Thursday, December 17, 2009

Marketing with Wine Events - How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

As you're putting together your business and marketing plans for 2010, think about the events you'd like to host for your clients and prospects.  What can you do that's special? How can you create an environment that encourages ease of conversation and a relaxed atmosphere that leads to referrals and new business?

"Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used." William Shakespeare

Many of my financial advisor clients have had great marketing success with wine tasting events in recent months. So I've put together this "How to Guide" for how to host a wine tasting party for your clients and prospects. This post will give you a step by step process to plan your entire wine event.

Wine is the alcoholic beverage of choice for many U.S. consumers. Wine consumption increased 10% in the U.S. from 2001 to 2005 (per and events such as wine tastings, wine parties, and wine dinners have become the "in thing." The real bonus with wine is that not only does wine tend to appeal to the upper socio economic population, but financial planning and wine just seem to go together.  I LOVE wine and enthusiastically attend many events associated with the grape.

Here is a step by step process to plan your next wine event:

Decide the type of wine event you would like to host
Will your event be a party for a select group of clients and their guests? A celebration for a milestone your business has reached?  A "wine tasting" as opposed to an informal "wine party"?  For a wine tasting you will need a wine evaluation form to rate each wine and you'll need nibbles to go with each wine. For a wine party, you'll need heavy appetizers in addition to the wine.  For the purposes of explanation, the remainder of this "How to Guide" will deal with the planning of a wine tasting event.

Decide who you would like to invite
You can keep your event small and intimate by inviting your top five clients and their spouses. You can increase your circle of influence by asking your clients to bring a friend. This can provide a nice group of twenty or so people.

Decide your wine budget
How much do you want to spend? For a group of your five best clients, their spouses, and friends totaling twenty people, you can plan on purchasing one bottle per four attendees. You can find great wines for $12-$18 per bottle. So for wine you can plan on spending roughly $90.00 - $100.00 for five bottles of wine. You may also find that guests bring a bottle with them. 

You may want to select a theme for the wine tasting. You can go with "Reds" or "Whites." You could do "Chardonnays from California" or "Fine Wines of Australia" (which I'm quite partial to since I was born in Australia!).

Decide your food budget
You'll want to provide nibbles for each wine served otherwise you'll have a lot of tipsy guests falling all over the place. A variety of bread, crackers, cheese, fruit, and cold proteins like ham, shrimp, and chicken would be more than adequate. Plan on spending $200.00 or so for food. 

Decide the location
Many of my clients choose to host a wine tasting in their own home or at the home of a client. This encourages a relaxed atmosphere and saves on the cost to host the event at a restaurant or bar.

Invite your guests
·         Online via email: Use Evite if your event will be on the small side. Evite is an online invitation site that has wine-themed event templates that allow guests to submit their replies via email. You are then able to view attendees and their comments on the Evite web site.
·         Print invitations: Use if the event will be comprised of guests who don't know one another.  There are many wine-themed invitations you can use to "brand" your event.
·         Phone your guests ahead of time to confirm their attendance. Then send out your invitations three weeks in advance.

The evening of the event
Things to have on hand:
·         Clean wine glasses – larger sized glasses are best for wine tastings due to their ability to "swirl" the wine and view the "legs" of the wine trail down the interior of the glass.
·         Fine china – smaller sized plates for appetizers
·         Linen napkins
·         Cutlery and serving spoons
·         Water glasses
·         A pitcher of water
·         A small decorative bucket – this is for guests to rinse their glasses between wine samplings
·         Trays of appetizers
·         Basket of bread and crackers 
·         Wine evaluation forms – this form will give you a good feel for how to rate each wine
·         Paper bags (if you wish the tasting to be "blind")
·         Candles for ambiance

·         Greet your guests at the door
·         Have pleasant music playing in the background, but not too loud to hinder conversation
·         Offer an appetizer right away to avoid guests feeling tipsy upon their first tasting
·         Make guest introductions
·         Half the fun of the event will be when guests are noting their preferences on the wine evaluation form and making comparisons. There will be some surprises and interesting conversation regarding opinions and preferences of each wine.  
·         Don't forget to mention what you do for a living when speaking with your client and guests.  Find a way to slip in a comment about the economy or the market now and then. While you want this to be a social event, you also want to ensure that guests know that you are a financial planner and that you have expertise in various areas.
·         After the event, you'll want to follow up with attendees in a pleasant, natural way.

Whether you choose to invite a few clients and their friends or host a larger gathering, wine provides a social environment with intimacy and bonding that builds lasting relationships that will grow your practice in 2010.
Suzanne Muusers
Prosperity Coaching LLC
Helping Independent Financial Advisors Build Wealth

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Success Strategies - Plan for 2010

At this time of the year we are all busy going to holiday parties, buying gifts, decorating, and welcoming out of town visitors. There are meals to plan, activities to set up, and house cleaning to do. But wouldn't it be nice if we could be working on our New Years' Success Strategy while enjoying the holidays? Get a head start on your Success Plan for 2010 and be ahead of the pack! We'll talk about how to function at your best, how to clear out the clutter, update your Life Plan, ideas to start writing your Business Plan for 2010, and how to improve yourself next year.

Get active
You can't be the very best at what you do while carting around and extra twenty plus pounds. Add daily exercise to your life.  Make sure it's something you enjoy. Studies show that we will do what we enjoy and avoid what we don't like.  Make sure you exercise first thing in the morning. If you get exercise out of the way first thing, you are more likely to keep up with it.

Don't do what I did four years ago. I bought a $2000 treadmill thinking that if I had it I would use it. Guess what? It sat there unused all these years.  The truth is I hate the treadmill and love the outdoors. That's why I live in Arizona.  So I decided to combine walking my dog with engaging in exercise. Now I go for longer walks and kill two birds with one stone.

Clear out the clutter
We tend to accumulate stuff the entire year until it piles up on our desks and threatens to take over our office. Clear out the clutter and create space in your life for the great things that are coming your way. Go through the papers, documents, and to do lists and get rid of everything that is hanging around cluttering up your space and your mind.  Do a deep cleaning of your office and get ready for big success in 2010.

Update your Life Plan
A Life Plan is a document that lists your plans for your personal and professional dream life: Your partner/significant other, friends, family, health, self care, spirituality, travel, finances, hobbies, creativity, and home environment. The first week of New Years, my husband and I update our joint Life Plan to review what progress we made in the previous year and what we need to implement for the upcoming year.

Start writing your 2010 Business Plan
As things come to you, jot down ideas about where you want to take your business in 2010. What are your revenue goals? What strategies will you implement to stand out from the crowd? What wealthy niche markets will you target? What strategy will you implement to service clients? What expertise can you leverage to create passive revenue for your business? Start writing it all down as it comes to you and you'll have the beginnings of your new plan.

Improve yourself!
Create a list of the books you'll read in 2010. Where are your skills weak? What could you stand to work on? What would make you a well-rounded individual in 2010? Here's a list of recommended reading on my Web site if you'd like suggestions.

Be consistent - It takes 21 days to create a habit
Keep up your success strategies. Make a list of habits that keep you well and practice them on a consistent basis. For example, even if you only take a quick fifteen minute walk, that's better than skipping exercise altogether. You can have pizza, but pair it with a salad. You can have dessert, just not the whole pie.

There's no better time than the present to set yourself up for success in 2010. By focusing on a few success habits, you can put into practice skills and habits that will allow you to hit the ground running at a speed that help you create a profitable 2010.  Take care of yourself, clear out clutter to make space for better things, set intentions by updating your Life Plan, start thinking about your Business Plan, improve yourself, and be consistent.  I know you can do it!

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone with Your Marketing

Have you allowed yourself to get too comfortable with your marketing? We all do it. We get used to being the Technician in our businesses which makes us relaxed, plump and happy.  It's nice to sit at your desk and wait for the phone to ring. When people call us it means they want something. If we have to make the calls, we are pushing ourselves on our prospects and clients.

In Lack of Progress on Your Goals I wrote about how to make more progress with your goals. Point number four "Not willing to step outside comfort zone – you don't want to leave your comfy chair" speaks to our propensity to do what's safe.  But to build a financially successful business we must learn to take risks and to do the scary things.

That’s what I help my clients do, but I also have to force myself to do the intimidating actions too. What kind of coach would I be if I didn't push myself?

Fear Rears its Ugly Head
A few weeks back I started coaching a new client. I could tell he was intimidated about coaching, perhaps because he didn't really understand how it works.  I had told him that I would ask him to "do more and be more" while working with me.  In our first official session I asked if he did much public speaking.  He said "No, I don't find it to be worthwhile."  I pressed further and here's what he told me. "By the time you put all the work into creating the presentation, setting up the venue, confirming the attendees, and having the wholesalers show up, it's just not worth it." 

Of course it's not worth it if you have others do the speaking. Prospects are there to hear YOU speak, not a nameless, unknown representative of a product-driven company. Your job is to connect with your prospects and let them experience who YOU are and what you're about.  Your job is to create a talk explaining the BENEFITS of working with you. You must show them your VALUE and AUTHENTICITY.  

So how can you step outside your comfort zone?
Do what's scary. Do what intimidates you. If you're comfortable you're not growing. When you're not growing personally it's doubtful you'll be growing professionally either.  Try new things. Speak up. Talk to people you wouldn't normally talk to. Volunteer for something. Take more risks. You'll find that you will grow into new skills and you'll be a better person for it!

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Coach for Financial Advisors and Entrepreneurs