On occasion I overhear some saying, “all asset managers are the same.” While we all know that may not be true, performance of services often only ranges a few basis points, making the differentiation between firms harder to distinguish for some.
Asset Managers have a great need to find a way to stand out from the crowd and leave a lasting impression.
When it comes down to it, I consider financial services – and especially asset management – a relationship business. It is the relationships formed and sustained that will gain, maintain and grow business over the years.
With that said, one of the most tried and truest forms of fostering those relationships is through hosting, sponsoring and attending events with your clients and prospects. Through networking, adding perspective and insight, and showing the person behind the curtain, you add not only value, but you induce a sense of trust.
Across multiple reports and surveys from advisors, we have seen that the number of calls and meetings taken has declined. This can be due to multiple reasons such as cost, increase in video technology and available information at hand, however, this should not discourage you from creating a well-executed event.
We all know that events take lots of effort to plan but putting in the time to properly execute an event can be the difference between growing your business, or maintaining the same. Much of the value of an event comes from the presenters and topics. Nevertheless, without the organization, planning and execution of the event, the value might be hard to find. This is where we as digital marketers come in to play.
Marketing’s Role in Financial Event Production
As digital marketers, we may not be directly involved in the face-to-face communication at most events but we play a huge role behind the scenes in orchestrating the ‘surprise and delight’ element of events. Marketers also have a large part in all the communication touch-points and logistics before and after the event. For us to succeed, we need to ensure that we are thinking across all angles to provide a best-in-class experience. Some of those key areas include:
We are all fully aware that we live in a data saturated world. We have more data now than we know what to do with, and our clients know that. They expect that we use the information we collect from them to better meet their wants and needs. Due to this, we should ensure that we are using this information about our contacts, preferences, content interests to communicate what they want, when they want for simplicity or relevancy.
Let’s start with the basics. We know their name, firm and work email. Why repeat the process by requiring these fields in a registration form? With progressive profiling you can make the process easier by pre-populating their information in a form. Why not use the opportunity to get to know your clients better? Ask them questions about their preferences or interests.
Does your event contain sessions on different topics? If you have studied and analyzed your data to understand what your clients and prospects are interested in, suggesting the track or sessions they might be interested in attending is an easy way to demonstrate you have their best interest in mind.
Your follow-up strategy can oftentimes make or break a decision in progressing with your product or services. Corresponding with your leads and contacts after a meeting ensures that all stakeholders and attendees are fully informed and on the same page in regards to insights, materials and offerings. Better yet, if you know what they have or haven’t attended, let them know you are sorry they weren’t able to attend, and send them the materials anyway.
With that said, a simple thank you card or note is always appreciated to respect and elevate a relationship. As time passes and the attendees are reintroduced to their daily to-dos, there may be key elements or statistics from the event that they have forgotten. A follow up is the perfect way to provide additional value and materials related to the event as well as a personal touch to strengthen the relationship and clarify any points made at the event.
Through our multiple devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), the connectivity between what we do and who we are communicating with is increasing by the moment. So why not take your event to the next level by trying to implement new connective capabilities?
For example, create an event app with all the session materials, agenda and speakers at the event. Share notifications as sessions are about to begin or with those who might be interested in upcoming sessions. Have the ability to geolocate the attendees in a large-scale event? Let them know what else is around them or send them the materials as they enter the room.
The main goal of connectivity is to be where your attendees are when they are there. Communicate and connect with them when and where they prefer you to.
Adding Additional Materials
Similar to the follow-up, additional materials are always welcome and appreciated. This provides more insight to reiterate and validate what has already been presented on. It also reinforces that you are an expert in this area and gives the attendees further information to invest more in the subject matter or better yet, share the materials with colleagues and clients of their own.
People digest materials in different formats, so by providing a visual representation, long-form content, and digital experience, you are better catering to the areas an attendee might prefer to respond to.
After all is said and done, here are some of the great outcomes that can come from a collaborative and diligently driven event from all teams.
As noted earlier, putting on an event takes a lot of time and planning. From the logistics to the content you create, the booth design to the collateral, many hours and resources go into making an event successful. Remember, by hosting an event, you establish credibility both as a person, as well as for your firm by validating or improving any pre-established thoughts through value and insight.
Surprise and Delight
We often have preconceived notions or perceptions of a brand or a person without being given context or reasoning. Fortunately, one of the great things about hosting events is that we get to improve the attendees’ perception or perhaps change their viewpoint through sessions, materials and supporting elements of the event.
Whether it be the five-star staff that helps to cater the event, the technology that is stitched throughout the fabric of the event, or the different perspective and way that the speakers took today’s markets and proposed a different yet intuitive investment solution, the small and large surprises that delight the attendees are the lasting impressions that will stick with them after they leave your event doors.
Set Goals for Growing Through Events
Ok, all the relationships and memorable presenters and moments from events are great, but we know that these events need to impact the bottom line. After all, they can be expensive to hold which therefore increases the need to attach a KPIs to the goals and execution. It may be difficult to directly correlate an event to a sale, however due to the decrease in accepting meetings and events, the quality and overall event offering comes with a more qualified price that might be the difference to help grow your business. The mix of insight, value, and relationship is the perfect way to establish trust.
Face-to-face conversations tend to be more positive, and perceived as more credible, in comparison with online. In a world where it is so easy to hide behind our screens, social media and technology, there is an increasing power behind good ol’ face-to-face communication. So, while financial advisors may be taking less and less meetings, that gives you even more reason to enhance and execute a memorable, optimized event from beginning to end. The results might surprise you.