Secrets and silver bullets: Five ways to calculate the value of a seminar

Jim, a successful business owner, attended a nationally promoted success seminar a few weeks ago.

Jim had participated in a free, two-hour seminar the week before. The free seminar promoted special pricing for the three-day seminar if Jim registered on the spot. He did – he was eager to expand his network and meet other successful business leaders.

As it turns out, the three-day seminar focused on how to start a business by selling inexpensive merchandise on online marketplaces like Walmart and Amazon. The seminar also offered startup business financing for individuals that qualified. On the final day of the seminar, attendees were encouraged to buy a $50,000 package of mentoring services, with special pricing for those who paid that day.

Many public, nationally promoted seminars are worth the price. I’ve personally attended two seminars — one on sales and another on leadership – that influenced the direction of my career. How do you know if a seminar will deliver value? Here are five ways to decide before you buy.

Calculate the Costs for the Seminar

In Jim’s case, the costs entailed:

  • The registration fee.
  • The dollar value of three days of his time, including travel time.
  • The opportunity cost/dollar value of rescheduled client and prospect meetings.

Estimate the Potential Benefits

Jim was expecting the following benefits from the seminar:

  • Networking with other successful business owners.
  • Learning with and from high-income professionals.
  • Coming away with a playbook of high-income strategies.
  • Generating two or three relationships that could develop into sources of new business.

Do Your Due Diligence

Conduct an online search on the seminar promoter. Look for reviews by attendees, legal actions against the company or any evidence of bankruptcy. Through your professional network, ask if anyone has attended the seminar. Posting the question to relevant groups on social platforms, such as LinkedIn, can also be helpful.

Watch for Red Flags

Evaluate the seminar promotional materials, website or FAQs for the following information. If the information is unclear or unavailable before you register, it should raise a red flag.

  • Content // Is the seminar content based on basic information available elsewhere, and packaged at a higher price?
  • Networking // Who is the target audience for these seminars? What types of business professionals attend?
  • Materials // Is there an agenda you can review in advance? Will there be resources or materials for each participant to take away?
  • Business Model/Upselling // Is the seminar also a business model? Is there pressure to buy more services at a higher price?
  • Refunds // Is there a written refund policy and process?

Consider Local Options

Local seminar organizers, or chapters of national associations with a local presence, may offer more value for the price of a similar seminar. These providers have reputations in the local community, and information on their quality and integrity can be easily accessed.

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get,” observed Warren Buffet. That’s solid advice on seminars from the guru of value-based investing.


Elizabeth Usovicz is principal of WhiteSpace Consulting®, specializing in top-line revenue strategies and business development coaching for high-growth companies, new ventures and business units within established companies; keynote speaking and strategy session facilitation. // // (913) 638-8693.