Make yours the main event

Nov 01, 2006

They are, in many ways, more important, valuable and significant to you than your future clients – it costs between five and 50 times more to generate a new client from the ‘cold’ market than to win further sales or referrals from clients you already have.

Once someone has raised their hand, made an emotional or financial commitment and placed their trust in you, they want to know that you care about them and their business. Unless you make them feel special, they’ll eventually vote with their feet and go elsewhere.

The best businesses recognise the critical importance of this and find ways to make their clients feel special. One of the best ways is to run regular or periodic events that reward your preferred clients for their loyalty, their business and their commitment to you.

These events can be easy, simple and fun to do. People not only love them but they can also be very profitable – if you give your clients something extra or go beyond the call of duty, they normally want to repay the favour and do more business with you. The mere act of inviting people to an event can be enough for them to want to give something back in response.

Such events acknowledge and reward the loyalty of your preferred clients, recognising how special they are to you. As a result, they tend to do more business with you more often than they otherwise would. This results in increased client satisfaction, loyalty and commitment to you, resulting in greatly enhanced lifetime value.

Events are also a great way to bring irregular or lapsed clients back into the fold. Add to that the opportunity to build a closer bond, to maintain top-of-mind awareness, to stimulate repeat business, to add more excitement to your day-to-day interactions and to build bridges to new products and services… there’s every reason why you should run preferred client events which, depending on the product or service you offer, could include:

Preview events, evenings, weekends or exclusive sales that give advance access to new products or services;

Parties, barbecues or entertainment events;

Opportunities to meet or listen to celebrity guests including TV or movie stars, sports personalities, authors and leading experts either in your field or from different sectors;

Participation events, including skiing, sailing, boating, karting, golf days, attending a race driving school;

Sports, including motorsport, football, rugby, golf, tennis, wintersports, horse racing, athletics, watersports;

Eating out, experiencing different cuisines, top restaurants, celebrity chef experiences.

The range of events you can run is really only limited by your imagination. The key to making them work is that they must be advantageous to participants and should be the sort of incomparable fun experiences in which everyone wants to participate.

Events can also be very profitable: for example, a designer menswear outlet more than tripled its business as a result of setting up a membership scheme. Clients were given membership cards, received newsletters and advanced notice of forthcoming new clothing styles. The shop would close for special advance sales to members and organised fashion experts to discuss wardrobe planning.

All this added value and, as a result, each client increased their frequency of purchase from three times a year to five times a year. Where they had spent an average of £100 a time, they started spending £200 a time. This increased each client’s annual value from £300 to £1,000.

A client in the furniture business invited 1,000 customers to a pre-sale event and sold more than £65,000 worth of stock in four hours, compared with his normal weekly order value of around £17,000.

A manufacturer invested £10,000 in a special event to apologise to ten of its better clients that it had recently let down. At the same time, the company took the opportunity to show off some new products and receive clients’ feedback. The unexpected result was £100,000 of orders placed on the spot.

The company repeated the exercise with 30 more clients and got a similar outcome, then again with 52 clients when it hired a castle in France for a week, spending £120,000 to wine, dine and entertain its clients in style. As a result, it wrote £1.5 million of new business.

Special events really can pay off. Many businesses build incredible loyalty and add tremendous windfall profits and sales to their businesses just by adding either a business-based or an entertainment-based event to their marketing activities.

I strongly urge you to consider doing that more than once a year in your business too.

For more information, visit www.dspconnect.com

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