A common marketing technique in the financial services industry is to hold events and seminars to sell products. These sales seminars are often not well-attended or good income producers.
If, instead, you hold events for networking, socializing or education, you may generate more future clients and increase your business.
Three types of events can help you meet new clients and build stronger relationships with the clients you have.
Host a client-appreciation dinner
Financial planner Ronald G. Lecours hosts regular client-appreciation dinners. His events are popular. They are fun evenings with high-quality food and a theme, such as art or wine-tasting.
“Many clients know each other and see this as a night out with their friends and know that there will not be any formal pitch for business,” said Lecours, senior vice president and partner of Ohanesian/Lecours.
The primary goal for Lecours’ events is to build client goodwill. There is no formal business portion of the evening, other than an occasional market update. When he talks to his guests during the event, he often reminds them to schedule a portfolio update and answer financial questions.
The dinners have had a direct positive impact on his business. Each event brings in a new client or a current client asking him to manage more assets. “The additional business alone has paid for the cost of each event,” Lecours said.
Offer an educational event
Educational events are a great way to increase your business. The secret to success is to truly think of it as an education opportunity, not a sales event. Adam Koos, with Libertas Wealth Management Group, has hosted educational events for the past 11 years.
Koos holds his events at the nicest restaurants in town, complete with formal invitations. He uses a lead-search company get names and contact information for people within a specific geographic area and certain demographics, such as age and income level.
During the event, Koos gives an educational seminar on a variety of topics. He has covered market outlook, retirement planning, long-term care insurance and diversification. He doesn't pitch products or directly sell during the presentation, but he has several ways to help convert attendees to future clients.
“People can set up appointments at the seminar,” said Koos. “We’ve also got a great report card that people can fill out and ask us to call them for appointments if they don't have their calendars with them.” He nets around $200,000 in annual income that he attributes to the events. Revenue comes from current clients' new assets, as well as increased assets invested and referrals from clients who attend.
By educating people, he shows them how he can help. He has brought in new clients through the events and they more than pay for themselves.
Start a networking group
Your target clients probably like to network. Wendy S. Baum, CPA with Infinity Strategic Partners, started a networking group for women business owners in July 2009. Around 85 percent of her business now comes from business contacts that have come from the networking groups.
Focus on creating a support network for the group and meeting additional people, not on selling to the group. Baum advises other financial professionals who are considering starting a network group to have a clear mission. Try to reach a certain target audience.
“The beauty of a networking group is that you develop warm leads,” said Baum. It's important to establish relationships with group members by meeting with them and over the phone. Get to know each one to learn about their personal and business needs. Whenever possible, Baum tries to introduce group members to others who have similar interests or who can help each other.
She has enhanced her business through the group with referrals. “Ask for referrals of people that they know to help you grow your business,” said Baum. “Never ask for specific names, just ask them to think of you, should (they) see an opportunity.”
When you host events for customers or potential customers, create a budget and keep your costs down as much as possible without affecting the quality of the event. These events inform past and future customers and give them face time with you. In a low-pressure setting, you can create mutually beneficial relationships that hopefully last for many years.
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with than 17 years professional writing experience. She blogs for Contently.
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