Five Ways to Improve Your Seminar Performance

Seminar marketing is an effective prospecting and conversion tool for advisors. Getting in front of a roomful of engaged consumers can help boost brand awareness, establish credibility, and present an opportunity to secure multiple appointments at once. That is, of course, if you can deliver a quality presentation.

There are several factors that go into a successful seminar. Everything from venue selection to the time and day of the seminar will impact the final results. Logistics and mechanics aside, focusing on the subtleties of your delivery can significantly increase your chances of success.  Here are some things to consider:

Meet and Greet

Before the first attendee enters the room, you should be standing at the door ready to greet them. If you introduce yourself to guests on an individual basis, rather than waiting until you begin the presentation, they will be more likely to tune in once you do get up there. A simple handshake and “Hi, I’m _________,” will set a casual and comfortable tone for the rest of the evening. People tend to pay more attention to someone they’re familiar with than they would a complete stranger. When greeting guests, be sure to ask their name and thank them for coming. You want to keep the introduction brief to prevent a bottleneck at the door.

Be Engaged

You can’t expect an audience to stay engaged with a speaker who isn’t engaged with them. If you spend most of your time glancing at notes, looking at the PowerPoint behind you, or looking over the crowd’s head, they’re going to lose interest. Try to maintain eye contact with different attendees as often as possible. Not only will this make you seem confident but will also help you read the room during your performance.

Be Active

When people want to see a statue, they’ll go to a park or museum. Not a financial seminar. An unanimated speaker will lose the room within a few minutes of introducing themselves. Once you’ve lost them, they’re gone. Make use of the space you have and move around the room while you speak. Hand gestures, facial expressions, and other forms of non-verbal communication will help give you a more commanding and animated presence. Just don’t over do it. Remember, there is a fine line between energetic and hyperactive.

Avoid Scripts

Writing out and memorizing a script word for word is a recipe for disaster. While it might sound like a solid plan on paper, scripts can be constraining in the heat of the moment. A simple, yet unexpected question or unresponsive crowd can be difficult to handle if your presentation lacks flexibility. You also risk major embarrassment if you get lost or completely forget a line. This can leave you nervously stumbling through your notecards or, even worse, leave out important information.

Instead of scripting, use bullet points to outline the overall structure of your presentation. While you’ll want to stick with this structure, take a more conversational and adaptive approach when speaking to your crowd. If it helps, practice different ‘improvised’ iterations in the days leading up to the seminar. Remember, they came to hear you speak, not read.

End on a Good Note

A positive parting impression is crucial for converting the seminar guest into a new client. The final words of your presentation should be a positive call-to-action that leaves them wanting to hear more. Of course, to hear more, they’ll have to make an appointment. After the presentation, take time to mingle with the crowd. Try to thank everyone before they exit and offer a few days and times that you can meet for an appointment. As exhausted as you might be at the end of the night, this post-seminar ritual can be the most important part of the event.

 

#MillennialRetirementPlans

Many of you probably assume that retirement is the furthest thing from the minds of the mid-20s to early 30s crowd. However, a deep dive into a trending Twitter hashtag reveals this generation is thinking about retirement after all. A quick Twitter search of #MillennialRetirementPlans brings up a mixed bag of posts that sheds light on the generation’s perspectives on life after retirement. Some are funny, some are absurd, and a few are even poignant and devoid of sarcasm. However, all of them give the impression that a large portion of the youngest members of today’s workforce have no idea how they’re going to build a nest egg.

Unsurprisingly, student loan debt is a factor many believe will be a roadblock to retirement. Compounding those concerns is the possibility of that debt being passed on to children and spouses, rather than leaving them an actual inheritance.


But at least a few are holding onto hope that they’ll pay off that debt in time to start saving.


While others have lost hope altogether.


Some are pointing a finger at older generations.


Some are relying on them.


Or their own children.


Pessimism aside, at least they’re talking about retirement.


The question is, are you joining the conversation?

If advisors can take anything away from #MillennialRetirementPlans, it’s that the need for education about retirement is at an all-time high. Thanks to the still trending hashtag, advisors can easily connect with the Millennial market to offer that education. As you might have noticed from the tone of these tweets, this is not exactly a consumer base who would feel comfortable spending money on the services of a financial advisor. However, a little coaxing might eventually convince them otherwise.

Leverage this opportunity by attaching the #MillennialRetirementPlans hashtag to posts that offer free whitepapers or e-books, podcasts, or brief videos that cover the advantages of budgeting early for retirement. These are all popular forms of media within this target market and will likely draw more attention than a simple link to an article. A more direct method of engagement would be to personally respond to some of these tweets. Twitter’s search engine features an option that only shows results from users near your location. This is a great way to target potential prospects.
When crafting your content and social media posts, address the tangible aspects of a savings strategy. Many of these consumers genuinely don’t believe that their budget will allow them to set anything aside for later in life. Throwing a sheet of infographics and hypothetical situations won’t help ease those concerns. Instead, take a commonsense approach by getting to know their situation and offering solutions that are within their reach.

With any luck, you’ll turn an outlook as bleak as this:


Into this:

Why Advisors Need to Start Discussing Cybersecurity

Educating clients is among the top priorities for an advisor. This typically involves information on the products most suitable for their situation, long-term savings strategies, or how to set up a balanced household budget. Thanks to a swelling wave of online criminal activity, advisors can add one more item to their list of talking points: cybersecurity.

According to PrivacyRights.org, the last five years have seen roughly 9,000 reported breaches, which compromised more than 11 trillion records. Servers for everything from the popular online video game Fortnite to Capital One have fallen prey to hackers. The attacks have exposed a wealth of personally identifiable information, including in some cases Social Security and credit card numbers. The need for data security awareness is more important than ever. As a trusted advisor, it’s up to you be someone clients can turn to for answers.

Stay Informed

Oversight agencies are taking the increase in data breaches very seriously, especially as it pertains to the financial industry. Advisors need to stay up to date with any new moves made by the SEC and FINRA regarding the safety of client data. For example, the SEC has made fraud prevention/cybersecurity a top exam priority and will frequently post new risk alerts related to safeguarding client records and personal information.

Be Upfront

Transparency has long been a crucial part of the client-advisor relationship. With the constant threat of cybercrime and data leaks looming overhead, an upfront approach is now more important than ever. This is a lesson software firm Redtail Technology, which develops CRM solutions for advisors, learned the hard way. In March, Redtail discovered a glitch that dumped a file with clients’ personal information online for anyone to download. The company waited more than two months before giving notice to those whose info might have leaked. The time between discovery and disclosure was longer than regulations for all 50 states allow. The leak was caused by an internal error, and not related to an outside hacker, but Redtail’s hesitation could lead to legal issues for the company.

Obviously, advisors with clients affected by the leak were likely unable to sound any alarms until they were notified themselves. However, the Redtail incident highlights the need for advisors to develop their own set of safety protocols and internal policies regarding data protection and how to handle the fallout from a breach.

Protect Yourself

Beyond keeping your business practices regarding personal data in compliance, it’s important to make every effort to safeguard your own information. For one, taking steps to protect yourself is an exercise in common sense and a necessity. As many victims of fraud could attest to, identity and information theft can leave a huge mess to clean up and take months, if not longer, to recover from.

Another benefit of walking yourself through the protection process is the experience yourself. When talking to clients about the why and how of data protection, you’ll be able to speak from a “when the rubber hits the road” perspective. Instead of rambling through a scripted “How To Protect Your Data” spiel, you will be more relatable and credible by sharing your personal experience with the matter.

Extend an Invitation to Educate

Advisors looking for the next consumer engagement opportunity can find one in data protection awareness. As concern over cybersecurity grows, clients and prospects are becoming more receptive to learning how to protect themselves. Call your existing clients and schedule a time to sit down and determine how well they are protected, and what holes need to be filled.

The issue of safeguarding one’s data can also be a good prospecting strategy. With cybersecurity and data breaches in the news on almost a daily basis, it’s become nearly impossible to not think about. This means prospects in your drip list are more likely to open and read an email on the topic. And as a trending topic, SEO and social media campaigns have a higher potential for engagement.

Data protection might not be within the traditional wheelhouse of an advisor, but changing times demand a changing approach. As someone in the finance industry, many consumers probably already consider you a trusted source of advice and assistance. Taking the time to help people safeguard their personal information can lead to a long-term advisor-client relationship rooted in trust and credibility.

Asked & Answered: A New Approach to Seminar Marketing

financial seminar marketingMost financial advisors are probably already aware that seminars are like any other marketing tactic. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. If your efforts have been more “bust” than “boom” lately, it might be time to consider a different approach.

A low-to-no-cost financial Q&A session can be a more practical and casual alternative to costly seminars and workshops. The concept is simple and, in many ways, works like any other seminar would. The difference here is in the content and attendee experience. Rather than deliver the traditional presentation on one specific topic,  personalize the event by covering subjects that are relevant to those in the room.

Structure for Success

A Q&A doesn’t mean attendees are welcome to bombard you with a series of random questions. That would be impossible to prepare for and could easily get out of hand. You want to keep things on topic and running smoothly. To do so, set up an online registration page that requires your guests to submit 1-3 questions when signing up for the event. This will make sure your final presentation covers a variety of topics but doesn’t go in too many directions at once. Use these questions to build a presentation customized specifically for your audience.

Obviously, you will want to leave certain details out of your final presentation and only include questions that are both relevant and appropriate for a public seminar. Use your own judgment here, but as a general rule, avoid the following:

  • Personal information
  • Stock / Investment Advice
  • Specific scenarios (someone’s complicated situation that would require a 1-on-1 appointment to properly address)

To address the third point listed above, you should expect the majority of questions submitted to pertain to the prospect’s specific situation. That said, because the goal here is to bring people from the seminar to your office, those questions will open the door for a follow-up conversation. A good approach would be to reframe the question in a way that still addresses the prospect’s concern but is also broad enough to apply to the audience as a whole. This creates an opportunity for you to approach them afterward about setting up an appointment. And by collecting everyone’s contact information, you have a new batch of prospects to place into a drip campaign.

Preperation is the Key

As anyone who has given a seminar already knows, preparation is just one of the ingredients for success. But for a custom-tailored presentation such as this, the time and effort you spend preparing your material is probably the most important factor. Ideally, the inquiries you receive will be wide-ranging enough to deliver an hour’s worth of information on a variety of topics. However, it never hurts to have some additional content and/or topics of discussion ready to roll out just in case. And be prepared to tackle at least a handful of follow-up questions from the audience as you’re wrapping things up.

Beyond that, you can set up a Q&A session much like you would any other seminar. Take advantage of spaces that invite conversation (library room, upscale bar with a meeting room, gallery space). Just remember to keep things casual, low-pressure, and informative. Well, maybe not too informative. After all, any good performer knows that you have to leave the audience wanting more. Good luck!

How Advisors Can Leverage The Thanksgiving Holiday

November is here and with it comes the “unofficial” beginning of the holiday season. By the time you’ve finished reading this, most stores will have moved their Halloween stock to the bargain bin, bringing out any Christmas inventory that isn’t already on display. Yes, the holiday shopping blitz is underway and consumers are reacting with the typical “Uhggg, Christmas decorations already? I’ve barely started thinking about Thanksgiving!” And this is exactly why agents and advisors should be thinking about Thanksgiving.

Maybe it’s the sentiment surrounding the occasion. Or the lively, yet still-lighthearted stroll we take during the weeks before the rush that kicks off on Black Friday. Whatever the reason, there is something about Thanksgiving that presents a golden opportunity to interact, engage, and foster relationships. The overall goal of a Thanksgiving marketing campaign is more about showing appreciation than sealing a deal. You can achieve this by setting aside the sales pitches in favor of soft, subtle touches that tap into the traditional spirit of food, family, and friends. Here are a few ideas to try out over the coming weeks.

Thanksgiving“30 Days of Thanks” Social Media Campaign

This is a simple, low-to-no-cost way to boost your social media presence and show a little personality to your audience. Spend a few minutes each day thinking of something that you are personally thankful for and share the sentiment across your social networks. Encourage your followers to reply with their own expressions of gratitude and use relevant hashtags (listed below) for improved organic reach.

  • #ThankfulEveryday
  • #GivingThanks
  • #30DaysOfThanks
  • #CountYourBlessings
  • #Gratitude

A straight month of social media content can be a little taxing, so try switching gears from funny one day to heartfelt the next. Just make sure to keep things simple, genuine, and—most importantly—positive. And do your best to remain consistent throughout the entire month. Feel free to pull from the example below to get things started:

“Day One of #30DaysOfThanks – I am #ThankfulEveryday for the continued support of my #family and #friends who have stood beside me through the good times and bad times. To them, I say #ThankYou. What are you most #Thankful for this holiday season?

Thanksgiving DinnerThanksgiving Giveaways and Gifts

Raffles and giveaways are extremely popular during the holidays, especially when the offer involves food. Depending on your specific goal, there are a few different ways to approach a Thanksgiving giveaway.

If you simply want to give your clients a small token of appreciation, send them a gift card for a local grocery store, bakery or winery. Advisors with large client rosters can randomly select one or two to receive a free turkey or gift certificate to a local restaurant. Or consider the incentive-based approach and offer to your clients a raffle ticket for referrals, sharing your Facebook page, or scheduling an appointment for a policy review.

For prospecting and lead generation, a heavily promoted Thanksgiving contest can be a good way to draw new people into your pipeline. Whatever direction you decide to go, make sure you stay within the boundaries set by state and federal giveaway regulations.

Recipes and Holiday Cooking Tips

Do you have an old family recipe that’s too good to keep to yourself? Maybe you know the secret for the perfect turkey or have a few quick and simple appetizer ideas. Online searches for recipes and menu ideas skyrocket during November. Offering your own culinary tips, tricks, and techniques can be a great way to latch onto one of the top trending searches of the month, so you’ll definitely want to include these in a blog post and share liberally on your social media pages. Your monthly newsletter, email blasts, and direct mailers are also good delivery methods to consider. This is a subtle, yet effective form of content marketing that can not only help with brand awareness but make you come across as more personable to clients and prospects.

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Legacy Financial Partners is thankful for YOU. Request our free 2018 Off-Holiday Marketing guide which provides tips for year-round engagement with prospects and clients.

 

Think Locally: Marketing Yourself on Nextdoor.com

Nextdoor logoYou’ve probably never given much thought into incorporating Nextdoor into your marketing strategy. If you haven’t, don’t feel bad. Not very many have. In fact, for many marketers and businesses, Nextdoor is barely a blip on the radar. All that might change in the not-so-distant future if the company has its way. For the last seven years, the community-based social networking platform has built itself up as an online neighborhood message board of sorts, giving people a place to post about garage sales, lost pets, crime, and other local happenings.

This “Craigslist with a newsfeed” feel hasn’t made Nextdoor the most popular digital destination, but a number of small, niche businesses (home repair, lawn services, daycare, etc.) have discovered the value in advertising through Nextdoor. In April, the company introduced the ability for businesses to sponsor posts, making now a good time for agents and advisors to give Nextdoor a look as well.

Nextdoor is often described as “hyperlocal social media,” because its users only see what others in their own or surrounding neighborhoods post. For them, the increased privacy and relevancy, along with the lack of unsolicited, “spammy” posts, makes the platform a more neighborly alternative to global social networks. For you, Nextdoor offers unsaturated access to a localized list of potential new clients.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Financial Planner

The obvious first step in your Nextdoor marketing campaign is to create or claim your business page. This will differ from a personal Nextdoor profile in that the business page won’t have any specific neighborhood affiliation. The owner of a business page also can’t access neighborhood directories or the conversations that take place on the site. These limitations are in place to, according to Nextdoor, make sure “…members’ experience remains positive and is not overwhelmed by posts from businesses and service providers.”

Your page will also lack the bells and whistles of a Facebook business page, and displays little more than your contact info, profile picture, location on a map, and

what Nextdoor members are saying about your business. This last feature is where the value of Nextdoor can be found – word of mouth marketing.

According to Nielsen, two of the most trusted forms of advertising are online

via nextdoor.com

consumer opinion and recommendations from friends and family. Nextdoor brings both together under its “Recommendations” section. Like Facebook or Google reviews, Nextdoor recommendations allow customers to offer feedback about their experience with a business. With more than 17 million recommendations posted, this can be a powerful brand awareness tool. Be sure you review the site’s Community Guidelines to avoid any violations or conflict of interest.

Hyperlocal Social Marketing

As we mentioned above, Nextdoor is in the process of incorporating Sponsored Posts into the newsfeeds of its members. However, in the interest of keeping the content relevant, they’re taking a calculated approach in doing so. Thus far, Nextdoor has only partnered with select businesses, including home and auto insurance providers, to give Sponsored Posts a test run. While they have yet to open the floodgates, the company says the option will be more widely available in the near future. When this happens, participating businesses will have the ability to build a geographically-customized audience based on zip code, neighborhood, or individual home address. This targeting method could come in handy when trying to fine-tune your message to homeowners, and/or people who live in a specific community.

Whether Nextdoor will be an effective way to market your individual business depends largely on how active your community is on the site. If you aren’t already a part of the more than 150,000 Nextdoor neighborhoods across the U.S., this might be a good time to sign up and start exploring.

**This post is part of Legacy Financial Partners’ ongoing Marketing Corner, a space that offers advisors short sales ideas, yellow-pad concepts, and alerts to aid advisors in lead conversion, marketing, and client relationship building.

We are deep into summer. Don’t forget to request our Summer Survival Kit, which provides great tips for advisors on how to deal with the slump in business that naturally happens each summer.