When I.O. Metro, a successful Midwest-based furniture, art and accessories retailer, decided to enter the Atlanta market, it selected locations at three of Cousins Properties’ The Avenue lifestyle shopping centers – marking the first time the company had entered a market with multiple locations at once. Without the brand awareness I.O. Metro experienced when it opened its 18 stores in smaller Midwest markets, c21 was charged with building awareness of and driving traffic to this new player in a top 10 DMA already saturated with furniture store offerings.
c21 organized grand opening events on consecutive nights at each of the new locations, maximizing the opportunity that potential customers would be able to attend at least one of the events. We also arranged a celebrity appearance to increase interest in attending the events – HGTV interior design celebrity Vern Yip. In addition, c21 and I.O. Metro implemented a room makeover contest to collect contact information and database opt-ins. Potential shoppers could register to win a $10,000 makeover either online or at the grand opening events.
c21 supported each of these strategies with media relations, email marketing and social media. We invited media to sneak preview I.O. Metro before the store opened to the general public, and we packaged and pitched interview opportunities on the design expertise of Vern Yip along with the business knowledge of I.O. Metro’s 29-year-old CEO Jay Howard, who expanded his business in a struggling economy. In addition, we created editorial calendars and content for Facebook, Twitter and email messages that focused on the contest, Vern Yip’s design expertise, I.O. Metro’s furniture lines and event details. During the week of the event, we posted live from the grand openings, and added event photos and news coverage regularly.
More than 600 people attended each event, with lines wrapping around each of the stores, for a grand total of 1,980 shoppers – exceeding the attendance goal by 32 percent and reaching the stores’ capacity each night. Grand opening event sales exceeded $40,000. More than 2,500 shoppers entered the room makeover contest, and more than half opted into I.O. Metro’s marketing database, resulting in 1,469 new Atlanta-area contacts for I.O. Metro. Media relations resulted in 8,700,000 impressions and $53,150 in corresponding advertising equivalency – more than quadruple the amount of coverage that I.O. Metro saw in its August debut in the St. Louis market – including feature articles in Chain Store Age, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta Journal Constitution and two live broadcast segments on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta, which resulted in 600 visits to I.O. Metro’s website in the first 30 minutes after the segments aired.