If you want to generate more leads for your small business, I have one word for you: events.

That’s what we do. Just take a look at my small business’s website. You’ll see an ‘events’ section and we’ve always got a bunch scheduled.

What types of events do we do?

We do an online training for our products every month. We also do an in-person local event once a month. And we like to schedule ad-hoc streaming sessions on Google Hangouts and Periscope.

Our events generate about 5-10 new leads a month for us, which for a small business, can turn into great projects. You should do events. And here are five reasons why.

1. People want to be educated, not sold to.

We sell Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. But that doesn’t matter. Whatever you do, you can do events. You can educate your community because you know stuff that others will be interested in.

  • Run a pizza shop? Show us how to make a good pizza.
  • Are you an auto mechanic? Show me how to maintain a car.
  • Sell dresses? Demonstrate your latest wares.
  • Even if you distribute tires, manufacture piping or provide engineering services, you’ve got information to share with your community.

Make your customers and prospects smarter through your events and they’ll appreciate and value what you do more.

2. People want free stuff.

Sometimes you can charge for an event and that’s fine. But don’t do this to make money. Charging for an event does give the perception of more value and so it can attract a better prospect. I’ve charged for events before and they’ve worked out fine. But most of my events are free.

That’s because people like to get free stuff. I’m not afraid to give away free training and information about our products. And neither should you be.

If you own a pizza shop and you host a pizza-making event, relax! No one’s going to go home and make pizzas all the time instead of buying from you. The same is true if you’re an auto mechanic or a dress seller. People like to learn how to do things. Some have the intention of doing it themselves. And they’ll appreciate the knowledge. But in the end, the goodwill you’ll generate by showing them how it’s done will result in customers coming back.

3. The technology makes it easy.

We use Eventbrite, which we love, but they’re not the only game in town so pick a good event management platform before doing anything else. Our web developer integrated Eventbrite’s tools with our website so whenever we update Eventbrite, those updates show up immediately on our site. And the service provides great reports and metrics about each of our events. We download registrant information into our CRM database for continued follow-up. Depending on the size of your event, there are other, more advanced tools for day-of-event things like ticket-collecting, polling, content delivery and presentations – all of this is another topic for another blog.

And if you’re doing something online, there are great platforms – from GoToMeeting to BrightTalk and others that will provide an affordable way to deliver (and then save) your sessions.

4. Don’t worry about cost.

The cost is not as much as you think. If you’re doing an online event, then besides the cost of the platform you’re using, the rest of the event is free. An onsite event can be done at a local hotel for under a thousand bucks, including room and food. We do our events in the morning and serve bagels and coffee – nothing fancy. We own a projector and the hotel provides the screen. This is purely a marketing cost for us.

5. It doesn’t matter how many people attend.

That’s right – don’t worry. It’s not about how many people attend your event. It’s about how many people sign up for your event. Sure, it’s great to have a room packed to the gills with eager attendees. But the reason why you’re doing these events is to generate leads. So if 20 people sign up for your event, that means that they have an interest – they’re leads. You get their contact info and make sure you’re following up with each and every one of them. If they come to your event, that’s great because you can meet them in person and they can see you in action. But even if they don’t, you’ve still got their contact info. And that’s what it’s all about.

Join writer and small business owner Gene Marks weekly on the Small Biz Ahead podcast