When putting on a seminar, most of the work goes into getting people to show up. But filling the room’s only the first step. Here are some tips for putting on great event.
Choosing the topic
Prospects get plenty of invitations from other advisors, which often sound alike. To stand out, consider two approaches:
- Solve a problem. Identify a problem that resonates with your audience and use the seminar to offer a potential solution. Identity theft is a good example.
Read: Put on a great seminar
- Play the free card. Pick a topic they’d normally have to pay to get current information on, or that requires a lot of research. Updates on tax changes and estate planning are good examples.
It’s unlikely you’re bankrolling room rental, marketing, mailings and food on your own. Typically, a fund or insurance wholesaler pitches in. Identify and thank them before and after the seminar. Reference their products in a low-key way, perhaps as one of several possible solutions to a problem you describe.
Perhaps you brought in other speakers, such as accountants or lawyers. They may bring their own prospects. But you’re the star of the show. Act as the master of ceremonies, bring speakers on and off the stage and manage the Q&A.
Choosing location is a balancing act. You want prestige, but you don’t want to pay more than necessary. Hotels are popular, but museums, private clubs and restaurants are great too. Your location should be centrally located, easy to find and have lots of safe parking.
Make sure you have excellent signage leading from the front door to your seminar. Hang a banner with your firm’s name on it behind the stage. Bring your own AV equipment and test it at least twice beforehand. If you’re serving refreshments, keep them at the back of the room.
Some advisors think they should want to personally staff the registration table. Wrong. Find an intern or have your office staff handle it. Your job is to greet people as they arrive. If you have guest speakers, walk them around the room and introduce them to your guests.
How will prospects remember you? Send everyone home with a kit that includes a business card, your one-page bio and relevant handouts from the meeting. This should keep you fresh in their minds.
Anticipating problems increases the odds they won’t spoil your seminar. Potential issues include:
- No one shows up: Poor attendance is usually a result of poor confirmation work beforehand.
- Not connecting with the audience: Easily fixed by using hypothetical examples.
- Not getting contact information: Better organize the registration process.
- Losing prospects: You’ve done all this work to get them interested; don’t be undone by ineffective follow-ups.
- A/V problems: Do the final test about 30 minutes before the seminar.
- You’re boring: Modulate your voice, smile when talking and add an extra speaker for variety.
- No questions during the Q&A: Plant a few starter questions, or describe some hypothetical examples. “How many people know someone who…?”
- No handouts: A bad move. How will they remember you?
You’re looking for a 6:1 return for resulting business versus expenses.
Evaluate the event logistics: Was there a bottleneck at registration? Was it easy to find the room? Did the evening flow smoothly? Rate the facility and food. Would you consider returning?