Getting creative with client events in challenging times

Chuck Cooper of StrongBox Wealth
Chuck Cooper, a 25-year veteran financial advisor, is the managing partner of Lee's Summit, Missouri-based StrongBox Wealth.
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Adapting to a strange new normal can pay surprising dividends.

Our newly independent practice turned the challenging shift to virtual events into charity for a good cause, a great time together with existing and prospective clients preparing delicious food from one of our favorite local restaurants.

Before the pandemic, we primarily used Zoom for out-of-town clientele. And we were only just becoming familiar with the freedoms of social media use as an RIA after breaking away from a wirehouse last August to launch Lee's Summit, Missouri-based StrongBox Wealth.

We weren’t accustomed to many client outreach tools, nor with communicating through social media. As a result, the pandemic made for a steep learning curve for our clients and us with respect to online communications.

Thanks to Cooking for a Cause KC, we now better understand the importance of connecting in a number of different ways — and on a variety of topics — during these times.

Before dreaming up a virtual cooking experience, we didn’t fully recognize that our clients see great value in connecting with us beyond their regular portfolio and plan reviews. This new event concept fell out of our area of expertise, to say the least.

The partners and our clients both agreed that the quarantine has been long. Many of us were eager to get back to frequenting our favorite restaurants, such as a local casual American eatery called Summit Grill. However, we also quickly realized that equally many didn’t feel safe in dining out even after area establishments began reopening.

With those factors in mind, we teamed up with Summit Grill Restaurant Group to hold the interactive cooking event on May 13 as a benefit for the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

With StrongBox matching donations, we raised $3,345. We expect more donations will flow directly to the Fund after raising awareness of the way it provides support for programs of nearly 200 critical needs organizations and service providers during the coronavirus.

StrongBox Wealth Cooking for a Cause KC
Cooking for a Cause KC raised donations and awareness for coronavirus relief organizations in the area on May 13.

And at the same time, we had a lot of fun as a team and enjoyed our clients’ company outside of a work setting. From his own kitchen, Summit’s Chef Conrad showed everyone how to prepare herb marinated shrimp to top his grilled spring vegetable salad with homemade poppy seed dressing, accompanied by the restaurant’s specialty Black and White Margarita.

Along with more than 150 attendees, special guests joined the webinar via Zoom: Kansas City Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre; Greater Kansas City Community Foundation CEO Debbie Wilkerson; and Maryanne Metheny, the CEO of a domestic abuse shelter and service organization called Hope House. Megan Day, a barbecue pitmaster who once won the championship prize on the Food Network’s “Chopped Grill Masters,” served as a guest panelist talking with Chef Conrad as he instructed the group.

We now can also track additional metrics about the event’s success, beyond the local celebrities who stepped up to attend, the money raised for excellent causes and the overall attendance.

Between posts by StrongBox and Summit, we had 17,000+ Facebook impressions and 1,000 views of the event invitation. The area Chamber of Commerce featured the event before its more than 1,000 member businesses in its e-newsletter, and our local newspaper covered it as well. StrongBox’s LinkedIn followers doubled in a month.

Our client reactions were the most meaningful aspect. Dozens of families cooked together like we were face-to-face. We would have never expected a client event like this, but the result was one of the more meaningful experiences during this time of isolation.

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