Virtual Ideas to Replace Client Appreciation Events
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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What activities should we consider this year to replace the normal in-person dinners and client events we have always done? We sat out last year waiting and hoping the year would be an anomaly and we’d be back to something looking like normal. Unfortunately, our clients are not comfortable in person and I don’t think we’d get them to bring prospects or “strangers” with them.
While there are some signs the clouds are clearing, with the mass distribution of vaccines, there is still a great deal of trepidation on the part of advisors and their clients to get back to full in-person activities. That said, I am hearing from many of my clients they are doing much smaller get togethers. In place of the large client appreciation event, it could be small bagel and coffee meetings with just a couple of clients, or dinner outside on a patio or another outdoor venue. Of course, this is weather permitting and could work well for advisors in Florida, while not for those in Boston or NY!
Many of the advisors I work with are finding unique ways to engage clients during these times. While many people are tired of being on screen and don’t want to have to dress up for their advisor to join an event, there are just as many disconnected and lonely clients who would love the chance to engage and have a conversation.
Consider small individual topics that might interest a certain target group – for example, parents saving for college and considerations outside of 529 plans, those approaching RMD status and how to understand the rules and guidelines, or business owners who want to explore different types of retirement plans.
It might be a bit more work to develop the topics, identify the appropriate audience and plan these. But people would be more likely to attend if it seemed exclusive to them. If you do it this way, they might also invite others who are in a similar situation.
Another option would be to do an online networking event targeted to COIs – you could partner with an accountant, attorney or insurance provider (or anyone else with access to your audience). Together you could provide information to an audience of their clients and yours who might be suitable for a certain target market – for example, business owners, those buying a second home or those seeking to round out their estate planning with insurance. Depending on what you do, your style of planning and advising, select topics appropriate for your audience.
We need to do a refresh on our marketing materials. We keep having discussions about developing an updated brochure. But one of our advisors pointed out we would look old school just by having a brochure. He said we need to be more cutting edge and tech-oriented.
Do advisors still do brochures? Do they have their place?
What use would the brochure have for your firm? What would you want to include in the brochure? Would the information be otherwise available on your website? How often do your team members need or use a brochure?
Many firms have moved away from a large 5-10-page color glossy printed brochure because they find their way into your prospect or client’s circular file (otherwise known as the trash can). However, there can be a place for a hard copy of something shorter – like a three-page foldout or a nice one-pager. You can use these in your sales process or in conjunction with a pitchbook to illustrate an idea. Advisors might have a one-pager on their investment process, their client experience or their planning philosophy. These can be useful because you can hand them out and as you talk through the information, your audience has something to take notes on.
The other approach is to have a brochure that is an e-mailable PDF that looks like a nice hard copy marketing piece but is made exclusively to be used in cyber space.
Don’t have a brochure for the sake of having one. Consider your sales process and how you use different tools and materials. Consider how and when you would need a supplemental piece that could enhance your process.
Many firms make the mistake of thinking marketing materials (including brochures and websites) “sell” what they do. But this isn’t the case. You want to be thoughtful about what you need and when and how you will use it before you invest in the writing, design and printing of something as expensive as a brochure.
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995. The firm also founded and manages the Advisors Sales Academy. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate and graduate students Entrepreneurship and Leading Teams. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.