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. Unless you have this complete grand opening guide, that is! We’ll give you all the tools you need to ensure your grand opening is a hit. In fact, this post even answers your grand opening questions like:
- Why does your business need a grand opening?
- What are some grand opening ideas?
- How do you organize a grand opening?
Grand openings act as your business’s first impression to new customers, so use this post to help you get it right.
PS: Before you open your new location, make sure to build a go-to-market strategy!
Why you need a grand opening
Grand openings can be a fit for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re a brand new business or a franchise opening another location, there’s nothing like a grand opening to get in front of your community and get people excited about your business. Here are some other reasons why grand openings are important for businesses across every niche market out there:
- Grand openings create brand awareness. Ideally, you want your potential customers to be able to easily recognize your business. That comes with time and brand consistency, so you first need to establish your brand. A grand opening can increase awareness and get your business on people’s radars.
- A grand opening can help build word-of-mouth marketing. A grand opening gives attendees something to chat about in future as they share all the fun they had at your event. Plus, by giving them a taste of your business, they can let other people know about their experience through referrals.
- A grand opening attracts new customers. An event draws in customers who otherwise may not have known about your business—making it the perfect marketing ROI.
An example of an established local business doing a grand opening after they’ve already started operating.
12 easy (yet effective!) grand opening ideas
So you know you need a grand opening, but what are your options? We did the brainstorming for you! Here are 12 grand opening ideas that can bring a unique twist to your business’s 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 an effective promotion strategy, you can generate a good deal of excitement and attract steady crowds, which will draw passersby as well.
2. Have free food and music
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 this dynamic duo to appeal to your target audience.
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 appeal to 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.
If you don’t have a ton of marketing budget to book a band, plugging in your own device to play out a playlist is just as effective! In fact, you could create a playlist unique to your business that others can follow later.
This fitness apparel business creates new playlists whenever they launch a new line.
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.
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.
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.
This bridal boutique featured below had local wedding experts attend their grand opening since engaged couples would love to hear from them.
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, the above 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!
8. Use a fun incentive
Try having a goal in mind for your grand opening. Maybe your business is looking to break a silly world record, hit a certain number of email sign-ups, or finish a special project. Frame your grand opening around this to give it a unique twist that’s sure to generate buzz. This grand opening idea could entice guests to stay for the event entirety while they watch your business reach its goal.
9. Hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony
Nothing says “grand opening” like a ribbon-cutting ceremony! You can easily purchase cheap ribbons from your local store. Put it up in front of your doors or product selection, and have attendees gather around to watch you “officially” open your business to the public.
10. Make it a soft-launch
People love to feel like they’re a part of something exclusive. Add a dose of exclusivity to your grand opening by turning it into a “soft launch.” With this, your business will only be open to a select group of people before you fully open. Invite your business’s friends, family, and community to be the first to try out your business’s new offerings.
11. Give a tour
If you’re looking for your grand opening to have structured activities, you could offer a tour of your new location. Walk guests through your office or store to give them a “behind-the-scenes” look at how your business does its magic.
If you don’t have a ton of space to show off, you could create a series of visuals on free design platforms, like Canva, that tell your business’s story. That way your grand opening guests will get a “tour” of how your business came to be.
12. Do a countdown
You don’t have to hold your grand opening the second the clock hits your operating hours. One final grand opening idea you could try is to have your grand opening fall ahead of your planned opening time and have guests countdown to your “official” opening. Or, you can have a countdown leading up to the announcement of a new product or sale. Similar to how counting down adds excitement to New Year’s Eve, this a surefire grand opening idea worth toasting to.
How to organize a grand opening
Now that you have plenty of grand opening ideas to tailor your event to your business, it’s time to get to work. Follow these quick steps to make organizing your grand opening a breeze:
Step #1: Choose your grand opening type
While we reviewed a ton of grand opening ideas above, you’ll want to zero in on your exact grand opening vision. Try to focus in on one or two ideas. That way, your grand opening theme is clear to all who attend. This will make your grand opening management easier as you’ll have a “big picture” theme to guide your planning decisions.
Step #2: Set the day
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.
An example of our marketing calendar that can help you plan your grand opening around holidays and other events.
Step #3: Announce your grand opening
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 ways you can announce your grand opening ahead of the big day:
1. Establish and maintain a local presence
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.
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.
Does your small business website already exist? 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, the contact page, or some other appropriate spot.
While you’re building out or updating your web pages, it wouldn’t hurt to do a quick website audit to catch any potential site issues before your event. There are plenty of free, online website grader tools you can access in a pinch.
An example of a website grade from LOCALiQ’s website grader tool that can help businesses prep their site for grand opening promotions.
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 across marketing channels 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.
An example of media coverage for a grand opening via an online article.
5. Post teasers on social media
If you have any social media following at all, you have a great opportunity to let your audience know about your grand opening. However, don’t just mention it once and call it a day. After all, the lifespan of posts 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” 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.
A grand opening with grand results
You already have a great small business to start. If you conjure up 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!