Intimacy and engagement: those are the qualities that separate truly memorable client events from the merely enjoyable; they’re the qualities that resonate at a deeply personal level, strengthen relationship bonds and leave a lasting impression. But how do you go about raising your own client appreciation events from average to amazing?
Start by devoting a little time during every call or meetings to ask clients about their hobbies, personal interests and passions. Where do they like to spend their free time? Where do their philanthropic interests lie? Make sure you capture the information in whatever CRM database you maintain, and begin to search for commonalities – especially those that may closely align with your own personal interests. Bonding over shared passions is by far the simplest recipe for building enduring relationships.
Rather than holding one or two generic annual events that will appeal to a large swath of clients, strive to conduct a handful of smaller, more intimate and focused events throughout the year that will ignite the shared passions of a subset of clients. Perhaps a few of your clients are hyper family-focused and philanthropic. Consider creating an opportunity for their entire family to come together around a charitable event. This will not only associate you with the idea of “family” in the client’s mind, it provides a perfect opportunity to begin strengthening connections with the next generation.
While there’s nothing wrong with traditional golf outings or wine-tasting events, from time to time introducing a new concept or idea that’s a bit out of the ordinary can be a wonderful thing. I know advisors who arrange bike tours followed by a healthy lunch with a nutritionist as a speaker for their fitness-minded clients; advisors who engage their more tech-crazy clients by inviting them to a hands-on demo of cutting edge high tech gadgets; and others who have taken their luxury aficionado clients to a local private airfield for an opportunity to take a tour of a private NetJet and test drive the latest model Ferrari. It’s all about finding an opportunity to engage your clients in a manner that says, “I’ve really listened to you, and I understand what makes you tick.”
Even events that might, at first glance, appear wholly unrelated to the interests of wealthy clients can leave a lasting impression when well-executed. One advisor I work with who caters to ultra-high net worth clientele was even able to make a NASCAR race an experiential event for his clients! He purchased a box and set up a very high-end meet and greet with one of the drivers beforehand. The group was then able to visit the pit to watch the car come off the trailer and be prepped, followed by a wonderful dinner in the press box. Clients who you would never in a million years associate with a NASCAR event had a once-in-a-lifetime memorable experience.
Before you start planning any events, however, consider the commitment that will be required to be a success in order to determine how many events you will be hosting, and how often, so that you can develop action plans and budgets. And to the extent that you can, strive to create events that clients look forward to on an annual basis. That way you create greater relationship stickiness to the experience.
Coaching Questions from this article:
- Examine your client database. How much personal information do you capture about your clients’ hobbies and interests? Think about ways you can use client meetings and calls to gather additional information.
- Make a list of common client interests. What types of events could you construct to effectively tap into these mutual passions?
- How extensive do you want your 2016 event strategy to be? How many events? How many attendees for each event? What roles and responsibilities will your team members each need to assume to ensure successful events?