A common line of questioning I get from my clients goes something like this: “Are generational changes best understood through the lens of life stages? Don't we all change and evolve as we grow older?” These are good questions. The answer is that both are valuable tools to help you understand your current clients and make meaningful connections with prospective clients.
Let's look at how an understanding of life stages might help us with event planning. Too often, advisors complain about how few people show up to an event, how they tried everything they could, how many people confirmed but ended up being no-shows and how they won't ever stage an event again.
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Events stink; they require a lot of effort, a lot of planning, and a lot of time and money. Worse than no one coming is only a few people coming. They look around and wonder: 1) whether your business is failing and they’re the last to know; 2) how long they have to stay before they can leave without looking rude; 3) whether you’re going to make your presentation only to them; and 4) whether all that wine is spoken for or if you’d notice if they put several bottles in their bag.
A successful event, however, leads to more successful events. Momentum builds as long as you don't throw one that's a dud. High risk, high reward.
Your clients’ changing life stages are times when they need information about what's coming next; there's a significant shift, with a clear before and after. You can build a successful event around providing some of the insight they need.
Here's an example from my hometown of Mobile, Alabama, and what a local non-profit did to build attendance at its event. The event was organized by a faith-based organization that seeks to strengthen families through meaningful dialogue between parents and their children. This event specifically targeted parents of children entering their teenage years: “tweens,” as they’re called. Over 200 people have signed up for this event, despite it being designed for a relatively small subset of parents, and more are expected.
What's the magic? This group created an event targeting an audience in the flux of a changing life stage. Leading children through their teenage years will have a clear timeline, a clear before and after. I can see it coming right now and am horrified. I know I need answers now (or else a convincing alibi when I beg the court to show mercy) and apparently, so do 200 other parents in my community.
What about your clients? What are their life-stage transitions? Here is a quick list of items that may be helpful to many of them:
The five steps for helping your adult child become independent. (Common today is the 26-year-old living at home, reluctant to leave the nest.)
The top three mistakes parents make when teaching children about money. (This combines parenting skills, financial acumen and the benefits of saving money from a very early age.)
Changing careers: Four ideas to get you started on your next chapter. (At around 50, many people have been in the same job 20 years or longer and want to be energized and excited for their next 15. They’re bored with their work and need some guidance on what to do next.)
The five biggest mistakes empty-nesters make. (Many parents aren't prepared for life after the last child leaves home. A friend called it the “thunderclap of silence.”)
That's a lot of numbers, but Americans love numerated titles. A couple more ideas may help clients with children who are starting out in their careers:
Job interview skills for the new graduate — tips on what to say, what to wear and how to prepare.
Entertaining clients in your new job — how to pick a wine, foster conversation and ask for the check.
People are vulnerable to the unknown as they transition through new life stages. As their advisor, help them learn what they can expect and how to make it easier on themselves. Build events around these transitions, staffed with people who really know what they’re talking about, and you won't struggle with duds anymore.
But order extra wine just in case.
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