Last month I left off on the topic of where to hold seminars. One of my motivations in writing “Coach’s Corner” is to help you avoid the many mistakes we made in developing my seminar program. I’ve used several types of venues for my seminars, from the local senior center to the high-end restaurant with an ocean view. Mom-and-pop and Italian restaurants seem to have the best draw, compared to Mexican or seafood-oriented restaurants. Whatever the menu theme, the key is to get people into the room. The facility you choose will need to have some kind of separate room or semi-private section. It also has to be within close proximity to your office, so don’t market too far away. My rule of thumb is that people will drive about 30 minutes just to come to my office, so don’t market a venue that’s too far away (I’ve made that mistake in the past and heard about it — and you don’t want to make the same error in judgment).
Once you find a suitable location, be sure to drop by at lunch and dinner times and check out the clientele before you commit. During peak restaurant times, you will want to see the place filled with the type of customers your own marketing plan targets. Your target market is the soon-to-be-retired or retired client, so you want to see that a lot of retirees frequent the restaurant. Your strategy does not need to involve impressing prospects with a fancy restaurant that they would not normally go to. Rather, your objective is to have them visit a restaurant that they frequent and to create a social event where they feel at ease. In general, the process that I’ve used is not a selling process, but always a social event, first and foremost. If folks feel comfortable in their surroundings, it’s much easier to put them at ease and enjoy the evening … and get a better reception to the underlying message of the services you can provide to clients.
Perhaps you have found three or four facilities that meet your requirements, all of which are in different areas within a 10 mile radius of your office.