Business “Open Houses” are a dime a dozen.

For many of these events, you could call them “Come Into My Business So I Can Try to Get You as a Customer.” Not that you should do that, of course. Hardly anyone would come, and it would be really hard to fit all those characters into a headline or tweet.

So what can you do to dress it up a bit, make it newsworthy and attract people who may be leery of getting hit up for business? In other words, how can you pump up the value from the aforementioned 10 cents (well five-sixths of a penny, when you divide 10 by 12) to many, many dollars that flow to you for a long time to come?

Here are three ways:

1. Create a logical, thematic tie-in that helps “justify” the event.

Grand openings are an obvious example. But if you’re not just getting started, get creative and think of ways in which your product of service has a tie-in to something bigger. Maybe it’s the Oscar Awards ceremony coming up in three weeks, or an anniversary of something that has a natural connection to what you do.

Medicare turns 50 this year….if your services intersect with Medicare in any way, why not throw a 50th birthday party?

The more fun you can make it, the better.

2. Offer free stuff.

This could mean your own products or services–a way to educate and entice people to become customers in the future. And it could mean other merchants’ stuff. Ideally, it means both.

3. Lavish love on those who provide free stuff.

Don’t just solicit donations, though. Deliver value in the process. In return for getting those items, such as gift cards from nearby restaurants or other businesses, be excellent at promoting those participating businesses.

That promotion can come via news releases that include noting their involvement, as well as internal communications with your existing customer base. And, as with so many communications, extend the moment by showering some love on these other businesses via social media.

In short, take cross-marketing seriously, and “outgive” those who support you with the free stuff that they contribute.

Your open house could be a relative dud–there are plenty of circumstances beyond your control that can wreak havoc, such as lousy weather or other high-profile events occurring in your neighborhood. But if you nurture those business-to-business relationships, you will reap long-term dividends by engendering goodwill and loyalty among this influential, entrepreneurial segment of the population.

Taking these steps will not only help draw more visitors to your event, but they will help forge relationships with fellow enterprises that last well beyond the Open House.

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