When it comes to the grand opening of your storefront, you want to ensure you attract the right customers to your business. Making your store known is one of the most important steps to establishing a successful business; and when planning a grand opening, timing is everything. Too often businesses tank shortly after opening because their marketing strategy lacks precision. Correctly timing your strategy makes all the difference, and some would argue that it begins well before you even open your doors to the public.
Let’s take a look at what you can do to maximize your potential to attract customers and generate new clients in the process of a grand opening.
Create a Social Media Strategy
Research Your Target
Social media can be used as a free marketing tool to organically grow your social and professional network; and if executed correctly, you can reach the right group of people who would most benefit from your business. The first step is to conduct research on your target market and create personas to identify your unique segments that make up your target audience.
Once you have identified who your audience is, you need to narrow down the most appropriate social media platforms to reach them. Younger audiences tend to gravitate toward TikTok and Instagram, while older audiences are typically more active on LinkedIn and Twitter. Take the time to really learn about who your target audience is by learning about their interests so that when it comes time to create posts, your content will flow.
Once you’ve got a grasp of who you want to get in your store and where they are hanging out online, establish your social media accounts and start posting ahead of the grand opening to create buzz. Accounts that feature their products, construction progress, and customer experience are more likely to generate a line out the door on opening day because they have built up anticipation. Find out what makes your storefront or business stand out and highlight it on your social media platforms without giving away too much too soon.
BONUS: Utilize Hashtags
Create a hashtag that’s unique but relevant to your business so you can optimize your page when people search for posts on social media. Hashtags help to reach even more potential customers.
Make Sure All Signs Point to Success
Messaging Is Important
Make certain your signage clearly but concisely describes the types of products and/or services you offer. When it comes to in-store signage especially, it can actually boost your sales by about 25% if done properly. You want customers to be able to easily read your sign, so opt for simplicity in your messaging. Less is more, so be sure to keep the amount of words on your sign minimal.
If you are posting signs that help navigate to your storefront, be mindful of its readability, especially on a grand opening when it will be a customer’s first time visiting your new location. Make certain the words and arrows are large and easy to read.
If your storefront is tucked away in a plaza or shopping center, consider posting several signs that offer directions and easy-to-see signs that help increase your store’s visibility from the street. Use banners to gain attention from further away. This will increase the chance that more people will stop by, even if they weren’t initially aware of your store to begin with. Use eye-catching colors on your signs to draw attention to your store.
BONUS: Consistent Branding
Use consistent branding on your signs that reflects your business aesthetic and emphasize your overall message. Simply hanging up a few signs makes all the difference in generating foot traffic in your store.
Hold a Soft Opening/VIP Event
Create an experience
Hosting a soft opening, or VIP event, is all about making a great first impression and inviting customers to experience your store for the first time. Stage your store by hanging decorations, and throw on a good playlist that matches the tone of your business. The goal is to create “share-worthy” moments for your customer, meaning having opportunities for them to want to take photos and videos to share on their social media platforms. Emphasize the most important aspect of your store and products you might sell using intentional lights and decoration.
Build a guest list
Invite a special group of guests who will ultimately help promote your business prior to the grand opening. Make sure to host influencers, media outlets, and other public personalities to help your business gain exposure and build anticipation. You can even check to see if the mayor is available to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Consider giving away free products and offering special discounts to encourage people to experience what you have to offer so they have something to talk about when they post content. It’s important to make a good first impression at your event because this will be the first time anyone gets to experience your store through the eyes of a client.
BONUS: Collect Feedback
Don’t forget to collect feedback at the soft opening. If there is something off about your storefront that customers won’t like, or something else that you can improve upon, you’ll appreciate the honest feedback before the official grand opening so you can present your storefront in the best way possible. VIP events and soft openings are a very effective way to make an impression on the community and ensure your grand opening will be a success.
Entice the Media
Write a press release
If you want to spread the word about your opening to the general public, you might want to think about contacting local news and media outlets to generate buzz. News outlets might be interested enough to want to put your grand opening on air. Put together a press release package to send to media outlets that include a written description with photos and video to tease your grand opening. The more detailed your press package is, the easier it is for outlets to get the word out because all they have to do is copy, paste, and post.
Put a list together
Put an appropriate list of outlets together that you’d like to contact, such as local news stations, newspapers, and radio stations. Look on the outlets’ websites and address an email to a specific person. If you’re not sure who to send it to, give the media outlet a call and the receptionist should be able to assist you.
Properly position your press release
Your press release should be properly positioned to focus on how your new storefront will add value to the community. Media outlets, especially news stations and newspapers like to run stories that highlight how strong the community is. Try not to center your press release around how you will benefit from it, but rather focus on what you will be adding to the surrounding community.
BONUS: Partner with a Charity
If you want to maximize your chances of getting picked up by the media, consider partnering with a charity. Tell local news you will be donating a percentage of your earnings following the grand opening, and plan to stage a check-signing following the event. Enticing the media will get you publicity in exchange for content.
Offer Exclusive Discounts and Promotions
Offer promos to engage the audience
Everyone appreciates a discount, so extend special offers to the customers who are first to visit your store. Let your social media followers know about a special promotion they can get when they attend your grand opening and encourage them to share their experience on their social accounts.
Honor community heroes
You can also make a point to honor first responders, military personnel, and neighbors who patronize your store. Show your thanks to the professionals who uphold our community. This will show that you appreciate them and respect their contribution to society.
You can track the performance of your promotions by creating different tracking codes per outlet, whether it be on social media or in the news. This way you’ll know which method was the most successful in bringing in business, and use a similar tactic for future promotions.
Bonus: Tease a secret menu/product
Customers love hearing about exclusive products and offerings only they have access to and having a secret menu, for instance, adds a little excitement to your business. A notable example is when Sprinkles Cupcakes used their Facebook account to send a “secret password” to their followers who then exchanged it for a cupcake in store. Offering a few secret menu items from time to time will help turn average customers into loyal regulars.
The grand opening of your storefront is one of the most exciting opportunities you’ll have to expand your network. Preparing a strategy in advance will help minimize stress and leave less room for failure. The more built out your marketing plan is, the more likely you are to see positive results at your next grand opening.
ELENA WALL >
Vice President of Marketing
Elena Wall started at SimonCRE in 2016 as the Vice President of Marketing and is responsible for the planning and development of both the company's and its commercial properties' marketing strategies and collateral. In addition, she oversees content creation, public relations, video production, and overall brand development.
Elena brings almost a decade of experience and applied knowledge in all aspects of marketing, including commercial real estate specific experience. Throughout her career, she has focused on creating comprehensive marketing campaigns, strategies, and solutions to increase revenue, promote brand awareness, and drive business growth. Elena received the GlobeSt Marketing Influencer award in 2020.