Chris Perrino, Principal, Business Development, Barnes Dennig & Co., recently presented this program at the AICPA Accounting Firm Marketing Forum. He knows what he's talking about since Barnes Dennig hosts about 18 events per year. Their seminars are free. The goal of these events is to make client/prospect relationship development easier.
The three critical parts of seminar success - topic, topic, topic. The title needs to be honed, the speaker needs to be honed, and the topic choices should demonstrate your firm's industry expertise. Here are a few sample winning topics:
- Economic Reality for Manufacturers
- Rich Contractor, Poor Contractor: Pricing for Profits & What Makes a Good Contractor
- Building and Engaging Your Dream Board
- Tax Reduction Strategies for Developers
Here are a few other tips for seminar success:
- Entertaining speakers outscore those with better content.
- Send a "Save the Date" 6-8 weeks prior.
- Send weekly e-mail reminders starting one month prior.
- Expect 20% to 30% no shows.
- Consider holding seminars at not-for-profit client locations, e.g., museum.
- Do not hold seminars on Mondays or Fridays.
- Barnes Dennig's contractor seminars are hold at lunchtime, all others at breakfast.
- Consider co-sponsoring your seminar with a law firm or bank. Barnes Dennig hosts four seminars featuring "celebrity" speakers that are co-sponsored.
- Invite clients to have lunch with the celebrity speaker after the seminar.
- Follow up consistently.
What I've learned so far is that seminars can be an excellent source of new business. It is a face-to-face marketing tactic that demonstrates your firm's knowledge and expertise. Chris' final thought was that hosting seminars takes a lot of time, money, and patience. He's right, and that investment can deliver quite a return for your firm when implemented correctly.