How to Prepare for a Grand Opening

For many entrepreneurs, the grand opening of a business is one of the most exciting events of their professional life. This is your opportunity to make an amazing first impression with your target customers, get to know the people in your community, and showcase some of the things that make your company unique.

But if you want to make the most of your grand opening, you’ll need to plan your strategy carefully—and as proactively as possible.

Plan Ahead

Your best strategy for planning a successful grand opening is being as proactive as possible. Announce your event early to give yourself as much time as possible to fully promote and build awareness for the event; the more time you spend marketing and advertising, the bigger your eventual audience is going to be.

There are many ways you can make this initial announcement. For example, you can use digital signage software to create a countdown timer ticking down to the date and time of your grand opening. Depending on the location of your business and your type of customers, you could put your digital sign on display outdoors, in the lobby of your building, or elsewhere—basically anywhere you could put a digital screen.

You can complement this with a press release, or a similar form of advertising that gets more eyes on your brand.

If you’re planning the grand opening for a physical location, you can also decorate the exterior of your building with signs and ads announcing the forthcoming opening date. The more time you have to display these signs, the better.

Understand Your Goals

There are many good reasons to celebrate your business with a grand opening, but not all entrepreneurs have the same priorities. These are some of the most common—which ones are most important to you and your business?

  • Visibility. If visibility is your main priority, the grand opening event will serve as a way to raise brand awareness. You’ll want as many people as possible to see your business and understand its purpose, which means you’ll need to step this up as a marketing and advertising opportunity.
  • Attendance. You may also want to optimize for attendance. Building a crowd is, of course, a good way to raise brand awareness and visibility by itself. However, you may have other motives for generating an audience; for example, you may use it as a way to encourage the development of a community around your brand.
  • Memorability. It’s also possible to optimize your grand opening for memorability. If you’re interested in getting as many long-term, loyal customers as possible, you’ll want this event to stick out in their memory. You can do this by providing more original discounts, activities, and offers, or making the event more exciting.
  • Revenue. Of course, you can also optimize for revenue. Here, your goal will be securing as many new sales as possible during the event.

You’ll be able to plan the timing and activities associated with your grand opening according to these priorities.

Do Something Novel

Regardless of what your priorities are, it’s important to do something original. Feel free to take a look at other grand opening events of the past (and standard advice for modern grand openings), but at some point, you’ll need to deviate from the norm. Differentiating yourself is a great way to make your brand more memorable, and it sets a great tone for the future of your business. Get creative and brainstorm ways to set yourself apart.

Escalate Your Advertising

As the date of your grand opening draws near, you’ll want to escalate your advertising. Start early with a subtle announcement, then start investing in more marketing and advertising channels. There are many valuable options here, including online paid ads, printed advertisements, sponsorships, search engine optimization (SEO), press releases, and social media marketing. Whatever combination of strategies you use to promote your grand opening, make sure those channels are properly aligned, communicating the same things to your most important demographics. If you aren’t sure who your target demographics are, do the market research to figure it out.

Get Early Feedback

While you still have time, get some feedback about your ideas for the grand opening. Conduct surveys or ask people informally what they think about your offers, activity plans, and so on. You may have enough time to change things before the main event.

Follow Up

When the event is over, make sure you have a plan to follow up. You’ll want to gather information from the customers who participated and review the data so you can conclude whether the event was successful. No matter what, you should learn something from the experience.

The excitement doesn’t have to end when your grand opening is over. After following up and analyzing the event retrospectively, you should gain some new insights into how your marketing strategies work and what your customers think about your brand. Use these insights to create new marketing and advertising campaigns, and possibly brainstorm for your next major event.