To Meal or Not To Meal? That Is the Question.

That’s right, I’m going to fuel the ever-burning fire of the meal vs. non-meal seminar debate!  This is one of the most common questions I get from advisors when they are planning out their seminar marketing: “Matt, why would I serve a meal?" Ok, so if you know me, you know I’m pro-meals.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in non-meal seminars; sure I do.  I know they can work and they can be profitable; not denying that.  But here’s my point: If you put me in front of the two groups of people and I had the chance to conduct both a meal and a non-meal seminar, I would gather more new clientele and assets from the meal seminar, almost every time.  Here are 3 reasons why:
  1. More time.  This is the biggest and most important reason I’m pro-meals.  When you serve dinner (which you should ALWAYS do after the presentation, not during), you have locked down the room for at least 30 minutes.  A good advisor and a good team knows that they can accomplish a lot of appointment setting in 30 minutes. The best advisors I work with either stick around and work the room, or they have rock-solid staff that go table to table, strike up conversation, and BOOK APPOINTMENTS.  Yes, this works, and no, it’s not pushy.  As long as you do it the right way, it can be the most profitable 30 minutes of the entire evening.  Guess what, people can’t wait to leave the library after your non-meal seminar.
  2. Guilt.  More people are going to show up to the meal seminar, because you pre-ordered the food.  You can use this as leverage.  Think of it this way. Have you ever RSVP’d to a wedding and sent in the card saying you wanted steak?  Undoubtedly, the day of the wedding you find yourself poolside about 3 beers deep and suddenly realize you have to stop relaxing, go get on a suit, and go to the wedding or you’ll be late. And for a split second you consider not going.  “The bride and groom will be too busy to notice I’m not there… they’ll never know.” And then you remember the steak.  Boom.  You are going to show up to that damn wedding, whether you like it or not, because that lonely piece of meat on the table has your name all over it.  The same holds true for meal seminars.  You can accomplish the same guilt factor to boost your attendance ratio.  I’ve been tracking this for years, and that’s how it is.  I train staff almost every week on how to accomplish all of this over a 2-step phone process before seminar night.
  3. Meal venues are nicer.  Yes they are, if you do it right.  If you do seminars at public libraries or community centers, I promise you that the venues my best advisors conduct their meal seminars at are more comfortable, inviting, and impressive. They aren’t your garbage restaurants serving the rubber chicken dinner.  They are at nice places your affluent clients actually dine at, and they serve good food that people want to enjoy and savor throughout the evening.  All while they bask in the perfect environment you’ve created for them to mingle and talk about how great your presentation was.  Pretty sure this isn’t happening at the library.
You may have heard me say before that small hinges swing big doors. This holds true for these three small things that all positively impact seminar metrics.  Here’s how: Nicer venues + meal = MORE RSVPs (translation, more butts in seats) Meal + Guilt = HIGHER ATTENDANCE RATIOS (translation, more butts in seats) More Time = MORE APPOINTMENTS SET (translation, more people coming in to meet with you) It’s that simple.  If at the beginning of this blog I asked you if I could show you ONE THING that would get you MORE RSVPs, HIGHER ATTENDANCE RATIOS, and MORE APPOINTMENTS out of your next seminar, you would be clamoring for the secret.  And it’s that simple:  Serve a meal. Disclaimer: If the word “plate licker” is at all going through your mind right now, here’s what I have to say, GET OVER IT.  Your competition is having no problem with meal seminars! 

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