Among the many marketing techniques that firms can employ, client events are one of the most popular. Done well, these events can prove an ongoing source of business and can cement customer loyalty. Done badly, on the other hand, they can be disastrous.
Funnily enough, the difference between a good client event, a great one, and an absolute car crash usually comes down to the attention that you give to the most mundane details.
Many of the suggestions below may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised at how frequently these little things are overlooked. Here are 10 of them.
1. Be clear about your objective.
An entertaining guest speaker, sparkling venue, and fine wines will be wasted unless all of this connects to a business objective. Perhaps it's showcasing your expertise in an area that you're not usually identified with; perhaps it's demonstrating the relevance of financial advice to a younger generation.
Whatever it is, ensure the event links to the objective.
2. Connect the event to your digital marketing effort.
The client event shouldn't stand alone. It should be an integral part of a wider messaging campaign, beginning with the promotion of the event and continuing with the post-event emails and materials.
Plan this out well beforehand. You promote the event, and the event promotes you: that's the way to think about it.
3. Choose your venue wisely.
A noisy club or restaurant won't work if you are featuring a guest speaker. AV issues are one of the most frequent sources of disaster. Make sure everything works and there's someone for you to call if, at the last moment, discover the HDMI cables are missing.
4. Set expectations clearly.
A well-run event has a clear beginning, a middle, and end. Get the formal part of the evening done early, particularly before have had a few drinks. Choose your MC wisely. Minimise your slides. Keep your messaging tight. Ensure there are staff in the audience to help with questions.
5. Build fun into the evening.
A frequently successful approach, particularly if you have banquet seating, is a multiple-choice quiz with a prize attached. These quizzes help people settle down and often act as an ice-breaker if people are strangers to one another. Ensure you have a staff member at each table.
6. Put promotional material on display.
Leave on each table or chair brief promotional material about your firm – containing information about your offering, photos of the principals, and email and phone contacts. Maybe invite people to download a free e-book or report from your website in return for their email address.
7. Set a specific timeframe.
A successful event, all up, should go for no more than two hours. Top and tail your speaker with key messages from your firm and ensure attendees have something to take away with them. A frequently successful technique is to have people to participate in a survey.
8. Make it a regular thing.
If the event is a success, why not make it a regular part of your calendar – each year, six-monthly or quarterly? You can build it around a set-piece, like the end of the calendar year and a government budget, or a topical and popular theme like – for example – sustainable investing or financial technology. Just be sure you fold your firm's message inside the wider subject.
9. Survey your audience.
Ahead of time, ask people what speakers or topics they'd like to see. Ask them if they prefer a breakfast, lunchtime, or evening timeslot. After the event, survey them on what they thought of the speaker, venue, food, or drinks.
10. Don't forget to say thank you.
Obviously, thank the speaker on the day and thank everyone for coming out. Tell them you understand their time is precious but you really wanted to share these ideas. Send a follow-up email newsletter with key messages, links and other resources. Get them on your mailing list.
Our colleagues at Regis Media can provide an array of written and video-based content, as well as social media management services, to assist advisory firms with their marketing efforts. Take a look at the website to find out more.