Social distancing has caused us to pivot a bit, to change things up with how you interact with people, and it has caused us to limit ourselves.
Many of the people in your community are still skeptical to go out to events, parties, gatherings (but somehow everyone is ok to gather at Target and Costco -_-).
I want you to remember that this does not damper your Grand Opening Party, or your Open House, or even any event that you had plan to throw in your practice.
Instead this has caused you to save a bit more money, to think outside the box, and to stay safe!
You can still, definitely, do a Grand Opening Party/ Open House!
Let me show you what I am talking about!
What Are You Going To Do?
First things first, we need to decide if this is going to be an “IN-PERSON” Event OR a Virtual Event.
In this article I will talk about the pros and cons of both during the pandemic.
This is obviously the best move, if there was no virus going around.
However, since there is a pandemic currently happening (July 20202), an "in-person" event would have to be much more controlled and much more private. If you do plan to throw a “in-person” event, then I recommend a couple things:
- Make it exclusive.
- Make it fancy.
- Broadcast it virtually.
I recommend only doing an “in-person” grand opening/ event for family and friends OR for the community influencers only.
Keep it small and reasonable according to your community/ state’s guidelines.
The CONS for throwing this type of event is that you are running a risk, you can get backlash from people (depending on how many people you invite at once), and you can spend more time and money.
The PROS for throwing an “in-person” event is you will get influencers and friends in your actual space. Create stronger connections. You can get content of people being in your practice and enjoying the atmosphere. You can get others opinions on your location, and you can easily invite 5 “VIPs” every single hour and broadcast the office tour or their journey in your practice as a new patient.
Virtual Events are exciting and can have many possibilities!
You can invite as many people as you desire or continue to keep it exclusive. This is less personable, obviously, but you are still showing your community how your practice looks and functions... and you are still doing a “Grand Opening” / “Open House” event.
The PROs of doing a Virtual Event is the risk level of attending comes down to zero!
You are hosting it in your practice and you don’t have to worry about it getting out of hand. You are also saving tons of money by doing this. You are able to invite more people. Much more opportunities for people to share it all over social media/ online. You can still do giveaways, prizes, office tours, and introductions of your team.
The CONs are minimal but very important. Your internet connection can be unstable or go down. If you are using ZOOM, everyone can be talking over everyone and they won’t be able to hear you (this is why you will need someone doing the operations and muting everyone and then allowing people to speak/ participate when it is time for them to do so). You need to be 100x more organized with your itinerary and how you will run the Virtual Event.
The Virtual Event needs to feel like a party.
Don’t plan it to be hours and hours long. It’s ok if your Virtual Event looks like this:
Grand Opening Party
Starts at 7pm. Say "HI" introduce your practice and why you started in THIS community. Also mention how there will be prizes for them at the end of the party (so stick around)!
7:05pm Introduce Team Members
7:10pm Office Tour
Ask everyone to virtually raise their hand if they have any questions about the team or the office tour (plan out 5 minutes just in case, if no one raises their hand, continue).
7:15pm Introduce a “FREEBIE” like “Free Exams” for everyone attending this event. Show them where they can sign-up (LocalMed, on your website, or let them know to enter their email in the chat section). Make sure you pin in the chat section ways to contact you (phone, email, website, social media, etc.).
7:20pm Thank all the businesses who participated in contributing to the giveaway and mention all the prizes! Hype it up!
7:25pm Let people know one last time that they can enter in the raffle to win prizes by simply going to your Social Media, make sure they follow you and liking the post, if they share the post/ party then they will get 5 more tickets for their raffle. While you wait for people to do this you can play a quick Virtual Game or say hi to absolutely everyone by name and thank them for joining/ attending.
7:26pm Start the raffle and name the winners! If they won ask them to virtually raise their hand. Make it a big deal with each prize winner, ask for their email/ contact info so they can pick up the prizes.
7:40pm Thank everyone, remind them about how everyone who attended will be able to redeem their free exam within the month (30 day period). All they have to do is put their email address in the chat and one of your team members will reach out.
7:42pm Unmute everyone and play music and say goodbye! Have your whole team sit there and wave. Literally you and your team can wave for a whole 2 minutes until you start seeing a majority of people leaving. Once a majority of people leave you can choose to end the event or stay on and talk more, it’s up to you.
What you can also do is let them know (before you unmute everyone and say goodbye), if they want to see behind the scene stuff and more of what is happening in the virtual event (maybe you invited the media, influencers, or other partners) then go over to your Instagram or Facebook and see what’s happening! Let them know how the party is still going on there!
That’s all you have to do in a Virtual Event (of course with much more detail), but you don’t have to make it an hour long even! Keep it simple, impactful, make sure there is no “dead-air” or long silences, and keep it going!
You can always do a HYBRID version as well.
Invite some local influencers and do the major Virtual Event as well. You can still keep it controlled and exciting this way.
Now that you have decided what type of event you want to do, let’s talk about how we can market it.
FOUR WAYS TO MARKET YOUR GRAND OPENING DURING COVID-19
1. Start Ground Marketing (safely).
You're not alone in this COVID-19 struggle. All businesses are learning how to adapt, pivot, and stay above water. Be the helping hand here.
Even if you and other businesses are only operating at a limited capacity, it doesn’t mean you can’t come together with others in your local neighborhood to create some positive support for the community.
You need to start letting other businesses in your shopping strip or community know that you are going to be opening up soon!
How should you let them know?
You can drop by and do the age old thing where you say:
“Hey! Just wanted to give you cookies and let you know we are opening soon and accepting new patients! Here is our info.”
You walk away.
This may FEEL like you are doing good ground marketing but it’s really not doing as much as you feel or think it is.
Instead do this:
Walk in with nothing in hand and say-
“Hey! I was wondering if I could have some of your information?”
They will ask “why”?
You will say “I am from the brand new dental office down the street and we are doing a Grand Opening and I wanted to have some of your info on hand to display to our visitors AND if you have any amazing deals or giveaways for prizes we can definitely have that too”!
They will be ecstatic! They will want to participate!
Once they tell you “great let me go get some info etc.”, then you want to invite them to your grand opening!
If it’s a Virtual Event then extend the invite to them and also let them know that they can invite their family, friends, and customers. If they gave you a prize/ deal to giveaway as a prize, let them know that you will be announcing the prize during the Virtual Event. Encourage them to share this on their social media for more exposure.
Once you have collected their information, thank them and invite them to come to your office so they can check it out. Call it a “private tour”. During the “private tour” you can schedule them for an appointment/ exam. Let them know how you can take a picture of them at your practice and tag them on your social media so your followers can see it. This means more exposure for your practice and their company as well!
Do this with every single business possible.
2. Contact Your Local Chamber of Commerce/ Rotary Club
Believe it or not, this is still happening! Your local chamber of commerce and rotary clubs are still hosting tons of events and ribbon cuttings! Some may be “in-person” events but the majority are Virtual Events.
Just take a look:
Reach out to the Chamber of Commerce and ask them if you could participate or host an event.
3. Invite the Local News
We are ALL starving for some amazing, good news. Local newspapers and television stations are looking for a positive story, which includes your grand opening.
Don’t be shy about inviting the press because it’s a free opportunity to market your practice! Make sure you leave no attempts/ opportunities on the table!
This means I want you to reach out to and invite print media, radio media, television, and even any local podcasters.
Here are a few tips when attracting news coverage for your grand opening:
" Make your grand opening news-friendly: Will there be something interesting to video? Do you have a special occurrence planned, such as an appearance by a local celebrity/ influencer or a live demonstration? If so, be sure to provide a schedule of events.
Invite and remind: As soon as you know your grand opening date, send a short message to get on news professionals’ radar. For newspapers, forward a full press release about a week before the event. For radio and TV, send the press release 24 to 48 hours before the event. The day before the event, call and email reporters to ask if they are attending.
Create a Grand Opening Press Release: Include the 5 Ws—who, what, where, when, and why—and a quote from you about the event. Write the press release as if it would appear directly in the newspaper. Reporters will often your exact words from the press release you provided.
After the event, be sure to reach out to reporters, thank them for attending, and send any promised information (photos, links, etc.) and even invite them for a free tour/ exam/ procedure for them and their family (remember, you are trying to get new patients)".
4. Document Your Grand Opening Preparation
You can document and share your journey to doing a Grand Opening!
This can mean everything from taking photos, talking about your vision of the Grand Opening/ Open House, sharing videos of your staff preparing, etc.
This kind of content not only lets your community know that you’ll be opening soon, but it can also help to soothe some of their anxieties about visiting the dentist or your practice during COVID-19.
A recent Nielsen study shows that 50% of consumers want to see social distancing accommodations and 49% are looking for additional hygiene programs/ protocols. If you can show consumers that you’re taking extra steps to keep them safe, it can help to make them feel more comfortable.
5. Announce on Facebook & Instagram (there's actually a section for this on Facebook).
There are thousands of other businesses doing events virtually and they are announcing it on their Social Media!
A Facebook event page is a free and easy-to-setup way to advertise your Grand Opening. Honestly, even if there was no pandemic, this should be part of your marketing. It’s especially useful if you already have a following on a Facebook group or fan page.
When creating your event page, be sure to include images and videos that make the event appealing. Also, include anything special like prizes, live music, grand opening specials, or discounts. Once you have the event page link, promote it on social media, through your newsletter, or with Facebook or Instagram.
As you get closer to the event, add posts on the event page with more information about:
- Product and services highlights
- Personal messages about why you and your employees are excited for the grand opening
- Event teasers to build excitement
- A branded hashtag—so it’s easier to collect photos from those who attend the event.
So... what are some good giveaways/ party favors/ freebies you can give during your Grand Opening/ Open House?
WHAT TO GIVEAWAY?
Try something unique, useful during these times, and something that is related to your industry/ brand.
You will NEVER go wrong with giving away "hygiene kits". Especially in times like this where "hygiene" is extremely important.
I made a short 2-3 minute video about it here:
I do NOT recommend you give the same old boring giveaways like: pens, magnets, cups and stickers. Everyone is doing that, they are barely useful and not unique or memorable.
Try these ideas (if you decide to do more than "hygiene kits") :
- Branded face masks: A useful gift that costs around $1 to $2.50 apiece to create
- Ear savers: A more affordable alternative to face masks that cost from 50 cents to $1 a piece
- Travel hand sanitizers: Customize the bottle with your logo with a cost from $.75 to $2 per bottle
- Laptop webcam covers: This item provides reassurance when people are using their laptops and cost anywhere from $.10 to $.75 a piece
- Screen cleaners: This item can clean a tech item screen or sunglasses and cost $.15 to $1.50 each
- Travel chargers: An attractive choice if you have high-tech customers and are available for $1 to $5 each
- Any "in-office" procedures.
I truly hope this helps you out to better plan your Grand Opening/ Open House!
If you are having a hard time still after reading this, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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