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Making Seminars Work

Here are tips on getting the most out of your seminar experience.

By George Norris

The financial seminar can be one of the most efficient ways of getting prospects and selling your services. After all, how many other prospecting methods can net 20 to 40 clients in one day? However, if a seminar is not planned and executed properly, it can be a colossal waste of time, money and energy. Here are some essential tips for getting the most out of your seminars:

  • Give seminars at corporate sites, as part of a volunteer education program or at colleges. Attendees are familiar with the sponsor and are assured that you’re qualified. This automatically gives you the status of an informed and trustworthy advisor and does a lot of your promotional work for you.

  • Make sure the seminar lasts no longer than 90 minutes. A seminar should be a prospecting device designed to build credibility and secure appointments.

  • Avoid giving attendees too many handouts. A sheet explaining your qualifications and perhaps a financial planning article you’ve written are usually enough. Most handouts end up unread and in the circular file after the seminar is over.

  • Have an appointment book ready. Attendees should have ample opportunity to make an appointment at the seminar location. You will lose clients by taking names and intending to follow up the next day. Strike while the iron is hot.

  • To encourage follow-up appointments, offer each attendee a free individual consultation. Have them fill out a factfinding form at the seminar site with an assistant who has an appointment book on hand.

  • Due to potential legal liability, do not design your own seminar materials. Rather, get materials from your home office or a seminar-supply company. If you choose the latter, be sure all materials are NASD compliant.

  • The best way to invite the kind of people you want to attend the seminar is by mailing a quality invitation. This is a nonintrusive, low-pressure method that is very targeted and will not run afoul of the do-not-call registry.

  • Seminars built around a simple lunch or a Saturday continental breakfast work best. Do not make the meal too elaborate—you want people to come for you, not the food. Also, evening seminars compete with other social engagements and downtime after work.

  • A good place to hold a seminar is in a well-known restaurant that is familiar and comfortable for your audience. Private resorts or country clubs can be intimidating, and the practice conference room can leave attendees feeling trapped and vulnerable.

  • Focus on ways the audience can save money for themselves. The primary point is the importance of personal pride. People feel they should control their money—not their children, and certainly not the government.

These tips were taken from the article “Tailored Trust” by George Norris, which originally appeared in the May 2000 issue of Advisor Today.


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