UBS and the Art of Holding Seminars

So I actually spent two days at The Ultimate Business Seminar, since at the end of the day Chris Howard let us one-day pass holders know that we could attend the next two days free. (I have commitments at church on Sundays, so I didn't stay the third day. Bummer. I missed Joel Comm and Jay Abraham.)

I suspected from the start that Chris's goal wasn't to make money directly from sales of tickets for the event. In fact, I'm not sure that he actually sold any tickets to UBS. The group of 400-500 on Friday was split about 50/50 (gross estimate) between free pass holders and Chris's own Fast Track to Success members; I asked a Fast Tracker if they had paid for the seminar and the answer I got was no, that it was included with another program they had paid for.

I'm also betting that he didn't pay the speakers a single dime to speak at his event. So why would they attend? Because every single one used the opportunity to promote their own products, which ranged from $1,800 to $13,000. Robert Allen, for example, offered a $5,000 training product and, as far as I could tell, had 40 to 60 individuals respond. That's $200-300K for a single day's effort! (Outside of the time he -- or his employees -- will spend with those buyers, of course.)

That's not to say that the seminar was a non-stop hard sell for other products. Not at all! In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that the speakers, from Chris on down, were quite restrained, offering their wares more in the vein of "if you like what I've given you here, then you'll like this as well." (Except for Alex Mandossian, who pretty much promoted his Teleseminar Secrets training throughout his time. But he told us that was what he was doing and it was appropriate, given his topic.)

And I liked nearly everything I heard. (More on that in later posts.)

The seminar started late, by 30 minutes. We actually couldn't get in to the room until 9:30, and I'm not sure that that wasn't simply to heighten our anticipation. When we did get in, the music was deafening. I personally don't like that, but if I was running the seminar I would do the exact same thing. The idea is to create excitement and upbeat music at a concert-volume level will do that. Many of Chris's staff were on the platform at the front of the room, dancing to the beat and generally encouraging the attendees to get involved.

Chris started out the day with about an hour of general motivational speaking, dabbling in his own brand of New Age speak. The key here, if you don't go for this sort of thing, is to filter what you hear through your own world view and decide how to make it work for you. During this time, the staff was pulling out chairs to fill in at the back for late arrivals. Here's another successful seminar tactic: put out less chairs than you need and bring more in later -- first, so the room looks more full to new arrivals and, second, so earlier arrivals are impressed by the continued influx of people.

Breaks were well-spaced, but I would have prefered a better selection of snacks from the hotel. As expected, the available items were expensive. I went for lunch at the hotel restaurant on Friday; the staff there appeared completely unprepared for the crowd that ate there. On Saturday I went searching for fast food, a job which would have been much easier had we been provided with a handout of local eateries.

Events like this are a great networking opportunity; unfortunately, I'm really bad at that. I did make some contacts, though, and I'm looking forward to seeing where those will go. Oh, I met Erica Gimpel on Saturday! I remember her from either ER or Profiler, not from her earlier work on Fame. I think she's the first actress I've met.

All in all, this was a good experience and I'm looking forward to attending similar seminars in the future.