dinner seminar marketing

Just because you select a restaurant does not mean you need to provide the attendees with a meal or make it a dinner seminar. Many restaurants will rent you a room for $250. I use a local well-known restaurant on Saturday mornings. This restaurant is normally closed (it’s open for lunch and dinner), but they are happy to open for me and serve a continental breakfast (I don’t consider this a full meal as no one will come just for the juice, muffin and coffee). Even though the restaurant is not making money to accommodate me, it’s free advertising for them. I get the whole main dining room; they charge me $7.50 per person.

You don’t have to do dinner seminars, and you don’t even have to serve a meal, but always serve some type of refreshments at minimum. It’s your decision if you want to provide meals (a must if you are an NASD licensee, because your invitation cannot contain compelling language). Here’s the argument in favor of serving meals and understanding why many advisors employ dinner seminar marketing:

1. You will get twice as many people to attend

2. The additional people that attend because of the dinner are “eaters” and not motivated to be there for the right reason

3. In the course of our presentation, some of the eaters may decide to meet with you and become a client.

So, if you end up feeding 60 people dinner at $15 each, you have spent $900 on meals. Even if you invest $30 per dinner ($1800 total), if even one of those “eaters” becomes a client and you earn $5,000, then your dinner seminar investment was well worth it.

Make sure that your seminar invitation is clear and says “dinner served” or “refreshments” if that’s all you’re providing.

I provide a continental breakfast but NOT because it draws people. After all, who is going to get up, get dressed, and drive to the seminar for some juice, coffee, and sweet rolls? I provide the breakfast for my benefit—it gets caffeine and sugar in their bloodstream and puts them in the perky mood that I want. The refreshments are a mood enhancer—not a draw. When you use food to draw people you will attract eaters rather than buyers, but as explained above, this may be well worth it. Meal or not, ALWAYS have refreshments.

Let’s say you have a continental breakfast provided, or you decide to make it a dinner or lunch seminar. DO NOT use a buffet format. If you want attention from the audience, once you start talking NO ONE should be moving around. Make sure the waiters know NOT to enter the room once you start. Coffee, condiments and everything must already be on the table to avoid movement and noise.

Talk while they eat dinner or lunch. It is not necessary to wait until they are done eating or have them wait to eat until you’re done. By talking while they are eating, you make efficient use of their time and your time. And people are never in a better mood than when they are eating!

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