Seminar marketing: That’s so ‘90s

By Jack Keeter

Jack Keeter Study Group


Seminars, seminars, seminars. Everybody wants to do a seminar. But according to at least one industry source, only 7 percent would buy from somebody hosting a seminar. If you believe that data, what does it tell you about seminars?

More importantly, who gets to do business with the other 93 percent of American retirees? Advisors who get introduced, that’s who. But these introductions don’t happen at seminars. They occur in real life. They come from neighbors or friends, people with whom your clients go to church or play bridge, people with whom they play golf or travel.

Knowing that a majority of retired Americans are going to buy from somebody who is introduced to them, is your business model ready to tap into this huge market? Are you stuck – with most of your competition – carving out a tiny sliver of the retiree market using seminar marketing?

If you’re doing the latter, you’re probably the best-kept secret in town. (I use this phrase a lot because it perfectly explains your lack of exposure to your target audience.)

Don’t get me wrong. Seminars certainly have their place in the grand marketing scheme, but just not at the beginning. Joe and Marie American don’t know you, they don’t like you and they don’t trust you. Therefore, it makes it difficult for them to cross the bridge to buy from you.

Some people are very effective with seminars. But not everyone. In fact, most people are unsuccessful with seminars. In the 1970s, financial products were sold through cold calling. It was what worked. In the 1980s, some people began to develop seminar programs and the marketing programs that you still see today. These seminar programs took hold in the ‘90s and became the dominant way to market. Who was left behind? The guys who cold called in the ‘70s. But we’re not in the 1970s, ‘80s or ‘90s anymore, are we?

Where do you find the retiree? Not in their homes waiting to die. They’re at RV shows, fishing and hunting shows. They’re gathered in convoys living their lives. Groups of retirees already are congregating, and they may share your interests.

What about retiree communities? They’re not like they used to be.

I can’t stress it enough: Build a connection to the community or the convoy. Get yourself introduced by other trusted professionals and satisfied clients in town. Don’t just brand yourself as “that company that does seminars every week” in town. That’s so ‘90s.