The Best Time and Location for Seminars


Prospecting with Seminars — How to Fill up the Seminar Room Every Time

Fourth in a series

As a stockbroker, I gathered $50 million of assets in less than five years by doing one seminar a month. Any insurance agent, financial planner or investment advisor can have similar success with seminars. The biggest hurdle for most professionals is filling the room with attendees and my last three articles have covered the issues of writing a compelling invitation and how to best use it (telemarketing, advertising or direct mail).

Today, I will cover two additional issues—the time and location of the seminar. These two variables can have a major impact on attendance. My expertise is in prospecting the senior market (age 60+ retirees). If you apply the following concepts to your market, you will also select the optimal time and location.

Seniors (retirees) generally rise early in the morning and schedule golf, tennis, shopping, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and meetings with the accountant or attorney on weekday mornings. Therefore, I never hold a seminar on a weekday morning because I would be competing with a lot of other activity in my prospect’s schedule. My seminars are scheduled either for Saturday mornings or weekday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. I also never schedule evening seminars because some seniors tell me that they are reluctant to drive at night as they notice their night vision is not as good. Additionally, single females have a safety concern, making them reluctant to venture out at night. By simply observing my target market’s activity pattern, I am able to select the best possible seminar times to maximize attendance.

Do you really know the scheduling patterns of your target market?

I select a seminar location that is well-known, convenient and in neutral territory. Some financial professionals attempt to hold seminars in their office buildings. Bad idea. This is not neutral territory and some prospective attendees will not come for fear of being trapped in a high-pressure sales situation. Think about buying a car—whose turf are you on—is it comfortable for you?

Therefore, never use your office as a seminar location. Rather, use a local restaurant that has existed for 20+ years—a place which everyone in town knows and likes. It’s familiar, neutral and well-located. You do not need to feed your audience just because you use a restaurant for your location. Many restaurants are happy to rent an extra room or even open for your seminar at a time when they are normally closed.

What about hotels? They are perceived by some prospects as a place for transients and may associate you with the snake-oil salesman who is here today, gone tomorrow. Additionally, some hotels place their conference rooms in a location requiring your prospect to negotiate a maze of hallways. Do you want your prospect to enter your seminar frustrated?

A country club location can send the wrong signal. Some people could feel intimidated that the seminar must be for “upper class” people or some may even misinterpret that the seminar is for club members or golfers.