Cheap Seminar Idea

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Mar 11, 2009 1:26 pm

Most the time guys have seminars it involves sending out maybe 2,000 pretty, printed invitations, requiring the receipient to RSVP, renting a room in a restaurant, serving the attendees filet mignon, and putting on a seminar on some really dull topic (e.g. 'Planning My Retirement Now That We're Broke").

 
Typical response 1% (?). So 20 couples show up at $50/a head = $2,000 + $2,000 (invitations). Get two clients. Hopefully they have > $400k.
 
My ALTERNATIVE: I can get a big room in my office bldg for free. I have the names (emails) of 1,000+ area accredited investors / CPA's / lawyers / etc high achievers.  I'd like new clients now, but I'm also in a long-term  branding campaign.
 
Proposition: I send e-mail invites to the 1,000 names, but on some topic that might actually augment the branding image I'm trying to establish (e.g 'they're the place that does sideways orthogonal matrix investing' - I made that up). Maybe you do one of these e-minars every other month. It doesn't matter if anybody shows up, as it didn;t cost anything to put on in the first place. You establish a brand image / name, no hassels dealing with vegitarians and the like, and if anybody shows they're probably really interested in the topic.
 
 Curious as to anybodys $.02
 
 
NOTE: I've already done something similar in getting the state AICPA b oard to approve a seminar I put together for CPA's CE requirements.
 
 
 
Mar 11, 2009 1:32 pm

It sounds like a good idea, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt though to order some sandwich platters or pizza and have some soda or water on hand.  As petty as it is, every time I get invited to a meeting w/a wholesaler my 1st question is "Are they bringing food?".  They could be talking about the process each fund manager has gone through over the last 20 years in their large cap funds to pick their individual stocks and I'd still come if there were a few pieces of pizza in my future. 

 
You get 20-25 confirmations and you'll probably be $150-$200 out of pocket for food.
Mar 11, 2009 2:42 pm

That is an interesting idea.. agree with 3rdyrp2 about the food..

 
Do you plan on having these more as a lunch or dinner? Also doesn't your compliance have an issue with email blasts?
 
You mentioned you have the emails of 1,000 accredited investors, how did you get email addresses? And what good are they if compliance won't let you send anything..
 
 
 
Mar 11, 2009 3:35 pm

Agreed.  I can't send inviations via e-mail due to compliance restrictions.  Is that a Jones thing or an industry-wide thing?

Mar 11, 2009 4:31 pm

Good questions:

1- I am a collector of email names and have been doing it for some time. You would be amazed if you keep your eyes open at confabs and things how easy they are to get. EG. A local nonprofit has an annual 'summit' mtg for start-ups and VC's / angels. There's maybe 200 people go, they distribute the contact lists. Do you have local area groups that promote entrepreneurship? Technical schols. Theres the Nat'l Assoc of Boards of Directors.
 
Some times you have to do a little work, but say you get the names of board of the local opera and it lists their employer. Go to employer site, l ook for names emails. Theres a local area med product / research lab. They've got maybe 100+ PhD, MD researchers. They published the entire staffs names and email on web site. Some business mag probably has the 'top 80 young people on the move' kind of annual lists. Easy. Sometimes the local $$$ country club asst will send out the easter brunch notice and use the CC button instead of the BCC and you get a list of the entire membership. Join the local CPA society, local estate planning bunch -- they all have the emails of members. I've just been attentive to situations that arise.
 
2- Treats. Yeah, good idea.
 
3- To my understanding there no prohibitions against blast emails at the FINRA level. Go look at FINRA -- they define as 'advertising' anything that goes to something like 25 people, but all that means is that someone in your compliance chain has to approve it before hand.
 
Here's an idea that may require some guts on your behalf, but there is no reason you can't go to FINRA directly with ad copy. They have about 25 people who just look at stuff. You don't have to wait for approval per se,  I recall if you haven't been told NO in 5 days you're good to go. What a shock that'd be to the doofuss' in your own compliance depts.
 
  You probably have a local firm compliance constraint. As long as they ['comp[liance'] know who's receiving them, and there's the usual disclaimers on em, I don't have any problems, but I realize at larger firms anything which is in the least bit valuable, or unique, or displays some  imagination will be 86'd.
 
 
 
Mar 11, 2009 4:57 pm

Do you have a sample of what you plan on sending? Or are you just attaching a document that explains the event?

 
Would you cancel if you had under a certain number
Mar 11, 2009 5:10 pm

Do these people know you will be sending them email? 

 
If not, then you're simply spamming them.  Read up on CAN-SPAM laws.  Unless they opt-in to your email list, you are breaking the law.
Mar 11, 2009 7:58 pm

If one person showed up I'd regard it as a success.

 
I send out a monthly / whenever the situation demands it email newletter (1 page or so). About 2 people a cycle want to be removed. I'm thinking of topics that I'm personally interested in at any given moment, but not mainstream stuff. EG. 'How credit DS really work', 'Combining marketable and illiquid assets from a portfolio perspective', 'What is MVO? - Can It's Shortcoming Be Fixed', things like that.  The point is to establish the firms name as the go to place for [defined market niche].
 
As a take away they get a refer door magnet w/ names #'s of the best coffee roaster, the opera, a few 4star rest., a tax attorney, estate planner, CPA. (I'm not sure about this, maybe a mug is just as good?).
Mar 11, 2009 10:10 pm

Some firms have a more restrictive policy - and allow up to 25 without approval; BUT won't allow spam and will only allow e-mail to people who have expressed interest, thus, compliance officer may challenge the addresses.


Working under those constraints, and as I collect addresses and e-mail addresses, I just add them to distribution lists of 24. I have dozens of lists of 24. They are labeled 24_1_Cd, 24_2_CD, 24_1Annuity, 24_1Bond, 24_1 Seminar, 24_1CPA etc.
  and in some cases, are cross pollinated - (ie - it might be a women CPA who invests in bonds, who is interested in seminars and she appears in lists ).   If I send out Women & Investing info, IRA reminders, seminar invites and bond ideas that week - she is included among all of those e-mails.
 
 
Sure, some people might have it go to their junk filter - but it  s another touch.
Sometimes daily though normally weekly, I hit one of the lists with an idea - and send out the info. Whether it's a bond idea, planning idea, corporate bond ladder,seminar invite, whatever. That way, info is always rolling out, it's always compliance approved material, it's always below the magic 25 number and there is always another touch to people in the rolodex. Not every list gets something every week, and the rotation to all of the lists can take 2-3 months, so it's not as though people get something every day.
 
It just helps keep the marketing freight train moving.
  
Mar 12, 2009 1:30 pm
MinimumVariance:

Here's an idea that may require some guts on your behalf, but there is no reason you can't go to FINRA directly with ad copy. They have about 25 people who just look at stuff. You don't have to wait for approval per se, I recall if you haven't been told NO in 5 days you're good to go. What a shock that'd be to the doofuss' in your own compliance depts.




This is bad advice. Submitted material is reviewed by FINRA using an established procedure and requires Registered Principal signoff. FINRA doesn't require all material be submitted through them. It depends on a number of things, which are too involved for a discussion here.



In addition, other than being a whistleblower, many firms have a policy that requires all contact with regulators must be through Legal or Compliance. If you go to FINRA directly, you are likely violating firm policy, could face a reprimand and at the very least will piss off your branch manager and L&C. You may also inadvertently say something to FINRA that could bring greater scrutiny to you and your firm. Even if you are 100% pristine from a regulatory perspective in your business and your record keeping, do you really want to waste the time and resources responding to a regulatory inquiry? Work with your Compliance people, you will save yourself aggravation in the long run.       

Mar 12, 2009 5:50 pm

Spoken like a true corporate bureaucrat.


Sending out 24 at a time? Meets letter, but spirit of the regs --- hardly!! Now,I did the same things when I worked for a monsterly stupid corp too.  And like FINRA's gonna have a problem with an invitation w/ disclaimers? Plz. They won;t even bother to comment.


So you firm has a policy that says "No employee may undertake any initiative, do anything outside proper channels, show any interest in overcoming inconsequential constraints, you shall venture forth from your cubicle unless approved,....crap crap crap"
 
actually they probably do
Mar 18, 2009 12:47 pm

I did find this internet company called www.evite.com where you can pick a format for online invitations and download your email lists. They supposedly send out the invites andhave some way where the people can RSVP, or respond in some other mater ("Take my name of your Fuking list..."). Its free too.

Mar 31, 2009 12:11 am

Optimizations that go back to 1968 reveal that the long-only minimum-variance portfolio has about three-fourths the realized risk of the capitalization-weighted market portfolio, with higher average returns.

Apr 2, 2009 12:19 am

From email blasts to a cold list that did not opt in you should know two things:

1. You are not likely to get any measurable response.
2. You may get banned from your ISP - which could be a major problem with your b/d - small and flexible with marketing or not.

The lack of response is due to the fact that response rates from unsolicited email are typically less than 0.002%.  Your message will be welcomed and viewed with the same desirability of a cheap rx or nigerian bank scam email.  So you won't likely be needing a meeting room at all.

The ISP ban can be created from having too many people move your message to their spam folder.  And if you have a minvar@yourbd.com email address; which should be required per your b/d for email blasts - this means they could run the risk of having all of their rep emails blacklisted by google, msn, yahoo, etc.  You really should read the can-spam laws before attempting this type of activity.

Not trying to deter you from creative thinking.  But I do wonder why so many advisors are focused on cutting costs more than making money.  Trading $5k for $20k isn't all too bad.  Trading $200 for $0 is pretty stupid.

Apr 2, 2009 12:24 pm

MV - Have you tried "e-viting" to a webinar instead of a seminar. Costs are really cheap. When I started doing it, I got 2-3 people at a time, now I'm getting about 5-10 people who attend the webinar. I send out between 1500 - 2000 emails. The majority are business owners, but I guess it could work for all sorts of people.