Lots of work goes into starting a small business, and your first day is a major achievement for you as an entrepreneur. Celebrate it by putting together a grand opening event that introduces your business to the community.
In this guide, you will learn some key strategies for making this big day a success.
Strategy 1: Start with a soft opening
In the days or weeks leading up to your grand opening, you should open your doors and/or website to a select group of friends and family members who will provide you feedback about the look, feel, and experience of your business.
- If your business has a physical storefront or location, invite your soft opening audience inside to meet your team, sample products, and place orders.
- If you conduct business remotely, invite your audience to visit your website and/or social media pages and talk to your customer service team.
Gather feedback from every person who participates. Ask for their thoughts on your products or services, the interactions they had with your team, and the specific parts of your operations that may need some tweaking before you open to a wider audience.
Strategy 2: Connect with a SCORE mentor
As a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE is an organization that pairs expert business mentors with novice business owners. When you connect with a SCORE mentor, you can obtain free advice that’s tailored to your field of business and set of goals.
One of the ways you can use the mentor program is to access support and feedback as you plan your opening day. You can ask for suggestions, run your ideas past your expert mentor, or allow your SCORE mentor to share their opening day experiences and tell you what’s worked for them and others. Your SCORE mentor may give you new ideas that had never occurred to you, and they may caution you against risky, costly opening day moves that are unlikely to make an impact.
If you’d like to connect with a SCORE mentor, visit www.SCORE.org.
Strategy 3: Hire a marketing firm
If you need more support, consider working with marketing pros who specialize in small business successes. You can ask for advice on announcing your opening, attracting customers, and planning a memorable event that will make your community excited about your arrival. Some may offer you a consultation and provide you with steps you should take to make your opening day a success. Others will help you plan the event, invite key members of your community, and ensure that the right details are in place to make an impact. Both options should provide tremendous returns for your business, but you should choose the option that works best for you and your budget.
Strategy 4: Select the right date
Find the best day and time for your grand opening celebration. One way to do this is by viewing your community’s calendar of events, sports schedules, road construction timelines, and other guides. These should help you find activities that could draw people close to your site or keep them from attending your event.
For many businesses, weekends without a major sporting event or holiday are best for grand opening events.
Strategy 5: Connect with your community
Here's an often-overlooked way to build a buzz. Take early steps to plant your brand in your community. Some ideas for doing this could include:
- Sponsoring a local team
- Co-hosting a community event
- Offering samples or coupons for your products at other neighborhood events
- Talking about your grand opening with people you meet at other venues
Your presence at events can be a great way to build excitement about your opening day. The visuals and talking points that you share can make an even greater impact. Here are some tips for building a buzz for your event:
- Always make the conversation about your customer’s preferences and not your own opinions of your products.
- Share how your products or services can meet a need or eliminate a pain point. Depending on your product, you could talk about convenience, low cost, high quality, or any other point that your customer care about.
- Talk about the specials that will be happening during your opening day event. Mention how the discounts provide an excellent way to try a product that others are buzzing about.
- Bring signs that will leave a lasting visual impression on your target audience.
Strategy 6: Work your platforms
Create social media accounts on the platforms your target audience uses most. Share updates of your construction projects, tease giveaways, and offer opening day coupons for people who like and share your page.
Be sure that every photo, video, and message you share does something more than inform your audience. Try to build suspense and excitement over what’s to come. A few ideas for killer social media posts include:
- Sharing photos or creating reels of local tastemakers and influencers sampling (and loving!) your products
- Allowing your social media followers to select your next giveaway (from a set of pre-selected options)
- Offering fun, engaging, and easy-to-enter contests with unique prizes. These could include a VIP parking spot for your opening day event, a personalized shopping experience, or a basket of samples delivered to your customer’s place of work
Strategy 7: Invite key people in your community to attend
Ask several well-known people in your area to attend your opening day event. Many political figures (including the mayor, city council members, and political candidates), art icons, and others may show an interest in attending, especially if you can offer some of these incentives:
- An opportunity to be photographed cutting the ribbon to your business
- A chance to be part of an event that’s giving a portion of its proceeds to a popular charity—and, more so, to be the person who delivers an oversized check to that organization
- An opportunity to connect and speak to a large audience
- An opportunity to feature or sell artwork, play a gig, or demonstrate a talent in front of an audience
After confirming their attendance, promote the news on your social media platforms. Share it with local media outlets that may send reporters, photographers, or videographers to cover your event. Keep in mind that people from newspapers, television stations, and radio stations will want a few weeks of notice to plan to attend your event. Most will appreciate a reminder several days before it occurs.
Strategy 8: Build a buzz with your neighbors
If you have a physical storefront, reach out to the owners of businesses that neighbor yours. Share your plans for opening day. Then, invite them to plan events at the same time to benefit from your influx of customers and draw an even wider audience to your block. You may also want to offer your neighbors an ongoing friends-and-family discount to build goodwill with them.
Any steps you take to join forces with the owners around you can pay off in big ways. This is especially true when those businesses have a great reputation in your neighborhood. Demonstrate that you'll be a good, considerate, and generous neighbor, and many will return the favor.
Strategy 9: Put your friends and family to work
Ask your friends and family members to help you hype your business. Invite them to show up on your opening day, share your social media pages, and tell others about your new business. You might also give them a stack of coupons to share within their networks. Be sure to reward them with discounts or free products for showing support for your business.
Strategy 10: Advertise
Look into the costs of running ads on radio stations, in your city’s newspaper, in local magazines, and through targeted mailers. Many media outlets offer affordable options to promote your business. Some could also be willing to negotiate a discount for a fledgling small business.
You can also get great exposure for your business through paid advertisements on social media platforms, but be strategic about where you advertise. Many new owners see great results with ads running only on Facebook and Nextdoor. Still, you should also consider other platforms your audience is likely to use.
Ad space is finite, meaning you have a limited amount of time or space to share your message. Use it to share a unique, memorable message with your market and announce the details of your grand opening event.
Strategy 11: Set the stage
A lot goes into making sure your store, site, and other parts of your operation are in place. Next, you can set up some signs, balloons, and other items to make your place of business feel like a fun place to spend time. Here are some options you might include:
- A large banner on your building announcing your opening day
- A quippy message on a sidewalk sign or a sign near the road that will catch passersby’s attention
- Balloons, flowers, and decorations that set the right tone for your business
- Fun, upbeat music from a live band or DJ
- Low-mess refreshments for attendees
- Parking lot inflatables or games
- Tables set up with grab bags and sign-up sheets for giveaways
- Frequent contests with great prizes on display
|Too often, attendees show up for opening day amenities without spending any time in the business. Here's a great strategy to avoid this. Set up the refreshment stands, games, and activities in front of the store but require attendees to get a free ticket from a counter inside your business.
Likewise, place sign-up tables and contest sheets at the back of your store. This will encourage attendees to experience your store, see more of your products, and possibly make some purchases while they enjoy the event.
These tips can help you introduce your business to your target market and leave a lasting impression on your customers.
After your grand opening, you’re ready to take on running your business, managing your team, and exploring growth opportunities. We can help you every step of the way. Log into your owner’s portal for strategies and support you can use to make your small business a lasting success.