How did this strategy come about?
Our events have always been an integral part of our business strategy. We have hosted seminars for clients and prospective clients for almost 20 years.
Seminars inform and engage the audience so we have consistently found them a great source of generating new leads and clients so have invested heavily in them. We find that our events give prospective clients a great opportunity to get to know some members of our team and to find out more about what we do in an informal environment. They are effectively our shop window!
What do you do?
We now hold seminars in three areas. We started with Wilmslow, then looked at new postcodes to target – Knutsford, then Chester. We’ve also recently done two trials on the Wirral which we have seen success with and have allowed us to stretch our geographical reach.
We usually run six seminars in spring and six in the autumn, which means we can spread the number of attendees evenly.
How do you do it?
We mail invitations by post. We don’t use email – we did this a few years ago and it didn’t work.
We send a high volume of invites to three separate areas inviting each set to two dates, so if they can’t come to one they can hopefully make the other instead.
Is there a follow up to the mailing?
No, we don’t phone or contact a second time, but if a prospective client gets in touch we add them to our mailing list.
We used to have a tear-off slip, but its use as a response method declined so we made a decision to take it off and we’ve seen no difference in take-up or people attending. So now we just ask people to email or phone us.
What happens at each event?
We don’t use external speakers – one of our Partners will present depending on their diaries. The content always includes something topical e.g. the markets following the EU outcome in the Brexit referendum or after Trump was elected.
The seminars are mainly informative but we do have a short section on who we are and what we do. This is essentially to try and get people hearing about us.
What’s the result?
We get 40 or 50 people at each seminar on average.
It’s hard to then work out how many out of that group become clients because they might have come to a seminar three years ago - and they can come to as many as they like. There are so many other variables. However, about a third of our new clients can be attributed to our seminars.
What other events do you run?
We also carry out investment dinners. That again is a relatively large mailing (only about a fifth of the size of our seminar mailing list) and recipients get a letter with the invite as well.
Investment dinners differ slightly - normally we’ll get a fund manager in, or someone we work with. We find we get higher take up if we have external speaker than if it’s us presenting the dinners.
What happens at the dinner?
Whereas at the seminars everyone gets a three-course lunch and people chat, our dinners follow a different format. We have a lovely three-course dinner, usually a guest speaker, and a round table conversational in a private dining room. Overall they have more of an exclusive and intimate feel and often attract experienced investors.
Is the take-up rate similar?
We get typically have between 15 and 20 people at the dinner, these events can have a higher return in the long run if we get a client from them.
What’s the follow-up process?
Everyone gives feedback at the end – the only difference is that the investment dinner form is personalised.
We ask them if the event met their expectations, did they get the info they hoped for, would they recommend our events to others etc, and we offer a champagne draw as an incentive at seminars.
Afterwards the advisers would normally follow up the feedback form with a phone call.
How do you produce the events?
We each have specific roles within the team here. I write the copy for the invitations and pass it to Paul, our graphic designer. Laura works on data and digital – buying the data, sorting it and coordinating the mailings. Jess runs the actual events themselves.
Two of our receptionists support us with bookings too.
What’s the age range?
The age range is between 50 and 70+. We’re trying target to younger clients, to break into 40+ age range.
How do you choose venues?
We’ve tried and tested these over the years. We look for excellent catering, service and enough space for us to place our huge set, which we project the presentation on to. A venue having enough car parking spaces for guests and staff is also at the very top of our list!
Do you get people objecting to receiving your mail?
We get some people phoning up to tell us they don’t want our mail, we make sure to make a note of this straightaway so that they do not receive any future mailings from us.
Our top tips for event lead generation:
1. Location, location, location: test a few geographical locations to find the greatest opportunity. Trial and error works for venue selection as well so don’t be afraid to move around to find the best fit.
2. Postal invites work well for us, they are more exclusive and personal than email and grab the attention of our guests. Email invites can often get lost in overcrowded inboxes.
3. Don’t over-complicate things: Direct response works fine for the RSVP, we ask people to email or call us to confirm attendance.
4. Keep the topics current and relevant for the audience, make their trip worthwhile.
5. Be patient: Leads generated through events can have a long lead time, sometimes a few years – but the relationship you will have built up with them is worth the wait.