Workshops and seminars are powerful marketing activities for advisors. Even in our digitally driven world, nothing will replace the value of an experienced advisor presenting relevant information to a live audience. It should be no surprise that many advisors and agents rely heavily on this method to prospect for new clients. A well-run and informative seminar simply works. However, new and old advisors alike miss many opportunities to maximize their workshops. New advisors may overlook small details that can derail their presentations. Experienced advisors may become too rote in running their seminars, ignoring possible blindspots that can inhibit the effectiveness of their event. To help advisors and agents everywhere, here are six best practices for running a successful workshop.
Choose Your Topic Carefully
Advisors may want to try workshops/seminars but struggle with topic selection. This is also a problem that experienced advisors may face, after exhausting a set of topics. The topic you present is the most important part of your workshop. A good topic will be relevant and provide opportunities for elaboration. A good topic will relate to things that affect your client base, whether they know it or not. You must also have some knowledge or expertise with the topic you choose so that you can present it with confidence.
So here’s how to choose your topic:
1: Find a topic or focus that is relevant to your consumers.
2: Address current trends related to this topic.
3: Provide research and stats with your topic presentation. This will lend your presentation credibility and support your main arguments
For example, let’s say you want to run a Social Security workshop. You know that this topic is very relevant for a significant portion of your consumer base. Prepare a presentation that outlines Social Security basics, then discusses specific maximization strategies. Interlace your presentation with credible stats. Focus on new changes that may impact consumers. Social Security is subject to many changes this year, with the removal of “file and suspend.”
You may struggle with topic development not because a topic is bad, but it is too broad. Social Security and retirement income planning are both important areas of financial planning, but they are broad. So if you are struggling with a topic, think about a specific focus that you can present. If you are trying to reach pre-retirees and retirees, you may want to discuss things that Medicare will and won’t cover, with the angle that a good financial plan and an LTC policy may help to protect an individual’s finances. This has a good broad topic that will appeal to many of your target consumers (Medicare), a specific focus that educates consumers, and imparts the urgency of proper financial protection (solutions you can provide).
Involve An Assistant
During your workshops, your time should be spent presenting to and engaging with consumers. Collecting forms, managing the session, handing out pens, etc. can take away time you could spend educating consumers and interrupt the flow of your presentation. Having an assistant that handles the grunt work of running the workshop can make your presentation run smoother. From the time attendees arrive to the collection of follow-up forms, your attention needs to be on the consumers. An assistant that handles much of the operational aspects of the seminar frees you to build rapport and make a strong connection with your audience.
Be Thoroughly Prepared and Organized
The more prepared and organized you are, the more time you have to spend educating your consumers. Anticipate issues, rather than react to them in moment. This means:
- establishing an itinerary for the session
- arriving early
- communicating with wait staff (if say you are doing a dinner seminar)
- having extra copies of relevant forms and pens
- testing any tech (such as microphones and projectors)
- running through the event with your assistant to make sure you are both on the same page
- allocating a buffer window for issues that may occur or Q &A portions that run long
- creating take home sheets and evaluations
Your seminar could have many more components. The important thing is that you are prepared at every moment–before, during, and after the presentation. Not only will this reflect on you as a professional and ensure a smooth workshop, it will make things like follow-up and appointment setting easier.
Choose an Appropriate Location
Where you hold your seminar can have an impact on how well it runs. Ideally you’ll want to choose a venue that is supportive and located in a central area to your target market. You should also consider issues like road construction that may make it difficult for your target market to travel. A high-end or well-suited venue can give your workshop more credibility, causing consumers to associate their positive feelings of the location with your presentation. For dinner seminars, find higher-end restaurants or event halls that have brand recognition in your local area. For more of an educational workshop, a library or community center may suffice, especially if staff is supportive of your seminar as community event.
Advertise Your Workshop Through Multiple Marketing Channels
Direct mail is the most common way advisors market a workshop or seminar. Certainly direct mail is an effective means to get the word out and get responses. However, there are other means that can enhance the marketing of your seminar, often at a minimal cost. Don’t discount the power of a local newspaper ad placement—in many communities physical newspapers still reach a large audience, especially older consumers. Digital ad placements can also greatly improve registration responses. Even something like a boosted Facebook post can help you reach your audience. These marketing pieces, all operating at the same time, also mean that a large segment of your audience sees your workshop ads in multiple places, through multiple channels. And of course, don’t forget the power of a simple flier at the venue to reach consumers.
Although you are educating your consumer base with a seminar, the bottom line is that you are trying to set appointments and capture new clients. Follow-up is crucial for these things to happen. This means that you need to have some form of an information-gathering sheet where a consumer can provide their concerns and other valuable information you can use to tailor a pitch to them. If you don’t already have emails from the workshop registration process, this is your opportunity to get them. After the workshop, issue a thank you message that also summarizes what you discussed. If you plan on doing a workshop on a different topic, invite the consumer to the next one. You can also use the list to build a drip marketing campaign.