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How to Never Say ‘I gave a seminar and no one showed up!’

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By Karen Deis

RISMEDIA, Nov. 10, 2007- By holding seminars that are so interesting and packed with content, prospects will think of you as their favorite teacher-only you would be their teacher and the subject would be how to buy real estate.

Do you remember your favorite teacher? Mine was Mr. Claus, who taught world government. Since I grew up in a small town, world government was the farthest thing from my mind at the time, but he made it interesting and I wanted to learn more, even being involved in a “mock United Nations” debate.

People want education and information on buying real estate. They want to avoid mistakes. They want you to make it easy for them to purchase a home or investment property. One of the best ways to get leads and turn them into buyers is by holding seminars.

I’ve heard it before…”I tried to give a seminar and no one showed up.” Just placing an ad in the local homes magazine is not a game plan.

Here are some mistakes and tips on how to get more people to attend your seminars.

Trying to cover everything in one seminar leads into the second mistake of having too many speakers. I have seen ads where there is a title rep, appraiser, inspector, loan officer, escrow and real estate agent…virtually everyone who has anything to do with a real estate transaction. It’s overwhelming and you could end up with more presenters than attendees.

Another mistake is not holding seminars on a regular basis. Consider setting up at least three seminar dates in advance. If people can’t make it to one of your seminars, they have options to attend other ones. You’ve heard the excuse, I can’t make it but would love to attend…this is your opportunity to get them signed up for future events.

Hold your seminars at a neutral location-like a title company, library or community center. Holding the seminar at a real estate or the mortgage company office intimidates people and they are less likely to attend.

Consider placing the ad for the seminar in several homes magazines (if you have more than one in your area), in FSBO and builder magazines. Post in the classified section of the newspaper. Send out post card announcements to your apartment mailing lists and everyone in your database.

When you place an ad in a real estate magazine, a half page ad will work but placement of the ad is critical in getting noticed. Try to get it placed in the upper corner, of the right hand side of the magazine. Outline what will be covered. Ask for RSVP’s; let everyone know what free information will be provided, like a free copy of a credit report, a binder with examples, or a free report.

The ad should include who the presenters will be and a short description of their credentials. Limit the number of presenters to only one or two people.

Content is king-but it has to be relevant to the attendee. Cover the benefits of buying a home, tax advantages, how to build wealth thru appreciation of real estate values. Discuss credit scoring and offer each attendee a free copy of their credit report. This is not the time or place to talk about contracts, inspections, loan programs or down payment because every home and everyone in the room will qualify differently.

I personally marketed to 12 apartment complexes. However, I rotated apartment complexes when it came to sending the seminar notices I choose only two complexes per month, (or sent out about 1,000 post cards), to reduce expenses.

In your ad, post card marketing, and e-mail notices, be sure to include the alternative seminars dates you have set up in advance.

Some other tips to consider are:

- Hold your seminars on either Tuesdays or Thursdays. Mondays and Fridays just don’t draw crowds and Wednesdays are usually evening church services. Saturdays would be an alternative date and would recommend that you test both days of the week to see which works best in your area. Don’t hold seminars in November or December (it’s the holidays and no one will show up).
- Schedule the seminar for only one hour in length and from 7 to 8 p.m. Expect at least 10 minutes of questions. If you find you are running over your set time limit, stop the seminar at 8 p.m. and give people a chance to leave. People are extremely conscious of time and the goal is to get as much info into one hour as you possible can. However, leave some info “hanging out there” because that gives them (and you) a reason to follow up with additional info.
- Place the seminar ad in the classified section of the newspaper. It’s inexpensive and that’s where people go there to look for FSBO properties.
- E-mail a notice to your database…including affinity partners. While they certainly are not your first time home buyers, ask them to refer someone who is thinking of buying a home. I can’t tell you how many parents have referred their adult children to these seminars.

The only reason for the providing ongoing seminars and classes it to generate leads.

So your follow up becomes an important component of converting those leads into buyers. At any given time, we had a database of over 300 on-going leads from seminar attendees in various stages of buying real estate.

What do I mean by various stages? Some people are renting because they just moved into the area and want to scope out the area before they buy. Others are getting married, going through a divorce or having a baby. Others need to clean up their credit or save some money. There are various reasons for each lead, I recommend that you and the prospect develop a game plan to get them from point A to point B.

For example, let’s say that a couple reveals that they are planning to get married nine months from now.

You might ask them if they wanted to buy a home before the wedding date, or afterwards.

They reply that they want to buy a home after the wedding and honeymoon because they hope to get gifts of money to use towards their down payment.

The game plan might be that since it looks like they will be buying a home from nine months to a year from now, the best thing to start with is a copy of their credit report. This will give them time to work out any issues that might appear there.

The next step would be to start the pre-approval process about two months before the wedding date so that when you return, you can start to look for your dream home.

Get their OK on the plan and send them a confirming letter, along with your marketing materials, outlining everything that you talked about. Ask if you can periodically send them a newsletter or market updates. Set up your database to contact them a week before you said you going to do so.

You will find that about 50 percent of the time, couples will find a home before the wedding date so also mention that possibility and see if they want to get pre-approved ahead of time.

The point is that the game plan is agreed upon jointly with you and the prospect-regardless if they buy a month or a year from now.

What’s great about continually adding seminar attendee leads is that once you get a hundred or so in your database, and you continue to follow up with them, that every week, one or two people will call you and are ready to buy a home.

Going back to being their favorite teacher, I can assure you that if you provide valuable information in your seminar content; if you hold seminars on a consistent basis; if you develop a real estate buying game plan with each client, and if you follow up when you say you are going to, you’ll get leads and referrals forever.

Karen Deis, president of ApartmentToolKit.com owned a mortgage company, real estate and appraisal firm and co-owned a company with a large builder. She averaged over 30 attendees per seminar.

For more information, e-mail Karen@KarenDeis.com.

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