Engaging clients through exceptional events

In recent years, a key trend we have seen of successful advice firms is their ability to evolve a client service experience into a dedicated community group. Building deep engagement, loyalty and advocacy. Events are a great way to build connection with your clients.

As our communities slowly open up from COVID-19 restrictions – now is a perfect time to launch some small to medium events and capture some of the social energy that has been in hibernation during recent months.

Every year, we hear from advisers that they want to do more client events, but they're uncertain on how to get started and how to make it a success. Our partnership with you provides an incredibly differentiated perspective that many advisers don't get to see—we are fortunate to experience and participate in lots of client events.

Building a sense of community creates a sense of belonging – which is important to so many people right now. A happy community also has the opportunity of being a referral opportunity. Think of the last time you had an amazing experience—did you tell your friends, neighbours or co-workers about that experience? Of course you did. People like sharing stories about their experiences—good and bad.

How do we lock in client loyalty while creating experiences that make it easy for your best clients to refer business? Ask them! Whether it be part of your annual review process, part of your client satisfaction surveys, or as simple as running online polls on your social media accounts. Try asking a simple question:

"In 2021, we want to design some amazing experiences for our clients and their friends. What are your 2-3 top hobbies you do now or want to try in the future?"

You can help them out by providing a few examples but also include a free text field for their ideas.

It signals to your clients that there are some interesting opportunities for them on the horizon. They are giving you permission to invite them to something they are interested in. You will find commonalities among your loyal clients. You also know that your loyal clients have friends, neighbours and co-workers that are like them, holding similar interests.

This survey or poll serves two purposes. First, it acknowledges and places time and effort on your clients. Second, it is an easy way for your loyal clients to invite their friends to attend an event that they are more likely to attend.

Tips for a successful event

  • The adviser should always open the event with a welcome, introduce speakers and close the event. Why? Because you're the host!

  • The adviser should have pictures taken of the event with the attendees. A framed picture with a hand-written thank-you note to all attendees is a memorable follow-up after the event. Remember, the details matter.

  • You (the adviser) and the hobby are the natural conversation connectors between all the attendees. Your clients will want to share with their guests how long they've been working with you, how you help them, etc. This happens in the natural flow of conversation—it doesn't need to be forced.

Ask your Russell Investments relationship manager what they've seen work and not work. It doesn't always have to be expensive, some of the best ideas are informal and have minimal cost. In fact, we have seen that people are willing to pay, attend and invite guests to an event that is a meaningful experience.

Whatever format you chose – we suggest focusing on the detail and making sure it is memorable and special in some way. In our experience, one thing has remained true—experiences matter.

Below are some event ideas using the Client Interest Checklist that I've seen work well over the years.

  1. Cooking Classes – Contact a local restaurant and ask if their chef would host a cooking class.

  2. Dinner Club – For those less inclined to cook, but still lovers of food – plan a monthly dinner at local restaurants. Organise with the Restaurant for a discounted set menu.

  3. Travelling – Invite a local travel agent to your office to highlight the best new places to visit in Australia 2020.

  4. Motorcycles or cars– Contact your local Motorcycle or car dealer and ask for a co-hosted event, showcasing new models and insights from other markets.

  5. Wine tasting – Wine stores host private events with in-house experts.

  6. Whiskey tasting – People that love whiskey also love talking about and trying new whiskeys. This has a VIP tour written all over it.

  7. Beer tasting – Contact a local brewery and see if they’d arrange a behind-the-scenes look at their beer-making process and/or a private tour of their facility.

  8. Golfing – Golfers, experienced and not-so experienced, are always looking for the golf tip that is going to bring their game to the next level. Ask the local pro if they’d do a mini-clinic or arrange a nice course outing experience.

  9. Gardening – Contact a local landscaping company or greenhouse and ask for their horticulturalist to give a presentation on gardening best practices.

  10. Real estate/Architecture – Have a local real estate agent or architect take you on a tour of some amazing houses in the area and their design features.

  11. Photography – Many local camera stores host private photography classes. Bring your cameras so they can teach you how and when to use the different camera settings. Not a professional? Contact an Apple store for a private session on iPhoto, editing pictures and how to use the different filters.

  12. Health/Wellness – This is an ever-growing topic of interest. Have a nutritionist give a presentation on food consumption, dieting and health considerations. Partner with your local gym and have an exercise therapist host a private, popular class for your clients’ age group. Invite a medical professional to discuss the effects of aging on the brain.

  13. Painting/Sculpture/Pottery – Research local venues and have everyone take home their creations!

  14. Art collecting – Contact them on an off-night during the off-season and have their collectors give a talk on their gallery and how they’ve expanded their collection. Do a quiz of the talk at the end and give the winner a prize.

  15. Tennis – Contact your local tennis club and host a private lesson for your clients, then organise a doubles tournament and have prizes for the winners.

  16. Charity Quiz nights – Host your own quiz nights and ask clients to invite friends. Consider using the opportunity for raising money for a local or a national charity.

  17. Antiquing – Find a local antique appraiser and host a discussion on antiquing. Ask your attendees to bring an antique and have the appraiser appraise its value.

  18. Book or Netflix club – Set a book, movie or show. Have a regular catch-up to discuss and share ideas. Consider an author or industry professional to be a guest speaker.