​4 reasons seminars are backArticle added by Jonathan Musgrave on November 5, 2013

Jonathan Musgrave

Centennial, CO

Joined: May 07, 2012

We all fondly remember the Golden Age of seminars. All you had to do was litter mailboxes with cheap yellow postcards advertising a free dinner at a local buffet, and BAM, You had a room of eager attendees ready to eat up what you had to say (along with a fair amount of all-you-can-eat prime rib).

But over time, workshops like ours became commonplace and the allure was gone. A few perseverant agents kept up the good fight, but responses dwindled, costs increased, and what was once a highly lucrative and inexpensive way to market was reduced to an average-at-best marketing tool.

But something has changed. Recently, several factors have converged that have rekindled interest in seminar event marketing, and the savvy advisors who are adeptly executing the right kind of seminars today are being rewarded with Golden Age-like results.

1. Costs are lower.

The advisors topping the leader board of every FMO in the industry know something about seminars that you may not know: You don’t have to serve meals at seminars to attract a crowd. Sure, back in the Golden Age, the more ostentatious the venue, the bigger the crowd. Ruth’s Chris, Morton’s and Black Angus sure loved the financial sector when seminars were the beat-all-end-all marketing tool, but the flamboyance of these venues eventually became a turn-off for would-be attendees. You see, your clients still believe the old adage “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Expensive meals really do create a sense of obligation in consumers' eyes.

But is removing the meal really a good idea? Yes. Yes, it is.

When you remove the flashy appeal of a $60 dinner, consumers are left to evaluate your invitation for the right reason — the value you bring. The first thing your targeted attendees see is the headline of your event, rather than the logo of an overpriced restaurant. And that’s exactly what we want. Removing the gimmicky offer of a free meal is not only the best way to appeal to consumers for the right reason, it’s also a substantial cost savings for your marketing budget.

2. Responses are up.

Something about our ideal client demographic changed between the Golden Age of seminars and where we find ourselves today. Baby boomers are retiring. Ten thousand of them every day. And they’ll keep retiring at this rate for the next 18 years. Whether you realize it or not, this demographic represents the greatest amount of wealth in world history, and they were largely unsaturated by the yellow postcard barrage of the seminar Golden Age.

Today, the largest, most prosperous generation of savers in America are, for the first time, in the very heart of our target demographic of annuity buyers. And the LIMRA statistics support this shift, as the average age of annuity buyers become ever younger.
While baby boomers were blessed with largely favorable economic conditions during their peak earning years, the market has lost half of its value twice on the verge of their retirement tidal wave. These recent market conditions have triggered a reevaluation of values for many boomers, causing them to revert to the more conservative philosophies of their fathers and grandfathers.

The convergence of undersaturation, a large affluent demographic, and a true hunger for legitimate information has resulted in response rates reminiscent of times past, for a fraction of the cost.

3. Fastest business growth.

There is no better tool to fill your pipeline with good qualified leads than seminars. Rather than meeting one-on-one with dozens of new potential clients, weeding out the unqualified leads, and building cases for the diamonds in the rough, seminars allow you to educate an entire room full of people all at once, prequalify them before a one-on-one meeting, and scale your marketing volume way up with only a few hours of work.

Most of the nation’s top producers do seminars, and there's a good reason for that. It’s not because seminars are a magical way of generating sales. It’s because seminars allow us to engage more people in less time than any other marketing tool available.

4. Best appointments.

Meeting a potential client for the first time takes skill as you attempt to learn about them, build rapport and begin the education process. You ask thoughtful questions to draw out informative responses, listen to stories about their work and experience and work to direct the conversation to the matter at hand.

This process is greatly simplified when working with prospects who have already attended your seminar. You've already built rapport by presenting an hour's worth of great seminar content. They already have a basic sense of trust in you — enough that they agreed to meet with you. And the issues you will discuss inevitably revolve around the information you addressed at the event.

There really is no comparing the frame of mind of a seminar appointment versus a non-seminar appointment. Clients are educated, interested, motivated and engaged from the moment they sit down at your desk. This pre-cultivation is the number one reason the top annuity producers find such consistent success with seminar marketing.

Bonus: What can NASCAR teach you about seminar marketing?

NASCAR jokes are almost as plentiful as Carter jokes were in the 1970s. But like it or not, NASCAR is big business. The top-paid driver in NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr., made $25 million in 2012 $6 million more than the highest paid NFL player (Dwight Freeney, for those of you about to Google that stat).
This year’s flagship Daytona 500 race paid the winning driver, Jimmy Johnson, $1,525,275. Accolades, fame and a champagne shower immortalized his name at the top of the pack in one of the nation’s most iconic sporting events. But not too many people will remember that Dale Earnhardt Jr. placed second at Daytona, earning him $1,104, 814.

Did I mention the split between first and second was only 0.129 seconds? For 500 miles, these two drivers fought for the checkered flag, and in the end, just one-tenth of a second amounted to a payout difference of $420,461. The winner’s payout was 28 percent higher than the car that crossed the finish line less than a car’s length behind him. What an expensive tenth of a second.

I like to tell this story to producers who feel as if they are underachieving. They look around them at the mega-producers and compare their modest income to the millions their counterparts receive. When you take a step back, it’s easy to see that despite the difference in earnings, the effort is incredibly similar. The bottom line is this: You aren't miles away from where you need to be. A few tweaks to your seminar presentation, a small change in the way you ask for appointments or even the subtleties in the way you sell could be the only thing keeping you off the podium.

In the end, it’s the little things that amount to a big difference. Work with people who understand your business and the subtleties of the way you operate. The slight advantage you need to excel could easily come from your pit crew.
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