Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth
In my previous article, I highlighted some of the benefits of using CPD to develop relationships with architects, engineers and other specifiers. This article considers some of the practical aspects of creating the content for a CPD seminar.
When creating CPD seminars it is important to remember that there are multiple objectives. For the manufacturer creating the seminar they:
1. Act as a door opener to meet new prospects
2. Must present the company as technically competent and forward looking
3. Explain why it is important to select your products
4. Introduce your specification clauses and explain why they should be used
5. Be supported by white papers and blog articles which go into greater detail on key points
6. Provide the opportunity to follow-up with the audience, becoming the start of an ongoing relationship
For the specifier who will attend the seminar they:
• Assist in improving their understanding of a key issue for the projects they design
• Contribute to improving and broadening their knowledge and skills
• Inform about new, innovative or interesting products
• Provide an understand of the principals of the product
• Help with specification
What the seminar should not be is the history of the manufacturer, a list of products or a sales pitch.
Selecting your Subject
It is important to remember that you are competing with more than 500 CPD providers and so your seminar must be compelling. That means selecting a subject with broad appeal and describing it in a way that presents the benefits of attending.
Good subjects to consider are;
• Explaining new legislation and how to meet it
• Innovative new solutions
• Answers to those questions your technical team are regularly asked
Try to avoid offering the same subject as your competitor. If you do, then you have immediately reduced the chance of your seminar being selected.
Developing the Content
Just because this is a technical seminar it should not be dry and boring. Yes, there are technical points that must be explained, but use plenty of graphics as supporting examples and keep the words on each slide to a minimum. Just look at how the News at 10 is presented for ideas on how you can support your concepts.
Images can have multiple uses. They make the slide more interesting, support the points being made but can also provide further information about a manufacturer, by showing prestige projects for example.
Start creating the content by identifying all the points you want to make. Involve the sales team who regularly discuss these subjects with specifiers to ensure there is an effective coverage of the topic. Don’t worry about the length of the seminar at the early stages, you want to capture of all the information. Then you can work on converting this into an informative story. Much like the making of a movie, there will be a lot of information which goes on the cutting room floor as you develop an interesting and succinct presentation. The material you take out can be used in supporting white papers and blogs, or might even be sufficient for another seminar.
The certifying authorities require a script to accompany the seminar, but this is often ignored by the presenter. While I do not advocate reading the script, and each presenter should be able to introduce their personality, the structure set out by the script is very important if all the points are to be effectively made. When I run training, I’ll get members of the sales team to present their CPD seminar and invariably each person’s explanation is different, often missing out large sections of the message.
Start by writing a detailed script, thinking about the points you wish to make and how you will go about this. Re-work the script until it flows smoothly and keeps to the time frame. Then the presenters must learn this and be able to present it – not word for word – but so that it covers all of the points correctly.
Follow this process and you will have a very effective tool which can help your organisation and your sales person to become a trusted advisor.
Promoting your company and building products with Barbour Product Search can help to increase your visibility to the full specification audience. Email [email protected] for more information.
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Chris is a specialist in specification strategy and founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy which specialises in market research and training for the construction industry. He is a member of the BIM4M2 steering group and Deputy Chair of the organising committee for CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketings Construction Industry Group.
Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth