Don’t let the end of the year sneak up on you without holding a “Client Appreciation Event”. I know it’s only early October, but before we know it the holiday decorations will be up and we’ll be preparing for the New Year…and your opportunity to hold an event this year will have passed you by.
If you’ve read my materials for any length of time, you know that I am a big fan of client appreciation events. Not only are they a great way to thank past and present clients, they are an amazing marketing tool that will generate referrals for your business.
Client appreciation events can create a monumental impact! Agents connect with clients and prospects on a level that just can’t be done when working on a transaction.
So why do most agents not hold client appreciation events?
Three reasons: Work, planning, and the need to be social. So let’s talk about these perceived challenges!
Yes, events are work. Yes, they require planning. Yes, you need to put in some effort to be social in a way that you may not be used to.
Many agents prefer to keep communications business-like. Planning and hosting an event where you interact with people on a very personal basis frightens some agents because it feels like it blurs the line between “client” and “friend”.
The truth is that no line is blurred at all. This is a client event—not a bachelorette party. It has a slight air of formality because you are not best friends with these people. Yet, it also breaks down the barrier between agent and client just enough to make a connection.
Think about a politician holding an event. Most people leave the event with a stronger sense of connection with him or her, just because they heard a live speech or ate dinner in the same room. That’s why candidates still hit the road instead of just making television commercials or posting videos online.
The same principle is at work at a client appreciation event. People get to see you not in the role of salesperson, but as a generous host. You’re not there to become their best friend. Instead, your goal should be to thank them for their business – and to give something back to the people who selected you as their agent.
The benefits of a client appreciation event far outweigh the work, planning, and social effort you put into one.
Some of the most successful events I’ve ever seen are held in December, because people are in “holiday mode”. I can’t fully explain it, but I’ve seen it enough times to know it’s true. More people show up at events in December than at any other time of the year.
And the single most successful type of client appreciation event is “Breakfast with Santa”. I’ve seen many of these events – and they work like a charm!
If you’re at all nervous about hosting an event, I always recommend this one. The beauty of it is that you are not the focus. It is, after all, breakfast with Santa. People bring their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – who are enthralled with the fact that they get to meet Santa Claus. You may be the planner and organizer of the event, but it’s not about you. This fact alone removes some of the pressure you may feel.
There are other reasons people come to Breakfast with Santa. It’s usually early in the day, so there’s no “dinner event” feel to it – there’s no need to dress up or find a babysitter, and the time commitment is minimal. Plus it’s so much more personal than visiting Santa at the mall.
If your clients don’t have children, don’t worry! An agent once presented me with this very problem. I advised her to try a Breakfast with Santa anyway. The event was a wild success! People who don’t have kids generally have other family members who do—other family members who become future prospects for you. Encourage your clients to invite any family members they may have who do have small children … and watch your sphere of influence grow.
Another great client appreciation event is involves photo ops for pets and children. You simply hire a photographer to take pictures of their kids with their pets, and invite your clients to attend. And again, if they don’t have children, encourage them to have their photo taken with their pet. Americans are crazy about their animals, and the turnout at these kinds of events proves that!
One of my clients came up with a brilliant idea this year. He’s hired a photographer to take family holiday photos. He will then provide those holiday photos to his clients to send out with their cards. Now, that’s creative! I’m very excited to see how great that event is going to be for him.
Be as creative as you want. Just get out there and do something. Find something your clients may enjoy—a movie night, wine and cheese party, a present-wrapping party where you hire someone to wrap your presents for your clients. There are so many ideas that could be adapted into great events.
So now that you’re excited about the event and have an idea, how do you actually make it come together? It’s easier than you might think! The steps to getting people to attend your client appreciation event include:
- Sending out your first “Save The Date” card in October. Yes, that means NOW.
- Two weeks later, send out the official invitation.
- Two weeks later, send a “Countdown Card” that reminds them it’s only five weeks until the event.
- Two weeks later, send out directions and a three-week reminder.
- Two weeks later (one week before the event), get on the phone and confirm. Even if they haven’t sent an RSVP, it doesn’t mean they’re not coming. Your phone call is the final spark that can make them decide to come.
Yes, all of this involves money, time, and effort. But a client appreciation event is worth every dime you spend, and every detail you sweat. It’s a phenomenal way to connect with your clients.
By providing your clients with something that will be unforgettable, you stay in their memory for a very long time. In addition to being an enjoyable occasion, the client appreciation event can generate referrals to for years to come.
Start planning your Client Appreciation Event today!
Need more help? Click here to purchase our Client Appreciation Event CD. This CD will take the mystery (and fear!) out of planning your client appreciation event.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI