Five Cheap and Easy Seminars Bank and Credit Union Reps

A powerful solution for expanding business, deepening relationships with existing customers and members and providing value added services at a low cost!

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By Patti Branco
March 8, 2006

Why host a seminar, and do they really work to generate business and good will?

With a little planning and some personal savvy, the answer is yes, if done correctly. This blueprint will show you the way to have an effective and profitable event at almost no cost!

The idea of presenting to a crowd could be daunting at first…but you might be surprised at the facts. The moment you stand in front of a crowd, whether to introduce another speaker or to take the floor yourself, you are the perceived expert. Don’t squander the opportunity to make a great and long lasting impression. It’s important to remember that like any other sales call, a seminar requires that you close, or ask for the order.

Let’s drill down to the primary reason for hosting a seminar: Getting qualified people in front of you, right? Taking that to the next step, what do qualified prospects want?

They don’t want all the fluff and fan fare that so many advisors offer at grand and lavish seminars; most want a benefit, pure and simple. Sometimes they want the interaction with others. Never forget your reason for the seminar in the first place!

Seminars were once the hottest items and most lavish events in the financial services industry. In the mid eighties you could pack a room of hungry prospects to disseminate information over a fancy meal about Limited Partnerships and insurance products like Single Premium Whole Life, the latter which doesn’t exist in that structure any more.

Later, all avenues of financial services caught on and prospective clients attended seminars to learn about mutual funds and economic trends from savvy investment professionals seeking to mass market their goods and services.

When the nineties came the seminar market was a routine way of reaching new clients, from financial professionals to plastic surgeons… and at some point it began to lose its sizzle.

Too much, too many, same old stuff? Maybe. Who knows. But today, bank and credit union customers and members are once again showing interest in the next wave of educational forums. Perhaps it is just a new generation of investors, baby boomers facing retirement options, or a desire to learn more about managing wealth. More likely is the fact that many very creative ideas have changed the way seminars are delivered from web presentations to small intimate groups.

Five Savvy Seminars to Consider

Be creative, don’t call it a Seminar!  Instead…hold a ‘Shareholders Meeting’, launch a ‘Power Breakfast’, develop a ‘Roundtable Forum’, form a ‘Client Focus Group’ or a host an old fashioned ‘Tea’.

Shareholders Meeting

Attendees: Usually clients who already have an investment with you, and they can bring a friend.

Purpose: Give clients updates and information on the market, and often on their particular investments. You might invite all the holders of funds in the Fidelity family, for example, and ask a Fidelity spokesperson to give a brief (repeat, brief) update. Or you can give the update yourself!

Serve: Simple foods, snacks, coffee in the morning and cold drink in the afternoon.

Invitations: Telephone calls, followed by a nicely copied letter type of invitation with details.

Location: Your conference room, local library, church conference room.

Secret: Simplicity, no elaborate and time consuming planning, no major mailings, very easy to plan and execute.

Power Breakfast

Attendees: Usually professionals (sometimes retirees) in the area who would be likely to attend an early morning event, and a guest professional who is trying to build her practice, like you. Small group of 8-10.

The guest speaker topic should match the target market. For example, a business crowd would appreciate hearing about new laws regarding business; seniors might better appreciate estate-planning information.

Purpose: To give prospects and clients general information about a relevant topic followed by coffee and light refreshments, and conversation.

Serve: Simple foods, snacks, coffee and tea.

Invitations: Telephone calls, followed by a nicely copied letter with details. This is a terrific way to prospect as you seek that professional guest speaker!

Location: Your conference room, local library, church conference room.

Secret: Simplicity, no elaborate and time consuming planning, no major mailings.

Round Table Forum

Attendees: Usually clients who already have an investment with you and prospects. This is a good event to hold on a regularly scheduled basis. Book them and then use them as your ‘reason for the call’.

Purpose: very similar to the Power breakfast but may or may not have a speaker. Without a speaker, a general roundtable discussion is held with the advisor facilitating. Usually some pertinent article or news of the day can be the topic.

Serve: Simple foods, snacks, coffee in the morning and cold drink and half sandwiches in the afternoon.

Invitations: Telephone calls, followed by a nicely copied letter with details.

Location: Your conference room, local library, community or church conference room.

Secret: Simplicity, held regularly, can be alternated with the Power Breakfast for continuous exposure. No elaborate and time consuming planning, no major mailings

Bonus: Get a reputation as the community expert!

Client Focus Group

Attendees: Everybody that is qualified to participate in a research project about investment practices.

Purpose: Research. All of your questions answered by the people that matter. Banks and Credit Unions have done this for years to glean what is important to their clients and members. It is a very business like setting and very little free conversation.

Ten good questions should be asked about what a participant expects and needs from a financial advisor! Caution, be sincere in your efforts to learn the answers to the important questions, or host another type of event.

Serve: Coffee in the morning and cold drinks and water in the afternoon, perhaps a tray of cookies.

Invitations: Telephone calls, followed by business like detailed explanation, maybe an advance list of questions to ponder.

Location: Your conference room, local library, community conference room.

Secret: Simplicity, some time consuming planning, no major mailings.

Host a Tea

A lovely tea! The latest rage!

Attendees: Primarily for women, with or without an existing relationship with you. Men are welcome too.

Purpose: To introduce yourself and your services. To prospect a group of 10 to 15 guests.

Serve: Simple foods, snacks, tea and a cold drink in the afternoon.

Set the atmosphere of a Tea with accruements such as tablecloths and napkins that can be rented, and often funded by a favorite wholesaler. This should feel special.

Invitations: Nicely printed, but print more than you need and have the date blank so you can add it for several events. Make sure the invitations use a font you have available on your computer, and a standard point size.

Location: Your conference room, hotel or nice restaurant.

Secret: Some planning required, but plan for a few at the same time, a month apart. Maximize your efforts. Mailed invites followed by a phone call, or call first and send invitation after call. Very targeted guest list.

What a great way to meet a lot of people!

The Power Breakfast and the Roundtable have become popular ways to mass market. This type of ‘seminar’ affords multiple prospecting opportunities. The idea is to network with CPA’s and/or attorneys who need exactly what you need, clients! Invite them to address your top clients and prospects briefly in a small and intimate round table forum, where you are striving to bring the latest information and value to your clients. Set dates for the forum, more than one is best. Call it a ‘Coffee’, or something that sounds casual and enjoyable.

Make sure you are matching the professionals you are partnering with your target market. Affluent seniors or pre retirees? Seek estate-planning types. Small business owners, business oriented partners, and so on.

You can call all day long!

The next step is to prospect your target market with an invitation to learn something that is timely and pertinent, new rules, social security changes, whatever. Make it an interesting topic. If you mange to have several dates set, you should be able to host ten or twelve per meeting and fill the spots up quickly.

Another popular method is the ‘Pocket Seminar’. Have an approved seminar in your hip pocket, ready to go on a moments notice. Make your self available at the last minute for groups and associations that might have a planned speaker bail out at the last minute.

Right now there are hundreds of interesting and available seminars offered by your product providers. They are pre- planned, usually pre-approved by your firm and filed with the NASD. The titles are compelling and most have power points and scripts available. You can prospect with that! Check them out.

Reaping the Rewards!

What ever forum you choose, make sure you harvest the opportunities that a group like that will generate. You’re the expert and if they came to hear what you had to say, there is a good chance of getting a future appointment. Be the consummate professional in dress and in manners. Don’t be too modest to tell your guests that you offer these seminars because you are building your practice.

This is most important if you are to benefit from you efforts. Have an evaluation that along with the other data gathering has two boxes, one that says, “Call me” and one that says, “Do not call me”. Mention this form a couple times throughout the meeting and tell them to make sure they check one or the other. Tell them if they check ‘call me’, you will call within 48 hours. Explain…if they check ‘do not’, promise them that you will not call and don’t, but keep the information to invite them to other events.

When personal questions are asked, questions that won’t benefit the whole group encourage them to make a note on the back of the evaluation, and note that when you call them, you will discuss that with them.

Final thoughts

From the planning to the delivery, always assume the sale! People enjoy learning, and will want ‘more of you’, especially if you are competent, confident and enthusiastic.

An 23-year veteran of the securities industry, advisor coach Patti Branco is a  securities industry consultant, and founder of Patti Branco Management Solutions. And can be reached at 903-451-9800

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