Launch Events: If You Build It, Will They Come?

 In Be Locally Relevant, Drive Traffic, Drive Trial, Event, New Store

When is the last time you attended the grand opening of something?

(Your own events don’t count!)

Or, except for a hot movie or concert ticket, waited in line to be the first to buy something?

So, why do we think potential customers are going to flock to our new product launch, service launch, or store grand opening?

Marketing activities fail because we don’t think through what it actually takes to make a new product, service, or store opening exciting and relevant enough to attract attention and motivate action.

We’re so wrapped up in our own excitement we develop a “if we build it he will come” mentality, losing sight the average customer really doesn’t care about our new thing… especially not enough to attend the ribbon cutting.

So that’s our problem… What are potential solutions?

Potential Solutions

While I strongly oppose marketers thinking they’re their own customer, I make an exception for this exercise…
We can probably agree that the dry cleaner is a pretty mundane thing. Important, but not wildly exciting. We’ll pick on them for this exercise…

What would it take to get you to set your alarm on Saturday morning to wake up and attend the grand opening of a new dry cleaner on your block?
Think about the typical tactics many locations employ, including at your organization…

First, are you hosting your event at the time when your customers can practically and logistically attend? The office worker isn’t going to carve time out of her Tuesday afternoon meeting schedule to attend your ribbon cutting. (Unless you make it really, really, worth it.)

Where do you cross the threshold from ho-hum to possibly exciting to a can’t miss event?

These tactics we see all the time. Would they bring you in?

  • A flyer stuffed under your windshield wiper?
  • A scruffy looking guy handing out flyers on the street corner near the new location?
  • Similar scruffy looking guy holding a giant-sized arrow with your company name on it?
  • A press release? *yawn*
  • A “Current Resident” bulk direct mail?

No way. But you see those tactics all the time!

How about these?

  • A newspaper ad invitation?
  • A direct mail invitation (that actually has YOUR name on it)?
  • A live radio remote from the location?

If you see the ad, pay attention to the direct mail (I may look at it if it is clever), or listen to the radio… You may think of them as reputable and organized… but still not getting you to attend.

What does this offer do for you?

Special Offer
Bring in the direct mail, newspaper ad, or name the station (mentioned above)
to be entered to win a year’s worth of free dry cleaning.

Hmm… It may be worth stopping in for this if it happens to be on the way to your morning latte. But, we know contests are set-up to gain high participation with a few, or a single winner. Chances are that’s not going to be us. “Entered to win” comes across as too scammy.

How about this:

Six months of free shirt/blouse dry cleaning to anyone who drops off a garment to be cleaned during the Grand Opening event (from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.).

Or this…

Drop off a garment to be cleaned during the Grand Opening event and receive a $25 Starbucks Card.

Now you’re talkin’…

Drop off a garment to be cleaned during the Grand Opening event and receive $50 worth of lunches at the adjoining heathy sandwich shop.

I can see the slogan for the that last one now… “We want you to look good on the outside and feel good on the inside.”

As long as they have found the way to communicate these to you in a way that you’re receptive to, (personalized direct mail, visible signage along your commute path, etc) they’ll probably get your attention.

If they’re smart, they’ll ask for your contact information when you drop off your first item, and now you’ll be in their database and they can start engaging you in conversation.

They didn’t limit it to the first 100 people, nor does it say “while supplies last.” You may actually tell your neighbor about this promotion! Now it has literally become remarkable.

6 Steps To Success

What does it take to be relevant enough for potential customers to set their alarm?

  1. Reach them in a way that they’re receptive to.
  2. Make an offer of true value to them.
  3. Don’t make them jump through hoops.
  4. A sense that you’re making an investment in their investment.
  5. That they are a person to you, not just a measured-percent of redeemed coupons.
  6. Think about your launch tactics. Are they relevant to potential customers?
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