Grand openings and ribbon cuttings don’t have to be limited to businesses that have retail locations. If your “real estate” is your website and you work out of your home, this great public relations opportunity is available to you as well, although you will have to plan it a bit differently than someone with a brick-and-mortar location. A few years ago, I attended a “ribbon cutting” for a client’s new website and had a great time meeting people all over the country on a teleconference bridge line.
Since I’m only a few months away from a new website myself, I wondered how to take advantage of this wonderful promotional opportunity powerfully. I made some posts to some discussion lists to which I belong, and the ideas listed in this article are the results of my information requests.
Here are some ideas to spice up your virtual grand opening/ribbon cutting:
At a minimum, you’ll need a teleconference bridge line. My favorite one at the moment is Live Free Conferencing, http://freeconferencing.liveoffice.com/, because you can record the call at no extra charge, the bridge line holds up to 250 callers, the moderator can mute the entire call if needed, and they offer the ability for muted callers to ask a question via their web control panel.
If you’d like more interaction with your visitors, you will want to use web conferencing/virtual conference room software. There are a number of these services out there, so I recommend that you do a search and try and few before deciding on your provider.
If you’d like to invite a group of people to your event, you can use an invitation service like Evite.com or send out an HTML invitation to your contact list through your email broadcast services like aWeber.com, EzineDirector.com, ConstantContact.com, or an audio postcard through a service like AudioAcrobat.com. To have your attendees register for this event, you will need to create a contact form on your website that feeds into your shopping cart or autoresponder service.
- Virtual ribbon cutting. You can do this via a webcam and cut a ribbon draped over your monitor, displaying the home page of your new site and showing it via your webinar service/virtual conference room service. Or, you might find an animated graphic of a ribbon cutting and show that via your virtual conference room instead.
- Have people register for your event and give out door prizes. You can spotlight your business colleagues by requesting door prizes for them. Electronic info products are the most accessible door prize to award, as you don’t have to mail a physical package to the winner. If some of your door prizes require mailing, you need to request a mailing address from everyone who registers for your event.
- Hold a teleseminar during the grand opening that’s partially educational, partially promotional. You can make a special offer to all who attend the live call.
- Give a virtual tour of your new website via webinar/virtual conference room software.
- Host a roundtable session at your event that permits attendees to give a 30-second commercial of their businesses. Schedule this at the end of your event, so it doesn’t detract from your offerings.
- Hold a scavenger hunt on your site during your grand opening. This hunt creates a reason to have people visit the site and visit multiple pages. Create a 3-5 page report or something easy to compile that showcases your expertise and is of value to your visitor for the prize. You might use roll-over images to give clues or find a funny graphic or hide it in various places throughout your site in obvious and not-so-obvious locations. You could also place audio snippets around your site as well and put clues in those audio files.
- Sponsor a message board and/or chat room on your site. At specific times post a series of questions, polls, etc., that will make your visitors interact. Ensure that the questions are relevant and of interest to your target market. This will instantly create popularity for your website, as well as for keywords pertinent to your target market.
- Give away prizes every hour (or every 10-15 minutes for shorter events) and tell your visitors that they have to be present in the webinar room/on the teleconference line to win. Between giveaways, talk about your experience and your offerings, and offer free on-the-spot help for a problem faced by your target market.
- Post the date and time of opening of your event on CraigsList.com, on the boards for your city/area and surrounding areas.
- Send out invitations through Evite or through your email broadcast service.
- If permitted, post the particulars about your event on various lists/discussion groups to which you belong.
- Send out press releases regarding events through online press release services.
- Create a post about your grand opening/ribbon cutting on your blog and invite attendees to post their comments on your blog
- Join your local Chamber of Commerce, and they will offer to hold a ribbon-cutting for you. For virtual/at-home businesses, most chambers will do this in their office rather than your home. Many times a photo or article about the ribbon cutting will appear in the local press and in the chamber newsletter.
- Plan a couple of local talks and/or the book or product signings to coincide with your grand opening
- Send out postcards inviting people to your new website and grand opening and offer them a free gift for dropping by.
- Send out press releases to your local media regarding any “in-person” events you sponsor during this grand opening time.
Grand openings are held to generate goodwill and begin relationships with business colleagues, current clients, and prospective customers. Now, as the owner of a virtual business, you can foster that same goodwill by sponsoring a virtual grand opening for your new business or new website and getting your new venture in gear.
Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter help self-employed service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To sign up for more FREE tips like these and claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at Get More Clients Online.
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