Are you ready to open a brick and mortar store? A grand opening event is in order! You can elevate your profile in the community and increase sales with a few tried and true strategies.
An opening party doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Targeted advertising, social media campaigns and media coverage can all bring potential customers in the door. Here are easy-to-implement ideas and strategies to elevate your brand in the community and build relationships with consumers.
As a business owner, you’re likely a goal-setting expert. An obvious goal will be to introduce your brand. Create clear and consistent promotional materials, signage, handouts and advertising. You want the community to instantly recognize what you stand for and what you offer consumers. You also need to establish how your business is different - and better - than what’s already out there.
The cost of your opening event should be included in your annual marketing budget. Consider the extra costs like staffing, refreshments, decorations, entertainment, giveaways and advertising. Some sources say that 20% of your annual marketing budget should be allocated to your grand opening. Of course, this is just a guideline. Some business owners can go the thrifty route, and some might go all out. Try to strike a balance that won’t impact your ability to keep marketing efforts going throughout the year.
Foster a good reputation with the community you serve. Check out local charities and explore ways you can help them reach their goals. For example, if there is a charity or other non-profit entity in need of items for the homeless or another at-risk population, you might set up a collection bin or a money donation jar. Create an ongoing mutually beneficial partnership that extends beyond your opening.
For more ideas about building your reputation in the community, review this SmartBiz blog post: What Small Business Owners Can Do To Become Community Leaders.
What are three things people universally love? Food, entertainment and freebies. You don’t have to break the bank. Check with local restaurants, bakeries, etc. and ask if they would be willing to offer a bulk food discount in exchange for free advertising. The same with a band or another entertainer. You’ll beef up your grand opening offerings and support other small businesses. For freebies, consider promotional items that are useful and promote your store. Our blog has great ideas to help you create effective promotional ideas: Promotional Items for Your Small Business. You’ll learn how to target your audience, choose appropriate promotional items and set a budget.
Book the Date
Can you capitalize on a time-of-year, community event or holiday? Some examples include opening during the “Back-to-School” shopping days in August, planning a “love” theme around Valentine’s Day or taking advantage of the Shop Small Saturday buzz after Thanksgiving. There are even calendar observances trending on social media that you can work into a theme. Think #nationalbeerloversday, Positive Attitude Day or Avoid Stress Week. Check out our marketing ideas based on the calendar here: Marketing Calendar: When to Promote Your Business
Promote Your Event
Here are a few easy and cost effective ways to get the word out there.
- Hand out flyers or balloons printed with the when/where details of your grand opening. Post flyers near prominent intersections, in local coffee shops, libraries or other community gathering places.
- Contact local media with information about the event and offer an interview about how your business can help stimulate the local economy. Explore placing ads in your local paper or on the radio. If there’s a local radio station that offers prizes, ask if you can donate goods or services for a give-away.
- Promote on social media. Determine if your target shopper is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social media platform. Many have cost-effective advertising options where you can to target posts to reach a specific demographic. If you don’t have the bandwidth for social media set up, advertising and updates, consider hiring a freelancer. The SmartBiz Small Business Blog has a comprehensive guide about how to hire a social media specialist here: Small Business Marketing Tip: How to Hire a Social Media Strategist
You don’t want to be scrambling on the day of your big grand opening! Be sure all decorations, giveaways and other in-store assets are set up well in advance. Have you properly trained your employees? It goes without saying that each employee should be an expert on your products and services.
During your event, collect email addresses by offering some sort of perk. That could be a future discount, a chance at a prize or a free subscription to your newsletter. Don’t spam your customers, you want to thank them for their time and business. Post images of your event on social media and write a post-opening press release.
Still nervous about pulling it all together? Ted Peterson is the owner and operator of Wit Clothing Inc. in North Carolina. He suggests a “soft opening” for friends and family to make sure all of the bugs are worked out. “We wanted to make sure we could do the basics like ring up sales and answer questions. We also wanted to show off the shop and get suggestions if there was an area where we could improve.”