Financial advisor seminars are major commitments of both time and money, but they can prove to be valuable business-building tools when executed properly. And yet, so many advisors struggle to pull off a successful seminar. In this article, we outline five common mistakes made in planning and executing a financial advisor seminar, and tips on how to avoid them.
Every industry has its horror stories. One for the financial services industry is about failed financial advisor seminars. The thought of empty seats, prospects who just come for the food, gadflies who live to disrupt your presentation, and expensive leftover marketing collateral makes advisors cringe. In fact, reading or hearing a few stories like that may be enough to turn an advisor off the idea of hosting a seminar completely.
On the other hand, we also see success stories. Some advisors seem to hold the golden ticket to financial advisor seminar success. To an outsider, it might look as though they are acquiring millions of AUM just by being in front of a room full of prospects for a few hours.
What do the successful seminar hosts know that other advisors don’t? And, most importantly, what non-obvious decisions and activities behind the scenes make a financial advisor seminar a success?
To answer those questions, let’s look at five common financial advisor seminar planning and execution mistakes. If you are considering a seminar in 2020, you owe it to yourself to study these mistakes and avoid them.
Promoting your event is one of the most underrated, yet crucial steps in executing a successful seminar.
Getting this right takes time and attention to detail. If a single Facebook post on the company’s page was enough, everyone would be filling rooms!
Promoting the event on your social media platforms is a must, as well as announcing the event to your email list. However, you’ll need to explore other methods of getting the word out. Generally, the more channels, the better.
Here is a list of options.
No matter which promotion methods you choose, be sure to track your results. Build your prospect pipeline in a way that allows you to monitor where each person came from. It’s best to do it automatically and behind the scenes: once they get to the event 2-3 weeks later, prospects often don’t remember how they found out about the workshop.
Remember also that the outcome of your seminar will rely on the quality of your attendees. Therefore, everything from your choice of venue and topic to your outreach plan should specifically target and attract your ideal client. The “buying unit count” is less important than making sure that they count as qualified prospects. Don’t aim for perfection, as it’s unlikely that your audience will be 100% pre-qualified.
Logistics refers to the who, what, when, and where of your event.
Bad parking, poor lighting, a noisy venue, or an ill-chosen date or time can be the defining factor that makes a difference between a positive and negative outcome.
Who? Who is your target audience? Your audience should reflect one of your client segments. If you happen to serve more than one type of client, choose just one focal point for each event. That makes targeted advertising and promotion possible (and less expensive).
What? What will you talk about (the theme for the seminar)? Your messaging and value proposition should be tailored to attract your target market. Advisors often make the mistake of wording the value proposition in advisor terms which don’t resonate with the audience. Be sure to use authentic client language and frame key take-aways and reasons to attend in words that your prospects would use themselves.
When? The day and time you hold your seminar can have significant impact on both attendance and engagement. Here are some important notes and trends to keep in mind.
Where? Where you host your event can speak volumes about the type of seminar the attendee can expect. Seminars hosted at a local college, community center, library, or auditorium will indicate that your seminar is educationally focused. Seminars hosted at a restaurant or other food-centric venue indicate that the tone of your seminar will be conversational and laid-back. Make sure that your content aligns with your venue: your audience might be more prepared to learn about the intricacies of Roth conversions in a classroom than in a local wine bar.
Individuals who take time out of their schedule to prepare, travel to, and attend your seminar aren’t just coming for the information. They are also coming for the chance to interact with others, including you, and to learn more about how you can help them.
This is your time to shine. Use this opportunity to show your human side. Humor is always a great way to build connections in a room, so don’t be afraid to make your audience laugh.
Your goal should be to provide the kind of experience a prospect would willingly continue, attend again, and share with their friends! This is the type of experience that will lead to a discovery conversation and eventual client relationship. So, be careful with stuffing your slides with thousands of technical details that will make a layman’s eyes gloss over. Instead, tell memorable stories and connect with prospects on the human level.
We all live full and busy lives. Even if an attendee had a great experience at the workshop, their competing priorities at home and at work may deter them from reaching out.
This is where many advisors drop the ball. Just because the seminar has ended doesn’t mean the job is complete! There are still opportunities to build relationships, and the sooner you can schedule a follow-up appointment, the better.
Be proactive with your follow-up. Schedule appointments within a two-week window of the event to have the best chance of maintaining that sense of urgency you’ve worked so hard to build.
There are some advisors who are not comfortable or skilled at commanding a room the way a seminar demands. They may be amazing in a one-on-one setting, but they don’t have the presence to engage and compel a bigger audience.
Here, as in other areas of the financial advice profession, it’s important to know your strengths. The time and monetary investment of a seminar may not be worth it for the advisors who don’t have at least a foundational competency in public speaking (and a strong willingness to invest time and energy into improving). If you’re determined to make it work for you, seek out presentation coaching, and consider role-playing with peers or friends to practice your skills.
You can expect to spend anywhere from $300-$800 to rent a space for your presentation (if you are planning to serve a meal, the price tag could go well above $1,000).
You’ll also need to budget for professional-looking collateral (presentation, handouts, banner stand, etc.) and promotion. You might get lucky pitching the seminar on a local TV news segment, but most advisors don’t get that deal (at least not on the first go-around). A successful seminar demands a commitment of time and money to lay a solid logistical foundation and promote the event in order to get a worthwhile return on your investment.
This is the tricky part. If you are looking for a seminar partner that can open doors to educational facilities (like your local college or university) and provide content and marketing support for your workshop, check out America’s Retirement Forum. We have taken the lessons of helping over a hundred advisors host successful workshops, and wrapped them into an education-forward, done-for-you financial seminar package. All you have to do is choose the topic, the date, and the location — and follow the checklists to seminar success.
Advisors who are interested in joining America’s Retirement Forum as an affiliated educator can click on this calendar link and save a spot on their calendar!