Nothing beats a grand opening for building traffic and sales while making prospects aware of what you plan to offer. The key is in the prep work. Carroll Business Path, a company that consults with startups, recommends beginning the planning process at least one to two months ahead of the event.
Set a Budget
A grand opening event can be as big or small as you want, so add up the costs first, suggests Entrepreneur, and then start planning from there. Elements you may want to include are:
- Food and beverages
- Prizes and giveaways
- Advertising and promotion
- Decorations inside and out
- Venue costs if not held at your place of business
Choose Target Market
Determine the target market your grand opening needs to appeal to. This helps you figure out how to get an invitation in front of them. For instance, if you're opening a retail store that sells children's clothing, reaching the parents –– your primary target market –– is key to getting them to show up at your opening. To reach the parents, a flyer announcing the grand opening can be handed out at kids' sporting events and a media kit can be sent to parenting publications. Postings on social media pages parents read can also be helpful.
Location and Time
Figure out where you want to hold the event, such as at your store or at a local venue if your business doesn't provide enough room for everyone. Decide the best day to hold the event so it will attract as many people as possible. For example, if your business appeals to people who primarily shop on weekends, plan your grand opening for a Saturday.
Decide what type of program you want to offer. The Adams County Chamber of Commerce in Ohio has created a thorough guide to holding a grand opening. It suggests keeping the program to a maximum length of 10 or 15 minutes. Program possibilities include:
- a ribbon-cutting ceremony
- a slideshow highlighting your products
- sharing a historical timeline if you're expanding
- speeches from the owner or manager
- product demonstrations
- giveaway announcements
Finding ways to pull people in is key to making your grand opening a high-traffic event. For example, if you're opening a store that offers cooking lessons and sells kitchen supplies and equipment, holding free 15-minute cooking workshops throughout the store is likely to attract your target market. Highlight these demos in your advertising, invitations, flyers and press kit and on your signs and banners.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.