In last month’s column, I wrote about large-scale annual Client Appreciation Gala-style events. This month I want to explain why we no longer host a single large event, having moved to multiple smaller events instead.

Every time a client receives a correspondence or phone call from your office, you are “touching” them. The expression “Out of sight; out of mind” is at the heart of every disappointed client’s chief complaint that they “rarely hear from” their advisor. In human interaction, frequency of contact translates into depth of relationship. Thus, it naturally follows that hosting a single, massive annual gala event represents one touchpoint (however impressive it may be for all present to see hundreds of others there), while multiple smaller events throughout the year create the potential for several touches each year. You also prevent weather, traffic, or similar obstacles from reducing turnout at your one annual reunion. The goal of all client events, large or small, should be to promote your brand within your client family and local community, strengthen client relationships, and legitimately help the charities you support. 

Assess the venue, timing

In designing multiple annual events, you and your staff should first assess the types of venues in which your clients are likely to show the most interest — as well as the timing and order of those events as they best serve your marketing campaigns at different times of the year. Categories should include:

  • Events for all clients.
  • Welcome events only for new clients—and those who referred them.
  • Charitable events.
  • “Meet & Greet” events created specifically to allow clients to bring guests (introductions).

Secondly, your events should number no more than five per year, and be spaced at least 60 to 80 days apart, lest you overwhelm your clients and inadvertently cast yourself as an event planner rather than the educator/advisor you are. Events that include non-clients should be offered at the beginning of your seminar season, and should include ready invitations to your next seminar for those guests who express an interest in attending. Charitable events should be spaced at least five months apart (example: A farm team baseball game fundraiser for military families in June/July, and a food-bank fundraiser holiday cocktail party for local disadvantaged families in December), so as not to be asking “too much too often” and thereby deter attendance

There is also value in surveying your clients to find out what types of events they’d be interested in attending throughout the year. In our area the offerings include several museums, a local winery, two baseball farm teams, several food banks, and even a shooting range, just to name a few.

For more from Thomas K. Brueckner, see: