A group of five people wearing aprons stand around a chalkboard sign. The sign reads "Grand Opening" and the words are surrounded by a laurel wreath drawn in chalk. The five people are of different races and genders, and they stand with their hands on top of the sign, facing each other and smiling or laughing in celebration.
A grand opening (or reopening) is a perfect way to make your mark in your local neighborhood and get the word out about your business. — Getty Images/Rawpixel

Whether you’re a seasonal business reopening for the summer, a restaurant starting back up again after the pandemic or a new business hoping to make a splash, your launch event is an exciting way to (re)introduce your venture. A grand opening or reopening is a great marketing opportunity; not only can the event generate engagement, but it can also build momentum for your first-quarter sales. Here are some creative ways to make a splash during a grand opening/reopening business event.

[Read more: 5 Customer-Focused Business Reopening Strategies]

Reward your loyal customers

If you are reopening a storefront following a period of remote operations, make sure you thank the people who kept your business going during this difficult time. Remember, customer retention is more profitable than recruiting new customers. Use your reopening event to give those in your loyalty program an exclusive look at new products, provide small discounts for visiting early or simply throw an invite-only party with free food and live music.

Support a cause

Your business isn’t the only venture opening again after a long lockdown. Communities, homes and other businesses are welcoming visitors, often for the first time in months. Acknowledge the hardship that others around you have similarly faced by using your event to support a cause near and dear to your neighborhood.

Use your grand opening as a fundraiser, to sponsor a local sports team or nonprofit or to collect donations from attendees. Or use it as a kickoff to encourage customers to keep coming back for days and weeks after your event.

“For example, you can donate a portion of your business’s first-month profits to a particular cause. Mentioning this in your advertising and press release may attract larger crowds. The charity or nonprofit may promote your grand opening to their network as well,” noted the experts at Fit Small Business.

Extending your grand opening allows patrons who couldn’t make it to the event to come and visit your new business as soon as they’re available.

Cover Wallet

Host an influencer event

Capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing by inviting local influencers. Don’t pay them to attend your grand opening, but instead throw a launch party that gets everyone excited. Host it in your storefront with live music, branded decorations (like a trendy step-and-repeat, perfect for Instagram), treats and small gifts, like product samples. Use a unique hashtag to generate engagement. And make sure to create plenty of social-media–friendly moments so your guests can share lots of content.

[Read more: How 7 Companies (Big and Small) Are Communicating Their Reopening Plans to Customers]

Blend online and offline experiences

It’s possible that some of your customers won’t be able to make your grand (re)opening event in person. That doesn’t mean they won’t be excited to support your business. Set up a livestream or have someone on your team who can capture content throughout the day and post regularly to social media. If you’re doing a giveaway, include a discount code that can be used on your e-commerce site.

Don’t just give stuff away

Raffles, freebies and gifts are all great ways to increase attendance at your grand reopening. However, make sure your event also serves a business purpose. If you own a hair salon, for instance, host a demo of how to use the hair mask samples you’re giving out. Or, if you run a hardware store, offer a workshop on how to build an indoor herb garden — and give out seeds to attendees. Your grand opening/reopening should remind guests of the unique value your venture provides to the community.

Keep the party going

A one-day launch party is great for creating urgency and generating buzz, but don’t limit yourself to one day.

“Extending your grand opening allows patrons who couldn’t make it to the event to come and visit your new business as soon as they’re available. It keeps the hype going, allowing your products and services to be introduced steadily in the market,” wrote the experts at Cover Wallet. “The best way to do this is to extend your grand opening into the weekend. For example, instead of having a Friday-only opening, run it until Sunday.”

A grand opening or reopening is your chance to make a great first impression, so take your time to get things right and show the neighborhood that you’re here to stay.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published July 19, 2021