There’s nothing worse than hosting a party (or a prospecting seminar) and experiencing embarrassing turnout.
Years ago, I wrote about a rookie financial advisor who hosted an educational seminar on financial products that attracted exactly one attendee. Yikes! To his credit, the show went on. He went through with the seminar, focusing on this one individual—and actually won her over with his positive, helpful attitude amid disappointment over the quantity of guests.
Better publicity and better event management could have saved him some embarrassment, however!
How can you maximize attendance at your next prospecting event?
- Don’t be boring – tailor events around passions. Your event does not have to be generic and boring! Get creative and tap into something that will generate excitement for you, your clients and your prospects—whether they’re golf fans, theater nuts, wine aficionados, or street bike racers. If you love marathons, you could build events around already-established competitions. You could host an event at a local sporting goods store that caters to runners. One advisor in Florida leveraged his love of classic cars into a niche among collectors, hosting events with car themes. Another advisor built a niche among college football fans, hosting tailgating parties before and after games. Hobbies and passions put you in touch with your natural client base—and predispose prospects to attend the event and view you favorably.
- Don’t go it alone – partner with a strategic ally. Host your seminar with someone who serves the same target client base. That way you can double your marketing list, split expenses, and expand your potential audience. Most naturally, you could host a joint marketing event with a CPA, or estate attorney, but you can also get creative. One female advisor in Florida paired with a high-end department store to host a Finance and Fashion event that also raised money for a local women’s shelter. She was able to have a fashion show—as well as an educational seminar for women. An advisor in Maryland hosted a six-week workshop at a retirement center, partnering with realtors, social workers, and estate sale specialists to discuss the financial and psychological ramifications of downsizing the family home. Each workshop provided helpful information for her target demographic—retirees. She benefited from retirement center promoting the event to its regular visitors. Any time you can tap into another organization’s marketing list, you’re going to expand your chances at a good turnout.
- Invite the right mix of clients. Strong attendance in and of itself is not the goal. Each event should be tailored for key centers-of-influence who are handpicked for each particular event. The ideal number of attendees for your smaller events is between 10-24. You want to invite clients who are outspoken advocates for your business, and who have provided referrals in the past. Consider also inviting strategic allies such as CPAs and estate attorneys. Invite a few of your prospects to your next client event. Give them a preview of what it’s like to be your client. Every event should provide you with an opportunity to showcase your professionalism.
- Make sure to remind invitees. People are horribly busy and forgetful. You need a process to ensure maximum attendance at your events. You will need to communicate with your guests several times before the event to boost attendance. Call guests about 3-4 weeks in advance to have them hold the date. Send out the formal invitations with information on RSVPing to “reserve tickets.” This builds excitement for your event. You might even consider alerting clients that only the first 20 to respond will be able to attend. Some advisors even like to send them “tickets” with the event information listed on it. These tickets can be used to invite a friend. Call your invitees to get a head count about two weeks before. When you follow a consistent system for your events (including follow-up afterward), you’re more likely to see results.