Why Client Appreciation Events? Because they work!
Keeping your former clients happy isn’t hard nor is it expensive, but taking the time to regularly extend your appreciation can pay you dividends for many years. The law of reciprocation is at work in this arena as well as is keeping your name at the top of people’s invisible lists in their minds. Other ways to do this is to be sure to produce a monthly newsletter-both printed and electronic; birthday cards; holiday cards and regular phone calls just because. Yet, the law firm event dedicated to blanketing your clients with kindness gets you face to face with them and charges that referral engine of client and professional referrals like nobody’s business.
It is not so much as what kind of event as it is to decide what you want the objective of the event to be. You can aim at people bringing friends that could be future clients or referral partners for you. You can decide you want to give an experience that is so fantastic, it will spawn all kinds of talk at the water coolers. You can do something very public so the rest of the world will witness how completely fabulous you are to the contacts that matter. Whatever the event is, determining your objective is your number one starting point.
Lists of ideas for events are endless. We will take a look at a few in this post.
One idea is to rent a movie theater. In most cases, the expense of this is relatively reasonable. You can usually offer a bit of a presentation beforehand and encourage your guests to bring friends too. You can offer a presentation discussing the good your firm has done for the community by touting any charitable giving or feel good moments throughout the year. Keep it brief so guests do not feel “bought” when they are there. As a close, offer a free consultation to friends or ask folks to drop their business cards into a bowl for a chance at a free lunch. If you are buying a movie ticket and popcorn, you have earned the right for their information. The movie theater is usually set up to handle a PPT with a lavalier microphone.
Each month, host a happy hour at your office. Invite clients—current and former; vendors; referral partners and friends. Change the charity each month by asking your staff for pet charities. Pay a bartender to pour wine and beer, pick up a cheese and cracker tray, and invite the executive from the charity to visit and bring a guest to speak. After the first hour of the happy hour, quiet the crowd, thank them for coming and introduce the charity (which you have limited to five minutes) to come and speak. Coach them beforehand that they may make a soft ask for support. Your firm will be the first to drop a check in the basket to lead by example. When finished, create a framed thank you and provide it to the charity and put one in your lobby too. As people visit your firm, they will see all of the charities represented. The charities will think well of you. (Ask that they put something on their social media, in their newsletter and on their website thanking your firm). Your monthly charity happy hour will become a sought-after event that folks will look forward to. The charities will talk up your firm too and you may even find you are sought after for board service.
Depending on your practice area, a golf event could be the right answer to your client appreciation program. If your clientele is comprised of retirees or physicians or other professionals, golf is an experience that your clients will remember. Plan the tournament at a course that will WOW your guests. If your staff has experience in event planning, great, if not, you may want to hire an event planner to negotiate fees, gifts, food etc. You can solicit sponsors from vendors who want to get in front of your clientele and recruit volunteers to help with making the event go off like a charm. Sell mulligans, raffle tickets and create a memorable experience your clients will never forget. You can decide whether to charge fees or offer the event at your cost with sponsors.
You know whether your clients are the people who will love a family fun picnic, a glitzy bourbon and cigar experience or a simple trip to the ball game. Events set you and your firm apart from the competition. It’s a marketing expense that can yield multiple objectives—referrals, exposure, acquisition and cultivation. In your planning for next quarter, consider adding an event.