(And You Should Ditch Online Webinars!)
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of seminar marketing. Seminars have been a tested and proven marketing staple for my law firm and many other estate planning attorneys for over 35 years – – if you do them right!
Unfortunately, the pandemic forced in-person seminars to shut down. My law firm, like many others, adjusted by offering virtual seminars online.
For a while, the virtual model appeared to work and I was convinced that this might be the way things would go from here on out. However, as we continued to do webinars, we made the following observations:
- A large part of our core demographic (age 50+) is still not tech savvy enough to figure out how to properly navigate computer/internet and webinar types of presentations
- It was a lot harder, given other distractions, to keep people engaged throughout the entire seminar (so they would respond to the “appointment pitch” at the end)
- The appointment booking process was not nearly as effective (even with some great ideas to capture appointments using online calendaring tools and pre-booking appointments before people attended the seminar)
- We did not have the ability to ethically follow-up with leads who did not book an appointment like we do for in-person seminars (few attendees submitted a response form indicating their interest and permission to our follow-up)
- There were far more no-shows to our webinars and to appointments booked (particularly among those who signed up through social media channels)
- As a result of all of the above, we had to do many more webinars in order to appropriate the results of a few in-person seminars
I know that there are some marketing “experts” out there that will tell you that the in-person seminar model is antiquated or not “up-to-date with the times”. I was starting to even wonder the same until I did webinars for myself and were able to truly test the results consistently each month. Clearly, the ROI (return on investment of money and time) for virtual seminars was lower than the in-person seminars we had been doing for decades prior to the pandemic!
Which leads me to another conclusion which may shock you…
Stop Offering the Webinar Option Altogether!
Once we started to open again to in-person seminars, we marketed both our in-person seminars and a virtual webinar option, thinking it was best to give people a choice. What we noticed was that several people who would have otherwise attended the in-person option, still chose the virtual option. We have even seen this same phenomenon with conferences that offer both virtual and in-person options. Many who would otherwise make it in-person if that was the only available option chose the virtual option, because it requires less traveling and time commitment, and was the easy route.
We started to only offer the in-person option with a note that says, “If you are unable to attend any of these dates or in-person seminars at this time, please contact our office to find out your available options.” It is then that we will share the option to schedule a webinar replay, at a set time, with one of our staff members via Zoom. The staff one-on-one time and attention that prospect is getting before and after that seminar replay on Zoom winds up with better appointment results and conversions to engagements.
In-Person Seminars Are Ramping Up and Working for Others Too!
Not only has our law firm seen an increase in attendance to in-person seminars, as people are becoming more and more comfortable with being out and in group settings, we have several colleagues throughout the country who do seminars and are seeing the same results.
There are a number of things that happen with in-person seminars which are simply impossible to replicate with online webinars:
- Human interaction and connection – There’s human interaction and connection that happens at in-person seminars between the audience, the speaker, the law firm staff, and between other attendees (including existing clients who serve as natural testimonials for you when mixed in with other attendees). The speaker presentation techniques used at in-person seminars are far more effective, such as humor and also polling and customizing the presentation to those in the audience. More trust and rapport is built with prospects before they come in to see you (and fewer will request a virtual meeting, which has a lower close rate).
- Removed distractions – In-person seminar attendees are instructed to turn their cell phones off (or silenced and put away) and many people are directly engaged with the talk with no distractions that come with wherever they may tune into a webinar. And they are less likely to just get up and leave in the middle, which they can easily and painlessly do in a virtual seminar.
- Time investment and commitment – Signing up for an in-person seminar is an investment of time that each attendee is making, including getting ready, driving to the seminar location, sitting through close to 2 hours of presentation with a push for appointments at the end. This level of commitment is a measure of each attendee’s level of commitment to learning about how a properly built estate plan may benefit them and increases their show rate to the appointment.
- Getting appointments booked and handling objections – If someone on a webinar wasn’t convinced enough to book an appointment before leaving, it’s as easy as pressing the “X” button and leaving the webinar. There’s not much the seminar speaker or facilitators can do about it and, based on most State Bar ethics rules, you may also be prohibited from calling or e-mailing that seminar attendee unless they gave you some other indication or permission for you to do so. At our in-person seminar, we have facilitators to help push people to book their appointment before they leave and someone “guarding the door” to, at a minimum, collect the seminar response form (which is our permission to follow-up after they’ve left).
For all the above reasons and because the actual results (revenue generated to my firm), I am recommending you consider conducting in-person seminars right away. There’s a lot of pent-up demand that you can capitalize on. Whether you’ve never conducted seminars before, stopped doing seminars because of the pandemic, or have only ever tried webinars, there are so many benefits to your practice of doing in-person seminars.
“If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.”
As always, it is important to note that if webinars are working for you and your firm, then by all means, please continue to do what’s working for you. However, I will say that when I speak with people about “what’s working”, they are rarely monitoring the seminar metrics (or the metrics that matter). Having a lot of people on your webinar means absolutely nothing if they aren’t coming in and actually doing business with you. But, if you can measure your direct expenses, along with your and your staff’s time to set up, coordinate, conduct, and follow-up after the seminar and you can produce a positive ROI on your webinars, then by all means, please keep doing them! (But don’t assume that ROI is nearly as good as with in-person ones!)
Need Help Getting Seminars Up and Running Successfully?
If you are an estate planning attorney and are new to seminar marketing or have tried seminars (or webinars) and are interested in learning more about how to successfully do in-person seminars, our following resources might be helpful to you:
- The Ultimate Estate Planning Seminar Starter Kit, which comes with:
- 60-Minute Seminar Marketing Consultation
- The Ultimate Level: REIMAGINEDTM
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Attorney Philip J. Kavesh is the principal of one of the largest estate planning firms in California – – Kavesh, Minor and Otis – – with over 40+ years in business. He is also the President of The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc., which provides a variety of training, marketing and practice-building products and services for estate planning professionals. If you would like more information or have a question for him, he can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 1-866-754-6477.