Hold a Memorable Miniconference


CPAs can offer seminars on business topics to educate existing clients and attract new ones. Growing a practice is one of the many benefits of putting on such gatherings, but practitioners sometimes miss opportunities to boost their effectiveness as a marketing tool. Here are some tips that will let you get more mileage out of your miniconference.
Offer something for free that has value for the attendees —for example, a book, software product, a pencil holder, reference volume, picture frame, report or guide. “People who are invited to the seminar and actually attend receive the giveaway,” says Martin R. Baird, president of Phoenix-based Advisor Marketing. Make sure you have enough handouts for everybody. Anything that will make attendees think of you each time they use it is a gift that keeps giving.

Make sure the giveaways add extra punch to the topic of your seminar. Don’t be afraid to get creative; choose something clients will keep around and that extends awareness generated by the event. Have your phone number printed on the giveaway—this makes it easy for people to get in touch with you. If you hand out something junky though, don’t be surprised if it ends up in the trash.

Involve an expert. Having a well-known CPA deliver a speech at your seminar adds credibility. Even if a pro participates in only a small way, it is a real plus for your program. If the topic is litigation services, for example, you could ask an expert in this area to talk to your guests. If you yourself are the expert, be sure to get your time at the podium. Arrange for your featured speakers well beforehand so you can advertise them in the registration mailing, and confirm their plans to attend one to two weeks in advance.

Leave them wanting more. Near the end of the event, throw out some ideas that will prompt attendees to call your firm for more information or come to your next miniconference. Cliffhangers spark curiosity: Interest participants in what will come next.

Contact no-shows. Call or mail an information packet to people who registered but failed to attend. Say you’re sorry they couldn’t come, tell them how the seminar went and share some of the positive feedback you received from attendees.

You can have a mailer ready to go out that reports a few of the highlights. When putting together any direct mailing, use colored, invitation-sized envelopes—people open them more often and with more enthusiasm than standard-sized ones. Also, try hand-addressing the envelope and be sure to include your phone number inside. Use only first-class postage; you don’t want the recipient to view the piece as just more junk mail. These people took the time to register, so they already have some interest in the topic. Make the most of it.

Being the host of a miniconference is a great way to form new business relationships, meet up with existing and even former clients and also vet new employees, but don’t go into it blindly. Preparation goes a long way toward ensuring its success. Afterward, the goodwill fostered and your savvy networking skills will ensure the awareness your seminar generated has a far reach.

Source: Advisor Marketing, 480-991-6421, www.advisormarketing.com , 2003.

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