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… and how this applies to your much smaller financial practice.

Last week, I received a LinkedIn notification that a connection had shared a popular tweet about a financial giant launching a “Client Appreciation” video while attending a financial industry conference – #fintech. I thought to myself, interesting, I wonder how this major financial player chose to use this opportunity to show their appreciation.

I was thinking they would surprise loyal customers with a gift or an offer that reflects their appreciation. What I proceeded to watch however, was not only disappointing – it was so bad that “someone ought to get fired”.

This wildly successful company interviewed loyal customers about “how great they are”. What? What a bust.

So, why the rant? What’s the lesson here from a financial marketing perspective? What can you learn from Morningstar’s colossal mistake? Yes, I finally mentioned their name.

5 LESSONS FOR CLIENT APPRECIATION EVENTS:

L1: KNOW THE MEANING OF “APPRECIATION”

The meaning of client appreciation is to show gratitude for having made lots of money from them or for just enjoying working with them.

L2: SHOW HEARTFELT GRATITUDE

If nothing else in your “client appreciation” campaign works, this will. Sometimes the most successful and memorable moments you can create with clients is looking them in the eye and giving them a heart-felt thank you.

L3: CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE GIFT or OFFER

When you’re throwing an appreciation event or shooting an appreciation video you need to consider what will best reflect your act of appreciation. Years ago we used to send clients ticket to a gardening show or a magazine or a certificate for dinner. On occasion I’ve seen advisors open education savings accounts for client’s grandchildren to get them started.

In lieu of an actual gift, you could share your wisdom or access to something better than they’re getting now. How about a paper with tips for their adult children to plan better for children’s education – or even better, to help them budget for an upcoming wedding or birth of a child. How about a spreadsheet or access to an app to help them plan ahead. You’ll have to be careful not to seem like you’re gift is a pitch to get more business from them. Make sure they’d value it and that it’s no-strings-attached.

L4: BE REALISTIC WITH YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Having clients over for dinner or wine doesn’t mean you should expect them to listen to a mutual fund rep talk about their most recent fund.

How does “bring a friend” appeal to your client base? Too obvious? Probably. Find a creative way to get clients to bring friends without them feeling a “pitch” is coming. A charitable event that you paid for, where they’re learning about the impact of said charity versus it being a pitch for donations. Perhaps you can turn the event into an experience they won’t forget. I’ve pitched this in a recent episode of my ModMarketing Podcast (did you see what just happened!) – an idea of how golf-enthusiast advisor can bring clients and friends along to host a day of golfing for parents of terminally ill kids near a local hospital. Sure, there may be some nuances to getting that to work but think about the spirit of doing good, involving others so they get to experience what you’re all about. That would be a real sign of appreciation. Picture the following invitation:

Dear Bob and Mary, over the years you’ve put your faith in me and my firm’s ability to understand your dreams, manage your needs and protect your wealth. There’s not a day I don’t appreciate the significance of the trust you’ve placed in us.

Thank you.

Like myself, and many of my clients, we’ve been blessed with family and financial security. I know how hard you’ve worked to be in this position. But for some families it hasn’t worked out as well. I’m thinking of local families who are dealing with ill children; families who are often times emotionally spent.

Here’s another example:

Would you be interested in joining my spouse and me for a day of golfing where we take the parents of ill children at ST. Vincent’s local hospital to Pine Crest Golf & Country Club. I’ve paid for everything including golf passes, dinner and transportation for these families.

My spouse and I would be delighted if you could join us, and of course we encourage you to bring a few friends to join us too.

It will be a great day, filled with opportunities to be there for struggling families. It’ll be a great day for them to get away from the pressures and sorrows they endure every minute of every day.

Bob and Mary, please take a few days to consider your interest and if you’d like four tickets for you and friends to join us.

Please know that there is no consideration for financial contributions – this is my gift back to our community – I just wanted you here to share the experience with us.

Yours truly,

Jo Advisor, Co & Family

L5: CLEARLY DEFINED EXPECTATIONS FOR CLIENTS

If you’ve read the above letter, inviting clients to join Jo Advisor in her community event, you know that it’s really important to communicate “expectations” for your clients. Why are you inviting them to this event? What’s your purpose? What should they expect?