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Open days: Six ways to get it right

Industrial tourism is often associated with visiting production sites with rich historical background. But if you are not a renowned French winery or an Italian sports cars factory, it doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a flux of visitors if you open up your company to the public.  Organizing a doors open day or a guided company tour can be a great way to enhance your company’s image and to create buzz around it. Here are some tips on how to make your event a success.

1) Set clear goals

What are the goals you would like to reach and what is it exactly that you want to communicate? An open day is a great way to showcase the aspects that your company takes pride in. Organize a guided tour of a factory site and demonstrate the innovative technologies that you are implementing. If you work in a highly polluting industry, tell your visitors about the environmental effort that your company is making.

The aim of an open day is not only to tell the story behind your products but also to listen to the public opinion. Use the event as an opportunity to establish a two-way communication and to get feedback from your stakeholders on some important issues.

2) Keep in mind your target audience

 Who are your target audiences? Industrial specialists, employees’ families, influencers and opinion leaders, students, local residents… Segment your visitors and offer initiatives ad hoc for every target audience. Students might want to use your company as an example in their graduation paper (and you know how valuable the natural backlinks from universities are for your corporate website, right?). Opinion leaders might mention you in some media publications. Guided company visits can be part of a company’s policy regarding corporate social responsibility and engagement in the life of the local community. An open day can help your company build relationship with the local residents and get feedback from them on the perception of the brand. If the employees’ families attend the event, engage the children into interaction by organizing a contest (for example, drawing their parent’s workplace).

3) Communicate the added value

An open day is not just about showcasing your company. Think about potential additional value you can offer to your visitors. Combine the company tour with a seminar on the trends and challenges in your industry where experts and managers would share some important insights. Attract guests by promoting the seminar’s program on your website, social media and event-management websites.

4) Benefit from partnerships

In order to promote your event to a large audience you need to use the right channels. Otherwise, after making an investment in the event (and getting a company prepared for an open day IS an investment), you will end up with a small group of visitors. Get informed about the regional initiatives, as Doors Open days are often promoted at the level of local authorities, non-profit organizations and universities. For example, in the North of Italy regional authorities organize the “Fabbriche aperte” day when various industrial sites open up to the general public. Organizing an open day in partnership with some established organization or timing it to an initiative in this field promoted by the city or the region is the best way to attract more visitors to your event.

 5) Integrate offline and online promotion

 The web presence is no longer an optional extra for a b2b company. The web has become the new dimension for the traditional activities of marketing, communication, advertising and sales. Use digital channels for promoting and creating the buzz around your event.  Speak about it from your social media pages and your corporate blog. Send a newsletter to your database of contacts. If you have some managers or specialists speaking at your event, consider publishing a video online (or it could even be a webinar in streaming for registered users). Publish a summary of the seminar with some industry insights as a file for download on your corporate website. Sum up the results of the event in a presentation and publish it on Slideshare. Reach out to relevant blogs and industrial portals. Digital channels amplify the effect of offline initiatives, so integrate offline and online marketing and benefit from it!

6) Measure the results

The ROI on marketing and communications is often difficult to measure, or so it is believed to be. As marketing tools evolve and as offline and online promotion get integrated, the results of marketing efforts are becoming more tangible. To calculate a return on investment into an open day event at your company, convert your goals into clear performance indicators that you can measure. New business contacts established as the result of the event, media publications, number of shares and likes in social media, rise in the visits to the corporate website, number of downloads of the event’s program – these are some of the main indicators that will help you to measure the results against the budget invested and to convert the sometimes ephemeral PR value into tangible numbers.