What can be so special about open house events? Who would pay interest and why would you want to go to an open house event of a company (other than for the buffet)?
When you organize an open house event as a company, you may want to attract potential clients in order to get new business. Therefore, you need to make potential clients understand:
- What’s in it for them
- What does it cost them
- Why should they trust you
Initially, to get them into your rooms. But in the end, to do business with them.
It’s easy for visitors to understand what’s in it for them if you visualize the problems that you’ve solved for your clients and if you demonstrate the solutions. Everybody enjoys listening to well-told stories and watching great actors on the stage.
However, your main business most likely is not storytelling. You may not have a large marketing team with a couple of visual artists. And most likely you don’t have a team of first-class actors. Especially not if you run an IT company.
Nevertheless, we started to organize open house events a couple of years ago. For that to work, we did the following:
- Negotiate customer reference statements with our clients
- Create posters for our projects that visualize the problem, our approach, and the solution
- Develop showcases to demonstrate a solution in a non-production environment
We have seen that it’s valuable to do that “as you go” and not just in a mad rush right before an open house event.
We have a large team of software developers, some are extrovert, some are introvert by nature. They may delight in describing technical details but find it hard to describe the problem and solution to laymen.
Nevertheless, we invited our team members to be the ones to talk about their projects. Since we didn’t want them to fail publicly, we helped them to see the problem with fresh eyes, to describe the way from the challenge to the solution in simple-to-understand words. We trained them to use simple words and short sentences. We gave them time to practice and to rehearse.
… and it worked. Here is some of the anonymous feedback that we get from our visitors:
It was very nice to experience the enthusiasm of all the employees.
In particular, the discussions with project managers and the open communication about project topics impressed me very much.
Impressive exhibition of many young people; their pride and enthusiasm for their meaningful and fulfilling work was omnipresent and could be experienced vividly.
The enthusiasm of the staff for their projects also infected me on that day.
That means: if you do your homework, you can turn software developers into enthusiastic, authentic actors. They show pride for their work (in the best sense) and they earn confidence and self-esteem.
The alternative would have been to let sales people do the selling – in pretty suits with casual small talk and well-polished words for our great achievements.
We preferred the more authentic Catalysts style where we empower our workforce to do what they couldn’t have imagined before.
We’ve been holding open house events for a couple of years now. The intended effect was to get more business. The unintended effects (but possibly even more important) were:
- we became better storytellers,
- our team members felt empowered and built even stronger emotional ties with their work and the company,
- they conveyed the message in a very authentic way,
… which altogether built a lot of trust with our visitors.
If I got you interested, you can check out
- our summary of the open house event from 2015 with a couple of videos and interviews here, and
- photographs from our recent open house event here
Since we fell in love with our open house events, we are going to organize large, public open house events multiple times per year. But we’ve also started to organize private “Get Inspired by Catalysts” sessions on demand. You can get a private tour on the topics that are of interest to you. Just let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we will take care of the rest (including concierge service to reserve a hotel room if necessary for overnight stays).