By Casey Fuerst
I once had a client, a financial advisor, who believed that an excellent way to attract new business was to do seminars. She would get 20 to 30 people in a room, walk them through some basics of investing or retirement planning, and then set an appointment for follow-up. That was her entrée to gaining them as clients. It’s a solid plan and it works for many financial management professionals. But it wasn’t working for her. She got people in the room, but they didn’t book any appointments.
So, she hired us to help her shape her message. We worked with her to create a simple message and visually appealing presentation. BUT, when we got to the end of our time together, she kept coming back to us to request changes. At the root of it all, the message was too simple for her.
Guided questions got us to her core belief: “Unless I overwhelm and confuse them, they will think they can do it themselves, and they won’t need me.”
I wish I could say that we turned her around and helped her understand that people run away from confusion and are drawn to clarity, but we didn’t. She wasn’t convinced. We wrapped up the contract and moved on.
Maybe she figured it out on her own, or perhaps she is still struggling to get those clients. Either way, we are now crystal clear in our work: confusion kills new business.
Too much noise only causes confusion
Donald Miller, the author of Building a StoryBrand, says, “What if the problem wasn’t the product? What if the problem was the way we talked about the product?” He adds, “If we pay a lot of money to a design agency without first clarifying our message, we might as well be holding a bullhorn up to a monkey. The only thing a potential customer will hear is noise.”
For this client, that’s exactly what she was doing—adding noise to already overwhelmed people. She falsely believed that she needed to be the smartest person in the room to gain their business. It’s just not true. She needed to be the most knowledgeable in her area. But, more important, she needed to help her guests feel smart, heard, and understood. She needed to give them value that they could grow from, regardless of her role in that growth. She needed to help them solve a problem.
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For any kind of advisor, consultant, or business owner, offering seminars or online webinars is a great method for gaining new business. It’s a chance for potential clients to make a connection with an expert. It’s a chance for the speaker to begin to build trust with the prospects.
Once we understand that, it’s much easier to put together an event that converts.
Key components of a successful seminar
To build a high-converting seminar or webinar, you need the following components:
1. Clear name
Keep it SIMPLE. Choose one challenge to address. Your content should be focused on the thing that you want to be known for.
For example, if you want to be known for your work with high-value clients, create a seminar for this audience. Make it clear whom it is for and whom it is not for. A title like “The lifeline of a $10 million investment,” rather than “How long does it take for your investment to double?,” makes it clear the client base you work with.
2. Valuable content
Remember, the goal of your seminar is to build trust with your guests. Give them valuable content they can use regardless of whether they work with you or not. To do this, you need to help them solve a problem and help them understand that you are the expert.
Your outline might look like this:
1. Name the problem
a. What are the symptoms of the problem?
b. What are the consequences of having and not solving the problem?
2. Tell them about you (without walking through your resume)
a. Show empathy—help them see that you know how this problem can affect them. Perhaps share a personal story.
b. Name 2-4 simple stats that help them see that you are the expert (worked with X people over the last X years, etc.).
c. Share a testimonial from a happy customer.
3. Solve the problem
a. Give them a simple process to solve the problem.
b. Offer tools for them to do it themselves.
4. Show them success
a. Tell them what their lives will look like once this problem is solved.
3. A call-to-action
Do you have a simple action you want participants to take so you can continue the conversation? Here are some options to consider:
- “I’ve held four spots on my calendar in the next week to follow up with you.” And then immediately schedule a 30-minute follow-up.
- “Give me your email, and I will send you a document that adds value to what I’ve taught.” (e.g., checklists, list of related resources, workbook, etc.)
- Schedule a portfolio assessment.
4. Professional design and space
Don’t undervalue the professionalism of your presentation. Consider hiring a professional to create simple, attractive slides and handouts. If you want to do it yourself, purchase a template and fill in your content.
Consider these sites for templates:
And, pay attention to the space you are in. Does it send the right message? If you are virtual, test your technology beforehand and have a tech support person in place to get on the phone with guests who might be struggling.
5. Follow up
It needs to be easy for your guests to take that next step. Even if they’re not ready, staying top of mind and continuing to add value will make you an easy choice when they are ready.
- Start with a simple thank-you note. Handwritten notes go a long way, especially when they add a personal touch.
- Email them additional information in response to a question they may have asked. “I was thinking more about your questions and wanted to send you this to make sure you got the answer you needed.”
- Call and ask for an appointment.
- Add them to your newsletter or email list to be invited to future seminars.