7 brilliant tips for connecting to your community – and building your business
by Rebecca L. Olgeirson
Labor Day. St. Patrick’s Day. Thanksgiving. You name it – when it comes to engaging your community, there’s no better time than a holiday.
For Associate Sarah Mundahl and her mother Lisa Mundahl, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Junction in Seattle, that holiday is Halloween. Each year, RE/MAX Junction hosts a two-hour, family-friendly fright fest at the office.
The annual event is designed to generate a line around the block – and many happy families – but not necessarily direct sales leads. And that’s exactly the point.
“It’s more about being a part of the community,” Lisa Mundahl says. “This is simply about giving back – no sales, no pressure.”
In that, there is great promotional value. The office receives television and newspaper coverage, and clients often mention the haunted house.
Here are some tips for creating your own memorable community event that’s fun for both the attendees and the hosts. (Remember: It’s never too early to start planning ahead, no matter the holiday.)
Have something for everyone
Think about details that will excite kids and adults. Lisa and her team transform their office space into a several-room haunted house full of witches and ghouls. But there’s also a “glitter room” filled with pumpkins and fairies for children who are too young for the scary stuff.
Especially around a holiday, it’s likely that other neighboring businesses are planning something. Think about teaming up. RE/MAX Junction purposely hosts its event to coincide with trick-or-treating in the office’s retail district. A nice bonus of that is some of the marketing for the haunted house is sponsored by the property management company.
Give yourself plenty of lead time
After you have the basics firmed up – date, time, theme – start marketing so that people include it on their calendars. RE/MAX Junction sends out a postcard – complete with an annual Halloween poem – to the entire client list. Then the planning team starts finalizing details a month prior to the event.
Get a strong team in place
Pulling off an event includes planning and execution. Make sure you have enough help to cover both areas. The event team at RE/MAX Junction includes the main planning crew and teams of volunteers for setting up, helping during the event and cleaning up afterward. They even have costumed Associates who interact with guests waiting to get inside. A printed schedule and job assignments can help all volunteers stay on the same page while executing the event.
Don’t be skimpy with the details
For a community event to catch on and become something people look forward to year after year, it’s important to really go for it. That means fully realizing the theme while being smart about expenses. The team at RE/MAX Junction uses rolls of black plastic trash bags from the hardware store to cover walls and windows as a backdrop, which really sets a creepy tone.
Change it up
Whether you completely alter the type of event you host each year or simply want to modify the same theme each time, it’s good to keep attendees guessing what you have in store for them. Last year, RE/MAX Junction set the experience within an enchanted forest, replete with haunters in animal costumes.
Make it memorable
That is, think about a way for people to enjoy a reminder of the fun time they had. There’s always a designated photographer at the RE/MAX Junction haunted house. One volunteer hands out apples or candy and collects email addresses for parents to receive the photos. The team uses the email addresses only to share photos. But they also realize that when those folks are ready to buy or sell, they’ll know who to contact.