An open house is a great way to spread awareness about your business and gain the attention of new customers. It’s a public relations promotional event that many brick-and-mortar businesses use when they are launching a new product, opening a new location or holding a new promotion. Open houses are not limited to product retailers. You can also hold an open house if you have a service-based business.
Establish Why You’re Planning an Open House
The first step to planning an open house for your business is to establish your main goal. What do you want to achieve with your open house event? Your goals may include:
- Building brand awareness in your community
- Showcasing your products or services to your potential customers
- Launching a new product or service or opening a new retail location
- Establishing your expertise and knowledge in your industry
- Building trust with your potential customers
- Rewarding your current customers
The goal of your event will dictate the guest list and logistical details of your open house. For example, if you’re having an open house to thank your current customers for their patronage, then the people you invite will be those who have already purchased from you and are familiar with what you offer. In contrast, if you’re looking to build trust with new customers, then your event will include more information on who you are and what you do.
Decide on Your Target Audience
Whom do you want to attend your open house? Think back to what kind of people you need at your event in order to achieve the goal you’ve set. If you’re trying to establish your business as an expert in your industry, you may invite members of the media in addition to prospects and customers. The media may find your event interesting enough to write a compelling feature on your business in the local newspaper or magazine.
Consider the needs of your audience when planning your event. If they have young children, you can look into having activities in which they can partake while the parents learn about your products. If most of your customers work in the evening, then you need to select a more convenient time for your open house.
Figure Out Your Budget and Logistical Details
Establish a budget for your event, keeping in mind what expenses you will have and how much return on your investment you hope to see. Your potential expenses may include staff salaries, food, drinks, decorations, advertising and promotions and supplies. If you will be offering your attendees any free products or services in addition to discounts, coupons or other sales promotions, factor those details into your budget.
Entice People to Attend Your Event
One of the most important aspects of planning an open house is persuading people to attend. What will you offer your attendees? What will they get out of coming to your business for the open house?
Consider what is valuable to them. Do your customers value their time? You could give them a free 10-minute consultation during the open house. Do they value low price points? Offer them a coupon to use on their next purchase.
Promote your open house where your potential customers will pay attention. This may include local newspapers and magazines. You can distribute flyers in local businesses and promote the event in local social media groups. Consider placing signage outside your store to promote the open house to people who pass by. Send email invites to your customer and prospect list.
Follow up With Your Attendees and Missed Guests
Planning an open house doesn’t end once the last guest leaves. You also have to follow up with your attendees and missed guests. During the event, be sure to take down names and contact information from all attendees. This way, you can call or email them to follow up the next week.
During your follow up, ask them if they are interested in any products or services they learned about during the event. Answer any questions they have and nurture your relationship with them.
If you invited guests by phone or email, you can follow up with those who didn’t attend as well. Give them a brief overview of how the event went and ask them to contact you if they want more information on your business.
- Recruit friends to help you. Have someone in charge of food while you take care of the guests and introduce or demonstrate your products.
- Over invite. Even if your space is small, invite more people than it can hold. About 30 to 50 percent will show up.
- Open up your space by moving furniture, if necessary, to accommodate your guests and make sure your products are well-displayed.
- Don't go for the hard sell. Your products or services will sell themselves if displayed or demonstrated properly. Put up signs explaining details and make sure guest know how to contact you for more information or future sales.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.