Events are an important tool to help enhance relationships with current clients, position yourself in front of qualified prospects and build important relationships with other professionals in the community who can help promote your business agenda.
Most advisors focus on business development or prospecting events as their primary strategy with seminars as the medium. However, this poses a challenge because getting people you don't know to attend a traditional seminar is not easy. The days of luring prospects in with a free informational session and a good meal are over.
Advisor Larry Teichman, CFP, an LPL branch manager at Teichman Financial Services in Chesterland, Ohio, builds strong relationships with clients and his community, but he is also breaking the mold on event marketing. Teichman, who I spoke with at a conference last year, says he creates a year-long calendar of meaningful gatherings for clients and prospects.
Many of Teichman’s clients are electrical utility workers, which tend to be a very family-oriented, close-knit group. Embracing his clients’ culture, he has created a number of events that cater to this important sector of his business.
Based on the new ways Teichman is successfully engaging clients and prospects alike, here are some fresh ideas to help improve your firm's events.
1. Client Speak Event: Focused on helping clients determine the lifestyle they want in their retirement years and how they can achieve it, Teichman’s firm invites clients to their in-office classroom to share with one another how they are shaping their retirement years.
In this group setting, clients can discuss with other retirees how they’re enjoying vacations, hobbies and spending time with family, friends and other clients. A paid facilitator attends the events and helps with the inevitable conversations that arise regarding “now what” topics like working part-time, staying busy and keeping active. Attendees benefit from talking with the facilitator, their peers, family and Teichman’s team in a casual setting.
2. Retirement Coaching: A psychologist is brought in for these twice-yearly events to talk about the psychology of retiring to pre-retiree and retiree clients and their guests. The session addresses the psychological aspects of retiring while enjoying food prepared by a professional chef in the office’s modern kitchen.
3. Breakfast With the Boys: On the last Thursday of the month, Larry treats more than 20 retired electric utility workers to breakfast at a local coffee shop (in a private room cordoned off in the back of the restaurant). Many of the attendees know each other through work and are encouraged to bring friends who are still working in the utility business. Referrals are not requested, but implied.
4. Personal Celebrations: When a client is ready for retirement, Teichman Financial Services celebrates that individual. If the person wants a party, they are treated to an event at a local winery for 50 of their friends. If the individual is not interested in a party, they are recognized with a cake in the office.
5. Pig Roast: This utility worker (union-only) family appreciation event serves as a prospecting tool, garnering an average of 200-300 attendees annually. The event is held on the firm's back lawn, behind the office building, which has a very homey feel overall.
6. Clam Bake: Teichman's firm has hosted this annual client appreciation event for over a decade and now boasts over 400 attendees. It’s held on the back lawn with white-canopied tents in case of rain.
7. Opportunity Fair: Non-profits are invited to this annual spring event where they can provide information to the community about their organizations and how the community can get involved. Attendees are treated to hot dogs, chips and drinks while they can take advantage of free mini-seminars on Medicare and filing for Medicare at the event.
8. Shredding Party: The firm provides a shredding truck at their office and free food to anybody in the community that brings items in for shredding for this one-day event.
Events are a great way to build business and interact with qualified prospective clients, but you must be creative. If you create something unique and compelling, people will not only take notice and participate themselves, they’ll tell others about you and your distinctive approach.