To demonstrate their genuine appreciation for clients’ loyalty and to create a more meaningful “high-touch,” planners have long used client appreciation events such as outings (boat rides, picnics, cooking classes) as well as client dinners featuring entertainment (a magician, comedian or motivational speaker) and/or financial experts (a noted book author or economist providing market updates and forecasts).

While these are nice and can help build a stronger relationship between the advisor and clients, planners may be wise to consider a more meaningful event.

Among financial planners’ greatest concerns in this turbulent environment is retaining valued clients. In this high-tech era, marketing expert Maries Swift says planners should balance high-tech communications with truly “high-touch” communications.

High-touch communications include:

-- Phone calls to those who are especially vulnerable or anxious (just the sound of your voice can do wonders – some planners are even using robo-call services such as Call-em-All or VoiceShot to communicate important information to everyone all at once)

-- Personal notes to selected clients (a nice touch that they will feel touched by – some planners are using online services such as Click-to-Mail or SendOutCards to automate the process)

-- Client letters to keep them informed (consistently sounding the theme that “we are on the case; we are not panicking and you shouldn’t, either”)

-- Town Hall meetings or other client events that have meaningful, practical content -- not just entertainment and a fancy meal

Creating a More Meaningful Event

In attempting to demonstrate their genuine appreciation for clients’ loyalty and to create a more meaningful high-touch, planners have long used client appreciation events such as outings (boat rides, picnics, cooking classes) as well as client dinners featuring entertainment (a magician, comedian or motivational speaker) and/or financial experts (a noted book author or economist providing market updates and forecasts). While these are nice and can help build a stronger relationship between the advisor and clients, planners may be wise to consider a more meaningful event.

In a previous Marketing Maven contribution, I talked about how one planner is holding Life Bio Events (see The Amish Kitchen Strategy).

Another approach is to host client dinners with presentations on topics that inform and resonate with clients on a personal and emotional level, using a psychologist such as Ed Jacobson, Ph.D., author of Appreciative Moments, Stories and Practices for Living and Working Appreciatively.

Personal Resilience in Tough Times

Dr. Jacobson has been making such presentations at client appreciation events for his financial planner clients for the last several years. Topics include “Personal Resilience in Tough Times,” “Abundance: It’s Not Just About Money Anymore,” and his latest topic, “How to Be Happy Until the Dow Hits 14,000 Again”. Beneath each catchy title is a presentation that provides updated and practical information based on psychological research, Ed’s decades of practice as a psychologist, business coach, consultant and public speaker, and his many years of experience with financial planning firms and their clients.

Take “How to Be Happy Until the Dow Hits 14,000 Again”, for example. In a short presentation (45 minutes to an hour), Dr. Jacobson describes findings from recent positive psychology research which show that, contrary to what you might guess, our life circumstances contributes only 10% to our level of happiness. Additionally, our genes account for another 50%. (That explains a lot about your grumpy neighbor or your always-happy aunt, doesn’t it?) What’s left? The remaining 40% of our happiness is based on our choices: what we do, the attitudes we cultivate, and what we pay attention to. Forty percent!

Cultivating Your Own Happiness

That means that we can do a lot to influence how happy, satisfied, and optimistic we feel, despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. It places the onus on us to influence how happy we feel (and therefore, how productive and successful we will be). It also means that we don’t have to simply accept that our circumstances doom us to be miserable.

Dr. Jacobson goes on to present ten strategies, also verified by research, that we can (and do) use to keep ourselves up, or pick ourselves up when we fall. Here’s a thought-provoking and entertaining video that supports his premise.

Some of the 10 items that Dr. Jacobson talks about in his “How to Be Happy” speech are what you might guess, and what your mother probably has told you:

-- Cultivate gratitude

-- Take care of your health

-- Try looking at things optimistically instead of pessimistically

Other strategies may come as a surprise:

-- Avoid social comparisons (don’t try to keep up with the Joneses; it’ll make you miserable in the long run)

-- Avoid over-thinking your choices (it’ll immobilize you)

-- Develop a spirit of forgiveness (it lightens your burdens)

Jacobson invites the planner’s guests to discuss what’s made them happy recently, and the results always show it’s the things that matter most:

-- The well-being and love of one’s family

-- One’s satisfaction in work

-- Good times with those close to us, and the like

Much less frequently it’s about how the market has rebounded or the size of one’s financial portfolio.

Humor, Information and Discussion

As he concludes his presentation, Dr. Jacobson encourages attendees to identify the three “happiness strategies” they rely on most, cultivate them further, and step out of the comfort zone and try on one or two of the strategies that they aren’t yet very practiced or adept at.

Through a mix of humor, timely and useful information, and plenty of opportunity for discussion, the planners who host these client gatherings find that Dr. Jacobson’s presentation resonates deeply with clients, complements a well-planned dinner or lunch in a comfortable setting, and provides clients with skills they can really use.

What better way for planners to communicate their appreciation for, and caring about, their clients?

Twitter Live Video Segment With Dr. Ed

At the recent FPA Experience in San Diego, I hosted a Twitter Live quick-fire event in which twelve industry thought leaders identified a challenge facing the profession, and prescribed their remedies. Watch Dr. Jacobson’s 2 minute video clip now.

Marketing That Works for Today’s Advisor

What’s working for you these days? Share your success stories and I may include your ideas in a future Marketing Maven article or toot your horn during one of my speeches. The top three contributions will receive a $360 prize. Details here: http://www.marieswift.com.