Should You Host A Real Estate Seminar To Generate Leads?
When seeking new and different lead-generation strategies, you’ve probably come across the recommendation to host a real estate seminar for potential clients. It’s a common way for real estate agents to get their names and brands out into the community, meet possible buyers and sellers, and explain how a qualified agent can smooth the real estate process. If you’ve ever tried to create a seminar, though, you know that to craft a good one, you need to invest quite a bit of time and possibly some money into the effort.
Is creating a real estate seminar something you should consider in your real estate business? These 13 questions will help you determine whether it’s a good strategy for you right now and give you some tips for how to get started.
Do you have an audience in mind?
It’s not enough to say that you want to target more buyers and sellers. You’ll need to get pretty specific in order to create a real estate seminar that actually brings qualified leads to you. For example, maybe you can create a seminar for first-time homebuyers about how to save up for a down payment, how credit affects the home purchase process and what they can do to improve theirs, down payment or loan assistance programs, different types of loans, how to shop for a home, what to know about closing — there are myriad opportunities to target buyers at the appropriate stage of the sales journey, but first, you have to identify that stage.
For sellers, seminars on home renovations or repairs that yield high returns, renting instead of selling, selling a house as an FSBO (this seems counterintuitive, but once many sellers realize just how much work is involved, they will be happy to talk to you!), staging, and more. Investors might be interested in seminars about the history of different developments in your area, how to navigate cash sales, the big home repair red flags in your region, and so on. And you can capture current homeowners with seminars about renovations and repairs, how to leverage vacation-rental trends and rent their house out part-time, and much more.
When you know the audience you’re trying to reach, you’ll no doubt come up with plenty of ideas for things they might need to know, but if you try to create a seminar for everybody in your market, it’s not going to appeal to anybody. Get as specific as you can with your audience.
What topic will you choose?
Now that the audience has been narrowed down, it’s time to choose your seminar’s topic. Some agents find success in starting with the most frequently asked questions they get from buyers or sellers, while others might make the decision based on their own current lead-generation needs.
If possible, you can establish some mini focus groups or conduct polls and ask your own existing clients what they wish they would have known, or tap clients who already trust you and who are representative of the audience you’re trying to reach. Provide a list of possible topics and ask them which would be most appealing to them right now. You can also ask your fellow real estate agents who have created seminars — either other locals or agents from across the country via sources like Facebook groups — which topics yielded the best results for them.
Can you avoid a sales pitch?
There’s one thing that will without a doubt make your seminar a crushing failure, and that’s turning it into an opportunity to pitch your services to your audience instead of providing them with educational, actionable information that benefits them more than you. Of course, you should set your seminar up so that you can introduce yourself to the attendees and follow up with them when it’s over (more on that later), but ideally, this will be a marketing strategy that you can iterate on with future seminars on more topics. If word gets out that all you’re doing is asking people to list or buy with you, that strategy is going to be dead on arrival.
Instead of telling your audience why they should hire you as an agent, focus on providing them with the best, most up-to-date, and relevant information that you possibly can around the topic. You want them to walk away from the seminar with their heads full of new facts and details about real estate because then you will become a reliable source of real estate information to everyone in the audience. If your follow-up process also prioritizes delivering timely, useful information to clients, when they are ready to buy or sell, you will be the first source they turn to for how to start the journey.
Can you find a co-sponsor?
One note: It is currently legal to offer educational seminars with co-sponsors, but check RESPA (the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) to ensure you aren’t running afoul of laws around real estate co-marketing agreements. Generally speaking, a seminar is fine if it is co-sponsored by a real estate agent and another real estate entity (such as a mortgage broker, an insurance provider, or a title agency) when the costs are split equally between the sponsors, attendees are not required to do business with both sponsors if they think they want to do business with one, and both sponsors follow up with attendees in a legal and respectful manner. But if you plan to co-sponsor your seminar, please make sure you run your plan by someone qualified to check it for legal and regulatory pitfalls.
Now that you have your audience and topic narrowed down, you can think about bringing a sponsor into the picture. You absolutely do not have to co-sponsor your seminar with anybody, but it can be beneficial for all parties to consider it. For example, let’s say you’re hosting a seminar for first-time homebuyers about how to save up for a down payment. A mortgage broker who can discuss loan programs with low-down-payment options could be a great addition to that seminar, providing attendees with even more information; that mortgage broker can also join forces with you by leveraging their own sphere of influence to bring in new attendees. Attendees get more reliable details about how to accomplish their goals, and you and your sponsor partner both get access to a new pool of leads.
It is critical that a good co-sponsor is on the same page as you are as far as the content of the seminar goes. It’s not going to be good for you if you pack your part of the seminar full of useful knowledge, and your co-sponsor decides to spend the same amount of time on a sales pitch. One way to avoid this — and a good best practice no matter what — is to run through the talk in advance at least once with your co-sponsor so that there are no surprises.
Are you comfortable putting together a talk?
Your seminar doesn’t have to be as slick as a keynote presentation at a conference that costs thousands of dollars to attend, but you should still put enough effort into it that attendees feel it’s a professional, well-executed event. This means you’ll probably want to put together a slide deck or create some videos or provide some kind of visual supplement to the things you’ll be discussing.
Fortunately, if you’re not comfortable using software to create a compelling presentation, and you have no interest in learning, this is something you can outsource pretty easily as far as the actual presentation goes … though you’ll still be on the hook for putting together the seminar as a whole. (Please, don’t just show up planning to wing it!) To get started, write down a list of everything you know about your topic, then see if you can group some of the items on that list and then arrange the groups into a series of points. Once you have your outline and an idea of where you’re going, the presentation should be relatively easy to produce.
Are you comfortable actually talking?
There is such a thing as an introverted real estate agent, and those agents might prefer to focus on other methods of generating leads besides seminars. Remember, in a seminar, you are going to be standing up in front of a group of strangers and attempting to convince them that you are competent, trustworthy, and a good businessperson. If you suffer from stage fright and know that your public speaking skills aren’t up to scratch, then it’s a good idea to address those things (Toastmasters?) before you launch a seminar as a lead-generation tactic.
On the other hand, very few people feel completely at home while educating a room full of strangers. A modicum of stage fright is absolutely normal and human, so don’t procrastinate by trying to eliminate your stage fright entirely before you’ll commit to creating a seminar.
What materials will you provide for attendees?
It’s a good idea to offer some take-home materials for your seminar guests, both to help them remember what you said and to provide an easy way for them to find your contact information if they have questions (or want to reach out about hiring you!). You can create a handout or a packet of handouts, of course, but another easy way to distribute materials can be through USB flash drives that you provide for everyone.
In addition to the materials and handouts, tell your attendees that you’ll send them a copy of your slide deck if they provide their email addresses for your follow-up process. If you have the time and your seminars are popular enough, eventually you might want to put together a guide or an ebook that you can offer to send attendees for free as a lead magnet.
Do you have a space to host it?
Your brokerage real estate office may be big enough to accommodate your seminar group, but if it’s not, or if you’re co-sponsoring the seminar, you might want to find an alternative venue. Library and hotel conference rooms are popular spots for agents to host seminars. Hotel conference rooms tend to offer more amenities, but libraries are free; make a decision based on the convenience of your attendees and your own budget for the seminar.
Some companies might even ask you to come in and present to employees on topics like saving up for a down payment if your seminars are up to scratch, so once you’ve started working on this strategy, you may be able to pitch big employers in your area and ask if you can come in for a lunch-and-learn.
What dates and times would be best?
You might need to think more strategically about this than you imagined. If your audience is going to include a lot of buyers with small children, then evenings might not be easy; you may need to offer your seminar on a weekend during the day and perhaps provide child care. And if there are other events happening nearby that could conflict with your seminar, you’ll want to avoid scheduling your seminar at the same dates and times.
If there are dueling times or dates, think about possibly scheduling a second one after the first. There’s no reason why you can’t try to accommodate everyone’s schedules who might be interested in hearing what you have to say.
How will you market?
There are infinite ways you can tell the community about your seminar, from fliers in different public spaces to social media campaigns to advertising in local news outlets and beyond. Again, this is a good time to consider your audience. Ask yourself where you can find them during the day and how you might use those spaces (digital and real) to your advantage. Potential first-time homebuyers might be lurking in the neighborhood Facebook groups or on Nextdoor, and as long as you’re clear that your seminar is primarily educational, most groups will allow you to advertise your seminar to the users. Coffeeshops and recreation centers or libraries with public bulletin boards can also be popular choices.
If your CRM is in good shape and you have contact information and sales journey stages determined for your contacts, you can also use targeted email campaigns to let the people in your sphere know about your event. (And we know you know this is a good thing to do anyway for lead-generation purposes.)
What’s your prep plan?
Running through your seminar with an audience of loved ones to provide feedback is a good idea, but setting up for success at your seminar is about more than just feeling confident in your presentation. Will you have beverages available for your clients? Just iced bottled water, or will you also provide coffee and tea? Where will your attendees sit? Will you pass out the handout materials to them once you’re seated, or make them available on a table while attendees walk in? Will you provide pens for them to take notes? Will there be desks or tables for them to sit their drinks and materials? How will you capture contact information? Who will set the room up?
Think about the experience you’re seeking for your attendees, from beginning to end, and then consider what you need to execute it and how long it might take. You could wind up spending several hours or even a full day preparing for and delivering your seminar, so make sure you accommodate for that time in the rest of your schedule.
Do you have a plan for circling back with possible clients?
There’s no sense in creating a seminar if you don’t know how you’re going to reconnect with the attendees after they leave. Your first priority should be to provide an educational, informational experience for them, but right behind it should be capturing an email address or phone number so that you can follow up with everybody who came. Remember to mention that you will email your slide deck and any supplemental materials you can offer to attendees if they write down their email address on the form.
In addition to deciding how you’re going to collect all of this information — a paper form? signing in on an iPad? — you should prepare to create as many materials as you can to offer your attendees as a thank-you for their attendance. Most people won’t mind providing you with an email address if they know they’re going to get something in return, and you can then use their email address to follow up with more information about buying or selling when they’re ready.
Will you do this regularly?
It isn’t the best use of your time to offer the same seminar over and over again every month, but if you put together more than one seminar, you can start cycling through them once or twice a year, updating them every time. The hard work of creating the seminar will be complete, so you might as well iterate on what works; then you can also apply some of what you’ve learned and maybe incorporate some of the questions and requests from past attendees.
You don’t have to offer seminars as a real estate agent, but it can be a wonderful lead-generation strategy and a good way to build your brand in your local community as a trusted expert advisor. If you do decide to create a seminar, think about how you can make it as useful as possible for your audience, then don’t forget to follow up. The more seminars you put together, the better they will all become, and the more people in your community will refer to you when they have a question about real estate.