conference-microphones

An advisor’s role is to cultivate knowledge. How better than with a seminar, a word whose Latin roots mean planting seeds. A seminar can foster growth in client understanding—and in business.

What is it

A way to share information and solutions broadly with clients or prospects. The goal is to help them learn something new or think differently about their financial lives.

Why you need it

A seminar is a sales pitch. But you’re not selling products (which can turn people off); you’re selling yourself and your insights.

Read: Three steps to the perfect seminar

How it helps

Seminars are a component of customer service and retention, as well as your overall marketing regimen. They let you engage potential clients within an educational forum which, ideally, leads your audience to making better-informed decisions—about their money, and about working with or referring you.

Good to know

Your venue and topic can make or break the seminar. Quality audiovisual equipment is also important. “If attendees can’t see or hear properly, even the most scintillating presenter will strike out,” says Dallas Ballance, an event planner in Winnipeg.

If the venue doesn’t provide AV services, hire a professional. Don’t plug a microphone into your son’s guitar amplifier and hope for the best. Good food is equally vital and often overlooked by advisors planning events, Ballance adds. Refreshments give the audience reason to linger, and provide you with a networking opportunity.

Read: How to get your client’s attention

Some advisors charge a fee to attend. It can be nominal or go to charity if you like. The point isn’t to make money or even cover costs, but rather to enhance the perception the audience will get something tangible from the event. “When you give away something free, it’s just not as valued,” suggests one Alberta advisor who has hosted many seminars.

Read: Take events from average to awesome

A mix of presenters can broaden and deepen your event’s coverage of the topic. You can bring in a range of professionals such as accountants, lawyers, or even a gerontologist if you’re talking about the finances of caring for aging parents.

How much

We asked three event planners to cost out a seminar—for 200 people, including light refreshments—in Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax. The regional variations were slight. In general, costs came to about $30 per person.

Fees for event planners vary greatly; two ranged from $6,000-to-$10,000, while a third quoted $1,500.

You might be tempted to save money by cost-sharing with other presenters; however, you’ll lose some control over both the agenda and overall message, which can defeat the purpose.

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based financial writer.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge

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