You can call your clients, deliver a gift to their door and host a virtual party. But what if you can make them laugh too? Ottawa broker Danny Dawson did just that by hosting Cocktails and Comedy on Zoom.

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Dawson, of Royal LePage Performance, says he and assistant Samantha Yost started by brainstorming, trying to find a fun way to involve clients in a virtual event. Cooking classes? Not original enough. Bartending lessons? Boring. A fun way to learn to mix drinks? Perfect.

As luck would have it, local entertainer Nick Burden is not only a comedian, he has been a bartender in the past. The next part of the puzzle was partnering with BarFromAfar.com. For his event, Dawson ordered boxes containing everything to create three cocktails (from a mason jar shaker to salt and sugar for glass rims to alcohol) and had them delivered to clients.

Boxes containing everything needed to make three cocktails were delivered to clients.
Boxes containing everything needed to make three cocktails were delivered to clients.

He says the clients loved the event, some sharing their thoughts on social media, which provided additional publicity for Dawson. One, who titled the blog Best Zoom Call Ever – Bar None, wrote, “Some entrepreneurs go the extra mile to show their appreciation to their valued clients. Danny Dawson…is one of them. His Comedy and Cocktails evening was his way of showing his clients how much their business means to him, and we had the opportunity to participate…

“So, what is Comedy and Cocktails? It’s like going to a comedy club without having to leave the comfort of your home. We even had the drinks delivered right to our door by a service called Bar From Afar. Hard to beat that kind of service…It was an interesting collaboration – a Realtor, a stand-up comedian/bartender and a bartending delivery service. This was just what we needed after a year of endless lockdowns…This was one of the most entertaining evenings we have spent on a Zoom call since this pandemic began.”

Other clients texted, saying they appreciated being invited to his “hilarious event”.

Event preparations took about two months, with Dawson carefully planning the many touchpoint opportunities the event would provide.

A date was chosen – a Thursday night at 7 pm, a time Dawson says is just after many small children’s bedtime and a time during the pandemic when no one is doing much. A Zoom meeting was set up, an invitation was emailed and a link to the event was sent to clients in advance.

Dawson then phoned each client. “I’m not a mushy person. To call just to talk is hard, but it’s easy to call and invite someone,” he says. “It wasn’t just one email.”

Along with the email invitation and phone call, reminders were sent, including one a day before the event. It allowed for multiple touchpoints, he says.

All went smoothly, but there was something that worried Dawson. He included a notice in his newsletter, which goes to about 1,500 people, reasoning he’d rather invite everyone than have someone feel left out.  If all 1,500 had wanted to attend, the cost would have been exorbitant, he says, but luckily there were only a “random” couple of responses from the newsletter. He says he was able to use his energy to push hard to get his “A” clients to attend.

The event wasn’t inexpensive ($500 for the comedian and $50 per box per household including delivery) but Dawson says he recommends this type of promotion. “The return on investment is impossible to determine, but the conversations and appreciation value (made it worthwhile). It worked for me.”

Dawson has been in real estate for six years and is on the Ottawa Real Estate Board’s Board of Directors. He is starting to grow a team, with one buyers’ agent and assistant Yost, who helped him brainstorm and plan the event. “I have two young kids, 3 and 1, and a busy life. With support I’ll have more time to spend with my family.”

Dawson is already planning the second of two annual events. He usually loads up his truck with pumpkins and delivers them to clients. This year, if the pandemic allows, he plans to invite his clients to a pumpkin patch where they can pick their own pumpkin, have a photographer take a family photo and enjoy a mug of hot chocolate.

The best plans benefit all – clients will undoubtedly enjoy the outing and having them pick their own pumpkins means Dawson won’t have to carry the heavy load.

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