You need to fill the room because perception is everything. If you begin your Safe Money Seminar with empty tables and chairs in the room, those people who do show up will question whether they should have. The trick is to gauge attendance based on RSVPs. If you have 40 RSVPs for the event, figure 30 will show up. Then set the room up for 20 to 25. It sends a more prosperous message when you have to break out additional tables and chairs to accommodate the overflow. “Standing room only” is your perceived image. On the other hand, having empty seats at your meeting is just lame.
Holding your retirement planning seminar at the right restaurant will help fill the room. A safe bet is an Olive Garden style restaurant. Avoid Mexican food, Chinese food and pizza joints. Limit dinner choices to one: a salad with a single entrée of general appeal. You can’t go wrong with a chicken and pasta plate. Include a glass of ice water at each place setting. That's it; no iced tea or Coca Cola. Never pass out menus, and limit waitress involvement to serving the food then disappearing.
In choosing a restaurant, stop by several possibilities around 4:30 on any given afternoon. If you see a lot of Seniors there, it means they like that restaurant and are familiar with it. Just make sure your entree is a notch above the typical early bird special.
Always remember that a Safe Money Seminar is not a teaching event and not a sales event. It’s a social event! Now that you’ve managed to fill the room, don’t set it up like a classroom or like a horseshoe. Set the room up just like people sit in a restaurant – 2 per table or 4 per table at most. And don’t think it’s you they’re coming to see. It’s your food they’re coming to eat. You are just the dinner show. Remember, you must get people to (a) like you and (b) respect you, if they are to give you that all-important appointment. Now that you’ve gone to so much trouble setting the stage, go out there and show them your star power!
The most effective form of advertising to fill the room is direct mail invitations. Direct mail allows you to target your demographic. You can sort your mailing list by several parameters, but age (60 plus) and address (within 5 miles of the restaurant and your office) are all that really matter. Wedding style invitations look nice and cost around 75¢ each. Simple post card invitations cost around 30¢ each and often wind up under a refrigerator magnet for future reference. Surprisingly, both wedding style and post card invitations pull about the same. But with post cards you can mail approximately 2 ½ times the quantity for the same money.
Expect between a .75% and a 1% response on your mailings. By mailing 10,000 pieces, you’ll get 75 to 100 RSVPs, of which around 50 to 70 will come out to your two seminars. This will fill the room with 25 to 35 attendees per night, which keeps it cozy and gets you up close and personal.
Another way to boost your response rate is to add emotional appeal to your invitation’s headline. For example, which headline gets your attention better? (a) “You’re Invited To Our Safe Money Seminar” or, (b) “Five Serious Mistakes That Wipe Out Retirement Savings, And Simple Ways To Avoid Them.” The answer is B. Few people will show up to a Safe Money Seminar. We don’t use our seminar’s name in the invitation because it’s not an emotional draw. But once the people are in their seats, stop teasing them and start rewarding them. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our Safe Money Seminar,” is now music to their ears. Remember, people act on emotions then justify their actions with logic.
The seminar business is all about working the numbers and setting enough appointments so that if one or two should cancel (which they will) what you get is an unexpected but much needed break between eager, pre-sold prospects. As always, keep your eyes on the prize: This is a career objective leading to seven figures annually. Fill the room, set the stage, make a million.
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