The beginning of a new year is a great time for advisors to reexamine their seminar strategy and look for new ways to increase the effectiveness of their seminar marketing opportunities.
Seminars are still the single most effective method for putting yourself in front of a captive audience, full of prospective new clients, which can quickly add to your book of business. While your seminar budget may be planned for 2012, here are five ways to increase your ROI, making those marketing dollars go further.
1. Negotiate with your restaurant. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, as the saying goes. Discussing specific advantages with your restaurant owner or manager can pay dividends. Using a copy of your seminar invitation and a previous or unpaid invoice to negotiate with your restaurant can be a powerful tool when illustrating the positive impact your seminar and marketing efforts can have on their business. Especially in a down economy, the number of invitations you’re mailing with the restaurant name and logo — to a targeted demographic surrounding their location, no less — can be an attractive marketing tool. Explain how the restaurant will benefit from your free advertising and how you are offering neighborhood residents, who may never have experienced their food before, an opportunity to dine there without paying for it. How many times have your heard a new client say that after your seminar they went back to the restaurant where it was held because they enjoyed the meal? This can be extremely helpful information when negotiating a reduced menu or smaller portions, meal pricing, a lower or eliminated minimum, or asking to waive a room charge. Even if you’ve tried and failed before, take advantage of the down economy and use all of this information to renegotiate.
2. Use premium list filters.
Do you have a difficult time setting appointments with a particular ethnic, economic, or age group? When you do get the appointment, do you have trouble closing the sale? Many advisors find themselves canceling various groups of people from their RSVP list due to their lack of success with these groups. Working with the right marketing company and the right list, you can request that your mailing list be purged for certain demographics that will never attend, never convert to sales, or only come for the meal. This could have a positive impact on the quality of the attendees, response rate, and ultimately your ROI, saving you thousands of dollars over the course of a year that you can focus elsewhere in your practice.
3. Call attendees that didn’t book.
Many advisors who are consistently conducting seminars throughout the year understand the numbers game behind their marketing strategy. Yet, many are so focused on the numbers game that they overlook opportunities. Making a call to a seminar attendee who did not book an appointment with you on the day following your seminar, or even two days after your seminar, can present new opportunities. Oftentimes, these prospects need additional time to commit to an appointment, and a simple phone call can open a dialog that leads to an appointment in your office. For advisors that may not have time to make these additional calls, there are professional appointment setting services that can make the calls for you in your company name and book appointments on your behalf in a cost effective manner, further increasing your ROI by capitalizing on an otherwise lost appointment.
4. Make in-house confirmation calls. Many seminar marketing companies offer to make confirmation calls to attendees for an additional fee, and you might think this is a great value that can save you or your staff time to focus on other parts of your business. However, we’ve found that taking on this task within your office can have a positive impact on conversion rates at your seminar. Having your staff make these calls allows your staff and prospect to develop a rapport at a much faster rate. We highly recommend that your seminar appointment setter make two confirmation calls prior to each event. The first call, to confirm attendance, should take place two days prior to the seminar. The second call, to get a final head count for the restaurant, should take place the day of the seminar. Under this model, your appointment-setter has the chance to speak twice with each attendee prior to the seminar, and then to welcome that person face-to-face when he or she arrives. You’ll be surprised at how much more comfortable your prospect seems with this kind of personal interaction, which in turn makes asking for an appointment much easier. You have now increased your appointment conversion rate. If your appointment setter is also the person who greets the prospect when he or she shows up for the appointment, allow them time to warm up with that person before beginning your appointment – you’ll be in front of a much more relaxed prospect, making the closing process much easier.
5. Consider home ownership/value. Many advisors turn to income producing assets data (IPA) when selecting their demographics, which is an added marketing cost. Since IPA data is based on only modeling and not on guarantees, there are alternative selections that do not command a premium but are based on exact data, thus reducing your marketing expense. Adding home ownership or minimum home value to your demographic criteria allows you to accomplish virtually the same outcome without the average two cent additional fee per record that comes with IPA data. For the advisor who mails 100,000 seminar invitations per year, this can yield a $2,000 savings, while still procuring the same, or more, qualified prospects at your seminars.