Are you just about ready to launch your brand-new business, open your relocated store, or add on another location? If so, you need to make your grand opening event count to get business off to a healthy start and generate enthusiasm within your community.
Admittedly, though, hosting a successful grand opening to help market your business can seem like a daunting, overwhelming task. Here are five steps you can take to get it right.
PS: Before you open your new location, make sure to build a go-to-market strategy!
Step #1: Choose your grand opening type
What type of business you’re opening will narrow down the type of opening celebration that would be appropriate. A pizza party might not be the best fit for a law practice, for example. Yet, it might be perfect for a new family-friendly restaurant.
The first step to planning a successful grand opening is deciding what kind of event it will be–an open house, a ceremony, a sale, or something else. Just make sure that whatever it is, the idea aligns logically with your business. There are few things worse than confusing your potential customers from the start.
Here are seven grand opening ideas that can help you plan your grand opening event.
1. Have an exclusive sale
Who can pass up a good deal? If you’re offering items people want and you can successfully get on their radar, then your grand opening sale will be packed. With enough promotion, you can generate a good deal of excitement and attract steady crowds, which will draw passersby as well.
2. Leverage two things everyone loves
There are two things that are universally loved–food and music. So, you can probably guess where this is going. If you want a great turnout, use these instant attractors.
When advertising your grand opening party, make sure to mention what type of food you’ll be serving. You can even name-drop if you’re having the event catered by a favorite local restaurant. Don’t forget to show enticing pictures to whet people’s appetites!
What about the music? Ideally, you’ll want to book a performer or group that is fairly well-known in your area. That way, your advertisements will draw people in and get them to your party on the big day.
3. Support a worthy cause
A charitable event is a great way to appeal to the strongly held values of your potential customers. If you can show that you care about the same things they do, they’ll be more likely to want to support you, in addition to the organizations you partner with.
There’s a tried and true formula that works for all sorts of businesses. “For every x purchased on opening day, we’ll donate y to z.” You might choose to donate funds, products, or even services. Whatever you decide, both you, your customers, and your charity of choice will benefit.
To get the best result, arrange for your partner organization to advertise this campaign too. The more exposure your event receives, the better the outcome will be.
4. Invite special guests and speakers
Whether it’s a city official, industry expert, or another special guest, inviting a speaker or VIP can be a smart idea. After all, they have a following, fans, and supporters. In any case, if people are aware that a special guest will be present at your grand opening, they may be motivated to come on by.
For example, this bridal boutique grand opening featured local wedding experts that brides and grooms-to-be would love to hear from.
If your VIPs will be speaking, participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, or something other than simply attending, make sure to include the specifics when you promote your event.
5. Offer a demo or workshop
If you offer a useful product, it could be a good idea to show why your product is so valuable and how to use it properly. In other words, host a demo of your products or services.
For example, this academy offered music and dance classes during its grand opening, which took place over two days. But, of course, what you offer will depend on your business. If you operate a spa, you might offer complimentary hand massages to your party guests. If you’re opening a gym, you could demonstrate what a personal training session entails.
You could also teach people hands-on activities via workshops, which can be both practical and enjoyable.
6. Partner with related businesses
If you don’t have an established customer base to count on, you should consider teaming up with those who do. For example, if you offer music lessons, you may want to partner with an instrument shop.
The best partnerships are those that happen between non-competing businesses that have similar customer bases. If you can find a business like that to co-host your grand opening with you, you’ll get a better turnout and you’ll both get increased exposure.
7. Make it a weeklong celebration
If you really want to go all out, you can turn a grand opening day into a grand opening week. By advertising and hosting a different event every day for a week, you can get five to seven times the foot traffic. You can also attract a wider portion of your target audience since different people are interested in different events and schedules vary by person.
An exciting idea for your grand opening will set you up for success down the line. Don’t miss the opportunities that such a special event can open up for your small business!
Step #2: Set the date
Caution is needed. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a date without thinking of popular events taking place around that time.
For example, what happens if the day you pick is the same as a major sporting event in your city and many locals already have their tickets? Likely, fewer people will show up for your event, which is both a bummer and can harm your business’s reputation.
Be careful about scheduling your event too close to popular holidays or at the same time as sporting events, festivals, and other large events in your city. You don’t want to risk your attendees choosing another event over yours.
Step #3: Promote, promote, promote your big day
With the idea set in stone and the date chosen, it’s time to start promoting. After all, if you fail to spread the word far and wide, you may not get the turnout you expect on the day. How can people attend an event they don’t know about?
Consider a handful of promotion options that could work wonderfully for you, especially if you use more than one.
Here are five grand opening promotion ideas to try out.
1. Establish and maintain a presence in the area
During construction (or other prep), make arrangements to be present whenever possible. Doing so will allow you to chat with passersby and other business owners in the vicinity. You can answer any questions, get them excited about your new business, and even pass out business cards, brochures, and flyers.
What about when you’re not able to be on-site? A highly visible, branded “coming soon” sign can pick up the slack.
Especially for those that pass by often, it can make your business more memorable. If you include the date of your grand opening and perhaps even some exciting details as a teaser, those people just might stop by when the big day arrives.
2. Create or update your website
If you don’t yet have a website, you need one. And not just to advertise your grand opening but also to establish a solid online presence.
Already have a website? Don’t forget to update it with information about your grand opening! Leverage various parts of your site to draw attention to your coming location. You could use sidebars, pop-ups, the locations page or section, the contact page, or some other appropriate spot.
3. Contact potential customers and suppliers via email
Of course, you want your customers and clients to join you for the grand opening. However, it’s also wise to invite suppliers and people you might partner with in some way.
If you have a method in place to collect email addresses, use email to reach out. You should do this well before the scheduled date so that everyone can arrange their affairs to be available. You may even encourage people to RSVP, which will help you to plan accordingly.
An email will also ensure that people have something to refer back to should they forget the date, time, or location. Then, shortly before the event, you can send out a reminder to encourage as many as possible to show up.
4. Get media coverage
In addition to reaching out to your target audience and suppliers, you should also get the media involved. Media coverage–whether via the newspaper, radio, TV, or some other means — will take care of much of the necessary advertising work. It will generate excitement and allow you to focus more of your attention on preparation.
You can also get some coverage and additional promotion by partnering with a local influencer in your area.
5. Post teasers on social media
If you have any social media following at all, then you have a great opportunity to let your audience know about your grand opening. And you don’t just want to mention it once and call it a day. After all, the lifespan of posts and tweets isn’t very long, which means that people can quickly forget what they’ve seen.
You want to start talking about your grand opening at least a couple of months beforehand and continue creating hype all the way up until the day. Of course, you don’t want to “spam” people’s feeds with constant posts about your opening. However, you do want posts to be enthusiastic and frequent to keep your business top of mind.
Step #4: Work out the kinks
The big day arrives and a rush of potential customers flood in. Some are even ready to do business with you right then and there. But lo and behold, your staff is confused. They’re unsure of policies, procedures, features, etc. What a bad impression this leaves!
The time for trial and error is not on the day of your grand opening. You want everything to go off without a hitch; you want to impress. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of your business to do a “dry run” or a soft opening at least one to two weeks beforehand. That way, your staff will have your processes down pat and there will be no hiccups or mishaps the day of.
Step #5: Win over new customers
When it comes down to it, no doubt, you want your attendees to feel that supporting your event is worth their time. Of course, being prepared and letting people know what to expect beforehand plays into how they feel about it. But so does what you do for them while they’re actually in attendance.
For example, providing exciting or useful takeaways and goodie bags can show your appreciation and win you the favor of the masses.
And, generally, anything you take such as email addresses should be compensated for with something of value to your attendees. This is good hosting etiquette and if you follow it, you will see the benefits. That is…if you also promote your grand opening to the max.
Your grand opening will be grand
If you start with a brilliant idea for your event, set the date carefully, promote it to the max, prepare well, and take steps to be a good host, you can’t go wrong. You will have done everything in your power to ensure your success and, barring some unforeseen disaster or circumstance, you will succeed. People will flock to your new business or new business location, enjoy themselves, and mark the start of a long and strong relationship with your brand. How grand!