Exceptional vs. Forgettable – Five Ways to Make Your Client Event Shine

Emily James, CMP, Director of Marketing, Communications and Events
January 2, 2019

The thought of hosting events for clients can make even the most confident professionals squirm. However, these events, which can range from seminars to client appreciation dinners to family barbecues, are incredibly valuable and can be easier to host than you might think. Not only do they support your firm’s brand, but they can attract family and friends of your clients.

Here are five ways you can make your event shine:

  1. Don’t plan an event during the Super Bowl. Avoid major holidays and community events when selecting the date of your event. Typically the best days to plan a seminar for business professionals is a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening around 6 p.m. Don’t set your start time too late, or you’ll risk losing attendees who want to “stop by home on the way.” Only the most formal of events should be hosted late in the evening or on weekends. Client appreciation events have a completely different set of goals than client seminars, so there is one exception to this rule. A client appreciation event that is Super Bowl-themed might, in fact, be perfect for your audience. Keep in mind if you advertise an event that will be purely entertainment, don’t pull the old timeshare “bait-and-switch” and pitch new strategies in the same evening.
  1. Three things matter: Location, location, location! Seminars don’t have to be quarantined to your office. Entice your guests to attend by holding it at fun, local venues—bonus points for exclusive access to hard-to-get-into places. Most stadiums, golf courses, botanical gardens and restaurants have private rooms that already have everything you would need to host a great event. Be sure to ask about minimum spend, audio/visual equipment, tables, chairs and other items you would like included in your rental fees before settling on a location. On a tight budget? Leverage local community events, such as major festivals or concerts in the park, to capitalize on someone else’s planning.
  1. No-show? No problem. Not everyone you invite will attend. This can be a hard pill to swallow when you’ve worked so hard to plan an amazing event and you want everyone to experience how awesome it is. Don’t take it personally. A key is to adjust your expectations from the beginning. Typically only 25-30 percent of your invitation list will attend. You can maximize your attendance by focusing on communicating early and often. Formal physical invitations typically receive a low response rate in today’s fast-paced world, so be sure to follow-up with personalized emails and phone calls to key contacts. For smaller events, begin communicating two to three months prior to the event. For formal events, begin communicating four to six months prior to the event.
  1. Excellence is in the details. When someone comes over to your house, you’re accustomed to pulling out a few extra stops, right? You finish up some home improvement projects and make sure everything is extra clean. You may buy some fresh flowers and light some candles to create a welcoming atmosphere. Extra touches like parking instructions, signage, centerpieces, linens, food and beverage can take an event from adequate to exceptional. One way to uncover some details that might be overlooked is a little role play. Pretend you know nothing about the event or venue and walk through the client experience from getting in your car to drive to the event all the way to the drive home. Make trash cans accessible. Clear off surfaces to allow people to set their drinks and plates down. You can even strategically station your smiling staff to welcome and direct clients to your event space. Nothing is more frustrating to a guest than feeling lost and unwelcome, so do whatever you must to avoid this at all costs.
  1. The lights are out, but the party’s not over. A post-event campaign is just as important as the event itself. From “thank you” gifts to handwritten cards, calls or emails, be sure you show your guests sincere appreciation for their attendance at the event and for their business. If handing out physical gifts, be sure to have plenty of extras on hand. There is nothing more embarrassing than running out just before your most important client departs.

 

Appreciation isn’t the only reason you should give them something to take home. It’s a great opportunity to advertise your firm by adding logo and contact information on everything you give out. This way, you’ll ensure they remember where they got that “thingamajig” and who gave it to them.

The next time you’re planning a client event, keep these five tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to an exceptional experience for your clients.

 

Keep Your Clients Focused on the Road Ahead

Our free, client-ready communication tools can improve your clients’ understanding of investment concepts and long-term planning.

What Do Investors Really Want?

Learn surprising insights about the current state of professional financial advice with an exclusive report.