Steve Delott, CLU, ChFC, has a rebuttal to proclamations that the seminar is dead, that it’s a feast for plate-lickers but a famine for advisors seeking new business.
“The seminar is alive and well, and probably still the warmest appointment you can get,” says Delott, principal and founder of Delott and Associates, an annuity-oriented field marketing firm in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
Indeed, some of the industry’s leading marketing minds contend seminars still yield a solid return on investment — provided they’re done the right way, every step of the way.
“I’m definitely still a believer, and the reason is because a lot of advisors are still making seminars work,” echoes Maribeth Kuzmeski, head of Red Zone Marketing, an advisor-oriented consulting firm in Chicago, and author of “… And the Clients Went Wild.”
While the formula for seminar success differs from advisor to advisor, the bottom line is making every detail count, say the experts, from the invitation on through to the appointment that hopefully lands that coveted new client. Here are some best practices for realizing a robust seminar return on investment.
Target prospects with precision.
Methodically select the ZIP codes to which invitations are mailed, recommends Jennifer Butts, field marketing manager at GP Creative, an arm of GamePlan Financial Marketing outside Atlanta. And avoid mailing to high-net-worth targets. They tend not to respond to direct-mail solicitations.
Go with a pro.
“Use a professional service for list selection, invitations, and mailing,” Kuzmeski
says. “If you try to do it yourself, at the end of the day, you’re going to spend time and money on something that doesn’t really work.”
Choose a compelling topic.
“It’s a matter of having an issue that people can relate to, such as ‘Are you going to have enough income in retirement?’” says Butts. Nowadays, Delott adds, asset-protection topics resonate the most.
Keep seminar subjects fresh.
“I consistently change seminar topics to avoid hitting the same area with the same information over and over,” Delott says.
Practice creative cost-control.
To reduce seminar expenses, “think out of the box a bit,” Butts suggests, noting that many vendors (mail houses, printing companies, venues, etc.) offer discounts for prepaying for a year’s worth of services. Holding seminars in partnership with community facilities, senior centers and affinity groups can also save on room fees, she adds.
Choose the day, time and venue wisely.
Delott says events held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting around 3:30 p.m., tend to produce the best results. And “you need a nice restaurant, but not one that’s over the top. Make sure it has a great private meeting room,” he says.
Confirm attendance the day before.
Having staff call registered attendees on the eve of the event makes for better attendance, Delott notes.
“I tell all my agents to get their Series 65 license, so they’re qualified to talk about a wider range of solutions, including switching a variable annuity to a fixed index annuity, fixed index annuity income riders and annuities with a long term care component,” Delott says.