We were wondering why attendance has spiked. Carol and I have had several discussions and our conclusion is that since the stock market is doing so well, maybe folks are more open to more information. In any case more people are coming to seminars. I thought that the day when we saw a 2% response was long gone, but an agent out west just had 115 reservations on a 5,000 piece mailing. Astounding! We haven't seen those numbers in over 8 years. He is offering a modest meal at a Bar B Q restaurant. Others in New England and Ohio have gotten great results. There are still some tougher areas, but all areas are seeing a surge.
You have probably figured out that referrals don't just happen. You have to make them happen. Here's a video that explains how to really get it done. I made this video addressed to attorneys. It works equally as well with financial advisors.
There has been a great deal of debate over how to close the seminar. It's imperative that you don't allow people to leave without an opportunity to make an appointment. If a meal is not offered, you will have to rely on them being self motivated. Their motivation is dependent on how much of a sense of urgency has been created in the seminar. Without a sense of urgency your proposal to do business is extremely passive. Also, you will have little to no opportunity to talk to people before they leave to evaluate their interest level. Calling the next day will lose a significant percentage of people who would have made an appointment if compelled to do so. All of this leads to my real reason for offering a meal. It gives me a chance to see the attendees for a couple of minutes to discover their level of interest, sense of urgency, need, and ability to invest in their future. You will also be able to assess their trust level. Also, you can help them past their reluctance to meet by assuring them that questions can be answered without cost, but solutions require an investment of time and some resources.
Closing your meeting without asking for a decision is a symptom of close reluctance. It is caused by fear. Fear of opinions, fear of rejection, fear of offending, etc. You must put that to rest. If what you do is of real value to the consuming public there is nothing to be fearful of by asking for a decision for something as non-aggressive as an appointment.
What is the value proposition for your seminar? How will you offer that value to potential seminar attendees by use of the mailer? What if your value proposition isn't very exciting? In fact so dull that nobody cares. We had an advisor who invited people to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to present a seminar. He had very few attendees. Why? Because he offered them information they could find on Google. So, the value proposition was obviously not food because 5,000 people didn't care. Here's a clue. They want information that will change their lives for the better, but it must be something that nobody else has offered. The way you do that is to bring up the problems that they are unaware of, help them to be concerned and then offer the solution. Of course, the solution will happen over the conference table.
Orders for seminars continue to be robust. Producers are very excited about new opportunities available going forward. The 7 Ways seminar that is available as a general purpose seminar is an excellent way to be introduced to a large number of prospects. It can be used with any practice and is easily modified if necessary to more accurately represent each unique practice.
Why is offering a meal better than not offering one?
Not for the usual reasons. Of course, there will be more attendees in most cases, but that's not the best reason. When you present without a meal, it's more difficult to make appointments. The usual format is to hand out an evaluation sheet that offers the appointment option. This becomes a yes or no scenario. It's hard to recover from a no. Also, there may be a significant necessity for follow-up that can be left undone when you get too busy. On the other hand, a meal offers the producer an opportunity to visit briefly with each attendee while they eat. This allows some personal interaction time and the possibility of turning some of those potential no answers into yes answers. You can also weed out a few that you can't really help.
So, offering a meal may be a good choice to increase attendance and have better opportunities to make appointments and of course the follow-up sales will result.
As a producer, I am offered many different kinds of offers to teach me how to market better. They come to me from a large number of FMO's located across the country. I actually experiment with each one to determine the effectiveness of the offers. I can confidently say that the two most effective ways to reach prospective clients are referrals and seminars. There may be a few techniques for prospecting that I write about in National Underwriter, but they are mostly personal contact. Here's why seminars are so effective. When you are trying to offer your service to the general public, you should try to narrow your marketing efforts to the most refined group possible. Only direct mail has the ability to refine your target market with any real accuracy. When you mail say 5,000 pieces of mail, you are targeting the right group, and there may be only a relative few who might be interested in following up; maybe 1%. Theat means we have effectively eliminated 4,950 people who are not ready to come and see what we have to say. We can spend our time meeting with clients and doing our research and case design without worrying so much about who we are going to see next.
The comment I get most frequently is about meal seminars. Producers don't like to offer a meal at their seminars. The number one reason is "plate lickers". I guess the use of a derogatory term helps one feel better about people who are taking advantage of a free meal. Most "plate lickers" will tell you that they do have assets and those assets are currently invested. They will also tell you that if you would give them a compelling enough reason to move those assets, they would seriously consider it. It's amusing that authorities are concerned that we are taking advantage of seniors by offering them a meal as "bait" to bring them to a seminar. Many producers would tell you that many seniors come to seminars to take advantage of the free meal making the producer the victim. I feel that the truth lies somewhere in between. While some may take advantage of the meal, it's quite uncomfortable to sit through an hour presentation just to eat when they can afford to pay for it. I believe that they want a good message and we should deliver one. If the message delivered is boring, we deserve the negative outcome. While there are good reasons for a no meal seminar, there are very few topics compelling enough to draw a significant crowd.
There are three topics that are compelling enough to draw a good attendance without a meal. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Each one of these seminars must deliver a message to the right demographic, with excellent timing. All other topics need a meal to support attendance. I'll be glad to explain, but I would be writing all day.
Kim has personally presented over 800 seminars and produced over 15,000 for other producers.