Are you or do you know someone who is planning a grand opening for a new business?
If you’re planning this type of event, you’ve got a million other things on your plate, too. Not only do you need to do everything that’s needed to plan a successful event, but you’ve also got to finish the construction of your space, kickoff your company’s marketing to try to get new clients, refine your pricing, stock up on inventory, etc.. Starting a business is a huge undertaking, so it’s not uncommon for businesses to get all wrapped up in the starting of the business, and then have an underwhelming or very stress-inducing grand opening event.
If you’re really trying to make an impression with your potential clients and community, then a grand opening can be a great tool for this. Why not stick to the parts of the business that are in your zone of genius, and leave the planning details for someone else to manage?
I love to plan grand openings and recently created planning packages specifically for grand openings.
Know your audience
Who are your ideal guests? Are you hoping to fill the room with friends and family, with referral partners, or with ideal clients? Do you intend to do all of the above? Everything from your invitations to your theme to your food will be based on this. Think hard about your audience and what is best for your grand opening. Based on your ideal audience, you can determine how to best reach them and get them in the room. You may even get to the point where you want to do a multi time/ day, or multi stage opening, if your audiences are varied.
Again, based on your goals and your audience, what theme do you want? This could influence everything from the food that you serve to the decor, to the invitation style. What do you want your guests to feel? Are you going for a fun and casual party, or a more upscale and impressive ribbon cutting? Somewhere in between? Is there a charity that you’d like to involve, and if so, that can fit into your theme too.
Prep the Space
This might be obvious, but make sure that your space is ready for guests. Big things like occupancy permits will be needed, but also small things like paper towels in the bathrooms and a floor mat at the door for people to brush off their feet. Make sure you do a quick (or thorough) dusting to remove any construction dirt, and do a scan of your parking lot to be sure people will know where to park. Basically, prepare your space to make sure it’s going to give the impression that you want it to give.
Build up Excitement
It’s very likely that one or two social media posts, and one invitation in the mail or email is not going to cut it. Again, this will depend on your ideal audience, but do what you can to give sneak peaks of your new business, and the plans that you have for your grand opening. Whether you use Facebook, or Instagram, or email, or billboards, or even just word of mouth, don’t assume that people will notice or remember your initial announcement. Build excitement by offering sneak peaks.
Tell the Press
If someone doesn’t have social media (yes there are those types of people out there!), then how will they know about your event? Even if you are inviting a very specific list of people by email and snail mail, it still is a good idea to tell the press about your grand opening. Even if the event won’t be open to the public, it’s assumed that your business will eventually be open to the public, and some free press in the form of a human interest story can’t hurt. Figure out your angle- new businesses can be very exciting for a community, but don’t hesitate to share more of your story, too. Pick up the phone and/ or send an email to your local press before and after your grand opening. Some publications will publish a short blurb with a photo after the opening, so keep that in mind too.
This is a good idea for any type of event, let alone a grand opening. People want to feel included, and a personal invitation is always a good idea. If there are specific people you’d like to see at your event, you need to invite them. I don’t just mean by clicking “invite friends” on the Facebook event, either. Send a personal email or text, or pick up the phone and call. Even if you’ve already sent an invitation in the mail, it’s not a bad idea to follow up to ensure they got the invitation and to make sure they know that you want them there.