Successful business owners know that momentum is everything when it comes to marketing your business. But what if your momentum is absolute zero?
Are you a brand-new business just getting started? Perhaps your existing business is branching off in a new direction. Hosting a launch party or a grand opening celebration is a great way to spark momentum, plus create an official start date for your new venture.
In this issue of Keeping PACE, we will take a look at some strategies to make your grand opening a grand success.
Who should be invited?
Obviously, anyone that helps get your business to this point should be part of the celebration. Family, friends, colleagues, and customers should all be invited. In addition, here’s a checklist of other important invitees.
- Local media and press – Get specific and invite as many individuals from local newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and other news outlets.
- Bloggers – Identify members of the virtual press that specialize in your region, your industry, or your products. Tech companies, restaurants, vacation destinations, and many other types of business depend heavily on influential opinion leaders.
- Other Businesses – Neighboring businesses, vendors, members of your local Chamber of Commerce plus any businesses that will be important to your ultimate success.
- Community Leaders – Elected officials, police officers and other first responders, local clergy and other influential members of your community all have a vested interest in seeing your business succeed.
Expect about 30% of your invitees to attend. For more exclusive events that number may be higher, so encourage them to RSVP.
Where should you hold the grand opening?
The most obvious answer would be at your storefront or offices, but that’s not the best option for all businesses. Public businesses dependent on foot traffic definitely want people to visit their location, but here are options for other types of businesses.
- If you’re planning to have lots of food, restaurants will often provide a party room or banquet hall in exchange for the catering business.
- Groundbreaking events can often be held outdoors at the site, but remember to rent tents as a failsafe to inclement weather.
- Your building lobby may be available if you’re renting office space. In this case try to hold the event after hours out of courtesy to your fellow tenants.
- Chambers of Commerce and other economic development groups are often willing to let you hold events in their offices for conference rooms.
- Sometimes other businesses will let you use their facilities, especially if you cater to similar types of customers or have the ability to bring a crowd to their public business.
- Public park pavilions or community rooms are available to rent in most communities.
- Smaller events could be held at the owner’s home for a more casual event.
Regardless of the location, try to make sure you have the right amount of space, accessible parking etc. You want your venue to be full, but not uncomfortably so.
When should you begin planning?
A good rule of thumb is 90 days ahead of your event. Remember, your grand opening doesn’t have to be on your first day of business. Take your time and plan things out, and eliminate any potential conflicts that could turn your celebration into a newsworthy disaster.
- Choose your date carefully. Consider potential bad weather, conflicting events, availability of your venues, then choose a date a minimum of 60 days out.
- If you have construction or renovations being done at your site, give at least 30 days beyond the completion date of the project. Rushing your contractor or holding a party under piles of dust are both potentially bad situations.
- Send personal invitations about four weeks ahead. Make sure most of the planning is done before invitations go out so you can include lots of information.
- Public grand openings should be advertised for 4-6 weeks prior to the celebration.
- Begin pushing heavily on social media in the last two weeks before the event.
- Make sure to give yourself plenty of advance planning time with caterers, AV equipment set up, or promotional product orders. Good communication is critical.
Take your time and do it right. It’s not uncommon for grand opening celebrations to be held even several months after your new business is operating. Hopefully, your party will create an influx of new business and your business must be ready to handle the demand.
What should we budget?
The celebration is a big deal. This single event will create the first impression, so don’t hold back. Remember, however, that what you offer is going to be a reflection of your business. A good rule of thumb is to allocate 20% of your first year marketing budget to the celebration. Hopefully, the buzz will lead to 20% of your first year sales.
- Food and beverages are a great enticement but can get pricey. Make decisions about the appropriate level of food offered. Also carefully consider whether alcoholic beverages would be a good decision for your event and your audience.
- Discounts and special offers are a great way to introduce your products, but they can be less of an incentive for members of the press or community leaders. Also, remember not to “over discount” or you may hurt your ability to charge regular prices later.
- Connect with other local businesses that appeal to similar customer types. Create a “swag bag” of giveaways and promo products from a bunch of businesses or create door prizes to build anticipation.
- Hiring entertainment is a great way to make a party out of, well, your party. Hiring a band or DJ or even a wandering table magician can make your event memorable. You’ll always create more buzz if your guests have lots of fun.
- Branded clothing is essential. Make sure your business staff attends and make it easy to find them. Embroidered shirts or lanyards with badges make your staff easy to identify. Make sure your entire party has staff strategically placed throughout.
Follow up after the party is also important. Thank you gifts, literature mailings, or personal phone calls can all keep the buzz flowing after your event is a memory. You may even consider “wish you were here” promotions to those who couldn’t attend. Remember, this is just the beginning.
If you would like assistance planning your annual budget, creating marketing assets, or getting ready for your grand opening, please call Mediastead today!