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A Small Gift With A Lasting Impact

A Small Gift With A Lasting Impact

May 12, 2015

by Dan Richards

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A source of frustration for many advisors is the time, money and effort spent on client gifts and entertainment with no apparent return.

Mark, a veteran advisor I’ve known for many years, recently discussed this with me. “I spend well over $5,000 a year taking clients out to lunch and golfing,” Mark said, “and most clients seem to take this completely for granted. In fact, I really don’t feel it has any appreciable impact on deepening my relationships.  Some clients don’t even thank me afterwards and I’m not sure that it would make any difference whatsoever on our relationships if I didn’t spend the time and money on this.”

There are several reasons that clients take lunches and small gifts for granted. Many view this as their due for the revenue that advisors generate from their business. In some cases, having someone buy them lunch or take them golfing is a routine event, and they don’t pay particular attention to one more.

Fortunately, some advisors have found a way to make their gifts and entertainment stand out – and offer a valuable lesson on how you will get a bigger return from your activities – as well as recognize and thank clients.

There are four keys to making your activity stand out:

Tap into emotional high points

The first step is to tap into events that are surrounded by positive emotions.  Some advisors pay special attention when clients’ children get married or when grandchildren are born. Others celebrate when clients get a big promotion or when clients’ kids or grandkids get into or graduate from university or get that first big job. Others recognize special birthdays – 50, 60 and 65 get particular attention. And still other advisors put special focus in recognizing the day that clients retire. These are all memorable events for clients that create a wellspring of positive emotions. By attaching yourself to these moments, you tap into the good will and positive memories these events create.

One advisor has found a special way to recognize the birth of his clients’ grandkids. When clients have grandchildren, he has his assistant contact the local paper to get a high-quality proof of the birth announcement. His assistant then has it blown up at a print shop and has it delivered to the clients in a silver-plated frame that they bought in quantity online at a reasonable price. The total cost is under $75 – a trivial investment compared to the goodwill that this small gift generates. This advisor has told me that he regularly gets effusive thanks for this. When he visits clients in their homes, those framed birth announcements are often on a shelf in the living room.

Another advisor taps into the excitement when kids get into a top-tier university. When this happens his assistant goes online and orders sweatshirts with that university’s logo for the prospective student as well as his or her parents.

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