4 Tips for Planning A Client Appreciation Event
By: D. Channing Muller, DCM Communications LLC
When it comes to client appreciation, most companies send gifts around holiday time along with a note of thanks. But if you want to retain good clients, why wait until the holidays to say thank you? Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that it takes regular touches with a prospect to convert them to a client. This same principle is true of retaining, and renewing, clients. If you only call them when it’s time to renew, they could walk away from every interaction feeling like all your company wants is their money, rather than to look out for their best interest in business.
Enter: the mid-year client appreciation event! Don’t let the pressure to deliver a great experience, throw you off kilter. Here are four tips for planning and executing a successful client appreciation event:
Make RSVPing a no-brainer.
This event is all about them so make sure they know it. Clearly state in the invite that this event is all about them and make RSVPing super easy. The more steps it takes for them to RSVP, the less likely they are to do so.
Follow-up the invite, whether paper or digital, with teaser emails one and two weeks out from the initial invite send that reveal a few of the onsite amenities they can expect.
Send additional reminders one week out and one day prior to your event to continue to drive excitement for them to attend. This will increase anticipation for your event and create a sense of FOMO (a.k.a. Fear of missing out). One of the emails can also reveal a partial attendees list to entice those who may want to meet and network with your other clients. And to that point….
Invite your employees to attend.
While you may want to cut costs by only inviting the top executives from your company, it’s important that your employees who interact with these clients get access to the event as well.
“The investment of paying for food and beverage for employees to attend will be negligible compared to the value gained from the relationship,” said Joan Davis of Epic Meetings. “People generally like doing business with people they know and like, so intensifying positive relationships at a customer appreciation event will give you a nice payoff.”
Create opportunities for easy networking.
Just because all of your clients know you, doesn’t mean they know each other and even the most outgoing of persons can get tired of the routine networking cocktail party. Set your event apart through on-site guest engagement opportunities that foster introductions through a shared experience such as virtual reality simulators (the latest crazy in event activities), casino or carnival-style gaming, or photo booths.
In addition to incorporating VR in your events, another popular trend is a food-focused activity. Think cookie or cupcake decorating, but for adults with more adventurous flavors like maple bacon or carrot cake and add in a specialty cocktail pairing for each flavor.
Avoid long speeches.
Yes you are hosting the party and you would be remiss not to have the CEO or another high-ranking figurehead make a few comments about halfway through the night, but don’t overdue it.
“Even though it’s ‘your party’, don’t forget that you are the host and need to take care of your guests,” says Lyn Stout, owner of Bond Events in Washington DC. “It’s not really about you but rather bonding with your clients and creating a lasting, memorable experience for them.”
Terri Eaves, owner of BASH, also points out that you should also recognize the vendors and service providers for the event.
“Whether you are paying vendors for their services or they are doing it in kind, it’s important to recognize them and their efforts,” said Eaves. “Clearly they must be a remarkable set of partners if you are working with them to thank clients for their business!”
This type of good will also further reinforces your company’s focus on relationships, which will resonate with your guests after they’ve left.