No company can exist without its clients. In fact, some might argue that clients are the very backbone of their business.
So how can you make sure your clients feel appreciated and recognized? I’m not just talking about the nice “hello” when customers walk through the door.
I’m not even talking about offering free candies or mints at your desk. There are plenty of ways to show your clients you care.
But a client appreciation event goes the extra mile. A client appreciation event essentially tells your clients that you are invested in their long-term care.
You have the chance to build engagement while offering your gratitude. And it also makes for a fun day filled with events.
But you might still be wondering, “what’s the purpose of this kind of event?” Well, keep reading and we’ll try to break it down for you.
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The purpose of a client appreciation event
Appreciation events might seem like a distraction from the work at hand. But any good company knows that investing in their client base, even through social ways, will benefit business in the long run.
#1. Sharing your goals
Businesses that host a client appreciation event get to have a unique opportunity. They get to speak directly to their client base while detailing their overall mission in mind.
Think of it as returning back to your roots. When a company takes off, it’s easy to see customer after customer and get caught up in the whirlwind of their business.
But unless the goal of your company was solely to make money, then you’re missing the initial idea of why you started in the first place. Share your mission with clients.
Make them understand that you have a dream in mind. And they are an integral part of achieving that dream.
This will motivate guests to further their business with you. In fact, it will foster a kind of community between business professionals and clients alike.
With everyone on the same team and with the same value in mind, your company will be unstoppable. So spend your time getting to know clients.
And let them know you too. You’d be amazed at the kind of results that follow a client appreciation event.
#2. Ask clients about their needs
Client appreciation events are not only a great idea. They’re a great way to get inside the client’s mind and figure out how you can better support them and their interests.
Say you work in real estate. But because you’ve worked in real estate for so long, you’ve lost touch with the client experience altogether.
This is your chance to ask clients how your service might improve. You may send out an online survey a couple of times a year asking these same questions.
But it means something different when you spend time talking to clients in person. This is a great way to show clients that you are invested in their needs.
And it also shows clients that you are willing to change. One of the biggest reasons why customers end their business with organizations is because they do not feel heard on behalf of their concerns.
But client appreciation is all about getting to know what they are after. So grab them a cup of coffee at the event and take the opportunity to pick their brain on how they might improve your service.
#3. Always follow up
A client appreciation event is a nice thing to offer. But it can easily lose its meaning if there is no follow-up after the event itself.
Rather than return to business as usual, follow up with clients about any topics you talked about. Or, if you have a company social media page, post photos from the event or highlight new initiatives that are about to take place.
While the event itself is important, client appreciation is all about anticipating how they feel afterward. What do you want clients to feel as they walk away from your event?
Do you want them to have simply enjoyed a good party? Or do you want them to have a deeper understanding of what the company hopes to accomplish?
Each of these intentions is valid. But always be sure to consider how you want the event to linger.
Client appreciation event ideas
By now, you know what the goal of your client appreciation event is. But how are you going to carry it out?
There are a number of fun client appreciation event ideas to choose from. Just start scrolling and see which one fits your client’s interests and demographics best!
#1. Outdoor movie night
Some people enjoy a night out at the theater. But for clients with families, the theater might not be the best place in case their kids want to run around and play.
Consider hosting an outdoor movie night. Friends and families can easily attend this casual get-together.
And you can even consider hiring a local restaurant to cater the food. Sometimes, if you’re a financial advisor or corporate big-wig, clients can feel somewhat intimidated.
But a casual event such as this is a great way to get the whole family involved. You can turn professional relationships into something a little more personal.
And with a family-friendly event, you can show clients that you appreciate not just their business, but their home life too. This kind of event is also friends with your budget.
All you really need to account for is food and video/audio equipment. Otherwise, the venue can easily take care of itself by being hosted at a local park.
And you might need a table or two to set up the catering. Either way, an outdoor movie night offers the whole family a fun evening out.
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#2. Ice cream social
Another fun way to show customers your appreciation is with an ice cream social. If you’re worried about cost, consider sending an invite to only a select number of customers.
This way, the guests can feel like they’re attending an exclusive event. And that, in itself, can garner their future business.
To break the ice, you could even start off with a game or two. Then, allow folks to mingle and talk on their own, forming relationships organically outside of an office setting.
An ice cream social might not be as fancy as a cocktail party. But it all depends on what your clientele is looking for.
If you feel like your clients would prefer more high-end events, then feel free to go in that direction. But if you’re catering toward the customer who wants to bring their family along, there’s nothing more fun and kid-friendly than ice cream.
#3. Wine tasting
Family-friendly events are all good and fun. But if your customers tend to be more interested in fine dining, arrange a wine tasting for your guests to enjoy.
This is one of those client appreciation events that will have a bigger budget. But you can easily rent out a winery or even hire a sommelier for an hour to give customers insight into the wine they’re drinking.
It’s hard for people to turn down free wine and food. So the event already advertises itself.
That being said, still invest in the marketing of your event though. Just to be sure.
Social events such as these give customers the chance to mingle amongst themselves too. So your party is not about only making connections between a customer and their financial advisor or real estate agent.
They’re about connecting customers to one another. So pass the bottle down and get ready to have a successful client appreciation event! The benefits of corporate entertainment paired with client appreciation, whether big or small cannot be overestimated.
#4. Coffee and pastries
Let’s say your customer demographic is someone who is always on the go. They don’t have a bunch of time to stop in for an hour or two.
But they feel bad declining an invite. If that customer sounds familiar to you, try hosting a coffee and pastry breakfast.
Out of all of the client appreciation events, this one is probably the simplest thing to host and put together. You can easily host it in your office.
Or, you can rent out a space if you feel like that would add value to the party itself. Additionally, this is also a great option if you’re still functioning through virtual means due to COVID.
Your business might not be ready to get back in person for safety concerns. And that’s totally okay.
If this is the case, consider sending your community an invite to a virtual coffee gathering. This still shows them how much you appreciate them.
And it makes hosting far easier and more cost-effective. If you wanted to get really creative, you could even send guests a free cup of coffee to be delivered from a local coffee shop.
Either way, this event, whether virtual or in-person, allows guests to stay for as long or as little as they want. Even if it’s a more casual approach, it still shows customers that you are invested in their business.
And let’s be real. With coffee, you’re invested in their ability to function throughout the day!
#5. Cooking class
As far as events go, hosting a cooking class will definitely be a memorable party for guests. After all, nothing brings people together like food.
So why not make that the focal point of your event? Businesses can hire a professional service to come in and host the cooking class.
And even if you’re operating remotely, you can indulge in this fun treat through virtual means. Just get everyone set up with an invite to a video link.
Then, the team of clients and employees alike can cook alongside each other. Cooking the same dish automatically gives folks something to talk about.
So you won’t have to worry about talking business only. Besides, when it’s a team effort to create the dish, it almost becomes a kind of game that gets everyone involved.
Once the cooking turns out successful (or not), you can post some photos on social media. And this will act as its own marketing after the event has happened.
Whether at a venue or through video, a successful event can always be used for future marketing. Who knows – someone might see a photo of your event and want to get involved in some way, shape, or form.
#6. Golf events
I’m not going to tell you whether it’s golf or mini-golf. The amount of real estate and money you want to take up is entirely up to you.
But golf events are a fun idea to show your appreciation while getting your customers engaged in the local environment. That being said, sports are an easy way to get competitive.
But try to remember that you’re there for the client. These events are literally set up to show your appreciation for them.
So if that means letting them win a round or two, that’s a sacrifice you’ll have to be willing to take. And don’t forget to take advantage of any photo opportunities.
It might seem silly in the moment. But any chance to include pictures of the event in your recent posts on social media is just another way of drumming up local business.
Just for you
This list of event ideas is certainly not exhaustive. And ultimately, knowing your client base will determine what kind of event you want to host.
Above all, these kinds of events should foster a sense of community and networking. Because it’s related to business, it’s easy to feel like this is a work event.
In a way, it is. But more so, this is about the people.
Let your clients see the human side of your organization if they haven’t already. We’re all seeking out some kind of connection anyway.
So teach your clients that they can trust you like a friend. You have their best interests in mind.
And a client appreciation event is the best way to show them just that. So enjoy your cookout and get to know the people you’re working with.
It’ll get you out of the office. And it’ll get you into the hearts of your customers.
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Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular comedian for corporate events, magician, and virtual speaker.