Showing clients that you appreciate their business can lead to deeper long-term relationships. But you might have to use different — or even unconventional — methods to show your appreciation, depending on the tastes of your clients.

For example, says Richard Heft, president of Ext. Marketing Inc. in Toronto, your clients may represent various generations — baby boomers, Generation X and millennials. They will have various tastes and differing ideas about what makes for a good time.

Still, you can always host traditional events such as summer picnics and holiday parties, which can be enjoyed by all clients.

Any gesture you offer should simply show that you value the relationships you have with your clients. It can even take the form of an inexpensive gift, according to Aiman Dally, president of Copia Financial in Toronto. Often, it is the mere thought that counts with some clients.

Here some ideas for showing your appreciation:

> Keep demographics in mind
Heft recommends segmenting your clients based on their personal preferences, what matters to them and their families, and their likes and dislikes. The better you know your clients, the more specific you can be in showing your appreciation.

For example, Heft says, you might invite younger clients to a mixology class, where they learn how to make (and taste) various cocktails, accompanied by music. Or they might enjoy something involving more physical activity, like a paintball event.

Heft notes, however, that such events might not be appropriate for older clients, who might prefer a more traditional setting such as dinner in a good restaurant or an afternoon of golf.

> Think outside the box
While traditional appreciation events have their place, some clients would enjoy an event that offers a unique, memorable experience.

For example, consider: a hands-on cooking class hosted by a celebrity chef; a create-your-own-painting class run by a local artist; or a day of fishing at a pond that is stocked with fish.

“Imagine the smile on the face of a client who catches a 10-pound trout for the first time,” Heft says.

For these outings, he says, make sure the group is fairly small and the setting is intimate.

> Remember life events
Clients appreciate the tokens or gifts you send them on birthdays and other special events, such as anniversaries or a child’s graduation, Dally says. “It shows that you remember and that you care.”

Customizing your token of appreciation shows that you went out of your way to demonstrate how much you value your relationship with them.

> Get all your clients together
Summer picnics and holiday parties are effective and popular ways to get all your clients together in one place so they can meet and interact with one another. To make it a family event, Heft says, also invite your clients’ children, who could be your future clients.

“Don’t make these events self-serving by giving long speeches,” he says. “Make them fun and have prizes for different activities.”

The location you choose can also make a difference. For example, Heft says, you can hold a party at a bowling alley, where clients and their guests can participate in multiple activities.

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