Private client events can have a strong impact on the success of your practice—helping you build credibility with existing clients while also attracting new business. And yet, these types of organized events are overlooked or implemented poorly by many advisors.

To make private client events work effectively, you need to understand that they are different from the more typical seminars or presentations that you may be used to. Private client events are designed to speak to a small group of select invitees who you truly want to work with. Presentations, which tend to be aimed at the general public or large groups, are not particularly effective at attracting highly desirable affluent clients and converting them into interested prospects.

As many of our coaching clients have told us, the affluent prefer events that are intimate and feel exclusive to big seminars or events they feel are too mass market. So try to limit your audiences to no more than 30 people to create an intimate, comfortable atmosphere. A smaller group will also give you more opportunities to address individual questions from the audience and make personal contact after the presentation.

With that in mind, here are four techniques that elite wealth managers use to design and conduct high-quality private events that boost their top lines.

1. Start at the finish line. Think about your ultimate end game before you get going. That way, you’ll never lose sight of your event’s key purpose: generating a stream of pre-qualified, pre-endorsed prospects. Everything you do regarding your event needs to have a purpose.

We have seen some financial advisors spend a great deal of time creating terrific content and lining up amazing speakers for their presentations, while completely overlooking the key component: the follow up—that is, the desired outcome they want to achieve by holding the event in the first place. If you’ve ever conducted a presentation and felt a “post seminar letdown,” you know what I’m talking about. You’ve just conducted what you consider a successful seminar, but after the warm glow of the backslapping and congratulations fades, you realize you didn’t really do any significant business. Why? Because most advisors have only a vague idea that they want more clients, and they get so caught up in the event that they forget why they’re there.

To avoid this classic mistake, plan out your event marketing series for the next 12 months, starting with the results you want to achieve and moving backward from there to the actual event. For wealth managers, the focus should be on one action: getting qualified prospects to attend introductory meetings where you can provide them a second opinion on their financial situation.

2. Know your audience. As you turn to the task of designing the event itself, keep in mind that at each event you will likely have three types of attendees—and that you should set specific goals for each:
· Clients. Private events can be a great retention tool. Your goals with existing clients are to solidify those relationships and to continue to reinforce that you are the go-to expert for meeting their needs.
· Prospective clients. Your goal with this group, obviously, is to allow them to “test drive” you in a comfortable environment where they do not have to make a commitment to working with you.
· Other professionals. With strategic partners or members of your expert team who attend events, you have two goals. The first is to develop joint business development opportunities. The second is to have the other professionals see you through the eyes of clients and prospective clients. You want them to see the impact that your insights and communication skills have on attendees.

3. Market intelligently. Send invitations to your events only to existing clients or to individuals who are qualified for your service. You have three fertile sources for these qualified individuals:
· Existing clients. When you invite your ideal clients to your events, invite them to bring along affluent friends or other associates who they think should know about your firm.
· Strategic alliance partners and your expert team members. Clients of your strategic partners and/or expert team members should be invited to your events. Depending on your arrangement, invitations should be sent out directly from your partner or team members or jointly by both of you. These clients should also be welcome to invite friends and associates.
· Affinity groups in your niche. Affinity groups are any associations, clubs or other organizations of people who share a common interest or goal. The leaders of many of these groups are always looking for ways to add value to their members—something you can provide through your events—and will be willing for you to invite members.

4. Create a ‘wow’ presentation. Your content should tackle the concerns and issues of your niche in ways that capture the attention of the audience and that show them that you are the wealth management expert for that niche. In today’s environment, that may mean a presentation on the major areas that affluent investors are concerned about—such as protecting wealth, mitigating taxes, taking care of heirs, protecting assets from being unjustly taken through litigation or divorce, and charitable gifting.

Another way to ensure a wow presentation is to make it action-oriented. Hand out blank personal action summaries to all attendees. As you present your content, encourage them to write down the actions that they feel they should be taking to address their financial issues. This will make them more inclined to follow through on your invitation to meet with you for a second opinion. It also will remind them about how much they have to do to manage their financial lives and will position you as the right financial advisor to help them with those tasks.

Warning: Don’t use prepackaged seminars here—even ones designed to appeal to affluent investors. They often appear obviously off the shelf, and they do not properly position you as an expert in your specific market. If you have written any white papers, create presentations from this content and distribute the white paper as your handout (which can further enhance your credibility among attendees).

Private client events aren’t the key to success for every advisor out there, of course. But if you’re someone who enjoys public speaking and works with a target market that attends these types of get-togethers, you will find that private client events help you stand out from the crowd and position you as a go-to advisor among the people you most want to serve.

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