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10 Great Tips for Client Events

10 Great Tips for Client Events 10 Great Tips for Client Events

A well-planned gathering can help your firm develop client relationships and strengthen ties with strategic partners.

Here are 10 tips to think about when hosting client events.

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1. THINK ABOUT HEADCOUNT 1. THINK ABOUT HEADCOUNT

Many firms prefer relatively small events, usually up to 50. But remember that you also want to encourage clients to bring guests.

Reston, Va., planner Miye Wire regularly invites clients and their family and friends to a cherry blossom viewing and picnic in nearby Washington. The first time they went, the group took a chartered bus and everyone received Japanese bento boxes for lunch.

"We had no idea if anyone was going to register for the event and were overwhelmed when almost 90 people tried to sign up," Wire says. "We had to close off registration once the bus was full, and pledged to charter two buses for the next year."

2. SEND OUT REMINDERS 2. SEND OUT REMINDERS

To enhance turnout, be sure to send reminder emails beforehand to ensure everyone who RSVP'd shows up.

3. TARGET SPECIFIC GROUPS 3. TARGET SPECIFIC GROUPS

Seattle-based planning firm Brighton Jones held a sit-down dinner specifically for Microsoft alumni, pouring local wines and featuring food prepared by a famous Seattle chef.

Los Angeles-based Aspiriant decided to host a reunion dinner for a group of clients who had all worked together at a single technology firm several years earlier - and who had, along the way, become the firm's best referral network.

"The event was a huge success," Aspiriant CEO Rob Francais says. "It was an opportunity for the founder to say thanks to the management team."

4. PROVIDE INTERACTION 4. PROVIDE INTERACTION

A shared activity helps clients and guests get to know each other better. RegentAtlantic in Morristown, N.J., has taken groups of clients on community service outings. Other firms have invited clients to spend an evening at a cooking school, learning how to make pasta or ethnic dishes.

5. PARTNER UP 5. PARTNER UP

Brighton Jones partnered with the Microsoft Alumni Foundation to bring together former employees for its dinner event.

EP Wealth, meanwhile, works with the Distinguished Speakers Series in Manhattan Beach, Calif. The series finds big-name speakers and secures sponsorships from multiple organizations, which take turns hosting the intimate gatherings before the main talk. (After rubbing shoulders with EP Wealth's guests, Kennedy headed downstairs to the auditorium's main stage to speak before 2,000 people.)

6. BRING CELEBRITY GUESTS 6. BRING CELEBRITY GUESTS

Brighton Jones has also held a wine- tasting event with Drew Bledsoe, the former New England Patriots quarterback who now owns the Doubleback Winery in Walla Walla, Wash.

7. CONSIDER GIFT BAGS 7. CONSIDER GIFT BAGS

Give guests something to take home. While clients at the Bledsoe event could buy Doubleback wines, other firms have given away bottles of wine or other trinkets to guests.

8. LOCATION, LOCATION 8. LOCATION, LOCATION

Hold the event somewhere upscale and comfortable. Brighton Jones held the Bledsoe event at the home of the planning firm's founder, Charles Brighton.

"We wanted to bring our clients and their guests together and provide them with a comfortable way to meet one another," says the firm's marketing manager, Christina Sylvester.

9. GET FEEDBACK 9. GET FEEDBACK

Events can be pricey, so you want to make sure your guests enjoy them. Survey clients before organizing an event to find out what would interest them. Afterward, send out surveys to attendees to gauge an event's success.

10. MULTITASK 10. MULTITASK

Sometimes you can make an event do double duty.

In January, RegentAtlantic invited guests to a talk by Washington analyst Greg Valliere, chief political strategist of the Potomac Research Group.

The large gathering, attended by 300 clients, also gave the firm an opportunity to unveil its new logo and website redesign.

Mainly, the firm wants clients to know "we care about them and appreciate them," says one of RegentAtlantic's partners, Brian Kazanchy, "but also that we are a first-class organization."

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A well-planned gathering can help your firm develop client relationships and strengthen ties with strategic partners.

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