We had our annual Celebration of Health at the clinic a few weeks ago. It’s become a tradition for us – we invite patients and the general public, and spend an evening at the clinic enjoying some great food and drinks, and generally enjoying ourselves.

It was a great success, but this year I was trying to pay particular attention to why. Here are a few of our thoughts, but we’d love some further tips. Anyone have any great ideas? Leave them in the comments!

Have a Designated Greeter

This year I spent most of my time serving drinks, and from my vantage point I had a clear view of the main entrance for most of the night. The one thing I noticed more than anything else was how uncertain new people looked when they came in. Fortunately, there were enough of us around that someone was usually able to welcome them give them a tour or point them in the direction of food, drinks, samples, etc., but in hindsight, I think having a “greeter” would have been helpful.

The greeter doesn’t need any special clinical knowledge – it can be a friend or family member. They just have to make people feel like they’ve come to the right spot for the right reason. Next year, we’ll have someone assigned to the front door the whole time.

Spread The Word Widely

People show up from an amazingly diverse range of places. We promoted the event:

  • On our website
  • To our patient mailing list
  • In posters in local stores and shops
  • On clinic signage
  • In postcards left with local practitioners and other vendors
  • In newspaper ads and events calendars
  • In various local online calendars and community sites

Many of these sources were free, and they all helped spread the world. It turned out that just about everything connected with someone. As we’ve discovered with new client marketing, you never quite know where the people are going to come from.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Invitation

We sent letters to all our patients to let them know about the open house, and it was a pleasant surprise for me just how many clients seemed to truly appreciate simply being invited. It was a great reminder of how much people long to feel special, or a part of something.  The letter included other services and events, but the lead item was an invite them to the event, and people responded, many with messages of gratitude. It made the whole process of marketing the open house quite enjoyable.

Apparently, Recipes are Big

We had advertised that we’d be sharing recipes for unique and healthy foods, and there were people who came for that reason only. Who knew? Apparently Tara did, which gives you some insight into who does most of the cooking at our place. :) At any rate, recipes=more people!

Free Stuff Is A Big Draw (and Easy to Get!)

I think this was our biggest year for freebies. Our supplement suppliers and local retailers really came through for us, and it was surprisingly easy. We brainstormed a few ideas in advance, made a list, and simply asked. The people at the open house loved it, and the suppliers were super-keen and helpful. It also had the added bonus of moving people through the clinic. By placing freebies throughout the office, people tended to explore a little more, and become more familiar and comfortable with the space.

Partner

Back when the clinic was a lot smaller, we arranged to have our open house on the same night as the massage therapists down the hall. We were both relatively new in practice, but by holding events on the same night, we were able to create a much busier (and more enjoyable) event for both of us.

This year, we had a local personal trainer and raw food expert spend the evening with us. She blended up some amazing organic green smoothies, and actually turned out to be the biggest hit of the evening. She was a hugely successful addition for us, and was able to promote her own services at the same time. A great collaboration.

Have a Way to Stay in Touch

A good open house can bring a lot of new faces in the door, and it’s nice to be able to get in touch with people after the event is over. Our approach was pretty simple: a door prize that people entered by writing their name and email address on a ballot.

The next day, I simply emailed everyone a short message thanking them for attending, and included a link to the recipes from the night before on our website. The key? Respect their email address, and offer something of use. Having a great email newsletter solution makes things a heck of a lot easier, too.

Anyone else have any practical tips for making the most of an open house or other event in your practice? Let’s hear your ideas!

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3 Responses to “Tips for a Successful Open House”

  1. Thanks for suggestions, Dan! I just had a conversation this week with a studio owner who was having an open house–I’m going to forward this article to her.

    I love using the Healing Rhythms biofeedback system for open houses and wellness fairs (http://tinyurl.com/mhu5sf) . It’s a great way to make tangible the mind/body connection for people (and a wonderful way to engage them at the event). You just hook up sensors around three fingers, and they go through a session led by leading CAM practitioners like Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and others. People can then see the body’s relaxation response on the system as they move through the techniques like deep breathing and progressive relaxation.

  2. Invite your networking partners.

    I have found that the businesses you work with and the networking groups you are involved with would love to attend an open house to meet more potential clients for themselves. For example, our dog groomer came to our summer bbq with her logo on her t-shirt and just mingled and generated good conversation and buzz about her small business too. A win-win situation as long as you don’t make it like a tradeshow. Clients will read right through that.

  3. Lisa says:

    Great suggestions! We are looking for local people to join us at our open house to help support local businesses. Thanks for a good article.

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