It’s October. The leaves are falling. Before you know it, the holiday season will be here.
That’s why now is the time you should be thinking about your December client appreciation event.
Don’t underestimate the power of client appreciation events. When done right, this one tool can be a huge shot in the arm for your business—and a great dose of good will for your clients.
The idea behind a client appreciation event is to create a short but fun time for your clients. You can invite past clients, present clients, and even new clients. Ultimately, this is one of the best ways to stay in front of their faces.
However, there are some very important things you need to know to have a successful client appreciation event.
Here are some tips to make yours one to remember:
1. Choose the right type of event.
First, events that involve children are fantastic. Clients love to bring their kids to events like a Breakfast with Santa.
In fact, I recommend the Breakfast with Santa variation of the client appreciation event over anything else you can do. I can tell you from experience that I have never once heard of any of my clients having an unsuccessful Breakfast with Santa.
Summer barbecue events are another great idea. Wide open spaces with lots of outdoor fun and games for kids can be a big hit. The only problem may be that the summertime is so busy that you find it more difficult to plan the event.
Another successful event is a stop by open house client appreciation event. Clients like this because they can drop by and say hi but are not compelled to stay for a luncheon or dinner. How do you spice up your drop by open house to make it an event? Be creative. For example, one client of mine once did a “Cakes of the World” party inside at her open house. She had cakes from Greece, Italy, France, Asia, Mexico, and Hawaii. It was very interesting and unique. She had people try the cakes and vote on their favorite. This gave her a great excuse to contact them after the open house to let them know which cake won.
Besides being amazingly inventive, the event didn’t cost her hardly anything at all. She had mortgage companies and title companies sponsor a cake from each of the countries. Simply brilliant.
Some client appreciation events look great on paper, but don’t work when made real. A good example of this is a dinner cruise. Sounds like a good idea, right? A fun night on the water.
More often than not, however, the dinner cruise backfires. There is so much complication getting on and off a boat—not to mention ensuring that you’ve thought of everything before you set sail. Then, if the weather doesn’t cooperate it can ruin the event.
2. Get people to your event.
It’s extremely important to pack your event with people. There’s nothing worse than a client appreciation event where nobody shows up.
To make sure this happens, send out a “Save the Date” card approximately 60-90 days before the event. Then, 60 days before the event, send out an invitation asking for RSVP’s. Then, 30 days before the event, call people to confirm that they will attend. Then, 2 weeks before the event send out a notice that reminds them that there are only 14 days left before the event. Include driving directions.
This type of diligence is critical in order to fill your event with people. When people first get an invitation, they may not be thinking that far in advance so they put it off to one side. Then, they may forget about it. It’s your responsibility to provide them with timely reminders so that your event becomes a reality that they can plan for.
3. Free yourself up.
During the event, you need to be freed up to be the “social butterfly” of the event. You shouldn’t be worried about where people are going to be sitting, handing out name tags, etc.
Get the help of title or mortgage companies to help you do that. Have somebody there specifically to handle the administrative tasks of the event so that you can be the social star.
4. Diarize the event.
Make sure somebody is there to take pictures of the event. Once it’s over, post those photographs on a “Clients Only” area on your website. People love to see pictures of themselves. Send them a link so they can look at the photos (and add their own if they want!).
You should also create a “Thank You” that has a collage of photos from the event with a brief note telling them how their presence made the event special. For the people who didn’t attend, send them a photo collage as well. Include a note stating how much you missed them being there and how much you look forward to their coming next year. This gives them a visual of what the event looked and felt like.
So, start thinking about your event now. If you’re going to do a Breakfast with Santa, this is the time to find the venue and start making plans.
You won’t be sorry. A Client Appreciation Event pays off handsomely in the long term. Your image is strengthened. Your reputation is secured. Your business grows.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M.