“Successful” Seminars

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Mar 22, 2007 4:14 pm

<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> 


I’ll be running a few seminars over the next two months and I’m hoping to get some feedback/suggestions on increasing my success rate.


 


I’ve been able to gather $2k in support for each of my seminars.  I decided that I’d rather put most of the funds towards marketing rather than dinners for plate lickers.  My current plan is to host each event on a Tuesday and Thursday in evening at the conference room of my branch office.  I will be sending out 1,500 direct mails and will be following up with phone calls to each of the recipients.  Additionally I’ll be putting 10,000 8-1/2”x11” inserts into a local publication and getting the event listed in a community calendar.  My hope is that I will be able to attract people who are genuinely interested in the topic rather than just a free dinner since all that I’m providing are pre-seminar snacks and after seminar wine and cheese.  What types of attendance rates should I expect and what suggestions do you have to improve my attendance rate?


 


After I get people to the event I want to be sure to schedule meetings with as many of them as possible.  I’ve heard of one colleague who includes a list of available dates and times on the feedback forms.  He then has the attendees’ circle a date and time that’s convenient for them.  What other tactics are there which may increase my success rates?


 


--WM

Mar 22, 2007 4:34 pm

Frankly, conference room and snacks sounds rather cheesy. In my experience, you gotta make a splash at a really good place, and even then, it may be break even at first. Depends on who, where, a lot of things.


The best way is to put most of the money toward food and wine and have your clients bring friends with $$$ who want to meet you informally. Forget about the general public, unless you put out a good meal in a neutral place, why put yourself through the trouble. Just my experience.

Mar 22, 2007 11:05 pm
WealthManager:

<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> 


I’ll be running a few seminars over the next two months and I’m hoping to get some feedback/suggestions on increasing my success rate.



I’ve been able to gather $2k in support for each of my seminars.  I decided that I’d rather put most of the funds towards marketing rather than dinners for plate lickers.  My current plan is to host each event on a Tuesday and Thursday in evening at the conference room of my branch office.  I will be sending out 1,500 direct mails and will be following up with phone calls to each of the recipients.  Additionally I’ll be putting 10,000 8-1/2”x11” inserts into a local publication and getting the event listed in a community calendar.  My hope is that I will be able to attract people who are genuinely interested in the topic rather than just a free dinner since all that I’m providing are pre-seminar snacks and after seminar wine and cheese.  What types of attendance rates should I expect and what suggestions do you have to improve my attendance rate?



After I get people to the event I want to be sure to schedule meetings with as many of them as possible.  I’ve heard of one colleague who includes a list of available dates and times on the feedback forms.  He then has the attendees’ circle a date and time that’s convenient for them.  What other tactics are there which may increase my success rates?



--WM



I like your idea. I would even tell people that you aren't going to entice them with food like everyone else. You've got something worth while to discuss and if they're serious about improving their circumstances, you want them there. If not, it will just waste their time. You might only have 5 people there, but it will be the right 5.

Mar 23, 2007 8:19 am
WealthManager:

<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> 


I’ll be running a few seminars over the next two months and I’m hoping to get some feedback/suggestions on increasing my success rate.



I’ve been able to gather $2k in support for each of my seminars.  I decided that I’d rather put most of the funds towards marketing rather than dinners for plate lickers.  My current plan is to host each event on a Tuesday and Thursday in evening at the conference room of my branch office.  I will be sending out 1,500 direct mails and will be following up with phone calls to each of the recipients.  Additionally I’ll be putting 10,000 8-1/2”x11” inserts into a local publication and getting the event listed in a community calendar.  My hope is that I will be able to attract people who are genuinely interested in the topic rather than just a free dinner since all that I’m providing are pre-seminar snacks and after seminar wine and cheese.  What types of attendance rates should I expect and what suggestions do you have to improve my attendance rate?



After I get people to the event I want to be sure to schedule meetings with as many of them as possible.  I’ve heard of one colleague who includes a list of available dates and times on the feedback forms.  He then has the attendees’ circle a date and time that’s convenient for them.  What other tactics are there which may increase my success rates?



--WM



Hey WM, fellow POA here.  First up, Estate Planning will garner a better response rate than any other topic.  Second, direct mail, you can expect a 1% +/- .5% response rate.  Inserts in a paper will get far less response.


The best way to avoid platelickers is a pre-qualified list.  How you pre-qual in your area is your own business, but if you serve dinner, and get plate lickers, at least they will be HNW platelickers.


Last, book the appointment on the way out.  Do a seating chart and keep it at the podium where you are speaking.  When someone asks a question, jot the question down next to their name.  That way when you call to check back you can say "I noticed you had a question about gifting to your grandchildren to avoid taxes on your estate..." 


Good luck.

Mar 25, 2007 10:06 pm

As with advice you've heard from other forum members, here's what I'd suggest:



Don't hold events at your office.  You're much better off having them offsite at a local restaurant or boutique hotel.  Even if this means you have to put a $1,000 of your own money into the seminars.
Definitely use direct mail over inserts.  You have to remember that 90% of the inserts will not be received by qualified prospects; so you're better off seding only direct mail to a qualified list.  Remember the only accurate lists are based on age and income.  List brokers who purport to have lists with net worths or account balances are blowing smoke you know where.  When selecting the lists, use a staggered approach (ie. ages 50-60 incomes of $100k +, ages 60-65 incomes of $80k plus, ages 66-75 incomes of $50k plus).  Don't invite people under 50 as most will not have the time to come to your seminar or the assets to make it profitable.
Only expect .7 to 1.2% response rate on your qualified lists; and unless you have tons of time - don't bother calling everyone and inviting them via telephone.
Use the evaluation form with potential appt. dates and times on it and follow up the next day for confirmations.  If you try to book them at the event and for some reason their is resistance from a few people the spill-over effect could ruin the interested parties from scheduling.
Don't do events on Thursdays, only Tuesdays.  On Thursday events if you don't book the appointments within 24 hours there is a very slim chance you ever will.  Tuesday buys you three business days for booking.  Make sure you start your appt. confirm calls at 8:30am the following morning.
Make sure you feed them.  You have to understand that people who go to seminars often are going to a number of them.  An event hosted at a desirable location where a meal is served will get a better response than one done on the cheap.  The prospects will take notice and will judge a book by its cover.  Therefore, if a competitor draws twice the crowd and clearly spends twice the money - perception will be that he's/she's in more demand, knows more and is better.  While we'd love to think they're actually coming for the education - that's not what it's really about.  Seminar attenders are in one of two camps:  Plate lickers and interviewers.  Plate lickers will still eat your cheese and drink your wine - but it's the interviewers you're interested in.  They're interviewing potentially new advisors because whether they will admit it or not - they are not totally satisfied with their current advisor.

I hope this helps.

Mar 25, 2007 10:08 pm

fyi - I just learned this stuff from http://www.advisormarketingsystems.com - since I'm relatively new I can't personally say what works and what doesn't.  Sorry for the late disclaimer - just don't want to be perceived as another rookie know it all.

Mar 26, 2007 12:13 am
brandnewadvisor:

As with advice you've heard from other forum members, here's what I'd suggest:





I'd have a little evalution postcard, and do a drawing for a
book/bottle of champagne this way you can collect everyone's contact
info in one whack.



Also, circulate around the room during the diner phase. Try to get a
sense of each table. This is why its a good idea to extend the pre
dinner as much as possible. Try to create some interaction among the
guests, so when you hit a table, have people go around the table and
introduce themselves.



For food, offer a chicken dish, a vegetarian dish, a predinner salad
and post dinner coffee/pastry. The food should be flavorful yet not
challenging. The more food people have, the less they will listen; so
keep the total food intake reasonable. Messy food is a no-no.



Food should be served to the table, do not have coffee set up in one
corner of the room, as people will be getting up and going back and
forth. If nothing else, strong coffee and sharp table knives.



No booze. Absolutely nothing constructive will happen if the audience
is liquored up. You can't afford decent wine wine anyways. If you are
doing the seminar at private room in a restaurant, have the cash bar
closed.



Do a Q&A session. Give people paper to take notes on, with a logo pen.



Practice. Get a video camera. Listen to yourself and mannerisms.
Remember that you can't expect the audience to bring enthusiasm with
them, so make sure to bring your own.



Bring a flipchart, and practice doing your chalk-talk. This is
something people pay attention to. No one was ever sold on a
powerpoint.

Mar 27, 2007 9:23 am

Thank you for all of the suggestions and advice.

--WM

Apr 5, 2007 2:21 pm

This is scary!<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


My 1500 invitations were delivered almost a week ago.  We’ve received ZERO response.  I double checked the phone number and e-mail address on the invite, they were both correct.  There is still almost two weeks until the seminar, but I had hoped for at least a few responses by now.  The topic is identity theft and I have a tremendous guest speaker presenting.  I wonder if it’s the topic or if people on my list have just received too many invitations to other seminars.


 


I’ve been calling up as many people as possible.  Most let their answering machines pickup.  I have been leaving messages but no calls back.  My voice is shot and I still have about 800 left to call.  Thank God for Chloraseptic!


 


Hopefully people are waiting until closer to the event date to respond.  Maybe I’ll get a better response from the 10,000 inserts.


 


Any thoughts on how I can improve things?


 


--WM

Apr 5, 2007 2:44 pm
WealthManager:

This is scary!<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



My 1500 invitations were delivered almost a week ago.  We’ve received ZERO response.  I double checked the phone number and e-mail address on the invite, they were both correct.  There is still almost two weeks until the seminar, but I had hoped for at least a few responses by now.  The topic is identity theft and I have a tremendous guest speaker presenting.  I wonder if it’s the topic or if people on my list have just received too many invitations to other seminars.



I’ve been calling up as many people as possible.  Most let their answering machines pickup.  I have been leaving messages but no calls back.  My voice is shot and I still have about 800 left to call.  Thank God for Chloraseptic!



Hopefully people are waiting until closer to the event date to respond.  Maybe I’ll get a better response from the 10,000 inserts.



Any thoughts on how I can improve things?



--WM



Call them at night, when they're home.

Apr 5, 2007 2:57 pm
Bobby Hull:

Call them at night, when they're home.




I've been calling only at night and on weekends.

Apr 5, 2007 3:11 pm
WealthManager:
Bobby Hull:

Call them at night, when they're home.




I've been calling only at night and on weekends.



Dial *67 before their phone number to disengage caller ID.

Apr 5, 2007 3:35 pm
WealthManager:

This is scary!<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



My 1500 invitations were delivered almost a week ago.  We’ve received ZERO response.  I double checked the phone number and e-mail address on the invite, they were both correct.  There is still almost two weeks until the seminar, but I had hoped for at least a few responses by now.  The topic is identity theft and I have a tremendous guest speaker presenting.  I wonder if it’s the topic or if people on my list have just received too many invitations to other seminars.



I’ve been calling up as many people as possible.  Most let their answering machines pickup.  I have been leaving messages but no calls back.  My voice is shot and I still have about 800 left to call.  Thank God for Chloraseptic!



Hopefully people are waiting until closer to the event date to respond.  Maybe I’ll get a better response from the 10,000 inserts.



Any thoughts on how I can improve things?



--WM



WM,


We didn't get any response to the Identity Theft seminar, try estate planning.

Apr 5, 2007 8:27 pm
entrylevelFA:

WM,


We didn't get any response to the Identity Theft seminar, try estate planning.



ID theft isn't going to get people into chairs. That's like doing a seminar on avoiding auto accidents. Estate planning, making money in the stock market, beating inflation, getting rich with convertable bonds etc are going to be more of draw.


Apr 7, 2007 11:01 am
AllREIT:
entrylevelFA:

WM,


We didn't get any response to the Identity Theft seminar, try estate planning.




ID theft isn't going to get people into chairs. That's like doing a seminar on avoiding auto accidents. Estate planning, making money in the stock market, beating inflation, getting rich with convertable bonds etc are going to be more of draw.



Thanks for the tips.  My next seminar is on managing the risk of an income shortfall in retirement.  It's scheduled for two weeks after the identity theft seminar.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


I'm hoping that a big part of the lack of response is that my voice mail hasn't been picking up.  Can you believe it?!?


Apr 7, 2007 8:00 pm

I've had seminars where no one showed up. Yep, I had even called to confirm their attendance and still, no one showed. It was depressing. Looking back, the money I shelled-out to put on the event, I consider "tuition" for attending the School of Hard Knocks.


If you pull-up websites of the major B/D's, you'll find a section for upcoming seminars in a particular area. Unless it's a major metro area, you won't find any seminars being held. And the ones you do find are usually about estate planning, tax planning and such.


I've always thought this might make for an interesting seminar topic for an affluent metro area. Although I'm sure it's been done before, it might still be considered a fresh topic: How Art Figures in Estate and Tax Planning. (Note: You'll want a better title than this!)


In my opinion, it's a quirky enough topic to appeal but only to a very narrow group of people: the very affluent+, say $20-$50+ million in investable assets.


Your speakers could be a CPA, museum curator, estate attorney, art appraiser, etc. You might even be able to secure a museum meeting room for free, if the subject of "lending art to a museum, get a tax deduction" is given extensive coverage at your seminar.


Yes, that's right. You can agree to lend a work of art to a museum and receive a tax deduction, in return. Consult your CPA on the rules for this.


Just a thought...


Apr 7, 2007 10:44 pm
WealthManager:
AllREIT:
entrylevelFA:

WM,


We didn't get any response to the Identity Theft seminar, try estate planning.



ID theft isn't going to get people into chairs. That's like doing a seminar on avoiding auto accidents. Estate planning, making money in the stock market, beating inflation, getting rich with convertable bonds etc are going to be more of draw.



Thanks for the tips.  My next seminar is on managing the risk of an income shortfall in retirement.  It's scheduled for two weeks after the identity theft seminar.


 


I'm hoping that a big part of the lack of response is that my voice mail hasn't been picking up.  Can you believe it?!?


It's also the seminar topic.

These days I almost always give invited talks on educational subjects. It's not to say that direct mail doesn't work, but the response is low even for the best of situations *and* you have no control over who shows up. Hence the platelicker problem.

If you network alot, you'll get plugged into the circuit of people who are in charge of various groups, and if you get to know the programming director....


Apr 8, 2007 12:27 am

One problem is that Registered Reps can't put anything on a seminar invitation that would actually make someone want to attend.

Apr 15, 2007 6:39 pm

see this link to learn more about seminar marketing - http://www.advisormarketingsystems.com/resourcedet.php?rec_ id=4


If you're not gettting attendence your problem is likely the list (demographics) and your marketing copy.  If you sent invites in your firms envelopes 80% of them probably went directly into the trash.  If you did inserts as I think you'd said you did - they don't work particularly well.  Also, why would you do identity theft?  If you offer securities, advisory services, tax planning, etc.; then that's what you should be speaking about.  Lastly, don't use guest speakers.  Be a man a do the speaking yourself.  It's one of the few opportunities reps/advisors will get where they may not have to look like a stereotypical broker.

Apr 16, 2007 12:21 am

WM,


Do you belong to a rotary,chamber of commerce or Kiwanis? I just recently joined the local Kiwanis and the nice thing is that they have guest speakers come in during their weekly luncheons. I have made arrangments to do a seminar in June on FA's during one of the luncheons.When I show up at the weekly luncheon, I make sure to sit at a different table and "plug" my upcoming seminar. I have received a lot of interest about my topic and I'm confident that there will be at least 30-40 people there(most of them whom I will have already met). Here's the best part: I have an audience who is interested in my topic(at least they are pretending to be) and I get the FREE lunch. Well not really free, $10 bucks a week plus my annual membership fee of about $100 bucks.(Still small potatoes). I 'l let you know how it goes. I can't see having to shell out all that $$ and time when I can leverage the power of networking through a channel that's already there.  


Hope this helps,


Dan