Whether you’re just getting to know Steep or have worked with us for a long time, you know by now that we’re BIG proponents of using neutral venues for the workshops we promote.

Ever wonder why?

In this post, I’ll be diving deep into 6 reasons I believe neutral, educational venues are a big part of the recipe for seminar success.

1: Clients have a higher perceived value of the seminar content when the venue is neutral

Dinner seminars are essentially offering two value propositions to potential attendees as hooks to get them to attend. One of course is the seminar content itself, and the other is the free meal. When you remove the meal aspect from the seminar format, the only value-add we are offering is the event and content itself.

This is a powerful paradigm shift when you realize that people are responding only to hear you talk about the matter at hand, and it indicates that someone responding to such an event has a more intent desire to learn about your seminar content. In the end people attending neutral venue seminars place a higher value on you and your content than those attending dinner seminars.

2: You establish yourself as a thought leader and authority figure by hosting an educational event

A thought leader is a person who gains a reputation as a result of proving their value to their target market. This means you cannot become a thought leader because you start calling yourself one; you establish that credibility by creating situations in which you can demonstrate your worth in a visible way.

There may not be a better way to prove your value to consumers than by hosting an educational workshop focused on topics that matter most to your audience. Removed from the neutral venue, a similar presentation can still build an authority but is a marked shift from educator to “salesman.” By hosting an educational class you’re establishing a very clear hierarchy of teacher and student that naturally enforces you as the thought leader and subject-matter authority.

3: Neutral venue seminars cost less to host and get a higher conversion rate

In an industry where hosting dinner seminars is so prevalent, it may seem counter-intuitive to think that people are more likely to respond to a neutral venue seminar than they are to a dinner seminar. Many advisors have found that it’s nearly impossible to get registrations for a seminar with direct mail without offering a meal, but with digital quite the opposite is true. We’ll get deeper into the reason behind this with Reason #4, but we consistently see a higher conversion rate, and as a result a lower cost per conversion, with a neutral venue seminar than we do with dinner seminars.

Of course, another advantage of neutral venue seminars is the cost savings that naturally occurs when you stop writing checks to Ruth’s Chris. The combination of a higher conversion rate and the elimination of meal expenses results in an average of 60-80% savings for digitally marketed neutral venue seminars as compared to their direct mail marketed dinner seminar counterparts.

4: An educational venue fits cleanly inside the social context of Facebook advertising

When was the last time you got on Facebook to buy something? Never? Join the crowd. While there is a market to sell products with Facebook ads, that’s not the primary strength of the platform. Facebook is first and foremost a social medium. We check it (an average of 16 times per day!) primarily to learn about what’s new. We want to see what’s happening now with friends, family and brands that we care about.

When you make the shift from offline marketing to Facebook advertising, it’s critical to consider how the medium impacts our client’s frame of mind and expectations having found us in the social context. Because the primary objective of Facebook is discovery and self-education, it’s paramount to promote an educational workshop in this environment. Hosting that educational workshop at an educationally oriented venue like a college or library helps our message match the media.

5: Different types of prospects come to neutral venue seminars than to dinner seminars

About three years ago, my wife and I bought our house from an 83-year-old woman named Martha. To this day we continue to receive direct mail seminar invitations addressed to her for dinner workshops. Being a marketer, I review them carefully and try to place myself in Martha’s shoes – trying to think how she would react to the invitation. The last time I received Martha’s invitation I asked my wife if she would attend a dinner seminar if the subject was really interesting to her. After some discussion we both agreed that neither of us would respond to an event where there’s some sort of perceived embedded hook or impending sale.

Guess what? I’m not the only one who feels this way! There’s a whole segment of your ideal clients who are hesitant to come to dinner seminars – differentiating yourself from other advisors by using a neutral venue for your workshop opens you up to this previously unaddressed market segment.

6: Often times see higher quality prospects at neutral venue seminars with no ulterior motives to attend

We do so many things to try and get people to pay attention to our ads online. We spend lots of time and money on attractive images, highly designed landing pages, and split-testing landing page layouts. In the end, the #1 thing that has the biggest impact on conversation rate is copy (check out this post on how we use The Power of Persuasive Language to Fill Seminars).

When the words we use have a measurable difference in conversion rate, it’s clear that the motivating factor driving response is our client’s desire to learn about the workshop’s content. When we promote an event related to tax-saving strategies for retirement, we’re appealing to people with tax concerns. People with tax concerns are people who pay a lot of tax and are often times above-average net worth consumers. Combined with our proven targeting model that identifies affluent prospects, the messaging of our campaigns often times results in a more highly qualified prospect at your neutral venue workshop.

There is no one-size fits all answer to how to market your practice. Some of our highest producing advisors still rely on dinner seminars promoted with direct mail as a very profitable marketing strategy. But as the song goes, “The times, they are a-changin’” and this couldn’t be truer than in the competitive advisor marketing space. If you’ve never marketed with Steep or if you’re interested in learning more, we’re here to help you get to the top!

Jonathan Musgrave

Author Jonathan Musgrave

Jonathan Musgrave has specialized in marketing for advisors for the past 11 years. He founded Steep in 2017 with the goal of making digital marketing accessible to everyone. He has had the opportunity to design and build a variety of digital marketing systems ranging from scalable seminar programs to fully automated conversion funnels. Jonathan has a reputation for being a talented copywriter, creative problem solver and highly experienced social advertiser. Outside of work, you can find him and his wife Ruth enjoying many of the things that make Colorado a great place to call home like snowboarding, mountain biking or exploring new hiking trails.

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