The Art of the Event

05.02.2016

One of the biggest marketing hang-ups for financial advisors is a limited view of what they have to offer.

Yes, they know all about investing money, and ultimately, their expertise justifies their fees. But beyond expertise, knowing how to make clients feel secure is one of the most important professional attributes an advisor can cultivate.

Money creates both worry and relief. Great advisors work hard to make their clients feel that things are okay or soon will be. So the savviest advisors frame marketing events in a context that’s deeper than numbers, trends and advice.

With a little thought, these events—which so many of us dread—can become much more engaging, worthwhile and even fun. And they can help you connect to ideal clients.

Still, for many advisors, events are awkward. We’re not all party planners. But you are in the business of building relationships with people based on trust. This is particularly true if you’d like to break into the expanding women’s market. For this demographic, it’s helpful to think less about products or services and more about human connection. And in the end, the human element can mean the most to your bottom line.

But don’t worry. You don’t have to do anything you hate to do. Try getting a little more creative about your approach to what an event is … and can be.

Who is the event really for? (Hint: It’s not you)

Marketing is one of the areas where unconscious bias can trip up even the most well-meaning advisor. You may think you’ve hit on the best idea ever, but it’s only as good as your prospects and clients think it is.

One advisor I know inherited his father’s business and marked the occasion with two events. First, he staged a hunting trip for all the men in the practice; this was a big hit. Pivoting to the women, he organized a day at the spa … and heard crickets.

His business is in Texas; the women in his practice like to hunt, too. In fact, many of them were miffed because they weren’t invited to the first event.

So canvas your existing client base and prospects about what they’re concerned about, what they’d like to learn, or what they like to do with a night out, and then brainstorm. Your clients may well surprise you with their interests and needs—and certainly they’ll be pleased to see you embracing them.

Personal style counts (because it IS about you)

Of course, there’s no point in trying to orchestrate an event with many moving parts if it feels like torture. Not everyone has an inner master of ceremonies. But there are a few factors to consider before you write off events altogether:

  • Events work as well for two as they do for 20. Maybe you excel at one-on-one engagement. Then put your effort, into lunches or after work cocktail hours during which you can demonstrate your ability to sense the needs of your clients in a quieter setting. The heavy lifting will be scheduling as many of these small events as possible. But don’t forget, small doesn’t have to mean ineffective.
  • Connect with “guest” experts. You don’t have to lead the event—especially if it overlaps finances with real estate, family balancing acts, community activities or anything else that is tangential to your work. Education is always welcome, especially in an informal setting.
  • Food and drink are the stuff of life. Again, there are no strict rules, but who doesn’t relax with some good food and cheer? Consider the strategic goal of making your clients feel secure. When they’re eating and mingling, it’s always an easier lift.
  • It’s about money—except when it isn’t. When an event is focused around a core interest or everyday concern, you have the chance to make the financial pitch implicit, and more effective.

I’ve held events that tied into the local 4H, fine antique road shows and Western themes. None of these mentioned finances directly. But everyone who attended got the message: wise financial planning underwrites it all.

Marketing is more a skill than a talent. Stretch the definition of an event and you may discover untapped skills to bring to your practice.

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
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