Often, happy clients equal more referrals. Clients need to move from satisfied, to extremely satisfy to advocacy in order to give referrals. This type of client development does not have a set time frame. It can take years for a client to give a referral or it can happen in the first meeting. Among other things, it depends on the client, the advisor and the approach.
Consistent across the industry, December brings about scores and scores of advisor-hosted holiday parties. In many cases, these events serve as the primary appreciation tool for advisors to display their gratitude to their clients, often times helping them develop into advocates.
Why The Holiday Party Is Important
As year-end approaches, it is often a time for clients to reevaluate the services that have been provided by an advisor. Thus, the timing for parties in December is almost ideal.
Additionally, clients like to see other happy clients, and a social setting helps facilitate that type of mingling. This interaction allows clients to continually reassure themselves that they have made the right decision and they will stay with their advisor.
The party setting is also a great time for advisors to show that they have personality. No 'talking shop' should be an unwritten rule for these events. It is a time to help your clients like you more than they already do, a super key achievement in a relationship driven industry.
Open The Events Up To Include Friends?
If an advisor does not have a client retention problem, then all client marketing activities should be to get clients to the advocacy stage. A holiday party is no exception. While being sensitive to added costs, advisors should also allow others to come. The bring-a-friend approach is a great way to allow advisors to get exposure to prospective clients to create likeability, build trust (in an environment of distrust) and to start relationships.
Make The Event Buzz-worthy
Even if friends of clients do not attend, a great party can create a word-of-mouth buzz that clients will share with their networks. To achieve this, advisors should make sure their parties have something worth bragging about.
One of the best ways to develop a stronger bond with your clients and to prove to prospects that you are nice person is to do a charity-related activity as a holiday activity. High-net-worth individuals are philanthropic and giving to or volunteering for charities can go a long way to making an outstanding connection with those you know well and those you just met for the first time.
Most advisors are starting to get the benefits of LinkedIn, but they still have not quite figured out Facebook. That is because it is still the most 'social' of the social networks. For advisors that are all business all the time, they often have a hard time seeing the value in Facebook. But advisors who like to have fun might. That is because "funner" advisors can develop a differentiating brand personality, human traits that nonemployees perceive a firm has, and that personality can shine through on Facebook.
Invites and pre-event communications on Facebook are good to use, but follow-up postings are likely to have the biggest impact. Facebook is still the most visual social network (not counting YouTube) and pictures from a party (with clients' permission) are a fantastic way to validate or prove a firm's brand personality, show off the social side of an advisor and start to build relationships online.
By photo tagging on Facebook, a client's picture at an advisor's event can be shared with all of that client's connections. Free advertising! One tagged photo from an advisor's party can get exposure to hundreds of people and in some cases it can go viral. Now imagine hundreds of clients photographed with thousands and thousands of connections getting exposed to the advisor's party. The Facebook reach from a client event can be off the charts. And as we know, it only takes one person to ask a client of yours, "Hey, who hosted that holiday event you were at?" to lead to a referral opportunity.