Certainly one of the most prevalent ways to thank your clientele for their business and promote new business opportunities for your practice is to host the ever-popular client appreciation event.
We have all hosted enough of these events to know that some are more popular than others. But why is that?
Was it the theme or the outing itself that made it successful?
Each advisor brings a different approach to running events like these; however regardless of the theme of your event, we all generally aim for the same four core outcomes:
True client appreciation: They remain our clients and we want to thank them for that.
Relationship building: Strengthening relationships builds trust and facilitates referrals.
Uncovering opportunities: Getting to know our clients better in informal situations opens many doors to additional asset gathering.
Avoiding a dud: No one likes showing up to an empty venue; filling the room is a must.
Over the last 20 years I have participated in and observed a number of client appreciation events, and four key elements stood at the core of the most successful events.
1. Make it accommodative. Remember – it’s about them.
Several years ago, I was speaking with one of our advisors who had recently implemented a Client Advisory Council. She was using this council for, among other things, soliciting feedback on how to make her client events even better. She had an older clientele and the feedback she received caught her by complete surprise. She was used to hosting her events in the evening with modest results. When she asked the group what they would prefer, they offered up hosting the meetings in the morning. Taking their advice, the next event she hosted was in the morning and her attendance almost doubled from her previous turnout.
Suggestion: Solicit feedback from your clients not only on what they would like to do but when they would prefer to do it. Adjusting something as simple as the time your event is held can have a significant impact on your turn out.
2. Be sincere.
This may seem to go without saying, but this is the most crucial. Being sincere means the event in question is about thanking your clients for trusting you to be their advisor. Clients may already be leery of your motives for hosting the event, and if you couple this with any mention of ‘shop talk,’ you will justify their skepticism of your true intent for the occasion. Showing genuine appreciation doesn’t have to be overly flowery; it just has to be sincere. So find the way that is most natural and works best for you.
Suggestion: Find a gesture or event theme that genuinely and naturally conveys your heartfelt appreciation.
3. Be systematized. Taking a systematic approach will significantly increase your chances of hosting a successful and well-attended event. The biggest opportunity for you to do so is how you pursue RSVPs. Many of us may send out one or two emails inviting clients to the event and then hope for the best. We have taken that approach in the past with our clients and never seemed to secure the desired number of attendees.
However, once we implemented a 6-week drip campaign, we saw markedly improved results. If you are not familiar, a drip campaign is where you continuously reach out to your intended audience to increase your chances that they will read your communication and take the desired action. In our case, we emailed our targeted audience weekly until the event.
If you send your message/invitation out regularly to your intended audience and make it easy for them to RSVP, your success rate increases significantly. Our firm utilizes MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) and Picatic (www.picatic.com) to email and record RSVPs for our events. Both platforms can be used for free if you follow certain parameters. By using these platforms we were able to follow up with all of the attendees immediately after our last outing to secure their feedback on how they felt everything went.
Suggestion: Implement a four- to six-week drip campaign to secure RSVPs for your event and leverage technology to manage the solicitation and recording of your responses.
4. Be impactful.
Of the four elements, creating an impactful event is the most challenging. By incorporating each of the three previous elements — true sincerity of your intent, relatability of your theme and a systematized process — you will convey to your clients your appreciation and gratitude for being their financial advisor. Your results will speak for themselves, so do not be surprised when someone approaches and asks when the next event might be.
Suggestion: Follow up immediately after the event with a survey to gauge the success of your event. You can use websites such as Typeform (www.typeform.com) to create and gather your survey responses efficiently.
As the saying goes, they may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.