• Seminar Marketing with Financial Seminars
  • Rapidly attract new clients
  • Build your business geometrically while others do it one client at a time
  • Dos and Don't of success for seminars on:
    • Financial Planning
    • Investments
    • Insurance
    • Taxes
    • Estate planning

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Seminar Invitation Service

In too many organizations the efforts for building seminar attendance often miss the mark. Too many dollars and too many hours are wasted on attendance building tactics that just do not work. So what happens? You give up on seminars. Please, don’t.

One of the most effective ways to build a professional service practice is to produce and deliver short (half-day or shorter) seminars, speeches and events. Indeed, you will not find too many people disagreeing that speaking is a great marketing technique. The right reaction to our poor professional who had only six at his seminar is this: don’t give up the seminar; give up the marketing tactics you used.

If you do plan on taking the time and spending the money to produce, prepare and deliver a presentation or mini-seminar, here are seven event-marketing tips that will help you fill your room.

1. Invitation Timing

Usually, professionals market their events much too early. A CPA firm we know recently had high business development hopes from a series of six short seminars. It sent well-written seminar invitation letters to inform clients and prospects of the series. The seminar invitations reached the client base about 12 weeks before the first mini-seminar, 14 weeks before the second mini-seminar, 16 before the third, etc. Attendance was decidedly under whelming. The firm’s mistake was in the mailing lead time. The announcements for generating attendance for two-hour seminars are best sent about three or four weeks in advance, not 12 or 16 or 20. Rule of thumb: the shorter the seminar, the shorter the event announcement lead time. We have found 9 days to be the ideal lead time for mailing invitations to the public.

2. List Targeting

In direct mail, the three greatest indicators of success are lists, lists and lists. Before you send out one piece of mail, make sure you have a reasonable expectation that the people on the list will be interested in your topic. A great seminar title, mailing package and value proposition will generate zero attendance if you mail it to a list that is not interested in your topic. For example, it's surprising that an advisor marketing to seniors would pick a topic "Investment Growth Opportunities for 2006." Or, that an agent would select an "insurance" mailing list full of young people who may need but don't have money to buy insurance. The audience and topic are mismatched and advisors frequently make this expensive error.

3. Marketing Response Expectations

Expect .5 to 1.5% response if you don't feed people and double this if you send dinner seminar invitations. The more special the restaurant, the higher your response. For example, you will get more response to Ruths Chris steak house than Lubys cafeteria. However, the ultimate measurement is not the percentage of people who attend. It's how much new money you raise. So don;t be immediately excited when you see a full room if they mostly come for the free dinner.

4. Marketing Piece

Suffice it to say that sometimes a postcard is perfectly fine for generating attendance for your events. Other times email is all you need. It might be that invitations will work better for your event. Sometimes you need an invitation, a letter, a business return envelope, a white paper and convenient registration on your Web site. This could be (and is) the subject of whole books. Just be aware that you should research what kind of marketing piece might work in your situation and for your audience, and test different pieces on different events. Think about your audience members and what their day looks like—then send them the piece that will get through the noise and clutter. We have found the following to work best:

  • Postcards for NASD licenses that offer a meal. Because the NASD is very strict on the language you can use, you want to use very few words and simply offer a nice dinner to gain attendance.
  • For non-NASD licensees, your wording is not restricted and we have found that plenty of compelling text on an 8.5 x 11 page works well (in an envelope).

5. People come expecting value instead of a sales pitch.

If you then deliver value, you’ll establish the expectation and knowledge that time with you is worth the money. Don't put any product in the title of your seminar and don't talk about products. Financial product marketing seminars turn off wealthy people. Instead, focus your talk on concepts, "Six Ways Retirees can Cut Taxes" rather than giving a product seminar. Examples of conceptual seminars.

6. Event Title

Your event title needs to clearly state what value you will deliver at the event. You will also want it to be as short as possible (but as long as needed) and appealing to the reader. Using the words “How To” in an event title has proven time and time again to increase attendance. The title “learn about new investment opportunities” (one we recently saw) would be much more effective if it were “how you can take advantage of new investment opportunities.” A very simple approach for event titling: make a list of a dozen or so ways you could title the event. Ask for feedback from colleagues, clients and potential clients. If you run the event multiple times, test different titles and see if one title generates more attendance than the other. The wording of a seminar invitation is critical and makes a huge difference in attendance. At minim, you want to study "How to Make Advertising Work" by John Caples or get a turnkey seminar system from someone who has studied copy writing.

7. Marketing Partners

Marketing partners are an often-overlooked source for boosting event attendance. You can, for example, partner with two other firms and pool your resources and mailing lists to increase response and then deliver together. Besides having extra names to market to, your event will have a multifaceted presenter list, which can often increase attendance in and of itself. You can also co-market the event with a trade association, get the event notice listed in your partner’s e-newsletters, work with a college or university to sponsor the event or any number of other partner strategies. For example, a network security service firm we know partnered with the FBI to run its seminar on the new security issues facing firms. The event pulled better than anything they had ever done before. A Final Thought One of the most overlooked ways to increase event registration is delivering great events—providing information or tools that will be of significant value for the attendees. If you “deliver one of the best seminars of your life” every time… your events, much like your practices, will grow in reputation and attendance. Who knows, someday soon you might even be able to answer the phone and say to your potential attendees, “Sorry, this seminar is full, but I will register you for the next one.”

Topics covered in this section: Financial seminar, tax seminar, estate planning seminar, public seminar, financial planning seminar, insurance seminar, medicare seminar, long term care seminar, invitation, newspaper advertising, seminar invitation, mailing list.

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