Seminar & Event Marketing for Advisors

Complimentary Meal Events

To understand the effectiveness of dinner seminars we have to understand why people attend these events. The reason they come is the food. Some may be curious about you and your message but they show up for the dinner. That’s why you offer a meal – to attract people to your event. You are making it convenient for them to attend around dinner time. Your main objective is to get them to like and trust you as soon as possible while you educate them.

Restaurant Selection

Which restaurant you may choose depends greatly upon your target audience and the product you wish to sell to them. Many audiences with income producing assets have been successfully prospected simply by selecting a venue which offers high end fare - such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House or Ocean Prime. Perhaps the program you are offering is targeted at a group for which high net worth is not a prerequisite - in these cases be careful not to intimidate your potential clients with a lofty haute cuisine menu.

Ultimately, the finest venue choice is generally one in your local market that is known and liked by many of your fellow citizens. You are in the best position to identify that establishment in your local market.

No-Food Educational Events

Perhaps a restaurant is not the best place for the type of program you wish to market. Significant success has been realized by many advisors utilizing no-food venues such as local libraries and community colleges. Examples include Social Security optimization, Medicare enrollment and Final Expense planning.

Bring-a-Friend/Client Appreciation

These events are a great way to maintain a social connection with your clientele as well as offer them an opportunity to provide you with referrals. These may be done as an "open house" event in your offices or at a restaurant or hotel conference area. If you do choose to provide food, appetizers, soft drinks or other light refreshments are a good choice. Some advisors have reported success with "Wine Tasting" or "Wine and Cheese" events – garnering significant new client referrals.

Regarding Your Event Presentation

Some advisors are able to achieve a 70% plus appointment setting ratio while others are compelled to accept far lower performance. Appointment setting is the most critical part of a successful seminar event, but it should be known that your appointments are set within the first few minutes of your presentation’s start. This is the short time period during which your audience makes an unconscious decision as to whether or not they like you.

We have all been to a presentation that starts out with the presenter thanking everyone, telling the audience to turn off their cell phones, and intoning how exciting the information presented during the event will be. That’s not a bad start to your event presentation if you expect low appointment conversion. However, the key in these first early moments is to get your audience to connect with you. Many of the highest performance advisors begin their presentation with a story. Instead of welcoming the crowd or introducing themselves, they immediately tell a story.

Example: An advisor begins their presentation by describing the events surrounding the death of their father. The story includes the struggles of their mother and the rest of the family to navigate the inherent challenges to their income and security, and relates these events to how much improved the situation would have been with better planning.

When you see her tell this story, her audience is giving her their full attention and they are experiencing an emotional response. Many are undoubtedly feeling compassion while others clearly empathize – thinking, "that happened to me." The point is they are feeling something and they naturally like her in those first few minutes. Now she has the audience where she wants them and the rest of the presentation is really about getting them to ask themselves if they are missing something in their planning. She uses no slide presentation – perhaps occasionally writing something on a small white board – but most of the time she wants the audience focused on her. Her presentation is more about feelings and stories than it is about finances and investing. Her appointment setting numbers are off the chart – truly impressive.

Clearly, not every seminar presentation should start with a childhood story. But you must find a way for your audience to emotionally connect with you from the outset. If they really like you, it will make it easy for them to set an appointment.

Key takeaway:  your audience needs to like you from the very beginning. Building their respect for your knowledge and subject authority should be an important, but secondary, goal.