From the December 2011 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

November 28, 2011

How to Host Memorable Client Events

Social and educational events are critical to client retention and sales growth

For financial advisors, there’s nothing quite like a spontaneous referral from a satisfied client. But how do you generate more of these bastions of new business?

The answer lies in creating closer personal relationships with your clients while simultaneously increasing your face time. One of the best ways to accomplish both is by hosting client events. When conducted correctly, these relationship-building events can produce wonderful benefits, including increased sales from existing clients, client retention and (possibly) more referrals.

Are you currently hosting client events? How many? A proactive financial professional should consider hosting no less than four of these events each year. Most advisors begin with a more educational style in their events, then eventually move toward more social events once they better understand and become comfortable with the social interaction of their clients.

I’m often asked, “Why don’t my clients attend my events? Why aren’t my clients bringing guests?”

Most often, the answer is because your event is boring. To work toward success and make the endeavor worthwhile, you must craft events that capture the interests of your clients.

Here is a list of the various types of client events I’ve heard of over the years:

1. Holiday and Theme Events: Birthday parties; holiday open house; holiday lights tour; Valentine’s Day dance or dinner (if you have widowed clients, these may be very welcome ideas); Fifties sock hop; Roaring Twenties bash; caroling at Christmastime.

2. Financially Related Events: Speech by a former FBI agent, or someone from the Secret Service or the Treasury Department on identity theft.

3. Entertainment Events: Casino or poker night; spy night; Elvis impersonator; movie night or matinee; murder-mystery tour or dinner; hypnosis show; magic show; comedy show; theatre or concert with back-stage passes; fashion show; casino, aquarium or zoo tour; dinner theater; sunset cruise; concerts in the park; block party or yard sale.

4. Food, Drink and Tasting Events: Ice cream socials; wine, vodka or tequila tasting; cooking classes in your home; gourmet grilling event; dinner party; cigar tasting; cheese tasting; chili cook-off; barbecue; gourmet restaurant of the month.

5. Hire A Pro: Horticulture expert; gourmet chef; nutrition or fitness expert; computer or Internet clinic; craft demonstration.

6. Sports-Related Events: Golf, volleyball or tennis tournament and appetizer/cocktail hour; bowling; golf clinic; high-performance driving.

7. Charity Events: Blood drive; CPR class; Toys For Tots dinner; charitable tours of homes; 5K run for charity.

8. Art and High-Style Events: Art exhibit; museum tour; black-tie event; symphony; yacht charters.

9. Other Events: Client appreciation dinners; open houses.

Make your event not only compelling, but easy to attend. Consider issues like parking and transportation ahead of time. Consider how an attendee will arrive—should someone greet them? What do they need to know about the event? How can you make them feel welcome and at ease from the moment they walk through the door?

Successful events are the result of careful thought and pre-planning—they require a great deal of organization. If you don’t feel that you can launch and manage an event like those listed above, find yourself an event planner. Post an advertisement in your local paper or at craigslist.org for an “event planner” or “meeting organizer” and you’ll surely find some local professional willing to head up your project and get it accomplished for you.

The bottom line is the better your events are, the better attended they will be and the more likely your clients will not only remember them, but want to bring guests with them.

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