The boss loves golf, let’s organise a golf day and invite our top clients along, that would be a brilliant way of building relationships with them wouldn’t it? Err no, maybe not.
There are some golden rules for client relationship building that are often overlooked when it comes to event planning, it’s often the little things which make the biggest difference.
The biggest and most important factor is ‘know your customers’ then build the event or occasion around their parameters. This will involve some generalisation but you’ll see a structure emerge.
- What are their interests? Let’s suppose your existing and target audience are football fans, but they are unlikely to all support the same team. You can’t choose Liverpool vs Tottenham for an Arsenal fan. Or Chelsea vs Manchester City for a Manchester United fan, they simply wouldn’t be interested. However an England International match might be perfect.
- Are they an active bunch or perhaps more passive and enjoy watching rather than participating. Tennis fans are likely to say ‘Yes to the invitation’ for Wimbledon rather than playing a few sets at a tennis club. The same principles might apply to golf.
- When are they able to attend your event, midweek, weekends, daytime or evening. It’s likely your target customers are busy people and it is increasingly hard to leave work for a corporate event, so choose events that make it easy to say yes. This might be a winter theatre evening, rather than a weekend summer sporting occasion that competes with family time…..
- What are their personal circumstances, do they have children, work at weekends, play cricket in the summer and rugby in the winter. Should you invite their partner to help secure the target customer. Partners are huge influencers in a relationship and are almost always overlooked because they halve the budget. Wise event planning should at least consider them seriously.
- Where are you going to hold your event? It is not a time consuming task to look at a map and see where most of your target market are based and then host the event near the audience. No-one wants to drive for two or three hours at the end of the day. If your customers are spread throughout the United Kingdom, or EMEA or even worldwide. A day at the races might be the answer. Horseracing is cost effective, global with regional courses in most countries and is an easy event to invite partners to. No skills are required so it’s suitable for all and it’s fun.
- How senior are those that you are inviting, the general rule is the more senior the fewer invitees on the list. These C level clients are aware of their importance and want, even more so than normal, to feel special. The way to achieve this is to invite a smaller number of similar level guests, don’t mix a C level guest with a group of middle managers.
- How much should you be spending and are you aware of the Bribery and Corruption rules? These are often misunderstood, as it is perfectly acceptable to entertain and build relationships with existing clients, commensurate with the amount of business they give you. Many businesses now have guidelines on what they can and can’t accept, so check first. Wimbledon is the most expensive UK event and you may find that you can achieve the same objectives at Queens Club Championships a couple of weeks earlier. Rather than a day at Royal Ascot, how about a box at Newbury racecourse instead.
- Think about your objectives, do you want to say ‘thank you’ or ‘hello’ ..is it a case of ‘that was difficult, how can we do better next time’? you might want the meeting to be short and formal or longer and more relaxed. A four hour round of golf or a day at the cricket. Two hours of football or a weekend at the Grand prix. There’s a wealth of events to choose from for the right occasion.
- Deliver a memorable experience. You don’t want your audience to have forgotten who hosted their day before they get home. Are their branding opportunities available, giveaway presents for your guests to take home with them and a follow up message is always important.
- Now that you have the perfect checklist for events and are assured of a great response for every occasion that you host, make sure you invite everyone in good time. Important decision makers have busy diaries, they need to be invited at least 3 months in advance
The success of events depends solely on three words – Know your audience. Get this right and the success of your event, the success of your client relationship building exercise and the growth in their business with you is almost guaranteed.
I’ve been planning and delivering successful corporate events both in the UK, Europe and Worldwide for over 25 years. The feedback we get from our own clients includes phrases like ‘World Class’ and ‘The best industry event I have ever attended’. We love what we do, nothing gives us more pleasure than watching the Wow! factor and excitement in people’s faces when they experience a great event. We’d be happy to partner you too.