Pivot to Digital 4: Turn Your Existing Clients into Fans Who Refer Their Friends

Digital Bootcamp: Week Four: Turn Your Existing Clients into Fans Who Refer Their Friends

Satisfied, existing clients who introduce you to their friends may prove to be the least expensive leads with the highest conversion rates. How do you generate these types of referrals during a pandemic? The same rule that applied before the crisis applies today: You have to ask.

Traditional ways still work…with some virtual twists

  • First, and foremost, become comfortable asking for referrals while communicating with clients in the day-to-day, such as when exchanging text messages, phone calls, or during digital or in-person meetings. If you haven’t done this, write it down and/or practice it with a friend or loved one. You must feel comfortable asking for referrals and believe in the value you can provide. Be able to easily describe your target customer and the problems you can solve. For instance, ask, “Do you know someone between 60 and 65 who may be retiring in the next year or two and wants to lock in some guaranteed income now?”
  • Turn every email you send into an opportunity for a referral. Change your email signature to include a message that asks that people forward your email to friends who may need similar help. Better yet, include a link to a short, personal video message that introduces people to you and talks about the services you provide.
  • Thank clients who have provided referrals in the past.
  • Schedule virtual check-ins with your clients. No one may be calling them during this time. Imagine how much peace of mind you could provide if you proactively reminded them about the great decision that they made to protect either their retirement or their families before the pandemic hit. Do they understand the value of any riders they may have purchased? Can you help any of their friends during the crazy time?
  • Get your clients to like your page on Facebook. The average user on Facebook in 2020 has 155 friends.* For those of you targeting the senior market, 62% of seniors who use the web have a Facebook profile*. Imagine what could happen to your business if each positive statement by a satisfied client reached 155 of their close contacts.

*Source: Facebook by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts. Omnicore (April 22, 2020).

Client appreciation events may be your secret sauce

Successful agencies have historically relied on strong client appreciation events for lead generation activities. You can simply wait until the crisis passes before you return to the format that works for you. Or, you can use a little imagination and create events that cost less than traditional formats but achieve results not possible in a physical venue.

How can virtual events really top physical events?

  • You’re not facing much competition. Everyone, for now, is basically stuck at home. Even a mediocre experience may attract more attendees than you expect, at least for now.
  • Geographic limits don’t exist. As long as you have licenses in the resident states of your guests, you can pull people from across the country to attend.
  • You may capture better speakers, musicians, or celebrities to attend at a much lower cost.
  • Breakout rooms available in Zoom (and some other platforms) allow you to create more intimate and controlled experiences to maximize engagement with a larger group of attendees.
  • Use of polls and chat features allow you to create more engagement with more people than ever before possible.

What will remain the same when you host a virtual rather than a physical client appreciation event?

  • These event ideas are all about deepening client connections.
  • Customize your approach to your client’s interests.
  • Keep the selling to a minimum.
  • If possible, enlist the involvement of your spouse or partner for couple events.
  • Whenever possible encourage clients to “invite a friend”. However, include any prospects you know as well.

We have listed some of the common (and uncommon) events available for you today in our strange world. Beneath each we offer suggestions on how to modify to make the event even more potent in a virtual environment.

Cooking classes

Chefs and local restaurants actively encourage take outs. Find a really good restaurant that will prepare preps for meals. Hire the chef to join your event virtually and help people make the meal in their homes.

Tastings (wine, beer, tequila, etc.)

See if there’s a retailer in the area who can ship a nice bottle or bottles well in advance of the event for all to share. Depending on the type and packaging of alcohol you serve, you may need to hold the event as a series. Use the virtual nature of the event to find an expert from a vineyard or brewery not easily accessed by your guests. See if the expert could include a virtual tour of the facilities as part of the event. Really take your guests to another part of the world from their living room.

Golf clinics

Some courses remain closed. However, the pros have often taken their coaching to virtual programs. Find a top pro somewhere in the country who will host a chipping or putting clinic via webinar. Send your participants tripods for their phones and a six-pack of golf balls in advance of the event.

Milestone celebrations (retirement, birthdays, graduations).

For those clients with whom you have many mutual contacts, consider hosting an event to celebrate an important moment. Yes, you could do this through Zoom. You could also organize a drive by parade. Offer branded cowbells or other paraphernalia at a pick-up point to connect your firm with the event.

Game nights

Many classic board games are now available online for you to play virtually with others. “The Game of Life” – which could make for some fun marketing tag lines, Scrabble, Clue, Monopoly, Boggle and more. These old-fashioned board games have become a welcome way to connect with other’s and create a few laughs. Imagine if your guests could play with a celebrity or well-known person.

Sporting events

At least until this fall, all major sporting events have been canceled. Use the opportunity to get a pro player to join your event virtually, talk about their career, last season and what lies ahead. You will get terrific engagement from your clients who love sports.


Collaborate with your clients to raise money for their cause. Working together to raise charitable funds shows you care about matters outside of business.

Encourage your friends to participate to tell their story via Facebook or Instagram. Follow up personally with each attendee afterwards. And always ask them to introduce you to their friends who could benefit from your services.

5 Helpful Things to Talk to Clients About During COVID-19

Revisit The “Am I On Track?” Conversation

No one enjoys seeing their hard-earned savings drop. But as painful as it may be to see declining balances, the bigger pain point is that plans and goals may need to be put on hold or shift completely.

One of the most impactful things that agents can do right now is to reevaluate clients’ plans to be able to give them the answer to the all-important question, “Am I on track?”

Help Clients Adjust Their Budget (Effectively) As Necessary

For those clients whose plans are impacted by the current economic crisis and market downturns, perhaps one of the most valuable services an agent can provide is to help the client to review their monthly/annual spending to make adjustments, as necessary, to make the plan work again.

Agents can serve as a sounding board to help clients talk through and make potentially difficult decisions. Whether a client is 85 or 35, making cuts to spending can be difficult. In some cases, the expense(s) to go may be obvious, but other times, it may be more challenging, particularly in situations where spouses disagree on what should be cut. Agents can help clients to remain focused on the things which are most important to them and to serve as impartial arbiters when/if desired.

Talk through Making 2020 Roth Conversions While The Markets Are Low

While your gains may not be as large, the decision to make a Roth conversion is influenced in part by tax considerations.

With the new Secure Act legislation, there are now no income limits imposed by the IRS upon Roth IRA conversions. Anyone with a Traditional IRA, 401k, 403b or other similar retirement plan can convert it into a Roth IRA no matter how much they earn in a year. In past years, individuals making more than a defined income limit could not fully convert a Traditional IRA or other account into a Roth IRA. This limit has not applied since the 2010 tax year.

Create A Game Plan for What Happens If The Emergency Reserve Runs Dry

Several analysts have projected the unemployment rate to rise to 30% or higher in the near future*. If that happens, there’s no telling how long it will take, particularly in hard-hit areas, for some people to get back to work and avoid living off of their savings. For those approaching retirement age, this could drastically change their retirement vision.

Given this dynamic, agents should consider helping clients to establish the next-in-line source of cash to use after their emergency reserve runs dry. Notably, although clients may still be months away from running low on emergency funds, it’s important to identify the next source predictable income or cash flow, as it can provide peace of mind. Logistically, some options such as selling assets or looking at immediate income options can take time to secure.

*Source: Steve Matthews, U.S. Jobless Rate May Soar to 30%, Fed’s Bullard Says. Bloomberg (Mar 22, 2020)

Consider Reducing And/Or Temporarily Eliminating Payments That Don’t Have to Be Made

Many individuals’ cashflows are impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis. Agents can help clients understand the types of payments that can (or should) currently be considered for reduction. These may include:

  • Federal Student Loan Payments.  The Department of Education announced that the interest rate on all Federally-provided student loans will automatically drop*. This is worth looking into. Borrowers can call 1-800-4-FED-AID, or visit their loan servicers website to make the change.
  • Mortgage Payments. In some states a mortgage ‘holiday’ may be available to clients who have seen disruptions to their income due to the COVID-19 crisis. The general idea of such a provision is to automatically allow impacted borrowers to defer payments without incurring additional costs and/or impacting their credit scores. Mortgages often represent the largest monthly expense. Any relief could help ease the impact of decreased cashflows.
  • Credit Card Payments. Many credit card companies are offering relief during the COVID-19 crisis. This may include reduced or delayed monthly payments, reduced interest rates, and abated late and other fees. Reaching out to credit card companies could provide some temporary help.

*Source: Delivering on President Trump’s Promise, Secretary DeVos Suspends Federal Student Loan Payments, Waives Interest During National Emergency. U.S. Department of Education (Mar. 20, 2020).

In short… help your clients control what they can today and reassure them you are here to continue the conversation tomorrow.

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Saybrus MarketingPivot to Digital 4: Turn Your Existing Clients into Fans Who Refer Their Friends