If you were to shake your Magic 8 Ball and ask it how to meet those goals, it would likely instruct you to exhibit at a financial advisor conference.
Before you start scribbling ideas for your booth or rattling off giveaway ideas, you need to seriously consider what goes into attending a conference, especially if you want to get the most out of it. Conferences can pack a hefty financial punch, so we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons to help you decide if this is the right path for you.
First let’s start with the cons:
- Cost: It’s true, the costs can be daunting. Between travel, booth design, marketing, etc, you can easily rack up a bill in the tens of thousands of dollars. Prepare with a budget in mind.
- No Guarantees: While you have access to hundreds of financial advisors per conference, you may not make the right connections. Be proactive and “work” the conference—if you sit back and wait for advisors to find you in the sea of booths, you will probably be disappointed. Be sure the audience at the conference aligns with the audience you want to target.
- Time: Planning, participating and following up require an extensive time commitment. But the mantra of conferences is that you will get out what you put in, so be sure you are able to put forth the time.
Now for the pros:
- Making Connections: Taking advantage of face time is priceless. If you actively engage financial advisors who could be a good fit for your funds, you’ll be amazed at the strength of a face-to-face impression.
- Speaking Opportunities: These highly sought after opportunities are often included when you commit to exhibiting. Sometimes, there are additional costs. Either way, there is no guarantee of speaking because the conference producers select their presenters based on timeliness of the subject matter, advisor interest, among other things. If you do land a spot, however, it adds a great layer of credibility and is an easy way to ensure a captive audience.
- Education: There’s always something new to learn about the trends and best practices in the investment sphere. It’s a great chance to see what advisors are up to as well as educate them about your products. It also doesn’t hurt to see what your competition is doing.
- Growing Your Fund: This is a no-brainer. Conferences are an excellent way to meet more advisors and therefore grow your fund’s opportunity for growth. Bringing in more investors is the goal, and a conference is an excellent way to do it.
There are several major industry conferences held every year. How do you decide which ones are right for you? Check out our 2018 Guide to Advisor Conferences.
If big conferences aren’t your cup of tea, many companies also offer smaller regional events. A more intimate environment has its perks, such as a greater opportunity for face time with advisors. Having less people to compete with allows you to forge stronger relationships and will likely give you more time to chat with each prospective advisor. Another advantage to a local conference is cost, as these typically have a much lower fee. These events are also good starter conferences if you are new to the game, giving you a chance to see what they’re all about before stepping into the larger crowd.
Attending these conferences is an important part of a marketing strategy for some firms. If you are reticent about them, it’s a good idea to send someone from your marketing team to scope one out and get a feel for what and who is there before committing to exhibiting. While they can reap big rewards, they are not to be dealt with lightly. If you do your homework and are prepared, you should find advisor conferences to be extremely worthwhile. Treat them like a sports tournament—go big or go home.
Are conferences part of your marketing strategy? Which do you prefer? Which do you avoid? Any special tips you recommend? Please share with us in the comments section below.
For more information, check out 13 Tips to Maximize ROI at Advisor Conferences for great pointers on how to get better results such as nabbing speaking opportunities, why you should stay in the exhibit hall even when advisors AREN'T there, and how to follow up after the conference.