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Nine Seminar Marketing Tips for Financial Advisors

Seminars and workshops are proven ways for financial advisors to get new clients. However, marketing them often poses a challenge for advisors.

As a financial advisor, how can you stand out in the seminar field and generate a return on your investment? Check out these tips.

Note: Seminar marketing often requires a little money. If you have no money to invest in marketing your seminars, check out The Ultimate Financial Advisor’s Guide to Getting More Clients. It’s filled with free or low-cost ideas to build your business. Likewise, if you are a fee-based advisor, the cost of seminars is difficult to justify.

1. Be in it for the long haul.

Yes, you can double and triple (or more) your investment in seminar marketing, but it’s done over time. This all starts with knowing your numbers – if your average client is worth $2,000 to you and you convert 5% of seminar attendees, you can spend up to $100 per attendee. Of course, the name of the game is to get a client for as little as possible and make as much as possible.

If your clients stay with you for years, you will make your money back and much more, so do not be afraid to wisely invest your money. The majority of advisors who give seminars don’t get the immediate gratification they crave and quit. If you are disciplined about following up with your leads and maintaining a consistent seminar schedule, you will win.

This is the best financial advisor seminar marketing tip I give you. If you're not persistent enough to see it through until it starts working, you won't succeed. So if you're only going to try seminar marketing once or twice, don't bother. You have to stick with it so you can continue to optimize, get your cost down, build trust, etc. All of it gets better as time goes on.

2. Get people to show up.

In order for seminars to work, people need to show up. Here’s how to get people to show up to a seminar:

  • Offer food. Nobody wants to give you two or three hours of their time unless you’re springing for dinner. Oh, and “wine and cheese” isn’t a meal. Neither is “dessert and coffee”.
  • Send a nice invitation. You only have one chance to make a good first impression, so use quality paper and really sell the seminar. Have bullet points that explain what you’ll cover.
  • Have a good location. Bad locations include public meeting rooms, your office, shared office conference rooms, and shockingly enough, country clubs. But I guess that makes sense – your “millionaire next door” probably isn’t a member at the country club and wouldn’t feel comfortable going there. Pick an upscale hotel or a steakhouse.
  • I have found that restaurants are the best place to host seminars as long as they match the class of prospects you’re attempting to attract to your event. You should find a restaurant with a private banquet room… with a door (yes, that’s important, believe me). Pick a basic steak, chicken, and vegetarian entrée and try to negotiate with the restaurant regarding carryovers for no-shows.

    Food is a staple of financial advisor seminars. Try your best to include it.

    3. Make education your priority.

    I’m not naïve; I know that most seminars already claim that they’re “educational”, but this isn’t really true. They’re self-serving, nonstop-pitching, “I’m-a-big-shot” type deals. In order to succeed with seminar marketing, you need to truly educate people. While the details vary by topic, you do this by giving them the framework they need to make decisions and clearly show them the trade-offs involved in those decisions.

    When your attendees sense any type of sales agenda, they will get turned off. Sure, you might convert a few leads, but if you come from a place of teaching, you will convert much more. Success comes from educating your audience with information that benefits them… without trying to sell anything.

    Note: Sometimes seminars can attract people who are there strictly for information. Most prudent investors (who make great clients) typically have such a low interest in financial products that they don’t attend in the first place. Prudent investors are the ones who are conservative, low-maintenance, are relationship-oriented, and are happy to pay for your advice and service.

    4. Make it relevant to your target audience.

    The go-to subject for a lot of financial advisors is Social Security. I totally agree with this because it intrigues a broad-range of seniors and the marketing darn-near handles itself. All you have to do is get your direct mail piece into every 55 and older community in your area. I literally tell you exactly how to do this in The Ultimate Financial Advisor’s Guide to Getting More Clients.

    While you should make your presentation specific, you need to figure out if a small, intimate setting is even worth your time. You might be able to send out a few thousand direct mail pieces to seniors, but if you’re marketing specifically to physicians, your market may only allow ten or so to show up. This goes back to knowing your numbers. If you know you can convert at a higher percentage with a smaller group, go for it! The goal of a financial advisor seminar is to get clients, not to get the most people to show up. Remember that.

    5. Invite other speakers.

    One of the best strategies for marketing seminars is to invite other speakers. Prime candidates include CPAs and estate attorneys. Ideally, you will be trying to build relationships with these strategic alliances, and inviting them to speak to a group of prospects will only strengthen that relationship.

    Another benefit of having multiple speakers is that it legitimizes and event and makes it more comprehensive. It shows attendees that you have access to critical resources they may need. I know that I personally would feel much more comfortable knowing that an advisor can lead me to a “total solution” within his/her own network.

    Finally, the other speakers may be willing to share the cost of the event, lowering your expenses and your client acquisition cost.

    Note: This is a double-edged sword. If you invite other speakers, I can almost promise you that your conversion rate will suffer. A seminar should only be an hour or two, and that’s hardly enough time for one person to bond with an audience, yet alone two or three. However, if your overall attendance goes up, it might not matter to you. Test, test, test!

    6. Test everything.

    I can’t stress this tip enough. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll hit it out of the park on your first (or fourth) seminar. The only way that you can improve and systematize is to test what you’re doing. Some variables you could test include:

  • Your invitation. Find out which invitation converts the best. Place a different phone number on different invitations to track which one is pulling the most interest.
  • Your audiences. If you want, try giving presentations across different types of audiences. Which one shows the most interest? Who actually converts to a client?
  • Your topics. Try different topics with the same type of audience to see which one gets more engagement.
  • Charging a “tuition fee” vs. not charging anything. Charging a small fee not only further legitimizes an event as educational, but it also reduces your total cost. You could also include a free consultation with you as part of your “tuition”.
  • 7. Always use an evaluation form.

    An evaluation form from a seminar is priceless. It gives you the opportunity to improve. Here are some basics to cover on your evaluation form:

  • The content was as described.
  • I would recommend this seminar to others.
  • The speaker was a good communicator.
  • The material was presented in an easy-to-follow manner.
  • The speaker was knowledgeable on the topic.
  • The visuals provided were helpful.
  • Another great use of the evaluation form is to ask about a prospect’s primary area of interests – IRAs, 401Ks, retirement, tax reduction, etc. – and offering a free consultation to discuss how you can help.

    Note: You can also have your assistant work the audience, getting to know people and politely soliciting complimentary appointments.

    8. Interactivity is key.

    Create a comfortable environment for people to interact with you and ask questions. Again, a non-sales environment is crucial because it makes prospects more comfortable with you. It’s all about building relationships and showing that you have value to offer.

    Stories are interactivity fuel. Storytelling is a universal way to captivate peoples’ attentions and have them hanging on the edge of their seats, ready to hear what happens next.

    Another good way to increase interactivity is to ask questions. Presentation expert Carmine Gallo says that an audience’s attention drops to zero after just ten minutes of your presentation. Ten minutes! To get their attention back, Gallo advises creating soft breaks within your speech where you ask questions and incorporate them into your presentation.

    9. Always follow up.

    Your closing ratio can be dramatically increased if you follow up correctly. I’ve seen several advisors’ closing ratios double simply by following up, so if you don’t do it, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

    The next day, you need to be on the phone setting appointments. The longer you wait, the fewer appointments you will set. If you’re not already collecting, tracking, and marketing contact points with your attendees for each event, you need to start doing this immediately. A good CRM (I personally recommend Capsule) will keep you on top of things.

    If you don't have a CRM right now, check out my article about how an advisor increased his income by using one.

    Finally, send everyone who attends a thank-you note or email. It means a lot and it will keep you top-of-mind for people who may convert later on.

    So there you have it - nine financial advisor seminar marketing tips. Have you had any success with seminar marketing? Reach out to me to share your story!