Educational Events Take Advisors “Back to School” with the Three Rs: Retention, Referrals and Resources

Last Wednesday was the first day of school for my sons (kindergarten and first grade) and this morning, I was almost hit by a school bus while out on a morning run. This time of year, you can’t go to a store, read a newspaper or watch TV without blaring ads that say “BACK TO SCHOOL”.

Since the country is already thinking back to school, why not hold an educational event for clients and have them invite a friend as well? I can’t think of a better time to hold an event than right now!  The kids are putting on their thinking caps, sharpening their number two pencils and thinking about the three R’s (readin’, writin’, ‘rithmetic). We can hold an event for our own three Rs – retention, referrals and resources.

Reinforce your value to retain clients

 Over the last few months, your clients have seen some daily dramatic swings in the markets and are being subjected to depressing economic news. Hopefully, they already associate you with more than just investment performance. But an educational event is a great reminder of the other things that you do for them. Showing value beyond the things you can’t control (like the markets and economy) is a great way to validate their decision to hire you and your firm.

Encourage clients to bring guests for referral opportunities

By being proactive in this market, you are setting yourself apart from your peers that are staring really hard at their phones waiting for that new prospect call. Use this event as a proactive referral campaign; encourage your clients to bring a guest or invite prospects so they can see you in a non- threatening way. They get to see you adding value to your clients’ lives. What better way for them to test the waters and meet you than in an informal setting?

Keep it simple with these resources

Planning an educational event does not have to be hard or time consuming. And the best news – it doesn’t have to cost much. For simple event planning, I would suggest the following as a resource:

1. Secure a location. While the lowest cost may be your office conference room, think outside the office with more of the classroom theme, like a local junior college or a library meeting room.

2. Find a speaker. This is not a sales function; don’t invite a wholesaler to sell his or her product. Think about your client base and look for resources that will fit the demographic. Examples would include a representative from the Social Security Administration http://www.ssa.gov/organizations/ or a local law enforcement official to discuss identity theft.

3. Set up the room “classroom style.” They are here to learn, so you don’t need to go overboard with food or drinks when coffee and a cookie will do.

4. Invite all your clients and prospects and let them know this is not a “sales event” but a service that you offer. Encourage them to bring friends and associates that may be interested. This is not about you. Your role is short and only as host; you’ll provide the opening introductions and the closing remarks. Make sure you have some handouts for those that may be interested, but take specific questions about services and products offline.

5. Track and measure your success. I would argue that the first quarter and especially the third quarter are great times for these types of educational events. Track them to make sure they are working for you.

Now is the best time to be in front of clients showing value. Just stay away from those busses.

If you have other ideas on educational events, I would love to hear them.

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John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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