Posts Tagged ‘Appreciation’

Holiday Client Appreciation Event Ideas

November 20, 2013

In my previous blog post, I spoke to you about Client Appreciation Events and I mentioned Holiday-themed CAEs. Here are some more ideas for these events as you begin planning.

Traditional: Your clients and prospects will really appreciate a full-on holiday experience. If you have the resources, make the event seem like a Christmas card come to life. If you get snow in your part of the world, sleigh rides are unforgettable. Carolers in traditional Victorian garb give everyone a warm feeling, like the Charles Dickens story come to life. Even hiring a bus or limousine service to take everyone on a tour of the local Christmas lights after dinner can be a fun and enjoyable experience.

Let’s get out of the house: While winter’s a time for cozy homebody comforts, it’s also the middle of two major sports seasons. Think about a suite with your nearest NBA or NHL franchise. Or maybe a ski trip is more in line with your clients’ active lifestyles. Even renting a movie theater for a special screening of the latest blockbuster or a family favorite can be a nice surprise for everyone.

Honor everyone during the holidays: You should know your clients well enough to understand their various traditions and backgrounds… so introducing themes from several holidays to your event can make for an even more engaging and poignant evening, even for those who don’t share those traditions. You want to make sure everyone is recognized and honored, and that means more than just putting some inexpensive religious or spiritual objects/symbols in a corner… take time to learn the traditional greetings for each holiday your clients and prospects observe, and research their traditional foods and customs. If you’re based in a larger city, this is an absolute must, and it may prove easier than you think.

Food, glorious food: Regardless of what route you take, make sure that a quality meal is part of the event. Don’t be afraid to get creative and leave an impression. Remember that presentation is just as important as flavor, so make your expectations clear, whether you make use of a restaurant or caterers. If you hire musicians, make sure that their performance isn’t too loud or disruptive during the meal.

Beyond December: Don’t forget that holidays happen throughout the year. A Fourth of July barbecue… a Valentine’s Day concert… even a costume party on Halloween can be a fun and entertaining event for the people you do business with.


Five Great Client Appreciation Events

October 7, 2013

Client Appreciation Events may seem like a no-brainer, but experienced professionals know that they are effective tools for keeping your name on the tip of a client’s tongue. Keep these five great event ideas in mind, or perhaps they’ll help to spark some creative ideas of your own.

The Holiday Party
Whether it’s dinner in the private room of a fine restaurant or hors d’oeuvres and music in a hotel ballroom, the holidays are a fine time to show your clients your appreciation for their business. Small party favors and/or games may keep things lively. Don’t forget how important scheduling is this time of year; hold the event early in December, so as not to conflict with travel plans. If your clients have visiting relatives, invite them as well! Keep in mind that December isn’t the only month of the year associated with celebration. An Independence Day barbecue under local fireworks can be a memorable and relatively simple event for your clients and their families.

The Retirement Party
It’s an exciting time that your clients have been working for their entire professional lives, and something you’ve likely had a big part in securing for them. If they are already being feted with a big party by their colleagues, get creative with options like a golf trip or a wine tour. If appropriate, throw an annual celebration with your retiring clients as the guests of honor, and invite all your clients to attend. Inviting your other clients and prospects to such an event can put them in a mind to talk about their own retirement options.

The Anniversary Party
If you’re looking at the calendar and realizing that you’ve been in business for a while, it may be time to consider an anniversary party. Reminding your clients that you’ve been on the job, helping people for a long time will remind them that you are here to stay, and that you’re going to be around to help them, their friends, and their families. 25 year, 20 year, 15 year, 10 year … even the first anniversary of being in business can be cause for celebration.

The Educational Event
Such an event should not be combined with any of the above, but you still want to make it a fun and engaging time for your clients. A lecture and a few sandwiches probably won’t cut it. Fine dining in a comfortable atmosphere, or, if you have the resources, a weekend getaway can give your clients time to relax before they direct their full attention to your informative and worthwhile seminar. Mixing business with pleasure is the proverbial spoonful of sugar.

The Sports Event
Few Americans live more than a few hours from a stadium where professional sports are played, and even people who don’t follow sports are known to enjoy the thrill and excitement of a live game. Don’t forget that many cities also have minor league baseball teams; a summer day at the ballpark can be fun and surprisingly affordable when you’re entertaining clients with young children.

There are many different routes a Client Appreciation Event can take, and just reading through these suggestions may have inspired ideas specific to your area and your own clientele. As I said, get creative and make these events count!

Cultivating a Client Advisory Board

September 9, 2013

You likely have a number of clients who, for various reasons, represent the best of the best in terms of what you cultivate as an advisor. It’s possible you’ve even thought something like, “If only all of my clients were more like this person.” If you’re lucky enough to be doing business with this sort of client, you might want to consider maintaining a Client Advisory Board as part of your business plan.

Having a Client Advisory Board is an opportunity to pick the brains of your best clients, sharpen and focus your marketing message, and allow you to expand your business through referrals and the advice and experience of your best customers.
Some Best Practice “DOs” and “DON’Ts” when you are putting together and meeting with your board:

DO make your objectives and expectations clear. Nobody is going to want to be beholden to this board forever, but if you suggest that you’re interested in meeting twice a year for two years, to engage them on your current and potential business practices, you might discover that your clients appreciate the opportunity to open a dialogue. Letting them know that you appreciate their business and want to learn more from them how to appeal to folks just like them can be a bit of an ego boost, not to mention open you up for potential referrals.

DON’T overload the board. They are meant to be a representation of your business, not the entire business. More than twelve members is probably unmanageable and too much. Also, make sure you are selecting a wide cross-section of your clientele, not just the “biggest” clients, just representations of the best. Don’t be afraid to invite an estate planner, a CPA, or even a trusted non-client to join the board.

DO keep in touch. Not everything you bring to the board has to wait for the meeting. The occasional call can sometimes provide the needed input to help inform your decisions. Also, be sure to send emails or letters with invitations to meetings, including directions if necessary, and reach out before the meeting to remind them it’s coming up. Also, let them know when you make changes based on their suggestions; they will see how their participation is valuable to you.

DON’T have a boring meeting. Make sure the board members know you have something interesting and engaging planned for them. Treat the board to an exciting outing at a nice restaurant or engaging in a fun activity. In many ways, a Client Advisory Board meeting can intersect with a Client Appreciation Event. Let them know you value their time by showing them a good one.

DO remember that the objective is to grow your business. An advisory board can stagnate from too few new ideas, so having turnover is a good idea. Don’t be afraid to stagger these board memberships, too, so that new members can engage older members and vice-versa; having someone new in the room can make a world of difference.