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Six Essential Steps for Public Seminar Success

How to conduct a successful public seminar.

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Six Essential Steps for Public Seminar Success

Lead generation is one of the most curious and demanding parts of a financial advisor’s business plan. And with almost 30 years of business experience, we can say that seminar marketing has proven to be the most reliable way to fill an advisor’s pipeline with qualified prospects. There are three venues for seminars: public, client, and co-sponsored.

For the purpose of this article, lets focus on public seminars. A public seminar is when you invite a target audience from a defined geographic area to attend a workshop that addresses a specific topic.

A couple of key advantages with a public seminar is that it can be scheduled in just six to eight weeks, and you have the ability to carefully target your attendees.

Step 1: Target your market
The title of the seminar needs to be defined by the folks you would like to invite. A simplified list of targeting criteria may include a specific age range, minimum net investable assets, minimum annual household income, marital status, homeownership, and geographic location. Next, you need to select a topic that will resonate with your target market. For example, for an age range between ages 55 and 65, popular topics are Social Security and retirement. For millennials, interesting topics are cash management and investment strategies.

Step 2: Determine location and venue
For obvious reasons, it is best to find a location that is central and convenient to your invited guests. A rule of thumb in a suburban area is to locate a venue as close to the center of a 20-mile radius as is possible. The most popular venue is a good restaurant that has a meeting room capable of accommodating 20 to 30 guests for dinner. Here’s why.

The best time of day to invite guests you have never met to an event is not in the morning or at noon. Nearly 30 years as the industry-leader in seminars teaches us that if you want to optimize attendance, the best time to host a seminar is in the evening hours. This is the time of day when most individuals are able to control their schedule and step away from work and their busy life. Realizing that most folks are accustomed to eating dinner in the evening, the professional and courteous thing to do is serve food. The restaurant choice should be acceptable to your target audience — where they would typically choose to go to dinner.

Keep in mind that the restaurant manager is like a business partner and needs to understand your objectives. Request the best waitstaff to help make the evening pleasant for your guests and a success for you.

Step 3: The invitation process
Once you have demographically defined your targeted attendees and identified the location, you need to have the invitations printed. For a public seminar, you need an invitation that excites and motivates the recipient to open it.

A wedding-style invitation has proven to be very successful due to its larger envelope size that stands out in the mail. You are able to add just enough information on the envelope, such as restaurant name, so that the envelope will be opened. Once the envelope is opened, the invitation needs to inform. Invitation content should include the topic and presentation highlights, a picture of the presenter and a brief bio, instructions on how to register, the link to your website, and the three to four dates and times for the event. Why multiple dates? Not everyone will be available for only one date, so three dates within a two-week window will usually increase registrations by 30% to 40%.

And you will want to shop for a mailing list through a reliable direct-mail service that can provide you with the names and addresses of at least 5,000 demographically defined households.

Step 4: Seminar marketing calendar, dates, and times
For public seminars, the calendar is wide open, with the exception of the week of Thanksgiving and the last two weeks in December. The days before and after major holidays and events —  federal, state, and local — should also be avoided.

The best days of the week to hold a public dining seminar event are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. An evening event should begin no earlier than 6 pm and no later than 7 pm. This will largely depend on the travel patterns around the community. If traffic is always a factor, a 7 pm start may be preferred.

One of the most debated questions regarding dinner seminars is whether to feed your guests first or conduct the presentation first. Based on decades of experience, we would recommend that you serve dinner first. Your guests will be arriving after a potentially long day, and the aroma of food can create an unnecessary distraction. Allow 40 minutes for the meal and table clearing before beginning the presentation.

Step 5: When the guests arrive
You need a registration table for your guests to check in at when they arrive. A typed attendance list will validate and impress your guests so that they know they were expected. Provide a workbook, evaluation form, tent card with their first name, and a pen or pencil for each attendee. Please, no sales material. Your guests assume the seminar will be educational, not sales oriented. This will help with the bonding and rapport-building experience.

We encourage you or one of your associates to escort your guests into the room, introducing them to others and directing them to their seats. This is a very warm and welcoming experience that will help motivate attendees to come to your office for a complimentary consultation.

Step 6: Consider working with a reliable marketing partner
Broadridge Advisor Solutions has been assisting financial advisors with their seminar marketing for nearly 30 years. We can provide you with a compelling seminar with participant workbooks, list management, invitation creation, and direct mail.

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