When LWP members start putting their workshops together for the first time, they often think of them as a way to generate new clients, which is a key outcome. However, they tend to focus on the workshop solely as a lead generator, and this mindset falls severely short in terms of what workshops actually help you accomplish. The workshop should be considered part of your process, the education part. It is the part of the process that almost everyone needs, but they don’t think they do. The workshop helps participants see things they didn’t know, as well as things they didn’t even know they didn’t know; it provides them something new upon which to reflect. The workshop doesn’t just generate leads; it helps enroll qualified candidates into your firm for a Vision Meeting and helps you accomplish higher retention rates and higher average fees, adding to increased profitability. Here are some of the common workshop mistakes that will sabotage your success:
1. Not delivering your value proposition. Avoid this mistake at all costs. Not knowing your value propositions is the primary reason why workshops remain poorly attended and don’t result in the desired appointments. You must know all of your value propositions and how to present them properly. You need to understand what motivates the market that you serve; marketing messages that tend to resonate include how to save the family home, protect assets from long term care costs, and prevent losing control to the government. Another way to show value is to waive the Initial Meeting fee for workshop attendees; doing so can be considered a $200 value proposition. When you deliver the workshop, do you review pre-planning and crisis planning case studies? Do you tell the stories? Do you make sure participants understand that Medicaid does not mean they get reduced amounts of care? Do you get them thinking about what they need? Are you being clear on your value propositions in your marketing, enrollment calls, and presentation, and if so, do your numbers confirm that? You’re not the only one who needs to understand fully your value propositions. As staff members who communicate with potential clients, your marketing and client service coordinator(s) must know the benefits of attending the workshop, too. Beyond that, you also need to understand why an allied professional would want to attend your workshop after having a Synergy Meeting with you, or the relationship could end right there.
2. Failing to have a budget and goals established. There is more to hosting workshops than getting them scheduled and filled. You need to define the amount you are able to spend and your expected return on investment. To calculate that, you should know the number (as well as the percentage) of participants likely to schedule a meeting, and based on your average retention rate, the number and percentage of meeting attendees that are projected to hire you. You need to know the costs of your workshops, including marketing expense, and have a financial revenue and profit goal for each workshop. Have you defined your goals and expenses?
3. Not having the right “whos” in place. Knowing who is responsible for planning the workshop dates, preparing all the materials, and doing the majority of the administrative tasks is critical. It's also critical to know who is accountable for the number of seats and registrations, and who is responsible to fill the workshop. You also must know who is responsible for the enrollment after the initial contact. The presenter is responsible for the delivery of the presentation and accountable for the yes rate following a workshop; make sure you are tracking that detail on the LWP Dashboard to Profitability. Lastly, be clear who is responsible for workshop follow up and getting those who say yes scheduled for a Vision Meeting. Any one “who” who does not do his/her job correctly can drastically impact the results of your workshop—from attendance to outcome. Do you know who your whos are, or are you wearing each of those hats yourself?
4. Choosing the wrong location. This can also negatively impact your workshops. First, be sure the location works for your budget. Common places to consider are your office, library, senior centers, Chamber of Commerce, and hotels. I once saw a dashboard that showed more attendees than registrants because the hosting library promoted the workshop, resulting in a number of walk-ins. Verify that your chosen location will support your style of doing workshops by being a reputable site with ample seating, quality lighting, and appropriate parking. Your location can either reduce or increase your attendance, so don’t overlook its importance.
5. Not having the proper materials. Review your handouts, and be sure you have what’s needed to demonstrate your value. Do you provide the Estate Planning Facts handout? Do you provide a workshop flyer and share that it is for workshop attendees to provide to a family member or friend who may be interested? Do your workshop attendees have a way of capturing notes, particularly regarding what is important to them, so they can bring those notes to a Vision Meeting? Do you provide the personal and financial information sheet to simplify the process for attendees and have them complete it prior to their Vision Meeting? You need to know that your deliverables are working hard to enhance your value.
6. Not presenting the stories properly. This will turn people off. You must know both: how to present the stories that you tell properly, and which stories you shouldn’t tell. To determine whether to tell a story, first verify that you’re confident in the legal principle that the story conveys and that your state allows that strategy; there are some states that do not allow a second crack at the apple. Be sure to review the stories guide, understand which slide accompanies each story, where the story is used in connection with the Estate Plan Audit, and what legal concept you are demonstrating. Get comfortable with your set up and delivery. Personalize your story; make it your experience, share your emotions, and be sure to use your Power-In-Partnership communication training. This includes your purpose story. Every story has a reason, so be clear on why you are telling each one.
7. Not having proper follow up. This will hurt you. Follow up begins at the end of your presentation, so don’t rush or cut your workshop closing short. You always need to have enough time to close your workshop properly. You should provide time for participants to ask any unresolved questions at the end. Some of our members even offer to schedule appointments in the back of the room afterward.
If your process includes calling participants the day after a workshop, be sure to tell participants to expect a call if they said yes, and make sure your “who” has time to make those calls blocked off on his/her calendar. Being committed to follow up is key, especially when you are a solo, so be sure to account for follow up time. Don’t overlook what goes into getting appointments, from the closing of the workshop to the actual calendaring of appointments. The longer you wait to follow up, the less relevant your value becomes.
Understanding the standards of planning and preparing for LWP workshops is key to successfully marketing, delivering, and following up to get the goals you desire. Make sure you are using the LWP Focusers and Dashboard to Profitability to track and measure the impact of changes you make and the return on investment. I wish you all success in your next workshop!