By: Karen Hayes, Guest Blogger and Marketing Associate
Published June 12, 2019
When executed well, client events can be key to building relationships with your existing clients, retaining the clients you already have, and they can lead to more referrals, which means growth for your financial firm. The most successful client events offer something of value and capture the interests of your clients. In today’s post, we’ll cover some example events your office can host for clients, and the process to follow if you want to have an amazing event from start to finish.
Face-to-Face Communication Matters
It’s 2019, and a lot of our business can be handled virtually. We send emails and have Skype calls, but what about face-to-face interaction? Do you know how important face-to-face communication is? Nearly 100% of people say it is essential for long-term business relationships, and 40% of prospects are converted to new customers through face-to-face meetings. If you aren’t doing at least one client event a year, you’re missing out on opportunities for client engagement and prospecting for your practice.
Why are Client Events so Important?
It’s about more than just prospecting or networking. Client events have benefits for both you as an advisor, and also for the client. It’s an opportunity to express gratitude and say “thank you” to your clients for entrusting you with their investments and finances. You can build relationships and find commonalities you might not have otherwise discovered. Of course, making yourself more visible is a way to increase the potential for client referrals.
For the client, there are also benefits. It boosts your credibility and gives them the chance to see you in multiple roles; they can see you as more than an advisor. Not all your clients may know the full extent of your services and who you are. Maybe they will learn something new about your brand.
Step-By-Step Guide to Planning Client Events
Now that you’ve decided that client events are a necessity for your firm, how do you go about planning for one? It’s really seven easy steps!
- Define Your Audience. Who is the event for? Do you want to target a specific demographic or a particular topic?
- Determine the Type of Event and Set Goals. What do you want to accomplish? What is the purpose of your event? Is it client appreciation, or networking? Consider common interests or hobbies among your clients to guide your planning.
- Choose a Date and Time. Start preparations early!
- Set a Budget. Consider possible sponsors and determine a cost for every item needed.
- Plan the Details. Choose a venue, create a guest list, and consider things like space, food, drinks, entertainment, WIFI, and a sound system.
- Create an Event Marketing Plan. How will you send invitations & RSVPs? Be sure to send reminders for your event and include the details on your website. Order any promotion items or door prizes.
- Event Wrap Up and Tracking. You may want to send thank you gifts or notes, and you definitely want to collect feedback. Add pictures to your website and social media, and track ROI from your event over the next several months or year. Check to see if any guests have brought over new assets or see if any prospects who were guests have become new clients.
Client Event Best Practices
Follow these bullet points for the best client events:
- Hold at least one event per year
- Remember it’s ALL about the client
- Don’t try to pitch or sell
- Invite friends & family where appropriate
- Don’t spend a lot of time with one person
- Have business cards & pens handy
- Assign someone to take photos and video
- Add an events page to your website
- Post on social media before, during, and after
Client Event Ideas for Your Financial Firm
The options for hosting client events are endless. You could do a movie night, a themed food party, a charity event, football tailgate, a “fitness Friday,” a night at the ballpark, or a holiday open house. These are just a few ideas. Think about what your audience enjoys and things you or your team are already passionate about.
Tim Brunnock and Anne Kostyak of Trinity Financial Strategies have hosted many events for their clients. One, in particular, was a celebratory husband and wife retirement dinner party! They took care of invitations, reservations, and hosted the event for the couple’s friends and family. This was a great opportunity to be visible during a key transition for their client. They’ve also done client appreciation events with wine tastings and cocktail receptions. The purpose of one of these events was to announce their new brand and thank clients for their business. Tim mentions that the easiest invitation is for clients and their friends to “come learn something!” To that end, they have hosted a 529 presentation for clients with young children and a breakfast or lunch and learn on Social Security.
Tim and Anne also think outside the box when it comes to client communication. Instead of holiday cards (so many are sent!), they send out Thanksgiving cards. They also send fresh centerpieces a week before Christmas to higher tier clients.
Don Kremer and Jennifer Goodworth of Kremer and Associates have also hosted a number of events over the years. For their firm, it’s a part of annual planning. They’ve done golf outings and lessons, traditional seminars, bagels and coffee to CPAs during tax season, and even hold an annual forecast event with a market update every January. One of their greatest successes has been their Thanksgiving pie giveaway, where they invite clients to pick up a free pie the day before Thanksgiving. Another success was a presentation on long term care, hosted at a distillery where they combined the presentation with a bartending class.
Don’s advice? “Recognize that every event won’t work perfectly. However, some will surprise you with wild success. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be persistent.” When you’re determining what events to host, consider if it’s something you’d want to attend. Decide the frequency and remember that you need to offer something of value! Do what you like; it will be a better event if you’re doing something that you enjoy.
Get creative with your client events and infuse them with your personality. Use the step-by-step guide to get the most out of them for your firm.