Marketing Secret #75 Client Dinners  

Would you like to have your clients physically bring referrals to you?

Would you like to have this big splash that cost you exactly zero?

Would you like your clients and prospects to be really impressed with you?

If so, then this could be an idea for you. 

The way to do it is with Client Dinners or meals. (It could be breakfast or lunch for example. Don’t get hung up on which meal it is. You will have to test which meals work best, just like anything else!)

What is a Client Dinner?

Well, at first glance, it looks like a meal that you bring your clients to with guest speakers. It is held in a nice hotel or restaurant. It has the appearance of class, and the “we care about you” touch.

Here’s what is really going on.

The clients are invited to a FREE dinner. It is held on a Tuesday night, which we found to be the best night, around 6:30pm to 9pm. We usually use our monthly newsletter for promoting the events. (See Marketing Secret #65 Direct Response Communication)

Two guest speakers talk after the dinner, about very topical information.

For example, if you sold real estate, you could have a speaker talk about getting the cheapest mortgage, and another to talk about reading through the selling contract, or whatever. The two topics are in no way conflicting or overlapping.

Did you figure out who are speakers are?

Yes, they are a mortgage lender and a solicitor.

They are told that they must keep the talk generic, except for a brief commercial at the end. And when I say brief, I mean brief! They will each speak for about a 20 to 30 minutes.

They will also be doing something else very important. They will be splitting the cost of the entire evening, including the printing and postage!

Meaning…you spend nothing! (Is this idea sounding good?)

Wait, here’s the best part!

In the invitation, the clients are invited to bring any number of adult guests, also FREE. All they have to do is call to let you know how many they will be bringing.

Sometimes, you can put in the invitation that the cost of admission is bringing one non- client with them.

You can also tell them you’re not kidding, but that you would like them to bring some friends who might benefit from this valuable information and the free dinner.

Right after dinner, you speak for ten minutes on the state of the local market, or whatever topic you are confident with. Since you’re a marketer as well as a person selling a product or service, you would always focus your talk on topics of current interest to your clients.

I want to reinforce the professional counselling aspect to your clients, and to impress your guests that advising them, not trying to get them to buy something!

You might be wondering how to convince the outside companies to pay for the dinner. Well, that will come from showing them you can produce, and that you have a great marketing system that you are implementing on a daily basis!

Even if you are new in the business, by yourself, or have not yet done business with this company, you can get them to participate by proving you mean business.

These companies are always looking for new, aggressive distribution channels. Rest assured that when we were just getting started years ago, many of them took a chance on us, because they saw we were “Marketing Maniacs”! They use their gut instincts to tell them who is serious and who is a joke.

When they see your telemarketers, your marketing plans, your client newsletters,etc, and all the different things you are doing, they will be there for you.

Yes, I know that these companies do not have the kinds of advertising budgets they used to have and will not sponsor things as readily as they used to. Sort of. You see, if you’re a real player and make marketing your #1 priority, they will make exceptions.

They do have some budget for marketing. You have to prove to them why they should spend it on you and not some other person! Even if they cannot spring for the whole thing up front, you should negotiate a reimbursement plan based on production of their product.

Don’t ever be shy about sharing what you are doing with an outside company.

Be proud of your marketing! You will be surprised how much people will do for you, if you produce! As a matter of fact, some companies will reimburse your other marketing costs, including mailings and telemarketing.

I promise you they will almost never volunteer all the things they can or will do for you.

You must ask right up front, at your initial meeting, and keep asking as you refer business to them or order more product. In today’s market, their story will change as you do business!

Now, no matter what business you’re in, you can arrange the same type of client/customer/patient affairs!

Whether you’re in retail, or wholesale, or sales, or whatever…you can use a version of these amazingly profitable programs.

Think about who provides things you sell, and see if they’ll bite on being a sponsor. This can be wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers or manufacturer’s reps, vendors, suppliers, liquidators, auctioneers, and so on. Whomever benefits when you sell whatever it is you sell…will be a candidate for sponsoring and paying for these programs.

Don’t limit yourself by saying, “this won’t work in my business.” You have viable ways to do this no matter what business you’re in. Don’t make excuses. Just think about who makes money when you make money.

Those are the people who will be your angels.

Your customers want to know more about one or more things related to your category.  Since you know what they want, and you know who makes money when you make money…you’ve got this covered!

 Back to the dinners:

            Here is what a typical itinerary might look like for a dinner:

            6:30 – 7:00      Cocktails and Conversation
            7:00 – 7:45      Dinner
            7:35 – 7:45      YOU SPEAK BRIEFLY ON SOMETHING
             7:45 – 8:15       Speaker #1
            8:15 – 8:25      Break
            8:25 – 8:55      Speaker #2

You must have an evaluation form (marketing secret #102) for people to fill out. If you can give something away and require people attending to hand in the evaluation form to qualify, you will get most of them turned in! (The speakers will pay for the associated free drawing gift, as well!)

The evaluation form should ask the right questions, and be used to get people to commit right then and there! 

You can hold these dinners about once a quarter. You will usually have a very good response, and have about 40 - 100 people show up.

Hold them at different locations, so the clients don’t get bored; and they’ll always look forward to eating at a new place they might not have tried yet.

Your clients will love these things. They all ask you when the next dinner is going to be and to be sure to invite them.

We have obtained dozens of new people from these dinners. These are people, who, when they come in, are already pre-sold. They are the easiest closes in the world.

They have the endorsement from the person who brought them to the dinner. They have the feeling of “safety in numbers” when they see all the people at the dinner, and they have the chance to hear us and other speakers tell them how important a certain topic is.

If the come in to see you after dinner, they are sold!

You will have to reap the dinner in the monthly newsletter (marketing secret #65) to make all those who didn’t come wish they had, and to reinforce your whole concept of client education. 

Make sure you mention who won the gifts, or any other special thing you did at the dinner.

Don’t forget to have a photographer and/or audio/video person record for the event for your lending library, promotion and public relations.

As a matter of fact, you should invite a reporter or some other media person to see what an interesting (newsworthy?) even you held!

If you are seeking a smaller undertaking, you can do things like this as a lunch, simple little seminars, etc.

Use your imagination!

Just find at least one cooperative company or outside professional to join you, letting them pick up some or all of the tab!

The invitation should be “unprofessional”, and added as flyer or “ad” in your newsletter. You can send it out by itself, as well, but the newsletter route is usually cheaper since you’re sending it out anyway!

Okay? Go out and get one of these going!

Needing help in getting started with organising events, or with your newsletter content? Great email us or book for a 15 minute no-obligation chat with one of the team