ORLANDO, Fla. -- New social media tools have made it possible for advisors to throw more effective events than ever before, practice management consultant Dan Klein told a packed room of advisors at the TD Ameritrade Institutional conference here on Friday morning. Rather than simply hoping clients would bring qualified prospects as guests, an advisor can research a supportive client's contacts on LinkedIn, and then suggest specific invitees.
Such research is no longer seen as creepy, Klein argued: "If people have put up a profile on LinkedIn, they now expect that you'll look at that profile before you meet them."
For such events execution is critical, said Klein, during a session that included both tactical tips and specific ideas for events. If advisors aren't committed to learning as much as possible about hosting an event, he suggested, they should consider outsourcing it to get more impact. And planners need to make sure they capture contact information for their guests, he advised, suggesting either a raffle or a thank-you gift to be sent later.
A few of his coolest ideas were:
1. Backstage at the museum: Call a local museum to arrange a tour for 10 or 12 of your prospects and clients of the museum's basement. Ask to be shown the storage areas and the works that are not on display -- access that's not available to the general public. "A private tour somewhere -- that's the little point of differentiation," Klein said.
2. Upgrade your food event: It's fine to offer cooking classes and wine tastings, Klein said, but to make it a little different, consider a series instead. "You have one class that's the appetizer, one that's the main course, one that's dessert -- now you have three touches with that prospect or client." Consider whether you have any clients who own restaurants or wineries; they may be interested in promoting their operation as well.
3. Throw a shredding party: This is a good event for right after tax season, Klein suggested, and offers a attendees a practical benefit. "Get a shredding truck to come to your office," he said. "Invite clients to come shred their documents, let them bring their friends -- and then serve shredded chicken and shredded beef," he joked.
4. Screen a hot movie: One budget- and family-friendly idea is to rent out a local movie theater for the Saturday morning after a popular opening, Klein suggested. Theaters don't tend to charge a lot, he said -- so choose a family movie, "invite clients to bring their kids ... and bring in donuts and coffee. " Even if you have 600 people, it can be an intimate event "because there's a shared experience," Klein said.
5. Play matchmaker: If you have interesting clients -- and you probably do, Klein said -- introduce them. One advisor whose client was an astronaut hosted a dinner party at which other clients and prospects could meet him; another client with a lot of film and music industry clients simply brought them together so they could swap ideas.
Klein also offered one final tip for advisors: Skip the sales pitch. If you've structured the event as a purely nonfinancial event, he said, "people will respect you more if you keep it nonfinancial." Besides, he pointed out, "the prospects are going to meet your clients -- and your clients will tell them how great you are."
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