Seminars can improve your marketability and credibility
This is Part Two of a Two Part Series on marketing services through seminars. Part One appeared in BarTalk, December 1997.
The All-Powerful Presentation
Before your seminar begins, introduce yourself and shake hands with everyone who walks through the door.
Some people enjoy signing a guest book when they enter. But since you’ll ask for their names and addresses on the seminar evaluation form at the end of your program, you don’t have to provide one.
They’re a nice touch because they allow you to call audience members by their first names.
While waiting for people to take their seats, ask audience members what they came to learn. Then customize your seminar by spending more time on those topics.
Simple Explanations In Plain English
You increase your credibility when your audience understands what you say. Keep your seminar simple. When people take in new information, they forget most of it. So, although this information may be “old hat” to you, it is new and often difficult for your prospects.
Explain your prospects’ problems, such as what they can expect when a will goes through probate or what will happen if their business is sued by employees or vendors. Then, offer solutions you can provide, such as a living trust or a liability evaluation. Include facts about your qualifications and experience. Discuss other clients you have helped in similar situations. Make sure you fully explain your subject, but do not make any effort to sell. Next, explain how to hire an attorney. Tell prospects what to look for and what questions to ask the lawyer. This educational approach proves you respect their right to hire any lawyer they choose. What’s more, it shows you will not try to use your position as seminar presenter for your own personal gain. As a result, your credibility continues to increase and attendees usually hire you rather than interview other lawyers they have never met. At the end of the seminar, leave time for audience questions and offer to stay afterward so people can talk with you individually. (People who come up after your program often hire your services.)
Ask audience members to turn in a seminar evaluation form, on which you ask for their names and addresses, invite their comments and offer them a free follow-up consultation. Emphasize how much you value their comments and how much these forms help you improve your program. Most people will turn in the form if they know it will help you. Don’t force the issue of getting names and addresses. Simply invite people onto your mailing list if they want to receive future briefings. Most will gladly comply. If people don’t want to give you their names, they are not good prospects and you don’t want to waste money sending them future mailings.
No. You want qualified prospects who are hungry for information, not seminar groupies who want a free meal. Food costs can skyrocket because one food item often leads to another. Pretty soon you’re providing an entire buffet. A water station is usually enough. For morning seminars, you might provide a jolt of caffeine to keep your audience alert. But don’t go overboard.
Following Up and Expectations
Summarize important points and restate your offer of a free consultation, with a limit of 30 or 60 days so prospects will act promptly.
Use other educational methods to reinforce your message, such as newsletters and client updates, which could be no more than a one-page letter. Send four to six mailings over the next few months. If you don’t hear from them in six months, drop them from your mailing list unless you believe they still may be viable prospects. Typically, 30 per cent to 50 per cent of seminar attendees will come in for your free follow-up consultation. (I’ve seen situations where the number has topped 90 per cent.) Usually, some prospects become clients right away and others later on. Also, some never will hire your services but will bring friends and associates to your future programs. When seeking business clients, you likely will see smaller numbers and a longer decision-making process. In addition, when people know you present seminars, you’ll receive invitations to speak to groups and provide in-house seminars for corporations. One estate planning attorney who presented seminars for consumers was invited to speak to a group of retiring city employees. Today, the city of nearly one million people has him come in twice a year to present seminars for all its retirees.
This material was incorrectly attributed in BarTalk, December 1997, to Trey Ryder of the American Lawyer Magazine. In fact, Trey Ryder is a writer for Texas Lawyer. This article is republished with permission from the July 14, 1997 issue of Texas Lawyer. © Texas Lawyer.
This article was published in the February 1998 issue of BarTalk. © 1998 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.