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I think prospects are overexposed to the offer of a free meal/seminar at a nice restaurant and don’t always approach those events in a serious manner. I prefer to offer workshops at venues such as a library or local college, with the messaging that people will get information they can actually use.

It is a great marketing tool to be able to cite the experience and knowledge base of one of our presenters. It may be an attorney presenting on legacy planning, a long-term-care or Medicare expert, a tax expert, or I will present on issues such as Social Security planning strategies or the value of a holistic financial plan. Our only rule for all of the presenters is that you cannot talk about a specific product or service—there are no recommendations or selling. It is a big-picture look at strategies, and people really respond to it.

I have a warm-up exercise at the beginning of all of my seminars and speaking engagements that is very effective.  I first ask the people in the room to indicate how they think they will do on a basic 10-question, multiple-choice quiz about investing and financial-planning issues. They have to write down the score they think they will get. I emphasize that they will not be asked to turn in their answers or be graded.

Next, they have a few minutes to take the quiz. Here is a sample question:

Over a long period of time, which has a bigger impact on your investment results?

A. The negative impact of missing the 10 best days of the S&P 500.

B. The positive impact of missing the 10 worst days of the S&P 500.

Although they don’t have to turn in their quiz, from the many people who have approached me after my talks (and from papers left behind), I typically see an expected score of 9 or 10. The typical achieved score is usually between 2 and 5. This represents at least a 100% overestimation of “financial competence.”

After this exercise—when people see how they have scored compared to their expectations—they are usually more open and engaged. This sets the tone that this will be an educational presentation that is focused on teaching meaningful financial concepts that they may not have been exposed to before. (The answer is “B”.)

Disclosure: Advisory services provided by Fox River Capital, a Registered Investment Advisor, state registered in Wisconsin. Fox River Capital does not provide tax or legal advice.

This article was previously published in Proactive Advisor Magazine on January 21, 2016, Volume 9, Issue 3.

Photography by Mike Roemer