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Financial Planning > Tax Planning

Six Features Of Winning Seminars

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After doing seminars for 15 years and teaching over 2,000 producers to do them, I’ve found six of the most important items that bring success.

Invite A Very Focused Audience

Theres no way to pack a room with a diverse crowd. The success of your invitation will depend on how focused it is. A title such as “Estate Planning for Apartment Owners” that is sent to apartment owners will get better attendance than a seminar titled “Estate Planning” sent to everyone over age 55.

To develop a winning invitation, you need to know how your audience thinks. Therefore, the invitees must be a homogenous group. You cannot assume that your market thinks like you do. If you are 40-years-old, you probably want to know about opportunities to make money, but people over 60 (in most cases) are not motivated to make more money. They care about preserving capital. Their biggest concern is fear of losing principal (this is their “hot button”).

So, is it any wonder that your opportunity-oriented seminar, titled “How to Maximize Profits with the Right Mutual Funds,” doesnt get much of a response from seniors?

Whichever target market you choose, you really need to know their most significant emotional concern. If you can title a seminar addressing that concern, youre half way home. If youre not sure, dont make assumptions. Simply talk to 10 people from your target market and see what concerns they have in common.

Direct Mail To Attract Affluent Prospects

Direct mail is, by far, the most effective method to use in metropolitan areas. The cost per attendee is the highest, but the quality of the attendees is the highest and the seminar produces more business and the greatest profits.

By sending 3,000 invitations to a highly targeted audience, you can attract and obtain 35 buying unitsa mail cost of $42 per buying unit. I highly recommend using this more expensive method because it produces the best end-resultsmore qualified new clients that have money to invest.

Location Is Important

Select a seminar location that is well known, convenient and in neutral territory. Some financial professionals attempt to hold seminars in their office buildings. Bad idea. This is not neutral territory and some prospective attendees will not come for fear of being trapped in a high-pressure sales situation. Think about buying a carwhose turf are you onis it comfortable for you?

Therefore, never use your office as a seminar location. Rather, use a local restaurant that has existed for 20+ years–a place that everyone in town knows and likes. Its familiar, neutral and well located.

You do not need to feed your audience just because you use a restaurant for your location. Many restaurants are happy to rent an extra room or even open for your seminar at a time when they are normally closed.

Never Do A Product Seminar

If you are seeking to develop a high-end audience with substantial assets who are looking to bond with an advisor, you cannot give product seminars. Such prospects will leave the seminar with little or no respect for you because in most cases:

A. They already understand the basic features of many investments;

B. They do not want to be sold a product; and

C. They understand basic concepts, such as tax deferral, and will feel patronized.

To this group, you must present a concept seminar. Present ideas such as asset allocation, estate planning, providing for grandchildren, ways to reduce income taxes, socially conscious investing, using debt to create wealth, ways to dispose of real estate without tax, etc.

All of these concepts can lead to lucrative relationships where you may indeed sell products or services. But the product will be the tool to implement the concept. The product must be the subsidiary conversation after the prospect buys into the concept.

You Must Be The Speaker, Dont Use Wholesalers

If you use a guest speaker at your seminar, youre missing the whole idea and value of seminars.

The ultimate purpose of seminar marketing is for you to get appointments. Your job is not to get appointments for an accountant, an attorney, or a wholesaler. If one of them does the speaking, who gets the credibility? They do!

In order for you to get the appointments, the seminar is your 90 minutes to build your credibility.

So why would you ever invite a guest speaker? Because you may think that they will help bring in attendance. If you think this way, you are selling yourself short. You believe your accomplishments or knowledge are insufficient, and this thinking will sink you in this business no matter how you prospect.

Close Appointments Right At The Seminar

Its scary how much money advisors spend on seminars, only to give a great seminar, have the attendees clap, make nice comments and leave without a commitment. Checking a box that says “I would like an appointment” is not a commitment. A commitment is a time and day.

For five years, 65% of attendees at my seminars have committed to a time and day for the appointment right at the seminar. You can do the same if you invite attendees to do so!

Heres how its done. Announce that you need a small favor from them. You need them to complete the evaluation form they received at the beginning of the seminar (and without taking a breath) and that the evaluation form is also their lottery ticket today.

Lets face it, most people could care less about filling out evaluation forms, so give them a reason to do so. They can win something by completing and returning the form.

To solidify the appointment, the attendees select an appointment time and date right on the evaluation form! Why leave this open and try to nail it down the next day? Or worse, if you cant get the attendee on the phone the next day, your chance of ever having an appointment will fall precipitously.

Attendees sign up for the appointment because you promise two things:

1. State that you will not sell them anything at that appointment; and

2. You will show them at least one significant financial mistake they are making and not even aware of. As a knowledgeable advisor, you can always keep this promise. I have never met anyone that was not making at least one foolish financial mistake.

Tell attendees to bring in their list of investments and a copy of their tax return to the appointment. (For assistance, you can download a free copy of “How to Uncover Opportunities from a Tax Return” from

Do you think you could do business with someone who comes to your office with their list of investments and tax return and wants to hear what you have to say? These are exactly the types of prospects every advisor desires.

, CPA, CSA, RIA, MBA, is president of NF Communications, which produces marketing systems for financial sales professionals. He can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, January 7, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.

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