Seminars are the most effective way to tap into the lucrative senior market. Many other marketing methods that work well with younger investors, such as cold calling, are considerably less effective because seniors are skeptical. They want to get to know the producer first before meeting one-on-one or handing over funds. And what better way to check the producer out than by sitting in a seminar and listening to him?

To achieve good results from seminars in the senior market, the producer must understand how seniors think and make buying decisions, and must design seminars to address their special needs. The formula for successful senior seminars includes these considerations:

1. Location, location, location. Just as in real estate, choice of location can make or break the success of the seminar. Most seniors living in a metropolitan area will not drive more than 20 minutes from home. In addition, the producer should select a seminar location that is well known, convenient, and in neutral territory. Therefore, the producer never should use his office as a seminar location. Rather, he should use a local restaurant that has existed for 20 or more years — a place that everyone in town knows and likes. It’s familiar, neutral, and well located. Many restaurants are happy to rent an extra room or even open for the producer’s seminar at a time when they normally are closed. Some prospects perceive hotels as a place for transients and may associate the producer with the salesman who is here today, gone tomorrow. The producer should use hotels only when a restaurant is not available. 2. Food or no food; it’s up to you. The producer does not need to feed his audience simply because he uses a restaurant for his location. There is nothing wrong with feeding attendees, but it increases the cost and is unnecessary. In fact, in my experience, serving food lowers the percentage of serious buyers that will be in the audience. When the producer feeds attendees, half of the audience will be “eaters” — people who came for the food. The producer can expect to get appointments with 30% of attendees.

When the producer does not use a meal as bait, those investors who are serious about hearing what he has to say will come with or without a meal. The producer will get appointments with 50% to 80% of these serious attendees. (The exception to this rule is Florida, where the meal is necessary to attract attendance.)

3. Time it right. Seniors (retirees) usually rise early in the morning and schedule golf, tennis, shopping, physician appointments, dentist appointments, and meetings with the accountant or attorney on weekday mornings. Therefore, I never hold a seminar on a weekday morning because I would be competing with many other activities in my prospect’s schedule. My seminars are scheduled either for Saturday mornings (when seniors put their weekday activities on hold) or weekday afternoons at 3:30. By the afternoon, seniors have completed their morning schedule and my only competition is talk shows. I also never schedule evening seminars because some seniors tell me that they are reluctant to drive at night because their night vision is not as good as it used to be. Additionally, single females have safety concerns, making them reluctant to venture out at night.

Editor’s Note: The preceding article was adapted from “Winning with Senior Seminars,” which ran in the May 2003 issue of Life Insurance Selling. Click here to read the whole article.

To read last week’s Words from the Wise, “How to find the right direct mail lead system,” click here.

For more on selling to seniors, see:

Beyond Demographics: Aligning Your Values with Senior Clients

The most common misperception about seniors

Annuities Help Keep Seniors’ Future Bright