WOW: Give ‘Em Something to Talk About (and Never Ask for another Referral)


I funded my college education with a waitressing job at TGI Fridays. As stewards of the customer experience, the employees coveted “wow” pins. We earned them by giving customers that extra, personalized attention that inspired them to come back, and bring their friends. That’s when I learned there’s no asking for loyalty; it must be inspired.

As a financial advisor, I found the same principle applies. Asking for referrals is a chore. Inspiring referrals? It’s a rush—especially since it takes just a little human warmth to pull off.

Wow. There really isn’t a better word for it. When we are (pleasantly) shocked enough for this expressive little word to escape our lips, something remarkable has happened.

Wow can hinge on a simple, personal gesture. Sadly, these don’t happen all that often, but this means that genuine consideration can take you a long way with clients—all the way to referrals that come without asking.

My advisory practice has been far more profitable, meaningful and enjoyable thanks to wow. It works for clients, colleagues or anyone else with whom you want a strong relationship.

This unique experience breaks down into three parts:

  • It triggers emotions—good ones, which come from being cared about and understood.
  • It far exceeds expectations.
  • It inspires your client to tell other people about what you did and who you are (yes, there’s always something in it for you).

Don’t be surprised if you’re at a loss for opportunities to start. For many of us, inspiring wow may seem unsuited to business. But, as any successful financial professional will tell you, it’s worth cultivating your inspirational skills.

You start by listening. It may be a subtle cue that your client provides; likely they won’t even be conscious of telling you something valuable. But what you’re listening for is an opportunity to create an extraordinary event, or pinpoint a thoughtful gift idea. It always is something done especially for that person.

Here are a few examples I’m proud to share:

  • A client who was divorcing mentioned that her ex had never taken her to see The Nutcracker, even though she had asked every holiday season. That December, I sent her two tickets to a local production.
  • When the husband of a client died, leaving her with young children, I sent a beautiful photo album to help her kids remember their dad, on Father’s Day.
  • I read about a client’s major promotion at the fashion company where she worked, and sent a bouquet to her new office.
  • One high-value client never referred me to anyone, until she mentioned the golf club where she played in a foursome. The day I sent her a monogrammed hand towel to accessorize her golf bag, the other three women learned my name. “I just can’t believe you thought of that,” she said.


In every case, the money I spent didn’t impress; my knowing (and caring) about that person did. Wow is not measured by a price tag. Sometimes you don’t have to spend a cent. My promoted client loved the flowers, but what caught her attention was that I’d noticed her achievement and knew what it meant to her.

Make a list of ten of your favorite clients and make plans to wow them by thinking about what would delight them over the next few months.

As Bonnie Raitt sang, when you “give ‘em something to talk about,” you’re talking about love—or caring. That’s the essence of wow.

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Judi Rosenthal

Judi Rosenthal is a New York-based financial industry consultant and self-promotion coach renowned for her ability to win sales in any situation. She is also a recognized authority on niche marketing and coaching financial advisors in the techniques of amplifying sales through a well-engineered personal brand.

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Judi Rosenthal