I love getting my clients to host events – as many as possible. The easiest way to grow your business is to get your clients to talk about you when the subject of conversation is money, markets, or investments.
In the next few months your clients are going to be doing a lot of socializing – here are some things to consider about the merits of hosting client events.
“Money” and all that it represents is a very emotional issue for most people – so a kind word, or a good story from a trusted friend about you is the best advertising, marketing, and networking you can get regarding your professional services. Create as many opportunities for your clients to sing your praises as you can.
Creating community gets people talking about you. Events are the easiest, most practical and most appropriate method available to you to meet your clients, educate them, and also create an environment that fosters familiarity and trust.
With a few pointers you can make sure that your events are occasions that your clients look forward to, attend, endorse, and learn from.
A successful dinner would involve some of your top clients and prospects of a similar profile, at an appropriate venue with impeccable service, where each of your guests are assured to be comfortable. You would feature two guests who would speak. One a financial speaker, and the other a speaker/expert on a related social subject.
Last year I attended an event with an advisor I know who brought some sober thinking to St. Patrick’s Day. We had dinner in a private dining room of a well known restaurant, a brief cocktail hour, some pleasant conversation as we all said hello and visited.
His event was attended by approximately 15 guest, and 2 speakers. The first speaker was from a mutual fund company and he offered an economic update on Europe. He kept his speaking points brief, and was careful not to speak over anyone’s head. I can’t speak for anyone else who was there – but I found his talk to be engaging, and enlightening.
The advisor had prepared a few clarifying questions ahead of time, and then explained to his clients why, given this perspective, he favors his particular approach and asset allocation strategy. He was soothing their concerns, and projecting strength and capability.
The second speaker was a history teacher and clearly an enthusiastic supporter of all things “Ale” who taught us who St. Patrick was, and also told us a little about the history of Ireland. Then we sampled various stouts and dark ales from around Europe – including a history lesson on the shifting borders of countries, and their effect on ‘traditional’ ales. Everyone loved it, and the immediate feedback was that the advisor should host more of these events and that everyone would certainly attend another.
There are all kinds of these events that happen throughout the year – if you follow a similar formula to what I have written below, you can certainly ensure that your events will be well attended, and profitable.
Remember that you are trying to create community and trusting relationships. These events are gifts – you are teaching and entertaining your clients. In some cases you will be soothing their concerns, and reassuring them to stick to their plan.
Hosting events offers an exceptional return on your investment.
1) All events are scheduled 6 weeks out
- Set date to host 1st and possible 2nd event if there is enough demand – be prepared.
- Choose Venue – make sure it adds to your Perceived Value – a good restaurant or location will add to the experience.
- Call 5 or 6 clients that you absolutely need to be there
- The invitations have not even been sent
- You intend for this to be a special event
- You value the friendship that you have with this person
- Ask them to mark the date down and tell them that they will receive the invitation shortly
- Make reservations, solidify dates and details with speakers
2) The invitation – 5 weeks out (mail it 5 weeks out to arrive 4 weeks out)
- It’s worth the money to have nice stationary. The invitation sets the tone for the event and for you professional perceived value.
- i. Names of the party hosts/speakers and purpose
- ii. Location (include a map)
- iii. Date/Time
- iv. RSVP Date and phone number and menu choice when possible.
- Be specific about who is invited, whether addressee only, with a guest, or with spouse and children. Bringing guests is an option, choose whether the event is appropriate.
3) 4 weeks out (mail 4 weeks out to receive 3 weeks out)
- Send invitation to prospects if applicable
4) 2 weeks out
- Call all the people who have RSVP’d
- You are happy they are coming and you are happy that there has been so much positive feedback regarding this sort of event.
- That you plan to host similar events, executive, very specific topics that are not suitable to all of your clients – build predisposition.
- Invite them to bring a friend – and reassure your client that this is not a prospecting event.
- Call the people who have not RSVP’d
- i. Say this:
- Confirm that they have received the invitation.
- Verify if they are coming or not.
- Stress the uniqueness of this event (financial perspective/entertainment component)
- Tell them why you want to have these events – all part of your personal commitment to be a suitable CFO, combining education with entertainment so that clients will attend various events.
- Get their permission to mail them in the future – if possible forecast details for next event
- If numbers are merited, schedule a second event for the next day and revisit potential attendees (those that RSVP’d not attending)
5) 3 days out – Assistant
- Call all attendees
- i. Confirm attendance (attendee and guest)
- ii. Confirm address and time
- Confirm details with meeting place (restaurant)
- Confirm details with speakers
6) Day of event – Pre event
- Show up early, go over the room
- i. Enough seats
- ii. Where the speaker is going to sit
- iii. Where is the projector if applicable
- iv. Do you have a place for you
- Prepare some notes ahead of time on each client so you can make introductions.
- i. Who people are, what they do, where they live and what their interests are
- Sign in sheet
- i. Contact information
- Ensure that you have someone else to help you co-host the event – a spouse or assistant. Even if you host a small number you will need someone on hand to help you ensure an enjoyable evening
- Ensure that you take photographs of the event to send along as a thank you. Some offices feature photos of clients and events as art in boardrooms etc.
- It’s a good idea to have your photo taken with your guests – or to have photos of couples taken together – see Follow Up.
- Allow 30 minutes for mingling before the main event starts.
- Opening remarks
- i. Be Brief, be warm, and thank everyone for attending your event.
- ii. Explain that you put a lot of effort into this event because you want to ensure that your clients are educated and aware – but you also want to create an environment where true relationships can begin.
- iii. Tell them how the night is going to go (Dinner, and guest speakers)
- Everyone has dinner
- After Dinner, speakers
- Closing remarks
8) Follow up
- Send a photo of the client at the event, and thank them for being there.
- Send thank-you card (again stationary is key)
- Send a letter to those who were not able to attend – this will increase the likelihood that they will attend future events – consistency.
- Call any prospects that attended, reaffirm their desire to be top of mind if they ever desire the CFO solution.
- Send a letter to every person who was on the fence, or who did not attend but should have and let them know that the event was a success, and that you will be hosting others in the future. If you can, include speaking notes/points from the meeting so that they know what was discussed.