Do seminars still work as a client attraction method?Article added by Mark Satterfield on October 30, 2009

Mark Satterfield

alpharetta, GA

Joined: August 21, 2010

For decades, producers have used marketing seminars as a key method for introducing their services. Which raises the question: When marketing financial and insurance services, do seminars still work?

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar put on by a relatively well-known financial and insurance producer. What he did well (and where the missed opportunities were) will perhaps be helpful to you as you plan your next seminar.

At first glance, the choice of location was great. A private meeting room in an upscale golf club in a wealthy community was "spot-on" as a venue. However, as the meeting started, the group next door started up with a terrifically loud movie that was either about Australian Aborigines or the fall of Saigon (or perhaps some bizarre mixture of the two.)

Regardless, for the first half hour, the group's attention was focused less on the speaker, and more on the only partially muffled soundtrack coming from next door.

Lesson? Check on who your neighbor is going to be and what they're going to be presenting. As the old saying goes, "The Devil is in the details."

The room was set up theater-style, with about 150 chairs, most of which were filled (a testament to the organizations ability to attract attendees). However the cheek-by-jowl nature of the chair arrangement definitely made the environment seem, in a word, crowded.

If one were focusing on affluent and ultra-affluent prospective clients, which they were obviously not, I would keep the venue selection the same, but organize the room so that it seated 30-35 guests. And that's a deliberate choice of words. The event I attended last night, definitely had "attendees." The events I've visited that target affluent prospects (who are far greater consumers of insurance products) definitely had "guests." That's a true distinction in everything from how the invitations are made, to the room arrangement, to the content of the presentation.

So let's talk a bit about that. The content of last night's presentation matched up well with the audience. No time was spent on tailoring the talk to the specific need of the audience, since lower-market events tend to attract a butcher/baker/candlestick maker group. It's virtually impossible to customize a talk to that diverse a group, so there's no real point in trying.

However, if one were targeting the affluent market, you would want to take a different approach. Remember that the key to marketing to the affluent is to make sure they feel that you are catering specifically to them. Thus, you would want to open with the issues of commonality that this affluent group faces. This would be even better if you sub-niched your marketing to, for example, "affluent women business owners." This would enable you to begin your presentation with specifics that make the guests feel that they were truly listening to an advisor who understands their unique needs.

So overall, I'd give this presentation a good solid "B." In terms of message-to-market match, it was well done; however, there's an old saying in marketing that, unless you can automate and remove the human labor element from the process, it takes just as much effort to attract a small fish as it does a big whale. By definition, marketing seminars are labor-intensive endeavors. With this in mind, I'm not sure that using them to focus on the small fish is necessarily the best use of money time and effort. In fact, I question why any producer would focus on the lower end of the market, unless they simply do not have a process or plan-or self confidence- for targeting the affluent.

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