River North Grand Opening

Grand opening and anniversary events celebrating MacSpecialist River North

MacSpecialist as Director of Sales & Marketing

MacSpecialist brand development, new business development and vendor showcase

River North Grand Opening & Anniversary Events

MacSpecialist River North Grand Opening and Anniversary Events @ Sushi Samba and District in Chicago

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My sales and marketing teams at MacSpecialist regularly hosted great seminars and special events but our River North Grand Opening and Anniversary Events in Chicago will forever hold a special place in my heart because they actualized my entire brand development strategy.

My mission from the beginning was to connect MacSpecialist with our ideal clients then connect our ideal clients with each other in order provide networking opportunities they wouldn’t find anywhere else. I thought to myself, “If we provide great service for a client, they’ll come back once. If we provide great service for a client and introduce them to new clients of their own, they’ll come back forever.”

We’d already worked very hard on winning business from our ideal clients but the grand opening of the River North location provided the perfect opportunity to put the second half of the strategy in action.

I knew that tech manufactures were usually willing to devote marketing funds to retail launches, new store openings and events like trade shows or seminars that get them in front of customers. The problem with that is people are busy and trade shows and seminars often take place during the day. Plus, they get pretty boring after you’ve been to your first 20 or 30. I’d been to countless seminars and trade shows in bright hotel conference rooms and expo centers, and although the information was useful, they feel pretty corporate.

I’ve never heard anyone say they wished the trade show would stay open ’til 3 am because they were having so much fun they didn’t want to leave.

Event Sponsors

Includes Grand Opening @ Sushi Samba and Anniversary Event @ District

Apple •  Ingram Micro • Tech Data • Samsung • Microsoft • Canon • Ableton • Drive Savers • G-Techology • Drive Savers • Ricoh
Data Robotics (Drobo) • LaCie • Wacom •  Lightspeed Commerce • HansaWorld • Belkin • NewerTech • mStation • Mophie • Cyber Acoustics

Generic vs. Authentic

If I wanted to make a lasting impression I needed to introduce the brand the way I’d always envisioned it.

Instead of asking our River North agency clients and business owners to come to our trade show (vendor showcase), we’d inject the vendor showcase into the River North nightlife and ask them to come to our inaugural celebration.  

About a month before the new location opened, we partnered our neighbor, Sushi Samba. They provided a beautiful neighborhood venue that was built for nightlife, not trade shows or IT seminars. We served sushi and sake. Instead of going booking the typical corporate dj who plays “Dancing Queen” and speaks with a radio voice, we booked Chicago house music DJs to provide the ambience because they truly represented the sound of our neighborhood, our customers and our brand. 

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We invited clients as well as potential clients from various industries that don’t often cross paths and we put them in the same room with our vendor and manufacturer partners. We invited concert tour managers, software developers, interior designers, architects, retail boutique owners, art gallery directors, agency heads, dentists, film producers, nightclub promoters and IT professionals… and it was awesome.

Vendors gave demos, guests learned about the latest Mac technology, MacSpecialist staff gave guests tours of the construction progress at the new store and most importantly, the guests got to know each other. Everyone got a chance to network and people really enjoyed themselves. I even got the “I wish this wasn’t over yet” comments from several guests. Luckily, I’d planned for those and booked out top floor for a surprise afterparty in advance.

After the vendor showcase, guests were invited to an upstairs lounge fully equipped with a premium bar, open dance floor and Chicago house DJs spinning records at party volume levels. The event was a great way to celebrate move to the neighborhood and generate a buzz about the brand.

The strategy proved to be successful so we replicated it (although to a lesser extent) for our anniversary events. See photos from our 3rd anniversary held at District (another neighborhood venue) above.  The events didn’t just produce a positive ROI, the expenses were covered entirely by sponsorship sales.

Core Responsibilities

My team was responsible for:

  • Concept

  • Event branding

  • Sponsorship tiers

  • Sponsorship sales

  • Vendor relations

  • Venue research

  • PR / media outreach

  • Talent booking

  • Developed strategic guest list managed by sales and pr team
  • Chose the food and drink menu
  • Event schedule and logistics
  • Vendor & guest relations
  • Design & distribution of MacSpecialist and vendor printed marketing materials
  • Gift bag design and distribution
  • Event digital display design
  • Event credentials design
  • Set and managed event budget

  • Venue contract negotiations

  • Food and drink contract negotiations

  • Developed sponsorship terms and conditions

  • Negotiated special vendor / guest rates with neighborhood hotels
  • Negotiated performer contracts

  • Produced net positive ROI

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