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Secret behind successfully launching a flagship store during the ‘worst year on record’ for brick-and-mortar retail? Social media influencers.

Situation
In 2017, nearly 7,800 retail stores shuttered their doors, making it the worst year on record for brick-and-mortar retail. That same year, Dala Communications was tasked with successfully promoting the opening of a 22,000-square-foot brick-and-mortar flagship retail store. During the turbulent retail climate of 2017, we were tasked with establishing awareness of Frontgate, a luxury home retailer with a strong online and catalog customer base, and the opening of its first flagship store in Legacy West. A successful campaign would gain media and consumer interest, which would translate into strong in-store sales.

Dala Communications Solution
In order to raise awareness of Frontgate’s flagship store and correctly position it as the go-to home luxury retailer in North Texas, we created a multi-tiered public relations and event campaign that aligned with Frontgate’s advertising, marketing and sales strategy and forged solid community partnerships with key stakeholders.

Establishing an influencer campaign was an important component of the Frontgate strategy. The plan included connecting with key social media influencers and bloggers in our outreach efforts, along with traditional media. We offered influencers whose audience best fit Frontgate’s customer profile, an exclusive “sneak peek” at the new store before the grand opening. Here’s what one of these influencers had to say:

Enjoyed getting a private tour of @frontgatetexas with Johnathan, Director of Retail, before it opened today! So many beautiful options to furnish your home. Make a point to go by this weekend and see their flagship and first store in Texas! – @TheLushList (87.7K followers and counting…)

In addition to creating materials to successfully communicate Frontgate’s key messages to targeted press and influencers, we managed all of the event logistics from outreach and RSVPs to catering and in-store tours. Journalists and bloggers met different designers, experienced Frontgate’s monogramming services and enjoyed the walk-up bar. Our team also coordinated an on-air segment at Fox 4 the morning of the media preview, and garnered additional stories from journalists after our exclusive media sneak peek event. This quote about sums it up:  

Walking through the doors of Frontgate at Legacy West feels like a breath of fresh air. If you’re tired with stuffy furniture stores and DIY Ikea types, this is the place for you. – Plano Profile

The “sneak peek” was followed by a high-profile grand opening event on Sept. 7, 2017, with the goal of showcasing Frontgate’s unique in-store experience. We set up local partnerships with DFW area influencers, bloggers and other business, society and lifestyle VIPs to build awareness for Frontgate’s launch in the market and create a sense of purpose in the community. The grand opening event featured catering by renowned chef Kent Rathbun, signature cocktails from celebrity mixologist Leann Berry and live music from the Dallas String Quartet.

We also identified a local charity, Dwell with Dignity, to partner with Frontgate and help further this national retailer’s connection with the designer and lifestyle market in DFW. During the grand opening, Frontgate launched the charitable campaign with Dwell with Dignity.

Results
The pre-opening awareness campaign combined with countless media placements and influencer and VIP events were a smashing success! More than 500 people attended the grand opening, including Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, city council members and Dallas-area socialites and social media influencers. The excitement the grand opening generated amid a troubling retail market, is proof-positive of the effect social media influencers, strategic community partnerships and traditional media can have on a business when executed correctly in a multi-tiered marketing communications strategy. Here is what our client, Frontgate, had to say about the Dala team when all was said and done:

"Hearing the impression we had from our employees and the halo effect it had after our launch in Texas was incredible," Frontgate Senior Manager Public Relations & Partnerships, Tyler Thompson

"To look at the size of the team we had and the budget we had, the event was phenomenal," Frontgate SVP Brand Marketing, Jenn Reeves