Ten Laws of Seminar Marketing
When executed correctly, seminars are a proven way to attract quality clients, build your professional image, and close more business. Unfortunately, people who enter the seminar marketing arena without proper preparation have discovered that seminars can also be a way to chase off quality clients, damage their professional image, and lose business. These basic principles can help increase the effectiveness of your seminar marketing plan and reduce or avoid costly mistakes.
Law 1: Clearly Identify Your Target Audience
Some financial professionals are drawn to certain types of clients, whereas others may deal with a wide range of people. Although either approach can be used to build a successful business, when it comes to seminars, it’s critical to fill the room with people who share common characteristics. Inviting the appropriate clients and prospects can help ensure that time and money are not wasted marketing to individuals who won’t be interested in or served by the material being presented.
Law 2: Choose the Right Time and Place
To maximize your attendance, it is essential to pare down the list of excuses people will use for not attending:
- My kid’s ball game is that day.
- I have too much to do around the house this weekend to attend a seminar.
- On Valentine’s Day / Mother’s Day / Arbor Day? My wife would kill me!
Choosing an appropriate date is of primary importance. Holidays, major sports events, elections, community activities, and weekends all have a way of dampening public interest in a seminar. As a rule, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays get the best results.
It’s also important to choose the appropriate venue. In market testing, restaurants have pulled the highest attendance, beating out country clubs and hotels. Holding a meeting in a conference facility may fail to put some prospects at ease in the same way that a restaurant can. Restaurants are particularly helpful if you are trying to build your image in the community.
Seriously consider offering a complete meal at your event. The purpose of a breakfast, lunch, or dinner is to make it convenient for the prospects to attend.
Law 3: Do the Talking Yourself
Offering a financial workshop takes a lot of energy and focus. Make sure you are the one who stands to gain the most from your investment of time and money. One way to do this is by making sure that you, not someone else, occupy center stage. Nowadays, you can barely move a computer mouse without hitting a self-proclaimed expert in financial matters. You want your attendees to walk away from the event with the belief that you — not some expert whom you may have introduced — have the knowledge and skill to handle what may be one of the most important concerns of their lives: their financial futures.
Remember, seminar marketing works because it:
- Helps you build credibility and rapport
- Helps you inform and persuade your clients and prospects to take action
- Helps enhance your professionalism
Law 4: Don’t Use Seminars to Pitch Products
It’s important to remember that part of what draws an individual to a financial seminar is the opportunity to learn from the presentation. Consider how you and every other member of our society are bombarded with daily sales pitches on the radio, television, telephone, and computer — and in the mail. When there’s someone trying to sell you something around every corner, why would you sit still for a one-hour (or longer) sales pitch?
By first offering something of value — an educational event — you build trust with your clients and prospects. Speaking in front of a group positions you as an expert. Trying to sell them something positions you as a salesperson. Leave the sales pitch for the follow-up consultation, after you have taken the time to learn about your clients’ needs and they understand you are recommending a solution for their specific situation.
Law 5: Don’t Use Trial and Error as a Marketing Strategy
Seminar marketing has been around for many years. It has been tested and honed over time and proven to be an extremely effective tool to help financial professionals enhance their image, build rapport within a target market and the community at large, and close more business. For anyone who wants to market with seminars today, there’s no reason to start from scratch. By taking the time to learn about strategies that work, you can spend your time presenting effective seminars rather than learning from your mistakes.
Law 6: Consider a Dining Presentation
Even though financial seminars have been around for many years, they continue to evolve. As competition becomes more fierce, presenters have had to develop ways to make their events stand out from the others. As a result, the public’s expectations have permanently shifted. What this means is that, regardless of whether you think serving a meal is a good idea, your competitors are offering meals and getting results.
Law 7: Hone Your Presentation Skills
Strong presentation skills are a must if you want your audience to see you as professional and competent. When you know your presentation inside and out, you will be easier to watch. Constantly referring to the script can distract from your message and diminish your credibility.
Strive to be upbeat, sincere, and dynamic. Keep your posture relaxed and natural. Foster interaction with the attendees by walking toward them. When you need to refer to the screen, be careful not to turn your back to the audience. Apparel should be conservative. Gentlemen should wear ties and dark suits. Ladies should avoid noisy or distracting jewelry.
If you have limited experience with public speaking, consider videotaping yourself so you can see how the attendees will see you. There is no quicker way to stop annoying habits than by seeing yourself from an audience’s point of view.
Law 8: Prepare the Seminar Site
Begin setting up your site no less than one hour before the seminar starting time. This will enable you to handle any emergencies that may arise, such as burned-out light bulbs or too few chairs. It will also give you time to adjust the room temperature to a comfortable level. Use this time to test your projection equipment and the public address system if you are using one.
Be sure that your screen is visible from every seat in the room. It’s best to present with the lights on (or slightly dimmed) so your guests can see your face and their workbooks. Try to have your setup completed at least one-half hour before the seminar is scheduled to begin. That way, you can be relaxed as you greet your guests when they arrive.
Law 9: Remember the ABCs of Closing (Always Be Closing)
The closing should begin with the first contact with the prospect. A successful presenter will sell the benefit of the complimentary consultation throughout the presentation and will offer a straightforward call to action. The body of the presentation can be tailored to fit the particular topic or audience, but the opening and closing dialogue should be predetermined and tested for success.
Every seminar should have a strong call to action and include an evaluation form as a means of answering that call. Be sure to consider how the evaluation forms will be collected, who will collect them, and how many exits will be available to the attendees. Remember, a successful seminar will yield multiple complimentary consultations. Evaluation forms are your key to scheduling these consultations.
Law 10: Never, Never, Never Give Up
The world is full of people who have tried something and, when it didn’t work, warned others not to waste time as they did. But consider the thousands of people who have used seminars successfully to build their businesses and became wealthy in the process. Why did it work for them? Probably because they knew something that you too can easily learn.