A good client appreciation event will have two main things: a meaningful activity and an opportunity for interaction.
Client appreciation events are a great way to reward your clients and reinforce your relationship with them. However, advisors and agents often struggle with how to properly run an effective (and fun) event. Many will offer a dinner, maybe a wine and cheese party, or even a few rounds of golf. While a free nice dinner is certainly nothing to sneeze at, putting on a memorable event goes beyond these approaches. Here are five of the best practices for organizing a knockout client appreciation event.
Time it Right
Many advisors time their get-togethers to occur around the holidays. This certainly makes sense—people are in a cheery mood, you may have more time available at the end of the year for an event, plus it serves as a good transition from one year to the next. It fits nicely with the sense of thankfulness and generosity that come with the holidays. However you may want to consider looking at off-holiday opportunities. This is because the end of the year can be a very busy time for your clients, even if it’s a wind-down time for you. Holding your awesome client event in the second or third week of December will be as good as not doing it all for some of your clients, possibly the ones you wish to acknowledge the most. So look at times that fit for you and your clients – perhaps early November, or even in the summertime. You may even want to reach out to your top clients and ask them what dates work for them.
Know Your Client Base
Having a good knowledge of your clients’ interests will go a long way to organizing an effective event. You may have clients that love golf and some that absolutely hate it. You may have clients with food allergies or some that don’t drink alcohol. Having a good understanding of who you are putting the event on for, not just why, will make the event all the more meaningful. This will also affect whether the event is more formal or more casual. If you have more of a formal client base, a tailgate BBQ may not resonate. If you have a more casual base, a black-tie event may be uncomfortable.
No Pitching, No Selling
An invitation to an event run by a financial advisor or agent often means there will be selling involved. Consumers know this. Your clients know this and in fact you may have earned their business from an event like a dinner-plate seminar. However, with your client appreciation event you should not sell at all, because this is supposed to be about your appreciation of your current relationship with your clients. Presentations about a hot new product line or attempts at upselling will spoil the spirit of your get-together. Leave the up-selling for policy reviews and follow-ups.
Allow Friends and Family of Your Clients
While you should not be pitching at an appreciation event, encouraging your clients to bring friends or family members is a good way to put your face in front of potential new clients. A successful, fun event will leave an impression that can pay off down the road. This does not mean, however, that you should actively collect information from potential clients. Rather, have a few business cards handy and brand the event if possible.
Make Your Client Appreciation Event Unique
A good client appreciation event will have two main things: a meaningful activity and an opportunity for interaction. A big stuffy dinner will have neither, no matter how delicious the steak is. A wine and cheese party may give an opportunity for conversation, but will likely not be that memorable. A golf outing may be very memorable, but will not give you a chance to interact with all of your clients if you have a large book. So when you think about a client appreciation event, look for more unique opportunities that fit your clients. Obviously budget can have some effect on what you are able to do, but it’s important to realize that, 1) client appreciation events are investments and 2) there are many relatively inexpensive unique solutions. You may look at holding your event on a rented yacht or maybe a tailgate BBQ is more your style, if it’s appropriate for your clients. If budget allows, you could even look at renting a sky box for a sporting event in your area. Even something as simple as a picnic can be memorable if it is tied to something else. The point is, to really show your sincere appreciation of your clients, look for events that are different than what they are used to.