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We’d be naive to say that we could have never expected a pandemic to hit, but for a pandemic to hit and affect all facets of life the way COVID-19 has...that’s a different story.
While many industries have been forced to a grinding halt, other industries have never been busier. This is something that hits home for White Glove and those we serve.
Financial advisors, estate planning attorneys and related service professionals are without a doubt essential, but they’ve all had a choice to make:
“Do I wait this out or do I keep going?”
When the calendar turned to 2020, we never would have guessed that we would have to be completely focused on Virtual Seminars for financial advisors – yet here we are!
The shift from in-person seminars to virtual isn’t one that was planned, but we’ve certainly embraced it – and so have many of our Hosts.
Brad Gotto of Fiat Wealth Management has been one of the first (and most active) White Glove Virtual Seminar Hosts. Despite living in a small Minnesota town (population: 4,592), he’s absolutely crushing it!
He recently hopped on a Zoom call to let us pick his brain about how this shift has impacted his strategy. Here are just a few of the powerful insights Brad had to offer:
1. There’s No Choice But to Pivot
In the weeks preceding the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Brad’s firm had just brought in two new advisors and hired a paraplanner as well as a marketing director. They had also significantly increased their marketing budget. So when the crisis hit, they didn’t have any choice but to pivot.
“Not marketing wasn't an option,” Brad says. “With the way that we've structured our practice, it was built into our business plan this year. And so it was really just a matter of which direction do we go?”
Once Brad heard that White Glove was moving forward with Virtual Seminars, he immediately reached out to his Account Executive to get the ball rolling.
His mindset and willingness to move quickly were two factors that set his team up for success. He knew that advisors who choose not to pivot – or wait too long – could risk getting left behind.
2. Each Virtual Seminar Becomes Smoother Than the Last
Brad is very experienced with live events. He’s been doing an average of two seminars per month since October 2018. But having never done a Virtual Seminar, there were certainly some nerves.
“I was nervous about talking to a small or empty audience,” Brad recalls. “I actually really enjoy being in front of people, and so for me, I get energy from that. I'm very interactive in the seminars we do. And so I was concerned about not having that [face-to-face] interaction.”
Brad goes so far as to say his first event was “uncomfortable” since he wasn’t able to measure his audience’s engagement and interest in real-time like he’s used to during in-person seminars. But he didn’t let that stop him, and it didn’t take long before he felt like he was in control.
“Now that we've got a groove, it's easier from a Host perspective,” Brad says. “I don't have to deal with the venue. I don't have to leave my house if I don't want to. I only have to get half dressed! There are a lot of positives to being able to do it from home.”
3. Engagement With Attendees Looks a Little Different
Over his first few Virtual Seminars, Brad is averaging between 17-19 attendees. But how do they compare to in-person events?
He says the “quality of attendees remains consistently high.” However, the unique format of Virtual Seminars means Hosts like Brad have to get creative with how they spark engagement and initiate interactions.
One way Brad does this is by using the chat box and encouraging people to type into the box. He says he won’t move on with the seminar until people respond!
“I'm okay with the awkward pause of, ‘Until you guys answer these questions, I'll just sit here…’ and I kind of laugh about it,” Brad says.
He also finds it important to humanize the experience and make people feel warm and connected. At the beginning of the seminars, he jokes around with attendees and mentions that he’s working from home and has two kids on the other side of his office doors.
“We just have fun with it. It's real life. And I think it normalizes the Host a bit to the virtual crowd,” Brad says.
4. Attendees Are Still Ripe for Taking Action
One of the uncertainties going into the pivot from in-person to virtual was how attendees would respond. Would they be slow to, as Brad says, “put ink-to-paper and move assets,” after attending? Well, so far the opposite has been true.
“We were averaging 90 to 180 days before from attending an in-person workshop to ink-to-paper,” Brad points out. “Our first set of virtual events was four weeks ago and we've already got two people who have inked paper to bring assets totaling over $2.5 million.”
To date, Brad has set seven appointments (with many still in the pipeline). In addition to bringing in $2.5 million in new AUM, total commissions from insurance papered is around $15,000.
5. Convenience Drives Availability
Hosts like Brad are discovering that it’s far easier to get people together over Zoom than it is to coordinate everyone’s calendars for an in-person meeting. In fact, it’s been so successful that his team is ramping up their efforts over the coming weeks.
Brad did four Virtual Seminars in April, and scheduled nearly double that for the month of May.
“We have seven Virtual Seminars scheduled for May…which should tell you everything you need to know about my experience! It's the most we've ever done by far in a month,” Brad says. “But because of the experience we've had thus far, we’re going to do as many as [White Glove] will let us do.”
6. White Glove is There Every Step of the Way
When we first began designing Virtual Seminars, one of the first things we knew we had to offer was full Concierge Support, both before and during events for the Host.
Brad agrees, saying, “The fact that there's somebody in the seminar with you the entire time, making sure that the technology runs smoothly and that you're getting the outcomes that you want [is so helpful].”
There were a couple times when he forgot to mute his mic during a video or didn’t remember to put a pop-up on the screen, and White Glove Concierge was in the background taking care of these small details on his behalf.
7. With White Glove, You Don’t Need to be Tech Savvy
“As long as you've got a computer and you know how to turn the computer on...White Glove has the rest of it,” Brad mentions.
From the very beginning, we knew we had to provide the same level of White Glove service that our Hosts have been receiving for years in our in-person seminars. In sticking to our name, we provide a seamless experience for everyone – Virtual Seminar Hosts and attendees alike.
8. Virtual Seminars Are Here to Stay
Even though Virtual Seminars weren’t in the cards for Brad and his team a couple months ago, he’s loving the idea that his clients are now being trained to meet virtually. He believes it will allow him to cultivate a more remote practice – meaning he can eventually travel or move to a different state and still serve his clients.
“I would say even when we are allowed to go back to [in-person] events, I don't think we'll stop doing virtual,” Brad predicts. “I think we'll do both because I think this is an opportunity to grab people who maybe wouldn't come face-to-face, and it opens up a whole new market who we didn't have access to before. And long-term, I love the idea that I’m meeting people who are now trained to meet me virtually.”
Brad even sees a time when White Glove Virtual Seminars will allow him to expand his geographical reach.
“The next thought for us at Fiat is why do we have to do these in Minnesota? Why can't I run them in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa or Florida? The content is the content. I'm excited that this forced us into a new opportunity that we probably won't let go of when things can go back to more of a normal state.”
White Glove Virtual Seminars: Designed for Today and Tomorrow
Pivots rarely happen when you expect them to. And while we certainly intend to return to in-person seminars once this pandemic is over, Done-For-You Virtual Seminars are here to stay.
As Hosts like Brad Gotto have discovered, this is the wave of the future – and we plan to help advisors ride the surf all the way in!
“When venues started shutting down, one of the first phone calls I made was to my Account Executive and I said, ‘tell me you guys are going to find a way around this.’ And you did.”