I’ve seen response rates on a national basis really increase for direct mail campaigns. This increase is always very predictable when we have the type of market volatility we’ve seen lately. People are scared and in search of answers their present advisors are not giving them.

For those of you doing seminars, expect your response rates to climb as long as this market volatility lasts. Seminars are going to be very productive for many years to come and even more productive when we see spikes in response rates. We really are in a recession-proof business with a growing demographic of potential clients.

The mailing company you use should have a 24-hour live answering service to take your reservations. You don’t want those calls coming in to your office. It is totally non-productive, and many people will call after hours and on weekends.

So let’s say the mailing company drops your mail, now all you have to do is wait for a few days and all of a sudden people are calling in to make reservations to your event. This is really exciting, mostly because you don’t have to do anything. Simply go to the Web site provided by the answering service and watch the numbers grow. A few days prior to your event you have to go back to work on the seminar process.

Someone from your office will need to start confirming the attendance of the people that have called in. It is perfectly normal to see 20 percent of the people that signed up for the seminar not actually show up. The confirmation is very important and does not really take a lot of time to accomplish. You will also need to make a confirmation call the day of the event. If you don’t do these confirmation calls you can expect your drop-off rate to be much higher than 20 percent.

Those who have done seminars before know that at least one person will arrive at least 30 minutes early. This means you need to get to the site one hour early to get everything set up in anticipation of those early arrivals. The first thing to do is to set up the technology and the display screen. Once that’s done, you can set up the room to fit around your own particular presentation style.

I always arrange the room restaurant style, meaning no lined-up tables, no horseshoe setup. This is a social event and those types of setups are very much business style. Also, if you are expecting 28 people to show up for your event, set the room up for 25, with a table along the wall that you can pull out if needed.