Now that cold calling has joined stockbrokers in heaven (or more likely the lower regions), seminars, “cold walking” and direct mail have become the only viable means of building a business.
Seminars are generally the most reliable of these, but there is no way to cover this expensive process adequately in a few articles, so I’ve established a specialized website (billgood.com/seminarhelp) — keep checking for updates as this series progresses!
Very broadly, success in seminar marketing consists of doing the right things and keeping good records of what you did and referring back to these records to ensure that you are staying in the seminar success “zone.” To do this, you need to score well at six different stages of the process:
1. Acceptance Rate. This is the percentage of invitees who accept.
2. Show-Up Rate. The percentage of those who accept who actually arrive.
3. Appointment Request Rate. The percentage of attendees who request an appointment on your “Seminar Report Card.”
4. Appointment Show-Up. This is obviously the percentage of appointment makers who arrive at your office.
5. Close Rate.
6. Post-Seminar Management.
In this first installment of a three-part series, we cover the first two factors.
Acceptance Rate. This needs to be at least 0.8 percent. If, over a series of several seminars, you average 1 percent or higher, your seminar marketing can be wildly profitable.
In general, five things will keep you out of the zone. If you’re getting less than that 0.8 percent return, your problem will usually be one (or more) of these. Fix it, and you can get your response rate up into the success zone.
No Meal. In today’s social contract, if you want two hours of my time, you buy dinner. “Wine and cheese” is not a meal. Neither is “heavy hors d’oeuvres” or “dessert and coffee.”
Bad Location. This is any place well-to-do people don’t go, including public libraries, public meeting rooms, your conference room, shared-office conference rooms, ethnic or cheap restaurants and, very interestingly, country clubs. Good locations are steakhouses or well-known and upscale hotels. There are no “upscale” Holiday Inns.
Bad Invitation. Invitations can fail in countless ways, including no labels, cheap paper or text that is too short to sell the seminar. There are really three styles: letter, wedding and flyer. For the most part, stick with wedding or letter style, and if you can’t get your response rate into the zone, switch. When your response rate goes down, switch again.
Many advisors ask a client or two to send them all their mail from other advisors. Odds are, if you see an invitation over and over, it’s working. If yours is not, make yours look like that one, and this will probably solve the problem.
I have seen countless invitations, but the one thing a successful invitation must do is sell the seminar. One great way to do this is by including some bullet points, as this example demonstrates:
In this timely workshop, you will learn: What to do with cash now. How to apply dollar-cost-averaging in volatile markets.Why a strategy of investing only in fixed-income might leave today’s longer-lived boomers out of money.
Bad Headline. This is actually a subcategory of “Bad Invitation,” but so common it deserves separate mention. When someone opens an invitation, you have all of five seconds to attract attention with your headline, which is normally the title of your seminar.
I recall speaking some years ago to a client who told me, “Bill, I did everything right,” but she still got a lousy response. My first question was “What did you call your seminar?”