Expectations Have Lowered...Keep it Simple
There was a time when wining, dining, and entertaining clients with concerts, ballgames, and other luxuries would strengthen business relationships and woo new customers. Win the client, write off the expense. However, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took a major bite out of that piece of the marketing pie. Even though you’ll no longer be able to woo customers with playoff tickets or front row seats to Wicked, you can still connect with them on a personal level and treat them in a style that adds value to them. No matter what experience you’re hoping to offer clients, the following tips will help you create it.
OFFER TIERED ACCESS
Exclusivity is a draw to any event. We all love to feel special and elite. For this reason, host a VIP event providing different options for your guests, and have one of them be restricted access. You can hold back a number of tickets to gift top customers and potentials. This not only makes a lasting impression on the client, it ensures a high value experience. Another route is to offer special services or products to people who attend events, as opposed to those who visit the webpage. Still another option is to have special discounts for “strategic partners” (you choose what that means), drawing them in to a specific price point exclusively.
CHOOSE LOCATIONS WISELY
No matter when or where you decide to meet and greet clients, make sure you are able to do just that. Make sure the environment is conducive to talking and conversing easily. Whether it’s a breakfast date, a hotel mixer, or dinner in a restaurant, communication is key. If it’s a gathering of any size, make sure you have buffered the crowd with people who can help everyone feel comfortable and encourage conversation. Communication is critical in any relationship, and your relationship with your clients will hinge on your listening to them and knowing what they want and need.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Because everyone is in the know about the new tax restrictions, clients expect less from the companies trying to gain their business. They don’t expect a big expensive dinner or some over-the-top entertainment. Coffee and a scone are enough. Breakfast is enough. An afternoon visit with light refreshment is enough. One additional benefit of the current client culture is that many clients are more health AND budget conscious these days. They aren’t even interested in lavish dinners or late-night parties. They welcome a more relaxed face-to-face visit.
USE LOCAL RESOURCES
When entertaining clients while traveling, don’t immediately Google up the best restaurants or things to do. The reviews on those searches are wildly inconsistent and usually not dependable. Instead, ask the concierge or your event contacts for some local recommendations. They might even have contacts that have insider tips or ideas. The old-fashioned method of “just asking around” really is the best in this situation.
KNOW YOUR CLIENTS
Nothing’s more embarrassing than offering lunch at Panera only to discover your client is gluten-free. Or to suggest any eatery without knowing your clients’ food choices and restrictions. Or to plan fun, interactive activity like a walking tour and discover your client recently sprained an ankle. That’s why it’s a good idea to check with clients in advance about their preferences for a meet-up. Ask questions so they can share information. Do they have some free time to offer you? Will they have family with them? Children? What do they LIKE to do? Putting in this effort on the front end will make for a smoother visit and a happier client.
This article was inspired by ""Entertaining Your Trade Show Clients" by Chris Rowe and first appeared at www.skyline-etips.com/