Keys to successful client appreciation events, Pt. 1
By Shawn Moran
It’s that time again, as financial professionals make their last push of the year to get in front of prospects. I’d like to pitch you on why hosting a client appreciation event is a worthwhile way to accomplish this, as well as give you some event ideas.
Don’t let the name fool you. Done correctly, client appreciation events should be about meeting new prospects and growing existing client relationships. Although most tend to agree with this maxim, I continue to run into financial professionals who aren’t drawing new prospects to their events for a simple reason — they either completely forget to encourage their clients to bring a guest, or they do a poor job of communicating.
To make sure you avoid this unfortunate experience, take a close look at your communications at each step of the process: from the initial invite to taking reservations to casual conversations leading up to your event. Your invite should clearly state “guests welcome” or “for you and your special guest.”
Whether you use a reservation service or you track registration internally, everyone taking RSVPs should be trained to remind clients that they are encouraged to bring a guest. Additionally, when the outbound confirmation call is made to clients several days prior to the event, those not bringing a guest should be reminded that they can. When you are out and about in the community, talk about your upcoming event as one designed for your clients and their guests.
It seems simple, but perception is reality and oftentimes, people need to hear a message several times before it really sinks in. If clients don’t think they can bring a guest, they won’t. So while you don’t want to go overboard, you ought to find that balance of mentioning guest attendance with the excitement of seeing your existing client. Don’t forget that this event also provides an opportunity to potentially earn more business from current clients. Let me share some specific event concepts that I’ve heard of recently:
- Lunch-and-learns at a local restaurant (with guest speakers)
- Hosted happy hours
- Client/guest invitational golf tournament
- Toys for Tots (or other charity-oriented) dinner
- Tailgate party for a football game
- Hayride at a local farm
- Dinner theater
Other professionals with whom we work have scheduled various types of guest speakers to address a common client interest — like a local estate attorney, a representative from the Alzheimer’s Association, a videographer who can talk about recording family legacy, and more.
Regardless of event type, when done correctly, client appreciation events can be a cost-effective way to earn big gains. In my next post, I’ll offer up some best practices on hosting your event that our top producers have shared with me. In the interim, I’d like to hear from you. What type of client appreciation event will you be hosting this holiday season?