When was the last time you invited all the media reps, vendors, and influencers in your market to an open house at your firm?

ad agency open house

Change the market’s perception of your ad agency with one simple idea!

What we call watering the grapevine, or an ad agency trade open house? This is a prime marketing event that generates a lot of buzz within the marketing community. And it’s the fastest way to re-brand a firm and change any old perceptions that may have built up over time. The events are not expensive but all business, if done correctly.

Watering The Grapevine:

We suggest that the trade open house be held on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evening from 4 until 6:30 with announcements at 6.  Have a drawing, raffle off some prizes, and make a strong pitch for leads and suggestions because “our clients are your clients and many of your clients should perhaps be our clients in return.” This is a great way to generate marketing leads for your firm.

We like to hold these adjacent to your office (parking lot, empty space a floor down, etc) so the staff can offer tours of the office where a real agency story is given. Organize it so each member of your staff is ready to give a “walking capabilities presentation” to each guest.

Setting up a strong tour is critical. Great care and thought should be put into developing a tour strategy that works for your agency. Most agencies are way too messy and disorganized. Your space should be properly themed and cleaned like a set for a TV show – nothing to break the flow. Walk the trade representatives through the agency and discuss your brand, positioning, unique approach, client results. They will notice all the subliminal items you will have positioned and the overall neatness if done properly.

Refreshments should be nice but not over the top. A few good drink selections, some themed food that helps support your brand, and of course plenty of snacks.

The invitations should go out 45 days in advance so media and other vendors not based in the city can arrange to attend and set up schedules to work the city that day.  The invitations need to be outstanding and colorful.

Ad Agency Open House: The Secret Ingredient

Most importantly is the proper training of your staff. They need to understand the entire tour and how to ask the small groups of your guest “would you like to see our agency?” They become the real show; with the agency space is a backdrop. After all, if you can have junior art directors and AE’s talking about the power of branding, results for this and that client, how proud they are of what the agency has done here… what must the rest of the staff be like! A truly powerful agency. Something they didn’t know… something the guest will want to share with others in their “grapevine!”

We believe strongly in the power of the trade open house and have many examples of winning open house tips and suggestions.   The objective is six good leads within six weeks.  We usually obtain more than that.

After a recent DayOne at a mid-sized regional agency the leadership team decided to try our watering the grapevine” trade open house. To quote the agency president:

“It seemed too simple. Hold an agency reception. Ask the right people over, position the agency for them, and ask for some leads. We had to be missing something.”

The reception went off without a hitch. Almost everyone attended, just like we said they would. A good time was had by all. And then the leads starting coming in. The creative director called to tell us that in the past two weeks he’s had over 20 leads, and 5 good visits. Then he asked us the kicker – is there anything he could do to slow them down?

If you’re interested in learning more about how to set up a trade open house, or any of the other critical skills that enable marketing firms to win more new business, our DayOne is a great place to start. Your new business plans will be mapped out and the staff energized around your new business objectives and the leadership team will have received valuable insight and training on the key elements of growth and how other firms successfully plan and execute their growth strategies.


Photo by *HenriqueFrazao