanical Garden, where he facilitated the construction of New York City’s first public building to achieve LEED Platinum certification. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Columbia University and a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where his thesis explored emerging and innovative strategies for financing green community development. Max is a 2008 Doris Duke Conservation Fellow and serves on the Advisory Board of the Jewish Greening Fellowship. He is currently consulting with Solar One and launching his own consulting practice specializing in renewable energy and community development.

Here is the exact email I used to invite the speakers.

3 – Create event outline, what exactly people will learn and determine a date.

I use eventbrite, because it’s super simple and free.

What to keep in mind when outline the event:

  • Credibility. Make sure to include multiple pieces of information that boost your credibility so people feel fine spending their time to listen to you. In my case, I used the building and it’s press as credibility, as well as my own writing engagements and the credibility of having other speakers.
  • Make sure you’re very clear about what they will learn. I like to keep it very simple with a bullet pointed list: “YOU WILL LEARN THIS!”
  • Make sure that information is useful to them. In all of these events, you’re most likely targeting people that are in research model when it comes to green building and clean energy, so you want to be clear how the information will be useful to a specific group of people.
  • You can see the event page here, feel free to copy it. 

  • Here is a picture of it.

4 – How to Get the World Out About Your Event

The challenge is figuring out how to do the least amount of work and get the biggest bang. The first key is to make an event that is amazingly useful. The second is focus on groups that will understand the value it provides to their readers, etc.

Focus on organizations that has an audience that is the same as your audience, but said organization sells or provides a different service to them.

Having outside speakers, being very credible, and being specific about learning objectives will really help your marketing. If you make it too much about yourself, others will be unlikely to spread it to their people for you. 

Here’s a lit of potentials, but each area is different.

  • Event calendars for local industry associations associations, neighborhood associations, Realtor associations,
  • Hyper Local Blogs
  • The lists of the speakers themselves. If you’re speakers have large lists themselves, make sure you ask them to put it in their newsletter
  • Chambers of Commerce

5 – A Few Key Points During and After the Event

During the event

  • People already know what you sell, the main goal during the event is that to make sure that they like you, trust you, respect you, see you as a person that they can get advice from, and will remember you in the future. They might not be in the market right now, but they may be in 18 months.
  • Ask how many people are looking for XX service your providing before you begin speaking, to make sure you can address their specific needs. Make sure to mentally keep a note of the people who are currently in the market and make sure to follow up with them.
  • Allow people to freely interrupt you.
  • Leave plenty of room for Q+A
  • Print off PDFs of the slides you’re using and provide to people, so they can refer to it later. REMEMBER your contact information!
  • It’s best use a separate PHONE number for the workshop contact information, from your normal one, so you can track how many calls you get directly from the event.

After the event

  • Send one follow up email to everyone
  • From the beginning of the event, make sure to try and speaking everyone who currently says they’re looking to buy product and address on of their questions.
  • Have the date for the next event ready so people can RSVP that were on the wait-list.
  • This is the follow up email I sent.
Hello,

We had a great event yesterday, thank you to everyone who came out. I wanted to send out a quick email with some follow up information for those that came, and those on the waitlist. 
1 – RSVP for the next event.I wanted to give everyone who displayed interest first dibs on tickets for the next event. We’re still confirming a speaker, but I promise it’s going to be good. RSVP here: http://thedeltatour093012.eventbrite.com/2 – Slides. Here are the slides from the last event. 3 – Questions.If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to reach out to me, Max, or Dylan. Here are all of our contact information.

Chris Williams – Voltaic Solaire – Solar PV, Solar Thermal, HVAC, Small Wind Building, Green Building in NYC
christopher.b.williams1@gmail.com
917 767 8204
Max Joel – Solar One – Solar Resources and Policy in NYCmax@solar1.org
646 576 5673
Dylan Latimar – BIG!NYC – Anything related to deconstruction and using recycled materials in NYCdylan@bignyc.org
718 777 0132

I hope this is useful for you. I’ve found this to be the best way to get in front of a very targeted group of customers. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

-Chris