As long as I’ve been in this industry, I was startled to learn that nearly seven out of 10 people age 65 and up are NOT working with a financial planner.

This statistic shows up in the Invest in You Savings Survey released six months ago by CNBC and Acorns, a financial wellness platform. It measured Americans’ confidence in their retirement savings.

How does an advisor take advantage of this market opportunity?

First, imagine yourself in your prospect’s position.

Relating to your future clients

We know people are mostly reluctant to meet with financial advisors, the estate planning attorneys who work with them; and insurance agents.

While your prospects may appreciate the consequences of not having a sound retirement plan, at the same time, they may not understand the details. If this is the case, they will hesitate to act on their concerns.

Your first step as a financial planner, then, is to bridge the knowledge gap between you. It’s how you build trust.

Start by putting yourself in their shoes.

When you take your car to your mechanic, for instance, it’s because you don’t know what’s wrong, much less what to do about it.

You rely on the mechanic’s years of experience to identify the problem and the solution.

In the meantime, you worry about what the “fix” is going to cost.

This, advisors, is how your prospect feels.

Attracting your ideal customers

To grow revenue, a financial planner must build his or her client base.

While much has changed in the direct marketing world over the years, one thing has not. The most effective way to engage people is to get in front of as many of them as possible.

And the ideal way to do that is to host social dinner events and educational workshops.

Among an audience of their peers in a comfortable location such as a restaurant, your prospects are much more likely to pay attention to your presentation.

In this group setting, you can answer their financial planning questions and tell them what the “fix” is – same as your trusty mechanic does.

Deploying a proven strategy

Since the mid-1990s, top-producing advisors have harnessed the power of dinner events and workshops to attract qualified prospects and close sales.

I’m well aware that some of you don’t believe events are a viable marketing tool.

Financial planners view them as a waste of time and money; or maybe you tried an event with one of our competitors, and the results weren’t what you hoped for.

However, 25 years of response data from pre-retirees and retirees all over the country tells me events are, in fact, effective.

Prospects want to hear from an advisor or attorney in a neutral environment, with other folks like themselves.

Then they will they consider scheduling an appointment with you.

Choosing events versus workshops

There are two ways to provide the safety-in-numbers ambiance that will boost your attendance.

The first is the dinner event and the second is the educational workshop.

Many deals, commitments, and agreements are worked out over meals, in our professional and personal lives. This is no different.

An event at a great local restaurant is perceived by prospects to be less intimidating than an financial planner’s office. (It also appeals to a wealthier demographic.)

It’s best to pick a place with room to hold 20 to 30 people. A private setting helps to create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.

Dinner event attendees are usually couples seeking second opinions about how to manage their money.

Perhaps you’re concerned your events will attract so-called plate lickers – those who show up only for the free meals.

Believe me, the vast majority of attendees will be prompted by financial concerns, not food. Most can easily afford to dine out.

These motivated individuals more likely to stick around after you speak, making it easier to set appointments with them.

Anticipating client needs

Still not convinced a dinner event is the way to go? Then consider an educational workshop.

You can hold it at a local venue like a community center, hotel, country club, or college, and make it a food or non-food event.

Workshops tend to draw smaller and less affluent crowds than seminars.

People who sign up are usually in a learning and information-gathering mode; as a result, fewer of them will want to linger following your presentation.

Regardless of which event format you choose, though, you can generally expect to make appointments with one-third to one-half of your attendees.

Event marketing works

In closing, dinner events are a proven way for financial advisors to generate leads and acquire new clients.

Top producers fill them with prospects when they combine highly targeted direct mail with Facebook ads.

LeadingResponse has accumulated 25 years of response data and advisor feedback. As a result, you can pay on a per-reservation basis (Seminar Assurance); or on a per-attendee basis (ask about our Seminar Assurance Elite program).

If we do not attain the number of RSVPs or attendees, we’ll make up the difference.

Only we offer direct and digital event marketing hybrid campaigns, which have significantly increased production and income for many advisors.

Are your current business development activities generating the results you want?