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Is the Financial Advisor Seminar Dead?

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Is the Financial Advisor Seminar Dead?

The real dinosaurs are the seminars that are usually at night with dinner included. It’s a sit-down presentation that a financial advisor holds for a group of prospects that he or she wants to get as clients. They are usually geared toward retirement investing. They cost a lot of money to put on, and take months of planning to coordinate, which drains the firm’s resources to get it right so that things run smoothly. Traditional seminars are bound for extinction because on-line technology gives advisors a better option to present to prospects.

With alternative forms of marketing available to advisors, the wise ones will blend the seminar approach with forms of online marketing such as social media, or replace them entirely with digital media.

Say goodbye to the financial advisor seminar

Here’s why seminars are a dying breed: they are purely marketing-focused. Financial advisors are typically salespeople, not investment people, or economists. Most of them outsource the management of accounts to a third party or invest in commingled vehicles such as a mutual fund or ETF, where someone else is making the security-selection decisions. Putting a financial advisor in front of prospects to lecture for a half hour on the subject means that the talk will inevitably become focused on what the advisor wants to sell instead of being purely educational.

The world has caught on to this and no longer wants to play along.

Attention spans have shortened considerably. After five minutes, if you’re anything less engaging than Kim Kardashian then people whip their cell phones out and revert to Kim, Kylie, Khloe, or the latest version of Angry Birds. It’s depressing to think about what we as a society have deteriorated to, but it’s reality. The cell phone has made boredom an impossibility.

With the demographics of the modern family shifting, you’re not likely to reach the people you need to reach – women, those who are increasingly heading up households. For example, I have three kids who are ages three and younger. Do I need life insurance? College planning advice? Sure I do! But no way would you catch me after work at a dinner seminar because if I had an office job I’d be out the door by 4:30.

If I did want to go, here’s what it would look like. First of all, I’d have to pay a sitter to pick up my kids from school, do their homework (yes, believe it or not, even a three-year old has homework), feed them, bathe them, put them to bed, and then go through the song and dance of protecting them from the monsters that they believe are lurking under the bed, all for a grand total of $25 per hour if you want a babysitter who knows CPR. Gets pricey pretty quickly. Plus I’m exhausted all the time and the thought of staying out past 6 PM is not appealing. That’s when I want to sit down and not get up for a long time.

Seminars are good just for retired people, those who have the time and aren’t inundated by online distractions like the younger generations.

Related: Why Advisors Can’t Get Investors to Pay Attention to Them Digitally

Say hello to the online seminar

Let’s say you’re a great public speaker. Are you out of luck?

No. Just make a small tweak and move that financial advisor seminar online. You could either create a podcast, a YouTube video or series of videos on the topic. You can shoot it in your office in the conference room. People can watch at their leisure through their phone. There’s a lower investment required. No mailing, no renting a hall, no having to pay for dinner.

If you still want to hold an in-person seminar, you can market it through social media.

You could produce a trailer video which, much like a movie trailer, displays your greatest hits – shots of you speaking and the audience being so thrilled and amazed by what you have said, or falling out of their chairs laughing, etc. Use this to market the seminar online by placing the video on the social media of centers of influence or in the news feeds of targeted prospects using sponsored direct advertising on social media.

Lastly, you can record the seminar and make a YouTube video out of it so that participants like me – mothers who can’t find the time or energy to stick around after work – can view it when they’re home sitting on their couch. They can also listen to it while they are cooking dinner or executing any of the motherhood tasks (the list is long.)

If anyone has questions about how to do this for themselves, please email me and I’m happy to advise. Or, in the interest of practicing what I preach, I’ll point you in the direction of any of my YouTube videos on this topic.

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