In my last article, "Keeping in Front of Clients and Prospects," I laid the groundwork for what we'll do today: Envisioning three perfect events to keep your name top of mind with right-fit prospects and current clients.
Events can be a great way to help enhance relationships with current clients, position yourself in front of qualified prospects, and build important mutually beneficial relationships with Centers of Influence (COIs). Filling your Events Funnel will inevitably lead to a spillover into your Referral Funnel and Public Relations Funnel. At the end of this article, you will be invited to envision three different events and to pencil in the initial framework for a successful event.
There are a number of reasons to host an event and they vary depending on whether you're targeting current clients, Centers of Influence or prospective clients.
A Client Connection Event can be a great way to:
-- Express your appreciation for your clients, their individuality and their trust in you
-- Remind them of your value-keep yourself in the forefront of their minds
-- Provide a quality experience for everyone involved-think of this as a party where people have fun
A COI Relationship Building Event provides an opportunity to:
-- Introduce yourself to COIs in your community
-- Position yourself as an expert who could be a valuable resource for them
-- Offer the added benefit of providing CE credits in their field
A Prospective Client Event can help you:
-- Create awareness within a specific community
-- Build trust and establish credibility
-- Educate and inform potential clients
A business development or prospecting event may seem like the most important option. What financial advisor doesn't want to bring in new clients? But getting people you don't know to attend a traditional seminar has become a real challenge. There was a time when offering an informative presentation and free dinner at a decent restaurant was enough to get qualified prospects to attend. This is no longer the case.
Because a seminar-type prospecting event is less targeted than client or COI events, it can easily be a resource drain, with no appreciable results. That said, depending on your community and the way that you leverage the event, you can still get value out of a prospecting event, as long as you are aware that the benefits may have a very long tail.
DETERMINING THE GUEST LIST
Who do you want at your event? Well, that's easy, isn't it? Just like with a party, you want nice, interesting people who will get along with each other and who are interested in you and what you have to say. Easier said than done. So remember, target your audience with care. You are looking to develop a trust far beyond money management and financial planning. You want to build deep, long-lasting relationships with people who will be good-fit clients.
Small affinity events for existing clients can be a great option. Take a careful look at your clients. What is your market niche? Are there commonalities among clients? What do they like to do?
Are they sports fans, travelers, doting grandparents? Are they urban sophisticates, suburban country club members, simple rural folks? Are they community volunteers, philanthropists, educators? Do they like crafts? Do they share a religious tradition? You get the idea.
CREATING A THEMED EVENT
What kind of event will you have? Do you know enough about your clients to really produce an effective event?
You should have enough information from your initial client questionnaire in your CRM database to enable you to create some manageable groups - and there may be some overlap.
There are a number of different styles and formats for events, with traditional seminars being just one option. You might want to consider a town hall meeting, which is a less formal informational event. Social gatherings and themed activities, held at special locations, can be fun and interesting. For these, you are really only limited by your imagination. You might also consider a weekend getaway.
The location or venue can "make or break" the event. Aim for a unique venue that suits the event. Here are a few ideas:
-- A walking tour of all the art galleries downtown with food and drinks along the way
-- A theme park with a picnic pavilion and catered lunch mid-day
-- A progressive dinner with guests driven in a stretch Hummer or Limo from place to place
-- A party bus for 52 people to the Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring or a Pumpkin Patch in the fall
-- The local zoo for a jazz concert and BBQ at night
-- A baseball or soccer stadium for a family night out
-- Golf lessons from a local golf pro followed by lunch at the club
-- Wine tasting and dinner at a country inn
-- A movie theatre for popcorn and a show (family night, whole theatre reserved just for you and your guests)
-- A cooking school where everyone helps make and eat dinner
-- A spiritual retreat with a candle light dinner is served after an inspirational talk by a spiritual leader
-- A seafood restaurant reserved just for your clients' and a couples lunch, pre-Valentine's day
-- An Amish farmhouse for a scrapbooking or a family legacy event
-- A university auditorium for a financial literacy town hall meeting
-- A local modeling school, complete with professional runway for a fashion-and-finance event
-- A big white tent set up in the community park with signage directing people to come by for cold lemonade and financial first-aid kits after a charity fun-run
-- A computer lab at the local college where a consultant from the Apple store teaches your guests how to use an iPad, synch their iPhones, use iTunes, etc.
-- A meeting classroom at your local community center where a member of the Millennial Generation - such as the young person I recently added to my team at Impact Communications as a patient teacher and coach to our Boomer advisor clients -- walks them through setting up and using Facebook (after all, many of your Boomer and Bob Hope Generation clients would like to see more photos of their grandkids but could be concerned about their privacy on Facebook).
You may not always have access to the 100% perfect location, but do keep your big goals and overarching theme in mind when choosing your venue. Remember what my presentations coach told me, and I emphasize to you: People want good information but that's just not enough anymore - you have make it entertaining and touch a variety of emotions.
When to hold your event will depend on the type of event and your target audience. Remember that people's schedules fill up at certain times of the year, such as the holidays, end of the school year (graduation) or vacation / wedding season, so you should plan and invite further in advance to make sure that you are on their list. Off-times can be an ideal time to have an event, such as late February when the holidays are over and people are going a little stir-crazy, especially if you live in a colder climate.
BLAZING A TRAIL ONLINE
Virtual events can also play a part in your event-marketing plan. In fact, just having viable reasons to contact people (goal: build share of mind) and capturing digital assets for future use online (goal: cross-link and build a strong online presence) can be as important as the number of people who actually participate in the conference call or webinar. Digital recordings can also be used as a lead generation tool (offer PDFs of special reports and white papers, podcasts, videos, etc. as part of your online educational library to show you are a credible resource and subject matter expert).
For more ideas on holding the perfect event, download this Seminar and Events Guide, brought to you by Lockwood Advisors and Pershing, and written in partnership with my firm:
You might also find value in the following articles (archived on Financial-Planning.com) on this subject:
CRAFTING THE PERFECT EVENT
Okay. So, now it's your turn. I'd like you to envision 3 different events:
-- A small affinity event
-- A client appreciation event
-- A public forum
Questions you should answer:
-- Who would be there?
-- What kind of event would it be?
-- Why would you be doing it?
-- Where would it be?
-- When would it be?
-- How would you get it done?
Get out your pencil or put your fingers on the keyboard and start brainstorming now.
In my next installment, we'll talk about the second funnel in your business-building funnel: PR and Credibility Marketing.
Also, look for me at the following conferences this fall:
Sept 13-15, 2012: Business and Wealth Management Forum (BWMF) in Denver (save $100 with the code you will find here: www.MarieSwift.com)
Sept 22, 2012: Texas Tech University, Social Media Class, in Lubbock (www.TTU.edu)
Sept 29-Oct 2, 2012: FPA Experience in San Antonio (www.fpanet.org)
Oct 9-11, 2012: Loring Ward Advanced Symposium in Chicago (www.LoringWard.com)
Oct 10-11, 2012: Securities America's Assistant University in Omaha (www.JoinSAI.com)
Oct 15-17, 2012: Tiburon CEO Summit in San Francisco (www.TiburonAdvisors.com)
If you are going to the Business & Wealth Management Forum in Denver, my team and I will be manning the Interactive Media Lab. We'll be shooting live video interviews (only 12 slots remain so sign up now) and teaching 7 interactive social media sessions. Details: http://t.co/75qK3J42