December 11, 2012
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Recently, I talked with two advisors who’d hosted client events earlier this year with entirely different outcomes, despite the fact that their costs were similar.
The first advisor invited clients to an event at her office that was a waste of money; the other organized a thank you for his top client that resonated at the highest level.
Why clients don’t respond to your invitations
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Earlier this fall, an advisor – let’s call her Mary – asked me to moderate her Client Advisory Board dinner. She wanted feedback on an open house for clients in January that received a very disappointing response – in effect, she threw a party and no one came.
Mary invited clients to drop by her office on a Sunday late in January for a champagne brunch. Lots of thinking went into planning the event. She had special invitations designed and mailed early that month, inviting clients to stop by to say hello and enjoy lunch between 11 and 3. Her staff rearranged office furniture to maximize space for rented tables and chairs, and Mary hired a caterer to prepare lunch and to supply wait staff and bartenders. There was a large welcome sign outside her office and extra parking had been rented from an office building down the street. Finally, Mary arranged for a jazz combo to provide background entertainment and for a photographer to take pictures of clients at the event.
Despite these efforts, turnout by clients was very disappointing, with way too much food and drink left over at the end. At a cost of $4,000 (not to mention a big expenditure of time by her and her staff), Mary got virtually no return on her investment.
Only one of the clients at the Advisory Board dinner had stopped by the open house –out of a sense of obligation rather than with any real enthusiasm. When I asked the other clients why they hadn’t attended, three themes emerged. First, everyone talked about how busy they are. A second set of responses related to clients not seeing the event as compelling or exceptional. Finally, a couple of clients mentioned that the invitation felt like this was a mass event for all of Mary’s clients (which of course it was) rather than something targeted to them in particular.
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