Delivering a CPD seminar is one of the most effective means of introducing your company to an architects’ practice. But ensuring that of the many CPD seminars available yours is the one that gets chosen requires technique and a little preparation. Chris Ashworth explains.

I recently worked with a client who had been having difficulties achieving their target number of CPD seminar bookings. It made me realise that in one key respect CPD is just like any other product: it needs to be sold-in.

This is especially the case now that there’s so much choice. Forward looking companies need to consider the benefits to the architect of booking their seminar. Achieving CPD hours may appear to be the obvious benefit, but these days architects face a bewildering number of seminars seemingly offering the same thing. Added to which, the person in the practice responsible for booking the CPD faces pressure not to waste their colleagues’ time. So, just as you promote your products and services, so you need to create demand for your CPD seminar.

In practice that means selecting a subject that is both interesting and unique (or just unusual). If all your competitors offer the same subject you’ve already reduced your chances of success, just based on the law of averages. Look at the topics offered by competitors and manufacturers of complementary products and choose one not covered elsewhere.

Think about what the practice will gain from attending your seminar – clearer insight into a new regulation, the ability to design better solutions, greater understanding of advanced techniques or materials. It’s the old ‘features and benefits’ concept. You must present enough real benefits to outweigh all doubts, perhaps supporting this with testimonials from other practices that have taken your seminar.

Next, focus on the seminar title itself. This needs to be short and punchy and to make a positive statement about how you can help your audience… but avoid making it sound like a sales pitch.

Make saying “Yes” easy. How can you reduce the CPD coordinator’s workload and ensure a good turnout? Make this part of the package you’re offering. Everyone’s busy. If you can make it easy for them to book it will be another benefit.

Finally, when you do come to deliver the seminar, make sure that it lives up to your promises and is well presented by someone technically qualified in the subject.

Get all of this right and you will see your seminar bookings increase, more doors open and product specification increase.

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First Published: July 2010,  RIBA Insight Monthly Bulletin

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