In today’s economy, marketing life insurance products is challenging. Consumers are trimming budgets and spending less and so are many insurance producers. In the quest to generate more revenue with less marketing budget, don’t overlook your existing client base.
If you take a moment to analyze your income sources, you might discover as much as 40% of your revenue is generated by your elite “A” clients. It’s worth your time to retain these people not only for the income they generate, but also for the referrals they can bring. Elite clients can introduce you to elite prospects.
One great way to retain your best clients and gain introductions to their friends is through client appreciation events. However, there are a few important secrets to creating client appreciation experiences that hit the intended mark.
Client appreciation events and activities should achieve three goals:
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1. A tighter bond between you and your clients
2. The opportunity for more referrals
3. Return on investment
Steve Vasgaard, president of Wealth and Retirement Strategies Inc. in Knoxville, Tenn., has many years of experience with client appreciation events. Last year, Steve hosted a large dinner for 135 clients, featuring a well-known speaker who was a YouTube sensation. The event went off without a hitch — great entertainment, delicious food and a happy crowd. But in Steve’s experience, this was not the most successful client appreciation event. Why? Everyone was focused on the speaker, so it was difficult to interact and make personal connections. While guests had a great time, Steve didn’t really get to know his clients better or meet their friends.
“The best events are small — with fewer than 20 people,” Steve says. “I pick a hobby that I enjoy and then invite clients with similar interests to share in the fun. Dove hunting is a great example. There’s very little money involved but a great deal of camaraderie. I meet my clients’ friends and inevitably receive referrals and new business opportunities.”
Plan a great event
When planning an event, look for popular venues in your city and then find ways to use them for your client appreciation. For example, if a chocolatier is popular in your town, host a truffle-making party. If a restaurant is known for a unique dish or cocktail, arrange for table-side preparation and a culinary lesson. Watch the entertainment section of your local newspaper for featured restaurants and venues. Guests love to go to “hot spots” they can tell their friends about.
Most people also love a good cause. Green and cause-related marketing is on the rise, particularly for companies whose clients include the under-40 set. Think fun runs, pet parades or charity golf tournaments to support an important cause in your community, all while spending time with clients.
Whatever you do, remember client appreciation is the art of making others feel special, cared for and appreciated. This is not the time for a sales pitch — although some articles will tell you that it is.
“I never ever bring up financial planning or life insurance during an event,” Steve says. “I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable or sold. I know the topic will come up eventually — it always does — sometimes during the event and sometimes later. But I let the client initiate the conversation. During the event, my only goal is to build rapport, relationships and trust.”