An educational Medicare seminar is a great way to establish credibility and reach new prospects in your community. But how do you host them?
If you've been thinking about doing an educational seminar but aren't sure where to start, I'm sharing what I've learned from the past 12 months of doing them myself.
I first want to start with the "why" and also the difference between educational and sales seminars. Then, I'll cover 15 tips based on what I've learned from doing educational Medicare seminars for the past year.
Why Hold an Educational Seminar?
An educational event is a great way for your community to get answers. All defense is down when you're offering education. The prospects and attendees aren't guarded – they're open to learning and being informed.
Your event gives prospects the chance to build up their comfort level and trust as they learn the ins and outs of Medicare and retirement. An educational seminar is basically a prolonged warm-up in our 8-Step Closing Process. But instead of small talk, you're providing education.
Both methods have the same result – your prospects are much more comfortable with you, and they're starting to build up more trust.
Finally, you establish such credibility in your community when you hold educational events. Everyone wants to do business with someone who's an expert in their field.
Educational vs. Sales Seminar
An educational seminar is completely educational – no marketing or sales activities are going on. You're not talking about any specific plans, and you're not handing out any promotional or marketing materials. Finally, you are definitely not enrolling anyone in any plans during an educational seminar.
A sales seminar is quite the opposite – you are presenting a carrier's specific MAPD product, such as an HMO or PPO. You are also completing applications at the seminar and enrolling attendees in the presented plan.
Sales seminars must be filed with CMS, and you must be sales seminar certified with the MAPD carrier you're presenting.
For me, an educational seminar is a perfect way to introduce myself to the community and give a holistic view of a senior's options when preparing for Medicare and retirement.
Speaking of seminars, it can be helpful to read through the CMS marketing rules, which takes us to our first seminar tip!
Tip 1: Review the CMS marketing rules
I lean heavily on our marketing team to make sure I'm doing everything by the books, but it's still a good idea to freshen up on the CMS marketing rules.
Thankfully, the section on seminars and events isn't that long, so I'll just include it here to look through (page 13 of the MCMG).
50.1 – Educational Events
Educational events are designed to inform beneficiaries about Medicare Advantage, Prescription Drug, or other Medicare programs.
- Must be explicitly advertised as educational;
- May be hosted in a public venue by the Plan/Part D sponsor or an outside entity;
- May include communication activities and distribution of communication materials;
- May answer beneficiary initiated questions;
- May set up a future marketing appointment, and distribute business cards and contact information for beneficiaries to initiate contact (this includes completing and collecting a Scope of Appointment (SOA) form);
- Must not include marketing or sales activities or distribution of marketing materials or enrollment forms; and
- May not conduct a marketing/sales event immediately following an educational event in the same general location (e.g., the same hotel).
50.2 – Marketing/Sales Events
Marketing/Sales Events are designed to steer or attempt to steer potential enrollees, or the retention of current enrollees, toward a plan or limited set of plans.
The following requirements apply to all marketing/sales events:
- Plans/Part D sponsors must submit scripts and presentations to CMS prior to use, including those to be used by agents/brokers;
- Sign-in sheets must clearly be labeled as optional;
- Health screenings or other activities that may be perceived as, or used for, “cherry-picking” are not permitted;
- Plans/Part D sponsors may not require attendees to provide contact information as a prerequisite for attending an event; and
- Contact information provided for raffles or drawings may only be used for that purpose
Tip 2: Choose Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays
The general rule of thumb is the best days to hold a seminar are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Our target audience is people who are 4-6 months away from turning 65, and most of them are still working.
We want to choose a day and time that's friendly to them and works with their schedule. Typically, Mondays and Fridays are a bit sluggish for workers – you're either tired on a Monday or are ready for the weekend by Friday.
Weekends can also be tricky because this is leisure time and people don't necessarily want to spend their weekend learning about Medicare.
We've stuck with the advice out there to choose a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and haven't had any issues with it.
I hold my seminars at 6pm on Tuesdays, and that's worked out great for me.
Tip 3: Pay attention to holidays
We learned the hard way on this one – we always hold the seminar on the first Tuesday of every month. Well, recently, that landed on the day after Memorial Day, and it was our worst turnout yet.
When you're planning out your dates for the year, pay attention to the holidays and try to avoid them!
Many people are traveling or don't want to put too many things on their calendar around a holiday. For the best turnout, either move your seminar to the other end of the week or go for the following week.
Tip 4: Don't overthink the presentation slides
Your seminar will likely be guided by a PowerPoint presentation. If you're intimidated by this, don't be! My slides are as simple as can be, and there's nothing special about the content.
It's the same stuff we talk about every day!
Here's a look at the outline:
If you need some guidance, Humana has a nice Medicare 101 educational seminar you can get by logging into the agent portal and going to the marketing center. Here's a quick look at one of the slides:
Tip 5: Establish a no-pressure atmosphere
I establish at the very beginning that you can't provide your name, phone number, and contact information. This is an informational meeting only, so if you want more help afterward, you'll need to reach out to me. There are no free meals, no sign-in sheet, nothing.
It goes against what you think you should do because you have this great audience and you want to capitalize on it. But I think this is the best way to ensure your audience has open ears to your presentation.
You don't want everyone to feel like you're just trying to sell them something the whole time.
You want your senior prospects to get the Medicare and retirement planning education and know that whatever they do afterward – it's their choice.
At the end of the seminar, I hand out my business card and let everyone know they can schedule a one-on-one appointment to ask some more specific, personal questions, but it's all optional and there is absolutely no pressure.
Tip 6: Don't get into specifics during the seminar
Getting into the weeds derails the entire seminar. Encourage everyone that you're giving them a general understanding of how Medicare works. If they have specific questions that are unique to their situation, they can set up a one-on-one appointment with you.
It's not that you're discouraging questions, but you do want to stay on track and make sure everyone is engaged. It only takes one person to derail your presentation while everyone else is rolling their eyes and wondering when the seminar will be over.
Tip 7: Have light snacks and refreshments
Technically, you are allowed to provide meals at educational events, though you can't at sales or marketing events.
That said, I don't like providing meals, because you get this lingering pressure to buy something at the end of the presentation. I don't want my attendees to feel that way at all – I want to keep that no-pressure atmosphere, so I avoid meals and instead have light snacks and refreshments.
My wife makes chocolate chip cookies or some other simple dessert, and I have a bottle of water at each seat. Keep it simple!
Tip 8: Shoot for less than 20 attendees
As a rule, I'd say don't take more than 20 people. When you have a larger group, everyone freezes up and they're not as comfortable. I honestly feel like some of my best seminars were 5-10 people!
I was a bit discouraged when I had my first smaller seminar, but there was so much more interaction, people felt comfortable mingling and asking questions, and it was much more intimate.
Yes, 20 people would be ideal every time, but don't shy away from a smaller group!
Tip 9: Have someone take photos while you present
It's a lot easier to promote your upcoming seminars when you have pictures of you actually presenting. People can get a visual of what it's like, and you don't have to rely on stock photos.
Here's an example of a promotional image I've used:
I also personally want to hire a videographer to come out and take video footage of a seminar in progress, because I think video ads will really catch people's eye on Facebook. We haven't done that yet, but the point is: be sure to capture promotional images while you can!
Tip 10: Hand out business cards when you're finished
While the entire seminar is 100% pressure-free, you still want to give interested folks a way to get in touch. A simple business card is the best, and if you don't have one, our marketing team wrote up an article about how to make some.
You could also consider doing a little goodie bag with items like a branded magnet, pen, or notepad – things people don't want to throw away.
That way, they'll have your contact information handy for longer and will be reminded to reach out to you every time they open their fridge!
Tip 11: Think twice about seminars if you're brand new to insurance sales
When you're standing up in front of an audience, you need some experience in order to confidently present the material and answer questions. Nothing deflates your credibility faster than getting a question and not knowing the answer.
Plus, for newer agents with 0-2 years of experience, it's a lot more difficult to promote your seminar. Established agents with a large client base and a strong connection to the community can promote in a lot of low-cost ways, but new agents will have to spend a lot more to achieve the same result.
Tip 12: Ask local businesses to help you promote your seminar
If you have any connections in town, ask them to share information about your seminars.
Obviously, these businesses will need to serve folks in your age bracket, but it can be a great, no-cost way to promote your seminars.
I personally have relationships with some family-owned pharmacies, and they have agreed to call their customers who are 64 years old and let them know about my upcoming seminars in their area. They are happy to do it because they know many of their customers are confused about Medicare Part D, and I will educate them on the subject.
Tip 13: Create seminar brochures to display around town
I also printed some brochures to help me with promotions around town. Those pharmacies can display them in a brochure holder, and I can also give some extras to my clients so they can spread the word among their friends.
You can also see if local grocery stores, banks, or libraries would display them. The options are endless, and it never hurts to ask!
Tip 14: Share your seminar on Facebook
Facebook is a great tool for spreading the word about your educational seminar. Of everyone on Facebook in the United States today, 46% are over age 65.
Your next seminar attendees are probably on Facebook, so share your seminar information there! Whether it be videos, images, a link to your website or an event page, put it on Facebook.
You can also boost your posts (I do a few hundred dollars each month) to make sure more people see them.
Tip 15: Promote your seminar in other no-cost places
Seminar marketing can get expensive! We've heard of many agents and agencies spending up to $4,000 per seminar in advertising costs.
In order to keep expenses down, promote your seminar in low or no-cost places.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Add a seminar page to your website.
- Write a blog post explaining what to expect in your seminars.
- Share your new pages on Facebook and your Google My Business page.
- Write a press release and share it with local newspapers and radio stations.
- Add upcoming seminars to your email signature.
- Change the live chat message on your website to specifically call out your seminar.
- Call and email existing clients and ask them if they know of anyone who would benefit from your upcoming educational seminars.
- Post flyers at local businesses or bulletin boards.
- Add a video or slideshow to your waiting room (if you see clients in an office).
- Change your phone's on-hold message to provide information about your seminars.
- Get testimonials from past seminar attendees and share them on your website and social media.
- Ask past attendees to share the next event on their social media pages.
There are so many ways to promote seminar events, but hopefully, these ideas get you started.
Of course, there are also many ways to do paid promotion, including boosting your Facebook posts, getting a billboard, radio ads, Google ads, and more, but I always liked the idea of starting with the free options and adding in some paid if needed.
How to Host an Educational Medicare Seminar (Webinar Recording)
If you're more of a visual learner, check out the webinar I did about how to host an educational Medicare seminar event.
Hosting educational seminars is now my favorite way of prospecting and reaching new folks in my community.
While I love the fruit that comes from these events, I also love helping people make sense of Medicare. So many people are misinformed about Medicare, and I am so passionate about clearing it up and helping people make smart decisions about their Medicare and retirement plan.
Have you done any educational seminars? I'd love it if you shared a tip of your own in the comments section below!