Convert More Prospects With Small Events

In this episode of Elementality, Reese Harper dives into the effectiveness of small- to mid-sized events for financial advisors. Unlike larger events, these intimate gatherings offer a unique opportunity for deeper, more personal interactions with prospective clients when approached correctly. 


Reese provides practical tips on how financial advisors can get involved in more events and enhance their performance. Understand the significance of creating opportunities for closer conversations and explore various ways to engage with more clients. Join us to learn how to revolutionize your approach to client engagement and build stronger relationships.

Podcast Transcript


Abby Morton: Welcome to elementality everyone. I’m your host Abby here with Reese Harper. Welcome. What’s up? So excited to be back in the studio today. That’s a little shout out to everyone out there. I think that musician in you always like has to do these sound effects when you’re coming in.

Reese Harper: I think so. I’m like, I’ve been like really resentful.

I don’t like when I was Jim Cramer studios with all the buttons. That’s so fun. 

Abby Morton: Get him some buttons. We got it. We got to do that. One day. Bucket list. So today we’re talking about a really interesting topic that I think a lot of people thought were dead and especially with where technology is going today and like the digital era we live in of like everything can just be done online.

Can you do events? Do they have a place anymore? Right? Like in person, physical events, do they have any value? 

Reese Harper: Well, for those of you who don’t know me, if this is your first episode, you’re listening to. I started an RIA [00:02:00] that works with dentists. You can go to dentistadvisors.

com and check out the website. And you know, I, I’ve seen events change a lot over the last 10 years. I remember getting asked to speak at the Yankee Dental Convention in Boston in one of my first few years of trying to like, Get some good speaking events and you know I was in a niche and I tried to really like beat the streets and you know get I, I attended some conferences for dental speakers and I tried to network and work really hard and, 

, I remember doing that really early in my career, like going to figure out the who’s who of the dental speaking. It’s a bigger vertical, but you’ll find a lot of niches have these industry conferences. And in some cases there’s even groups. of, like, speaker trainers. There’s a lot of people that train speakers inside of these niches, so 

Abby Morton: Like, what do you think, like, what even made you think to go that direction?

Like, what were you hoping to get out of it? 

Reese Harper: Well, I think I always kind of [00:03:00] had an intuition that, like, me being in front of a larger group of dentists would be better for our firm, you know. I remember when we first were starting, you know, it’s like I was bringing on 15 or 20 clients. in a year, right? That was like my first year or, or two even at that pace.

And so the idea that I could go speak at an event and speak in front of a hundred people and maybe get five, like the, just the efficiency of that was really appealing. What I found early though on in my dental speaking career, which wasn’t that extensive and long the most successful events weren’t the large ones. They’re actually kind of the midsize events, sort of small to medium sized events. And you might refer those to those as like a workshop or a you know, a study club or. Things that are not quite as advertising heavy. 

Abby Morton: So, like, how many people are you? Just so we can get a better idea. 

Reese Harper: Yeah, like, the initial event I’m talking about, like, when I spoke at the Yankee Demo [00:04:00] Convention, you know, there’s hundreds and hundreds. There wasn’t a thousand. I never had an audience of a thousand. 

Abby Morton: Okay. 

Reese Harper: But hundreds, and That’s a very different, I think my biggest audience might have been a thousand actually.

But it’s like, those groups are just too they’re not personal. You have to stay really on script, you have to have the right energy, you have to practice your presentation like dozens of times, and repeat it dozens of times in order to just really get great at it. And I wasn’t having that kind of invitation callbacks, you know, it’s like you’re, I had one thousand person.

Request after several years of trying to get that slot, you know, and you’re only going to convert yet. People aren’t experiencing You resolving any personal financial question They’re just listening to you talk and I would consider that type of an event a really top of funnel Awareness activity you’re not even able to showcase [00:05:00] your own business.

You’re not able to Showcase your own financial philosophy. 

So I, where we found a lot of success after really beating my head against the wall for a few years on large events was these small to medium sized events that had somewhere between 10 and.

50 people. Okay. Yeah. Probably closer to that 30, 35 range at the higher end would be more comfortable and at least 10 or 15, you know, on the small side, if there’s only like three or four, it gets awkward, you know, cause now you’re the, the resident expert, but like everyone there’s like, are we at an event or is this just like a lunch?

, where, where I found the sweet spot was if you can, if you can find a bunch of smaller to medium sized events and execute those more, they take less preparation.

There’s less travel involved. Typically there’s less. You know, on the bigger events, you’ve got to bring booths and be set up and really position your brand. I mean, we still do that because we’re a [00:06:00] larger RIA, but I really view the large events as sort of top of funnel marketing activity. It’s awareness.

We’re like getting our name out there, trying to have a compelling piece of swag just to get a handful of people. Objectives are like build our email list and hopefully bring brand awareness. That’s the big events, the medium sized events. The reason that they’re so impactful for most financial advisors is it and I’d consider this like a dinner a dinner events a medium sized event, right?

People are actually Experiencing something with you. That’s much more personal to them About their own data. They’re usually like coming with some sort of consideration like of you as a person that could give them advice and they’re asking questions and the Q and A’s are, are, are way more dynamic and you’re able to really get someone to open up a bit, be a little bit more vulnerable.

And, and, and so your conversion rate on a large, on a medium size or [00:07:00] small event like that is going to feel more. Like the traditional consultation, and if you don’t know that your statistics on conversion rates, like, you know, if you’re a, if you have three meetings in your conference room, presenting your financial planning services to someone, probably the worst, the worst of us is going to close one in three, okay, you’ll close one person out of the three people will say yes to you within a few weeks of you presenting this two out of three are probably going to convert.

But not immediately. The second one is Going to convert at some point in the next year. 

Abby Morton: They’re not ready yet, right? They’re not ready yet. They’re just scoping you out. They don’t have the financial pain yet, maybe. 

Reese Harper: Yeah, but they didn’t say no, right? Right, and the third one’s gonna say no. Either not a good fit culturally, They don’t really want what you got.

They didn’t like you. It’s probably the most likely [00:08:00] Scenario. Shout out. 

Abby Morton: Making everyone feel bad here. 

Reese Harper: Shout out everyone. You’re still doing great, but they didn’t like you. We got to get over that. Anyway, but I think these larger events, I see conversion rates from them very similarly. So if I do an event with 10 people, six to seven are going to become clients, you know, two or three of them immediately, two or three of them within the next year.

And then two or three are going to not, not want to work with you. So you’re just, it’s a very, very efficient initial consultation. I find that there’s not, That much different and if it’s a private event that where people already know you and you’ve nurtured them in some way, right? They’ve read your emails.

They’ve listened to a podcast. I mean you’re gonna have a similar conversion It won’t be quite as good but it’ll it’ll start to get close 

Abby Morton: So we’ve we we’ve had some episodes with Carl Throughout this series and he talked about like breakfast meetings and kind of [00:09:00] dinner events so I’m feeling like what you’re saying is very similar to what he’s saying and But, like, what are some other ways, and I know that you’ve done this at Dentist Advisors to, like, get in to have these smaller, medium sized events?

Like, because it’s not always just you marketing your own services. No, yeah. Like, what is another way, other than, like, like you said, they follow you, they know your newsletter, you told them, I want to have this dinner, and they show up. How else can you find, like, these small to medium sized groups? 

Reese Harper: Well, I just try, I do, What I think is very effective is hosting workshops that have very specific titles and positions.

And, for example, in the dental industry, I might host a workshop on how to reduce your debt effectively, or how to pay off your student loans with confidence. So, a workshop that they can tell they’re going to bring their information. I’m going to show them in the worksin the landing page. Or in my [00:10:00] email, that I, I want them to bring interest rates and their loan statements and here’s the 10 pieces of documents, here’s the handouts you’re going to get.

Here’s the objectives from the course. It’s gonna be a one hour and we’re gonna have CE. 

Abby Morton: That was the other thing I was just gonna bring up. Some industries have required CE credit. 

So a lot of the conferences and things, even webinars that you guys offered, like offered CE, which made more people obviously want to go as well to help them get the credit they needed. 

Reese Harper: Yeah, I think it’s an end, you know. We’ve, we’ve had, I think anyone can start. I use the Elements software for this because when I’m at an event like that, what I want to have is an experience.

You know, I want the audience to actually fill out some information and experience something with me there at the event. So I like to be able to send out invites and get people to [00:11:00] like open up their phones and fill out information and start looking at their data. 

Abby Morton: Like there, live at the event? 

Reese Harper: Live at the event.

Now you can do that with a spreadsheet. Which is what I used to do before we had Elements. I just had people like write down their estimated values and fill out a PDF that was really pretty and that worked great. Now that I’ve got this technology, now we can host the event, pick the topic allow them to experience something fun.

It’s like a more dynamic calculator. 

Abby Morton: Yeah. 

Reese Harper: Pick a topic area in the Elements app you’re going to cover from debt to retirement to liquidity to growing to investing to You can pick your topic you can put together a 60 minute workshop around that topic. You can offer food, I find that it does increase the likelihood that you get people there and you don’t usually have to do it super nice.

I have tried charging for events and not charging for these workshops. I find that it, it’s really depends on the city and the saturation and [00:12:00] my goal is to get people to show up more than it is to like weed out only the serious people. You might choose differently, but I felt like spending 30 bucks was, you know, fine on a person to just ensure that I.

Had the right person and you can always screen with your forms But my suggestion would be host a workshop teach a topic get them to enter data so that they’re part of the experience I share sometimes some Benchmarks and comparisons which you know, you can do this in your own clientele or you can just use the elements heuristics We have like the example of what’s low and what’s high in any given element score.

And so a lot of people appreciate knowing that how they compare to others, but it’s really effective. 

And sometimes a group event’s just less threatening than an individual consultation. 

Abby Morton: Yeah. That’s great. Let’s go even maybe more specific down to something that you’ve done. And I know that’s very similar along these lines of you found other dental.[00:13:00] Providers within the industry and, and made mutual relationships with them, right?

Reese Harper: Yeah. 

Abby Morton: Found ways to, like com, do joint webinars or do joint events, right? whEn I was at Dentist Advisors, we were invited to a Mastermind event, which was just a small group of 10 people, 

So I flew out to Austin, Texas and really just like showing them what we do. Providing value, talking about, why having liquid assets are so important to a dentist. What does that mean?

 And just even at the end of that one mastermind event, I was able to have several conversations with everyone there because it was smaller, right? Like we’re talking about 10 people in this event. I was able to like make eye contact with literally every person and throughout that day, you know, really talk to them about like how we could provide value to them.

Reese Harper: Totally. That’s a great example of it. I think most people just need to get a template put together, rotate the same event try, relating to your question, which is like, what about these like associated, [00:14:00] you know, industry partners and, you know, I, I think that most financial advisors.

Like cost of customer acquisition for a client is. You know, it’s, it’s thousands of dollars, Michael Kitces would estimate it somewhere around like 3000 or, you know, between 2800 and, you know, 3, 800 to my recollection. If you think about like, that’s the average cost. And most of these firms that I meet, they’re profitable. You know, the, if you get past like your first three to four years and you’ve got a second advisor you do, they do have profits and they are like.

You know, they’re not running backwards, but and they’re usually like trying to find ways to grow and I found like if you go to an industry partner . There’s like all kinds of little boutique y, small, you know, niches within a larger occupational niche.

In your [00:15:00] community, you’ll find the same thing. You don’t have to have an occupational niche like me to find groups of people that are putting on educational events. And if you take that cost of a customer acquisition that you’re normally paying, and you go to an event leader and you offer a, you know, offer them half of what your cost of customer acquisition is to just have a spot in their event to say, can I set up a booth here in the back You know, what I’ve found it if you, if you text people or email people two or three weeks before their events about to start and you throw some money at them and you say, I would like to be a part of your event.

Very few people say no. Okay. Now I’m not saying you, you can’t that you should have money laying around and maybe some of you are just getting your practices off the ground and it would be a lot to spend. And just think about spending you know, 1, 000 or more to like. Support of an event. But try to keep in mind, like if you don’t spend the money there, you [00:16:00] might not spend it out of pocket, but you will spend it in time and effort.

And your cost of customer acquisition is what it is. And there are lots of events happening that if you just were there. And had some kind of implied approval from the person that already has trust with that audience. You’re going to convert a very high percentage of those people relative to your cold marketing efforts.

So I think you should find people either in your niche or in your community that are hosting events that already have trust with people that you’d like to meet and just be a part of those. You know, either offer to pay, sometimes they will do it. for free. I’ve had many dental events go, look, I don’t want to, we don’t know if this will even be good for you.

Come try it out for this year and if it seems like it’s a good event come back next year and maybe we’ll take some sponsorship money. Yeah. But I think it’s a great channel and one that I would I would recommend for, for advisors still, you know, especially today. The trend is go away from [00:17:00] large advertising driven events with thousands and thousands of people and go a little bit more towards small boutique intimate events where you can build relationships and have the conversion rate be similar to what it’d be in a traditional consultation.

Abby Morton: So to tie a bow on all of this, I think talking it out and like feeling like events, I think people are even seeing the value of like meeting in person. Like you’re saying, like having that human. One to one interaction so I would say it’s definitely a viable option, even post COVID days.

Reese Harper: Totally is. Yeah, enjoy it. Make sure, I mean, you’ll have, there’s competition, but if you can target your audience narrowly and find the partners that are also interested in hosting events like this, it can be a really great way to round out your marketing. Awesome. Love it. Thanks so much, Reese. Carry on. 

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