Feature Editorial PG 10

Are senior expos worth your time, effort and investment for additional pre-need sales? Absolutely! There are many preneed marketing systems I have found to be successful: direct mail, referral programs, radio and television, seminars, and mall shows. One of the best may be senior expos. While preparing for a senior expo does take time, effort and money, it can be rewarding, depending on the length of the expo. You could have 200 to 500 more people to talk with about their pre-need arrangements. Senior expos are plentiful in most areas. Your local Chamber of Commerce senior center or local seniors’ magazines are good sources of expo schedules. Once you know when the expos are to take place, you can plan by registering and preparing for the show. Follow these guidelines and you’ll find plenty of people to talk with and contact about pre-need.

Show Preparations
Organize your space. You will need to start with a 6-foot tabletop display. This is available through many sources. Your current pre-need provider probably has one you can utilize. Tabletop displays are not too expensive and are worth the investment. You can use them for multiple purposes.

Next, make your tabletop appealing by dressing it up with some plants and urns (if applicable), and some professional- looking materials to hand out, including:

• Business cards

• Brochures, something on the order of “The Last Thing on Your Mind”

• Travel plan information, if you offer one (people are interested)

Don’t spend too much time on the display itself. It may help you attract people, but it is not the most important element. It will be the people staffing and working the booth who will get the names.

Arrange for prizes for a drawing. You need not spend a lot of money; but it is important to offer more than one prize. When you offer just one prize, a lot of people will think, “I’ll never win” and won’t bother to register. If you give away three prizes, you will find that people are more likely to register. Try to keep the prizes local and customized. Some ideas:

• A print by a local artist

• A basket of local delicacies

• A certificate for dinner at one of the town’s best restaurants

Simple things like pens, notepads and magnifiers are important giveaways to have at senior fairs. And seniors love eyeglass repair kits. Also, have some items such as a flashlight keychain to give away to people who had a birthday recently.

Working the Show
Be prepared to work hard. If you’re going to stand at your booth and wait for people to walk up to you, you’re wasting your time and your money. Don’t stand at your booth; only 5 percent of the people walking by will approach you. Get out and mingle with the crowd. Approach people. Talk to them. Say, “How are you doing today? We’ve got a drawing for some free gifts. Come on over and register.” If there are two people working the booth, you can have one person away from the booth in another area of the expo handing out cards that read: “Come to our Booth #___ and register for one of our drawings.”

This, of course, is where the value of the drawing comes in. It gives you a way to attract people to your booth. Show them what the prizes are; ask them if they feel lucky. You can have fun with this. If you’re talking to a couple, ask which of them is luckier. Usually, one of them will speak up.

Talking about the drawing is an ice-breaker to get conversation going, which can be a problem at booths where you’re highlighting funeral and/or cemetery products. If you have a picture of a cemetery or casket at your booth, that’s not going to make most people want to run right over to talk to you.

But once you’ve started talking, people will ask about your firm or your services. Be careful not to use industry jargon; don’t say, “I prearrange funerals.” Tell them you help people save money – everybody likes to save money. Or, say that you help people get things in order. People will understand what you are saying and they’ll want to hear more.

Drop the Sales Pitch
Don’t launch into a sales pitch. All you’re trying to do is get people interested enough to let you call them for an appointment. That’s the time to come prepared with information on what you offer; to meet with them for a short period of time and explain how all of this works.

Tell them all you are doing at the show is registering people for the drawing, but if they would like to hear more about how to save money, you will give them a call next week. Do not ask for permission to do a presentation, just permission to call.

Make notes on those drawing registrations. If the show lasts two days, bring different colored cards for each day. Have a place on each card to check that it’s OK for you to call later. (Make sure the form they sign is designed to meet all Do Not Call requirements. See www.donotcall.gov/default.aspx for specifics on the federal law.)
Have people hand you their drawing registration cards. After they have left, make notes based on your observations and the conversation you just had. Also, sometimes people will tell you about an issue they have been struggling with. They are amazed and flattered when you call them the following week and are able to speak to their “issue.” Doing this makes it easier to talk to them. Examples of information to make note of include:

• Any of the aforementioned “issues” – questions people have; services or products they are interested in; likes or dislikes about funerals or cemeteries; family situations, such as being faced with a terminally ill parent or spouse.

• Use a code to record that the person is very young (therefore, not likely to be in the market for what you are selling). However, if the young person has talked to you about a parent or grandparent, make a note accordingly.

The more extensive your notes the better. They will help when you have lots of leads to sort through. Once the expo or fair is over, you will want to be able to concentrate on you best leads, rather than calling randomly. Most important is that you call these leads for appointments as soon as possible after the show. Don’t allow time to pass. Leads will become cold, and the person you thought was interested is now not because you took too long to follow up.

When you decide that a particular show was worthwhile, check to see if it is held regularly. (Some are scheduled at the same time and place each year.) Be sure to get on the calendar for the next show and keep going back. Some of the same people attend these shows regularly.

You’ll find that expos work. Take time to plan for the next big senior expo in your area. FBA

Tom Holland is in his 34th year in the Insurance/PreNeed industry. Tom’s field positions include, Agent, Manager, Training Sales Director, Director of Conservation, Director of Development/National Accounts. Currently, Tom is Vice President of Sales/Marketing for Assurant Life of Canada/FamilySide. He is responsible for sales and marketing development throughout Canada. Tom is also the recipient of Assurant’s Sales Hall of Fame the companies Highest Honor. Tom earned his CPC designation through the National Funeral Directors Association and holds a Master’s and Ph.D. Degrees in Marketing. He can be reached at 770.763.1797 or by email at [email protected]