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Marketing Your Workshop: Success with Expectations

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

Tori McElwain with The Quilt Patch by Tori

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Whether you're writing up a description of your workshop for your local shop, posting on social media, or sending out an invitation in your newsletter, setting expectations is very important when communicating and marketing a workshop.



If you run into a problem of students not booking workshops or showing up confused about what they are learning/doing, look at the expectations you are setting before the course.


Take a few moments to ask yourself what are they doing in the workshop? What will they walk away from the workshop being able to do? What do they need to know before attending this class?





I heard this example last week: This student had signed up for a piecing with a serger class at her local quilt shop to learn to make a quilt top with her serger. She was confused about what to bring and what they would be doing exactly, but she wanted to learn how to use her serger for quilting and was excited anyways!


She was told that the class was for intermediate students who have made at least 1 quilt top and know how to use their serger, before the day of the class. However, when she got there, 2 out of the 4 students were opening up their brand new sergers that they had bought that week from the shop. They spent the 4-hour class setting up and going over the basics of sergers. Needless to say, she was disappointed.


Is what you want to teach communicated clearly? Are people showing up with different expectations of the class?


Solution: Write an Objective.

What you're teaching should fit into one sentence. It should be clear, concise, and measurable with a yes or no. This is all about clear communication and planning. If you can describe the workshop in one sentence, you can clearly communicate your goal (which is also their goal!) to your students.


Example: Quilters will learn the basics of piecing starting with cutting efficiently, sewing a 1/4 inch seam, and nesting seams while making a friendship star block table runner flimsy (aka quilt top).

Did they walk out of the workshop with these skills? Yes or No? If they left the workshop with a flimsy that is complete, or almost complete, then I would say yes!


If you want a class to be impactful and keep your students coming back to learn more with you, set clear expectations for yourself, your course, and your students.


The Role of Expectations in Marketing

With the clear, concise, and measurable objective created for the workshop, you can use this objective when you are calling your people to your workshop (aka your marketing)!


You can spice it up a little or use it word for word. For example, here is a clear, concise, and measurable objective: "Learners will piece together half square triangle blocks using the 2-at-a-time method to create the Star-Studded Pillowcase." This can be spiced up by adding in some descriptive language: "Learn how to create the beautiful Star-Studded Pillowcase using the beginner friendly 2-at-a-time half square triangle method!" Using the objective as the basis for the description allows you to add color and fun without losing clarity.


Having a clear objective and expectations can also help you identify "challenges" or "pain points" and address how you have the answer to these challenges in your workshop. For example, in a quilted pillow workshop, a challenge a potential learner might face is attaching the zipper (I think I just felt many quilters shudder at the word "zipper,"), but it's okay! You have added to your description that you "have a simple and easy way to install the zipper to finish off this beautiful project!"



So putting this all together, your description for your workshop could sound like "Learn how to create the beautiful Star-Studded Pillowcase using the beginner friendly 2-at-a-time half square triangle method! Have you never installed a zipper before? I have a simple and easy way to install the zipper to finish off this beautiful project. Join me for a fun afternoon of sewing and learning this Saturday!"


Or without a question:

Learn how to create the beautiful Star-Studded Pillowcase using the beginner friendly 2-at-a-time half square triangle method! I have a simple and easy way to install the zipper to finish off this beautiful project. Join me for a fun afternoon of sewing and learning this Saturday!


The description above is fun, clear, and addresses the biggest challenge we identified! Sounds like a fun workshop, sign me up!



The Role of Expectations During Class:

When you're learning something new, or stepping outside your comfort zone, the human brain gets anxious. Some learners will be more anxious than others, but it's essentially a survival instinct. Setting expectations for your students at the beginning of a class (and for longer classes, throughout the day(s) quiets that part of their brain. They will be able to focus better and retain more information when they're not anxious about expectations.

This is a quick thing to do. Let them know:

  • What they will be learning today (I know you've written it out or told them before, but now they're here and ready to learn!)

  • Participation - will they be discussing? How do you want them to ask questions? What do they need to have out and ready?

  • A general schedule of steps and breaks, especially if the class is longer than 2 hours.

  • If you're in person, let them know where everything is located: bathroom, any stations you have set up, where your merch is, etc.

  • When are the breaks? Snack time? Can they eat during class?

  • Lastly, let them know how you will be asking for feedback (SO invaluable! See more about receiving feedback in my blog post Survey Questions)

For Your Next Workshop

As you prepare for your next workshop take a few minutes to follow the advice in this post to help set clear expectations.


Step 1: Write out a clear, concise, and measurable objective.

Step 2: Spice it up.

Step 3: Name 2-3 challenges or pain points your learners might think of when they see your description.

Step 4: Write the solutions you have to address over come the challenge or the pain points and add it to your description.

Step 5: Outline the expectations you'd like to share at the beginning of the class to set your workshop up for success!


This will set your workshop up with clear expectations and help it run efficiently while providing a sense of predictability and calm so your learners can focus on the workshop.


Any questions? Anything to add? Let me know!


If you've found this helpful, share it with a friend!

 

Need help with an existing workshop or course? Check out my Optimize Your Course! For Quilt and Craft Instructors blog post and the accompanying checklist to improve your course.


I also offer a Course Academy and 1-on-1 Strategy Sessions! If you're stuck, need ideas, or someone to hold you accountable, check out my Course Design offers here!


Grab Your Free eBook, Design Your Workshop, here.

 

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Grab Your Free eBook, Design Your Workshop, here.

 


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