Whether it’s your first store or fiftieth, a well-planned and successfully-executed grand opening is key to a fast start for sales and can set the momentum for weeks and months to come. To ensure a well-attended event and maximize your grand opening success, remember the “3 P’s”:
Planning: Lay the Groundwork
Start planning as early as possible, keeping in mind your local media could need up to 2 months notice to get your event into local calendars.
- Schedule a date. Ideally, plan for 2-3 weeks after opening to allow time for employees to become familiar with procedures and to work out any kinks.
- Brainstorm details. Decide what kind of grand opening you will have – formal and elegant with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and local dignitaries or a casual family-friendly event with snacks? Determine an itinerary of activities or entertainment.
- Set a budget. Remember to contact your local Chamber of Commerce and other area businesses for help planning your grand opening. Often times they will offer free or inexpensive promotions or support.
- Finalize the guest list. Put together a list of who you’d like to invite, including potential customers, officials and staff from your local Chambers of Commerce, local government leaders, business colleagues, other community business owners and the media.
Promotion: Spread the Word
Again, the sooner the better – and the more frequent. Post regular updates and reminders on social media, email or even on your front door.
- Send invitations. A personal invitation sent to your guest list via mail or email not only reinforces your brand, but also your professionalism. Follow up with a personal phone call to confirm and guarantee attendance.
- Maximize visibility. Use a mix of signage to really draw attendance, including window signs, outdoor pole banners, vehicle wraps and more. (Make sure you check with your local government for regulations regarding ADA signage.)
- Offer incentives. Give your community a reason to come. Offer discounts or free consultations for potential customers to better learn about your products and services. Reward anyone who “likes” you on Facebook with a coupon.
Publicity: Garner Positive Press
Effective publicity will not only boost your reputation within the community, but also maximize the success of your grand opening.
- Before the event: Send out a general press release announcing the details of your grand opening. Target specific news reporters, radio stations and TV stations to distribute a media advisory encouraging them to come out for the grand opening.
- During the event: Introduce yourself to any press that may attend. Make sure they know you are available for quotes, photos or any questions they may have. A simple “thank you” is appropriate since they will be covering the event.
- After the event: Send a follow up press release about the grand opening, including who attended, event announcements or details and a photo.
While at first this may be overwhelming for a new business owner just remember there are many organizations rooting for your success, including your local Signs By Tomorrow. Good luck!
Whether you are a non-profit trying to raise money or a corporation paying tribute to your top clients, your event should be an extension of your brand.
According to Catherine Kaputa, author of How to Brand Your Meetings & Events, “In the Business World, events are the primary stage on which one performs…how the company performs on the event stage can make or break the corporate brand.”
Throwing a mediocre event will indicate you represent a mediocre brand. Every component of your event including logos/ trademarks, keynote speakers, micro-sites, seminars, custom event signage and goodie bags should be well thought out, exciting and represent the corporate brand.
Create a Sense of Exclusivity
Exclusivity leads to a desire in your attendees to be part of the “in crowd,” changing your event from “want to attend” to “must attend.” It is a common belief that more guests means more revenue; but it is possible to create a sense of exclusivity without sacrificing ticket sales. An elite attendance package and its perceived enhanced value proposition will create an opportunity for your guests to invest more in your event and/or cause, just to be a part of the area behind the velvet ropes.
Show Them a Good Time
During the event, don’t miss an opportunity to cast your brand in a favorable light. Pretend you are attending the event and walk through a guest’s typical path to identify “touch points” along the way where you can engage your guests while reinforcing your brand image. From the obvious opportunities like show entrances and stages to the more traditional such as custom directional signage, table tops and floor graphics, don’t overlook an inch of space when designing your visual communications and signage strategy. Creative uses of common spaces can be one of the best ways to intrigue your guests and drive them to take action.
Keep Them Coming Back for More
Make sure you follow up with any inquiries quickly. There are many resources available to event marketers to keep event attendees engaged from event to event including micro-sites, email marketing and of course, social media marketing.
Integrate social media into your custom event signage and graphics, too – add custom QR codes and include the web address of your brand’s blog, Facebook and Twitter pages. Be sure to post pictures, video and creative messaging to help create excitement for your next event!
Check out our video below for some examples of custom event signage and graphics Signs By Tomorrow produced for our clients: