Many local businesses choose to have some kind of grand opening, announcing their presence with sales, giveaways, special offers, or an interactive event. However, if you’re new to the world of entrepreneurship, or if you’ve never hosted a grand opening before, this can be very intimidating. After all, this event is going to be responsible for forming the first impressions of your potential customer base, and the success of this event could set the tone for your business’s entire future.
So what steps can you take to throw a better grand opening?
Use Both Physical and Digital Marketing Strategies
If you want to capitalize on the biggest possible audience, while still focusing on local demographics, your best bet is to use both physical and digital marketing strategies. For example, you can print postcards to send to potential customers in the neighborhood, while simultaneously investing in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on platforms like Google and Facebook. This way, you’ll get plenty of visibility, and you’ll get some early metrics to tell you which marketing strategies might be valuable to your business in the future.
Start Announcing Your Event as Far in Advance as Possible
Most people won’t rearrange their calendars to prepare for a business’s grand opening, but it’s still beneficial to plan for your event as far in advance as possible. The longer people have to learn about the event, the greater your turnout is going to be—and the more anticipation you’ll build among your most dedicated followers. If you’re remodeling an existing building or if you’re developing on a plot of land, be sure to use signage to indicate your upcoming grand opening. People in the area who drive or walk by will see this, and think of it every time they’re in the area. It’s a great way to build brand awareness in advance of the event.
Plan to Keep the Momentum Going
Your business will probably plan on a day-long celebration as the core grand opening event, but you should also have a plan to keep that momentum going. Some people won’t be able to make it to this main event, and some will only hear about your business after this initial boost in visibility. You’ll need some way to appeal to them and get them in as well. For example, you might have a week-long sale, advertising steep discounts or free samples for anyone who shops at your place of business for the first time during that week.
Plan Appealing Specials
You have a lot of flexibility in terms of what special offers to advertise, but try to have something that appeals to your target demographics. One of the most straightforward options is to sell your core products or services for lower prices than the standard, granting a discount to every new customer. You could also sponsor a free giveaway; depending on the nature of your business, this could mean giving away free promotional products or free samples, or entering every customer into a drawing for a bigger-ticket item.
Make It a Party
If you have the space and the means, try to turn your grand opening into a party, or create a festival-like atmosphere. For example, you could plan to have food trucks in your parking lot, or even offer free or purchasable food for your attendees. You could also have products for sale outdoors, and you could play loud, energetic music to make people feel welcome. This has the added benefit of drawing attention to your event—anyone passing by will want to stop by and see what’s up.
Host Demos, Workshops, or Classes
People love to get hands-on, so if you plan to have some kind of interactive element in your business, you can greatly increase your new customers’ loyalty—as well as the memorability of your event. The best way for new business owners to do this is to host some kind of demo, workshop, or class that allows people to get to know your products or services better. For example, your restaurant could teach people how to make a perfect dessert, or your hobby store could teach people how to play a collectible card game. Try to get signups or reservations for these interactive events in advance, so you can plan for the proper number of attendees.
If you want to boost your brand signal even further, consider partnering with another local business in the area—especially one that plans on launching around the same time as yours. You can work together to mutually promote your businesses, and draw even more people into both. As long as your priorities remain on maximizing the visibility and memorability of your brand, you have practically unlimited flexibility in designing and promoting your event.