Rethinking Your Client and Referral Events

25 Jul 2017
Rethinking Your Client and Referral Events

Events provide you and your staff the opportunity to create or deepen personal relationships, learn more about your clients and prospects, and get people talking about your great services. If your client appreciation or referral events don’t draw the crowds they use to, it may be time to rethink and refresh your strategy. Here’s how.

Is bigger really better?

Large client events allow you to leverage your time and effort across many people. You only have to choose one venue, one menu, one invitation, one entertainment. The downside is that there is still only one of you, and your time with each guest will be limited. Smaller events, on the other hand, allow you to spend more time with your clients and prospects, resulting in a more significant “touch” and a more lasting impression. To keep multiple client events manageable, consider using the same venue, menu and entertainment but staging it on multiple dates so you can invite smaller groups.

Education versus entertainment

Educational seminars for clients and prospects have their place, especially during market ups and downs. By limiting your role to solely that of teacher, you limit the personal connection you can make with clients and prospects – after all, how much of a personal relationships did you have with your teachers and professors? Consider following up a seminar with an invitation to a purely social event for the most likely prospects so you can get to know them better.

Make a match

Your client events will be a reflection of you and the type of clients with whom you work best. If your clients are high net worth executives, then a simple backyard barbecue at your home may not be the right event to show your appreciation. Stay true to your own interests – if you won’t know anything about wine and don’t care to, a wine tasting may sound sophisticated but fall flat. You should already be using a discovery tool and CRM system that uncover and track your clients’ interests. Find common interests you have with groups of your clients and create events to celebrate those.

Do your homework

Your invitations should always ask for an RSVP. Review the list of those attending with your staff, and make mental notes about them – recent events in their family, favorite activities or charitable interests. Being able to reference these in a conversation shows the client that you know and care about them. It also helps you introduce clients to each other – a good host always leaves the newly introduced with a topic of common interest to discuss.

Standing room only

Even if you don’t charge for your event (and there’s a valid argument that even a nominal charge increases the perceived value of seminars and workshops), consider issuing tickets to your guests. Tickets give the impression of exclusivity, of an event that can’t be missed. If your current “please bring a friend” requests are being ignored, consider sending each guest extra tickets for friends or family members who might be interested.

Keep it moving

Create opportunities for your guests to get up and mingle. Some events, such as cocktail parties or open houses, by their nature have limited seating that keeps guests from parking too long in the same spot. If your event involves a performance or speaker that will keep the audience seated and quiet for a period of time, consider having a cocktail hour before or coffee and dessert after so people can mingle and visit. 

Play to your strengths

Not every advisor is a social butterfly. If working a large room doesn’t appeal to you, schedule small events. If speaking in front of a large event intimidates you, invite a guest speaker. Find ways to make deeper client connections that naturally allow you to communicate openly and sincerely with clients and prospects, and you will find yourself with less client turnover and more right-fit referrals.

Thanks for the memories

Find ways to make your events memorable by involving as many of the five senses as possible. Combining a great venue with wonderful smelling food and flowers, tasty beverages and pleasant background music increases the impact of your event. This is particularly true of prospecting events – you want to give potential clients every reason to think of you when they need to make a change in their current financial relationship. Having a professional photographer available to take photos of you with clients provides a great memento – especially when sent after the event in a frame with your name or company logo and a brief note thanking them for attending.

Tradition or tired?

It’s a fine line between maintaining a client event as a tradition and doing the same tired thing each year for lack of better ideas or the gumption to change it up. Take a fresh look at your event each year – does it still fulfill its purpose? Has attendance increased, decreased or stayed the same? Can you improve upon it? Should you ditch it and try something completely different?

Download your FREE Seminar and Event Planning Guide, complete with worksheets to help you define your audience and stay on budget.

Securities America offers marketing expertise from planning to implementation and measurement – all focused on helping you grow your business. For more information, contact a Branch Office Consultant at 800-989-8441.

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Making Referrals a Reality

The Practice Builders Team gives you tactical, practical action steps to make referrals a reality in your practice. If getting referrals feels like a battle, tune in to hear how to create a complete referral system. From creating a concise message or organizing a "bring a friend" event, these tactics will help you achieve your referral goals. 

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