I know you invest significant time and effort in demonstrating your commitment to clients. Over and above the technical work that you do, that effort might take the form of articles, webinars or live events. And, I know it’s a lot of work.
Today I want to talk about how you can tweak some of those activities so that they not only add value for clients but open the door to more referrals.
Let’s start with what we know:
- As it relates to referrals: We know that clients refer to help friends and families solve problems. And we know that helping the people they care about is more important to them than helping you grow your business. Fair enough.
- As it relates to client appreciation: We know that the most successful advisors are shifting from passive appreciation to active appreciation. This means that client appreciation is more about solving problems than saying thank-you.
The connection between the two things (in case that wasn’t entirely obvious) is a focus on problem solving. And that got me thinking. How can we marry these two ideas to create a fresh approach that can transform client appreciation into a meaningful driver of referrals?
We Need a New Category of Event
To combine client appreciation and referrals, I think we need a new category of client appreciation event. In the past, we had the Client Appreciation Event; in the future we’ll call it a Connection Event, for lack of a more creative idea.
This new category of event is carefully structured to respond to the changing needs of clients while creating something that makes them want to invite friends and family. And they want to invite friends and family because they think it will – you got it – solve a problem for them.
How does this differ from the past?
The concept of encouraging clients to invite friends to client events isn’t new. The nuance, with this approach, is that you focus the event on solving a clear problem, one that is shared by your ideal clients.
In the past we might have run a great social event – a wine and cheese or a sporting event – and allowed clients to bring a friend. Those events were a nice way to say thank-you to clients, with the added benefit of allowing you to meet the people they brought along. The theory was that the prospect would be so blown away by your generosity with clients that they would want to work with you.
There are two significant flaws with this theory.
- There is no filter on who is invited. Using the same example, you might meet anyone who likes to eat, drink or watch sports. They might be fun to hang out with but they don’t necessarily fit your definition of the ideal client.
- The event doesn’t showcase the value you can bring to the relationship. While enjoyable, a social event doesn’t get to the heart of the impact you can have on people’s lives (notwithstanding the potential benefits of food, wine and sports).
And for clarity, a Connection Event can be a live event or a webinar. It could even be something like a podcast or article. The key is that clients can easily invite people or share the content, however live events hold out the promise of letting your personality shine through.
The Benefits of Client Appreciation
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a role for a great client appreciation event, even one that is purely social. There’s evidence that if you can actively demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and (as your mother suggested) say ‘thank-you’ in a meaningful way, there will be an impact on client engagement. Just don’t assume these will also drive growth.
Don’t assume that saying thank you to clients is the same as demonstrating your value to prospects.
A Connection Event draws its power from focusing on a defined problem or need. It has a real impact on your clients and it actively encourages them to invite exactly the kinds of people for your business. By focusing your event on a clear need, you help clients solve their most important problems. By opening that event up to their network, you ensure that the people they bring share similar problems, the ones you can help solve.
Here are some examples of topics:
- How to make sure your children make good financial decisions
- How charity can be a part of your financial plan
- Why entrepreneurs need to focus on reducing stress
- Protecting your legacy in a family-based business
So what can you do to take action? Here’s a place to start.
- Create a list of the problems you solve for your ideal clients.
- Select one problem that you know you can help solve.
- Design an event that focuses on solving that issue, considering speaker, venue and process.
- Invite clients and provide them with an easy way to invite someone along to the event. That might include a .pdf they can forward, a link to information your site or a link to a video clip that you create to explain why this event will be so powerful.
- Follow-up with prospective clients who attend and you’ve got it from here….
Like many ideas that work, this is a twist on an existing strategy. The key is to examine everything you do for clients in the context of what we know drives referrals. You may find that more of your communications can play double duty, engaging both clients and prospects, if you focus on solving problems.
Thanks for stopping by,