Over the past three years, the seminar marketing landscape has been turned upside down by the introduction of using digital advertising to promote seminars and workshops.
This new approach has caused financial professionals to adjust their strategies, from how they manage planning and executing the events to refining the topics they present to their prospects.
Many financial professionals are now learning that traditional ways of holding seminars no longer work. For example, offering a meal can actually lower response rates and make the event less successful. More and more often, people sign up for an education, not a meal.
Because of this I have observed an exponential increase in educational events like Social Security, estate planning and tax planning workshops. At the same time, I’m seeing a drop in traditional multi-topic dinner seminars. Producers are simply finding increased success and lower costs from the educational events than they have in the past.
1. Direct mail doesn’t work like it used to.
Just like everyone else, baby boomers are beginning to use digital devices and social media is becoming the most effective way to reach them. According to the Pew Research Center, 65% of people age 50 to 64 and 41% of people older than age 65 are on Facebook. In addition, almost 80% of Facebook users have a household income of at least $75,000. Just a few years ago this wasn’t the case and direct mail was still the best way to reach this audience.
Now, financial professionals are experiencing lower response rates on their mail campaigns. A 1% response rate on mail used to be considered average. A producer could send 5,000 invitations for two seminars and expect to have about 25 people in the room each night. Now, many are having to send 10,000 to 12,000 invitations to get the same amount of responses, significantly increasing the cost of their mail campaigns.
But producers who run digital campaigns are finding a dramatic increase in registrations, at a lower cost per conversion. For example, I recently spoke to a producer in New Mexico. He was holding a Social Security workshop in a rural area with an extremely low population. In fact, his audience size was so small, he wasn’t confident about what would work. He decided to experiment by splitting his budget between direct mail and digital. He spent $2,500 on mailing 4,000 postcards, in addition to a $1,400 social media campaign.