Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing. – John D. Rockefeller
With over 15 years of experience as a financial adviser, I know how difficult it can be to market and expand your business. This article provides tips on marketing your Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) practice through effective seminar marketing. The primary focus is on getting prospects into the room. Later articles in this series will help you to develop the content and other logistics for an effective seminar.
Seminar Marketing sets the stage for professional success and can serve as your first exposure to the clientele you are trying to attract. To be most effective in expanding your business, I recommend conducting your own seminar. If you are not comfortable doing all the speaking yourself consider partnering with a professional in a related industry or a wholesaler who is comfortable in front of an audience who can do it with you. The goal of a seminar is to schedule an appointment with as many qualified prospects as possible while telling the public you practice SRI.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO FILL THE ROOM?
Traditional ways of marketing a seminar can work well to get your name out, whether you are new to a community or a long-time member.
Radio advertisement: Local AM radio stations that focus on the financial market are the best approach for this type of media. Consider sponsoring an episode of a professional’s show in a related industry, or have your own commercial running between shows that are related to your field. I had my own radio show for over two years and this created significant credibility with my listeners. If your compliance department allows it, ask to be a guest speaker for a show or have your own.
Inserts in local newspaper: This can be done as a classified ad, or a brightly colored insert, similar to a flyer. Be specific about the audience you want to attract with your language. Relate to your target market so that when people see your ad they think, “That’s me!” Start the ad with a question so your prospect answers your question in their mind. Examples could include: “Are you retired or planning to retire soon?” “Are you ready to invest in alignment with your values?” “Do you want to make money AND make a difference?”
Be active in your community: Perhaps the best was to fill a seminar is to draw on your networking activities in the community. Be strategic about the clubs and organizations you join, with an eye toward meeting people that can be prospects, clients and referrals. Social events, recreational activities, and spiritual events can all be places where you will meet potential clients. Be ready with your business card or a flyer for your next seminar. Be sure to get as much contact information as possible and follow up shortly after meeting your new contact! This is a crucial step often skipped leading to a missed network opportunity.
Personal invitations: Don’t be afraid to invite people you know, especially the first time you do a seminar. Having familiar faces in the room can help you gain confidence in your ability to give a professional seminar. While your personal contacts may not be interested in your products, they now understand more of what you do and can refer you to friends and colleagues more easily.
Referrals: Some advisors are afraid to ask for referrals. Many others are great at asking but don’t have a system for converting them into an actual client. Clients tend to know people who share their values, so this is the best way to get qualified and hopefully enjoyable prospects to attend your seminar. Make this a social as well as educational event for your clients by inviting them to your seminar and recommending they bring some of their friends and colleagues.
* Be sure to ask the client for the referral’s name, address and phone number ahead of time so that you can send an invitation and also make a personal phone call. (Stay tuned for the upcoming system developed by Resources for Advisers that will teach in detail how to receive referrals and convert them easily to clients.)
Taking advantage of local web resources: Many communities have local websites for getting information out to members of the web community. This can be a quick way to get your name out and invite people to a seminar. I am on several social networks that are really helpful in disseminating my marketing materials.
Once you’ve had some experience presenting your seminar, try these methods to continue growing your prospects both locally and nationally:
Tele-classes: Contact related business to do tele-classes. These can be done with CPA firms, mortgage brokerage firms, and other related businesses. Doing a joint seminar with Mortgage Brokers, Estate Planning Attorneys and Accountants is a great win-win for both of you when you each invite your client list. Use a free service such as freeconferencing.com and send the phone number via email to invitees and leads. Make sure the tele-class is interactive and engage the audience. Leave plenty of time for questions. Many people like this concept because they can participate without having to leave their home or office and it leaves no carbon footprint!
Teaching classes: Teaching a course on SRI at a local community college, university, learning annex, or investment club can help you attract clients to your business. Contact your local educational resources to see about opportunities to teach in their adult education night/weekend courses. This can be a single class or can be a series depending on the extent of your content and the structure of the educational programs for your area.
Speaking for other peoples’ audiences: My favorite way to get my name out to the public is to be invited to speak for audiences that already have a scheduled event. You can ask to be an “expert” guest speaker at another professional’s seminar in a related industry. As an invited speaker at Rotary clubs, investment clubs, and other active-adult communities, you will gain immediate credibility with the audience.
“On call” Financial Planner: Be the “on call” financial planner for local businesses and offer your consulting services free of charge. Contact the Human Resources department of a local company and offer to conduct free seminars for their employees at their business location. Topics can include utilizing SRI within their 401K plans, 529 plans, IRAs and other investment accounts. Set up 15-20 minute appointment slots after the seminar to meet with each person to reallocate their retirement plan and set an appointment for a future date reviewing their whole portfolio, with their spouse present if possible.
Specialized markets–Mailers: The best way to target individuals based on your niche market is through mailers. Here are some examples of ways to attract the right people for your niche. If you specialize in IRA distributions focus on prospects over 59 and a half and mention IRA Distribution strategies in your mailer. Or, if you enjoy educating women on issues specific to women consider a list of women only and perhaps widows to narrow the niche even more. One way to include higher net worth recipients is to ask for the category of homeowners along with your other specifications. Narrowing by homeowner can eliminate some prospects that could be in your niche so consider what is important to you.
MAKING THE MOST OUT OF MAILERS!
Choosing the right type of mailers and smoothly and easily distributing them to the right prospects takes some advanced planning.
Distributing Mailers: Regardless of the mailer you chose, you will need a mail house to get them sent out. Build a relationship with a local mail house since repeat business usually leads to discounts. Local businesses can offer a full range of services including: providing mailing lists, creating a customized mailer, addressing, offering bulk postage and delivery to the post office. For smaller, more intimate seminars consider using real stamps instead of bulk postage and address the envelopes in ink. With any form of mailer always ask for discounts especially when placing large or repeat orders.
Compiling Mailing Lists: You may have a targeted mailing list from the contacts you have in your community. Some title companies will give them to you for free as an incentive to develop a networking relationship with the title officer. Otherwise, you may need to purchase a mailing list. The size and type of mailing list you choose directly affects your response rate and the qualified attendees you receive. Be sure to find a service that provides customizable mailing lists, including zip code selection, age targets, net worth targets, home ownership, etc. You can customize your mailing list based on a variety of demographic factors and target affluent zip codes in the surrounding area of your office location. A typical response rate is.5% – 2% if sent to completely cold prospects so be sure to send out enough mailers. Repetition lets the audience know that you are here to stay and increases these numbers. Of course, client referrals are substantially better prospects.
Invitations: Wedding-style invitations with an RSVP card are a professional, albeit more expensive, way to market. This is a very common approach among financial, real estate, mortgage and other professionals offering a seminar. You may want to take this concept and update it with your own touch to set yourself apart from the others. These do tend to get a higher response rate but they cost more too. I sprinkle these type of mailers occasionally for variety.
Postcards: Low-cost postcards can be designed and ordered online and shipped directly to your mailing list or sent to a local mail house. The postcards can be very stylish and professional but limit how much content you can include. These are great for reminders to your clients and hot prospects, such as referrals. Remember, your postcard does not have to be the smaller size. I often do half page postcards on nice cardstock. This is probably my favorite type of mailer because it is “naked mail”. Your prospect doesn’t have to open an envelope to see it.
Flyers: These can be folded and mailed without needing an envelope. This is a cost-effective approach, and allows a full page to market your seminar. Be sure to use a bright, pleasing color so it stands out in the mail and have extras for placement at other businesses. Choose professionals in a related industry (i.e. Estate Attorneys) and ask them to place these flyers in their lobbies or on their desk. It is especially important that tax preparers have plenty of flyers on their desk during tax time since clients often ask questions the tax preparer cannot legally answer.
Val-Paks, Penny Savers and other coupon mailers: This is usually cost-effective and can be done routinely if you plan to host seminars on a regular basis, but is less efficient at targeting a specialized market. We have a company that distributes high-end packets that are much classier than a Val-Pak and I recommend researching this option in your local area before choosing this option.
Bonus placement of any mailer: Whether you are marketing a seminar or simply getting your name out there for public recognition, placing flyers, postcards, business cards, etc… in the offices of related business can give you immediate credibility. Be sure to develop relationships with estate planning attorneys, CPA firms, real estate brokerages, and other professional service businesses in your area.
Article submitted by Jobie Summer and Resources for Advisors.
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