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How to Host an Open House

How to Host an Open House as an MSP

It might not be the first thing you would think of as a means of getting potential business in the door, but you could certainly do a lot worse than to host an open house as a managed service provider. Let’s go over why you might want to put on this kind of event, as well as a few tips and ideas to help you do so.

Why Would an MSP Host an Open House in the First Place?

Let’s take a moment and consider why anyone would ever host an open house of any kind. Whether it’s an open house in the sense of a home going up for sale, a school welcoming parents in to see their progeny’s progress, or indeed a business opening its doors to visitors, the root motivation is the same: starting a relationship.

That’s really it. An open house simply gives you the opportunity to welcome prospects to show them what you have to offer, invite business peers and associates to form bonds with you, and humanize your business to the public at large. It’s a marketing opportunity, just like any public-facing event is, you just have control over it as the host.

This means, however, that it’s up to you to ensure that your open house is as successful as possible. Let’s run through how you can do this to the best of your ability, from start to finish.

How to Plan Your Open House

Hosting an open house is a bit of a layered marketing effort. After all, not only are you trying to spread awareness of your business, your services, and your company culture during the event, but you also need to publicize the event itself in order for anyone to show up.

Because of this duality, let’s break down the planning process into these two sections—starting with how to plan and hold your open house itself, and then diving into how you can market the event successfully.

What Goes into Hosting a Business Open House?

There’s a lot that you need to consider. To some degree, you are simultaneously executing a marketing push and hosting a party. Either of these two things is challenging enough on its own, and combining them is going to add some level of complexity.

Fortunately, things can get a lot simpler if you just keep your needs organized.

Set a Date, and Establish a Budget
First of all, when are you going to hold your open house? When making this decision, try to account for things like holidays and other major community events. All of the promotion and outreach in the world would be wasted if your event’s attendance plummeted when your invitees realized that it would conflict with another priority. Try to find a time that doesn’t already have a major event attached for your event to compete with.

You also need to have a budget that will match the response that you can reasonably expect to receive. Not only will your budget help inform the rest of your plans, but it will also help you determine any overall return on investment your open house brings in.

Decide What Focus/Theme Your Open House Will Have
Based on the goal you have for your open house overall, what you focus on during the event will change dramatically. An event that’s meant to educate your guests about your services will be shaped much differently than one that’s meant to introduce your prospects to the people who they would work with. Determining this focus will help you better plan the activities that your guests will have to engage in.

If your company culture allows for it, you might also consider having some kind of theme or gimmick to help boost the strength of the impressions you make. An open house talking about cybersecurity is one thing, an open house talking about cybersecurity with themed hors d'oeuvres—phishing sushi platters, perhaps—or “hackers” serving beverages is another. 

Figure Out Your Activities and Catering Needs
On the topic of food…do you plan to feed people at this event? This will likely require some form of catering, as a bowl of chips and a prepackaged cheese plate might work for the office party, but an open house calls for a bit more.

You can also plan different activities or programs for people to engage with as an added draw. Maybe you have one of your team members talk about a topic that is relevant to your services, or you have one or two of your happy clients share their stories with the group, if they’re willing.

Involve Your Partners and Vendors
Inviting one or two of your vendors to participate in your event, either as a guest speaker or as a sponsor for some aspect of it, can have benefits for everyone. Not only might this help offset your costs, your vendors could also benefit from the facetime with the people that they are serving through you. An open house is, after all, a great sales opportunity.

How to Get the Word Out About Your Open House

So, now that you have your open house planned and prepared, you want to make sure that you have people to come and enjoy the fruits of your labor (ideally, learning more about why your business is a great choice for their needs at the same time). Provided that you’re trying to make this a truly open house, you may not necessarily have a guest list or any reservations necessary to attend. The following strategies are largely designed to work in that situation:

Send Out Invitations to Your Contacts
We’re big fans of using email for marketing purposes, and this instance is no exception. Notifying your existing contacts of your open house ahead of time helps to claim the date before some other commitment pops up, and reminding them periodically helps ensure it sticks in their mind.

If there’s someone in your community who you’d really like to attend—maybe a valuable prospect, or someone with influence in the local business community—don’t be afraid to send them a more direct invitation, welcoming them to bring guests along for the ride.

Lean On Local Resources
When it comes to publicizing your event, you don’t necessarily have to rely on your business’ network alone. There are other ways that you can get the word out. If you’re a Chamber of Commerce member (which is usually a good idea for your marketing efforts, regardless) you can lean on the resources that your membership gives you access to, and you can always notify your local news publications about it as well. Inviting the press to attend the event also gives you the potential to have a write-up happen, adding to your open house’s influence after the fact.

Need Help Marketing Your Next Open House, or Other Event?

You can lean on us! We have plenty of experience helping MSPs spread the word about their services and goings-on, including helping to promote events! Reach out to us to learn more about what we could do for you.
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