Episode #111: The Hidden Secrets to a Successful College Planning Marketing Campaign

Episode #111: The Hidden Secrets to a Successful College Planning Marketing Campaign

The college planning industry has changed over the years, and the marketing has changed along with it. In this episode of Money Script Monday, Gabe presents 3 marketing strategies you can start using today to fill up your college planning seminars without costing you a fortune.


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Video transcription

Welcome back to another episode of Money Script Monday. My name is Gabe Lindemann, I'll be your host today.

Today I'm honored to talk about the hidden secrets to a successful college planning marketing campaign.

Gone are the days where you could spend four, five grand and have 100, 200 families show up at a college planning event, those days are gone.

When I started doing this 10, 12, 15 years ago, I've been in this for a while. It wouldn't take much.

You'd spend two to three grand, a direct mail campaign, and you'd have so many families that were interested to see you and people were making appointments on the spot, it was a great time.

Now, times have changed, industry changed a little bit, marketing change like everything else.

With that being said, direct mail doesn't have the same punch it used to.

Let's review some of the best techniques and marketing ideas that work today to fill up your seminars and you don't have to come out of pocket $10,000 to $20,000 to fill up a seminar room.

Let's get started.

Direct Mail

Let's talk about direct mail. It's still the time classic marketing approach to get people to a seminar, and it still works.

direct mail

You get about 1% to 2% return, which is not great but it's decent. It's very expensive if you think about it.

So, if want 100 families at a 1% return, you have to spend a lot of money, but it still works, it's a timeless classic campaign.

Dinner seminars, we have a lot of agents who are thinking outside the box, they're doing what they do on the financial planning side with dinner seminars and applying it to college planning.

We've been seeing mixed results. There's some good things and bad things about it, one is the increased cost.

So, before, when you were spending $300 to $500 for an RSVP to show up to the event, just on the traditional direct mail approach today, you have to increase that because of the dinner cost.

Now, you don't have to go to a five-star restaurant, you can do a really decent nice Italian restaurant or an American Bistro, those are working very popular.

But nonetheless, it's still costing money.

It's good to keep in mind that no matter what campaign you do, you should always still be using direct mail just to get your word out there.

It's a timeless classic, and it still works on the long haul.

It's not one of the things that you should do one time and think you're going to become a millionaire, it's a long process.

You need to be doing at least four to five direct mail campaigns to be successful, but it's expensive.

PTA Groups

Now, this brings us over to the holy grail.

pta groups

Everyone talks about getting into PTA groups, working on company referrals, you can come do a luncheon with a company, referrals from your past clients, those are great.

Those are one of the reasons why I always recommend you annual reviews.

During the annual reviews, you not only review, the financial aid and redoing the EFC assessments and everything.

You're looking at asking for referrals, you're looking at their policies.

“You did really good, your policy earned 12%. Or look at the dividend yield, the dividends were higher than non-guarantees was projected.”

You want to take that opportunity to ask for a referral, "Hey, do you know someone else I can work with one on one to do the same thing?"

Great time, during annual reviews is the best time to ask for referrals.

And parties. A lot of times people, maybe they don't feel comfortable giving you a one on one referral.

What they can do is promote you, maybe they have a weekend barbecue or a Tupperware party, they bring a group of people, and they invite you to be the keynote speaker.

Maybe you supply the drinks, maybe supply some of the basic food or appetizers, these are great opportunities.

These are considered the holy grail, because you don't have to spend a lot of money to get some good quality people.

Now, lastly, is the PTA groups. This is the thing that all college planners are trying to get involved in but it's hard.

Too often college planners bad mouth the schools instead of reinforcing.

My basic approach is you always tell the schools they're doing a great job, the counselors are overworked and underpaid, and that your team is supporting them.

If they had a team if they were working with 10 or 20 students to one, you probably wouldn't need a college planner.

But the fact of the matter is they're doing 300 to 400 students to one person, they're just not a time of the day.

So, they're doing the best they can.

And so, when you have that message, you can work together and the PTA group to acknowledge that, invite you to come up there.

One popular idea is when you get invited to a PTA group at the end of the year, give them a big check, write a donation.

Give them $1,000, $2,000. Give them one of those big jumbo checks, let them bring you up on top of the stage.

"Thank you, Mr. Lindemann for coming up here. Here's a check from LifePro College Planning."

You let the PTA group pick a family. It's free marketing, and it cost you nothing.

You were probably not paying anything to get there anyway. So, it's a great opportunity.

Now, free and cheap to host high conversions because you already break through the door and people already have a sense of urgency.

But more importantly, they have a sense of integrity that other people have worked with you.

So, you're most likely to have a higher conversion because it's not like a cold call.

This is a warm lead, these people already know who you are, you've already had success because you've probably helped someone else they know, their son or daughter, get into a top tier school, so it's really good.

Needs to be unique. Gone are the days of just going up there and asking to be a speaker, you need to think unique.

What can you bring to that PTA group to make them shine in front of the other parents?

Think about that all the time. Maybe, if you're hosting a fundraiser, maybe you are doing a car wash, who knows?

There's different things. Work with me, work with your FSR, we come up with different ideas.

Digital Campaigns

Now, the last campaign that I'm really excited about digital campaigns.

digtial campaigns

Now, we've been beta testing for a couple years now and we've got a pretty good idea what works and doesn't work, but my full disclosure is, be careful.

Not all digital companies are the same. A lot of times you might give a digital company $1,000, and if they fill up your room with 20 to 30 people and it only cost them $400, they pocket the difference.

That's not what we believe it's the right thing to do at LifePro.

If your budget is $1,000 and you only spend $300, then you deserve your $700 back for a future campaign.

So, be very transparent with whatever digital company, if it's not with us, that you choose to use, just because their numbers can be a little bit funny in how they fill up the room.

Also, a lot of digital companies will charge you per head. So, what they will do is they'll charge you $300 to $400 to $500 for each family that attends.

So, that can be expensive.

If they're charging $300 a head and you want five families, that's $1,500 easily, just to get there not including all the other costs.

If you need to rent a library, whatever the space is. So, it could easily be $2,000 just to get five to six families. So, be very careful on that.

It works with some people but we have a different option. We believe the digital campaign to be target marketing.

We look on the digital field using Facebook and other digital media platforms and design, who do we want to go after?

We want to go after freshmen, sophomores and juniors, we want to go after families that are working, we're looking at people that have not necessarily so much assets, because it's not an EFC move.

But, people that appreciate college planning and retirement planning because they go together hand in hand.

The new demographic.

One of the problems with direct mail is that most people, the younger generation, and younger generation, I mean, people under 50, they don't really look forward to getting the mail.

I can be honest. Me and my wife, we open our mailbox maybe once a week and it's just bills and other campaigns, people inviting us to go to their dinner seminars.

And we just throw it away, we're not looking forward to it.

But on the flip side, we always check our email, we always check our Facebook, our LinkedIn, our other things, Instagram, we're always involved in it and so it's fun.

My kids even look on Facebook too, which is cool, too.

It can be, it's a little scary sometimes but nonetheless, our age group, under 50 years old, we understand the digital world a lot better so we look forward to it.

Whereas maybe the older generation, I'm talking older being 60, 70, 80s, in the annuity market, they are more receptive to direct mail just because they're used to getting mail you look forward to it.

So, it's a new demographic.

With that being said, we're having great results. We're currently even beta testing right now with some of our top college planners in the country.

We're filling up rooms where it's costing anywhere from $5 to $10 a head for RSVP.

Now, I know you're thinking, well, that can't be. Give us a call, we'd love to show you how you can do it.

And if you're interested, call me or call your FSR at 888-LIFEPRO and we can talk about how we can customize your own college planning direct mail campaign.

Now, there's little requirements in everything, but give me a call, we can go over it. And I guarantee we can fill up a room for $10, $20 a head.

It's pretty remarkable what we're able to do nowadays.

So again, my name is Gabriel Lindemann and it was my honor to be your host today.

We look forward to having the rest of the year be successful. And college planning 2019, it's starting next month. Happy Selling, thank you.

About Gabe Lindemann

Gabe Lindemann is the Director of College Planning and Senior Field Support Representative at LifePro. He coaches hundreds of financial professionals on how to build effective financial strategies that achieve their clients' long term goals and helps them stay educated on the latest industry trends.


This information is meant for educational purposes only.

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