During the last month or so, my husband and I have driven by this grand opening sign on our way to his parent's house about a dozen times.
After a couple of weeks, we decided to look up what it was for.
We found out a new restaurant was opening, and we were pretty excited to have a new place to try (sometimes it gets boring going to the same places!).
Since we were looking forward to it, we told our families, and decided to give it a try for one of our weekly dinners.
This is exactly the result you're looking for when you're marketing your grand opening.
For local businesses, it can be hard to get customers through the door. As a marketer, the first step is to let them know you're there.
Ultimately, your grand opening marketing should help your business build relationships and create buzz with your audience.
Below, let's review where to and when you should market your grand opening.
Where to Market Your Grand Opening
Developing your marketing strategy for your grand opening can be daunting as a new business and marketing team.
After you've set your budget and planned the event, you need to discuss where you're going to market it.
Below, let's review some of the top areas to market your grand opening.
1. City Bulletins or Forums.
Most cities have bulletins or forums where community events are advertised.
For example, consider taking out an ad in the local parks and recreation activity guide. Or you can ask city officials to promote your event in their newsletters or official communications with the citizens.
Additionally, it's a good idea to develop relationships with city officials. If you can get a few city officials to show up, you can use that as a marketing tactic.
2. Your Network.
The most obvious place to market your grand opening is to your own network.
Invite your family and friends and encourage your employees to do the same. You can even offer a friends and family discount as an incentive.
You can send a mass email about the opening to your mailing list using a free email marketing software like HubSpot. Or you can reach out to your network on social media.
Create a Facebook event (more on that below), and then invite all your friends and connections. This should help you spread the word about your grand opening.
3. Local Press.
One of the most important components of your grand opening marketing strategy is the local press.
Make sure that you invite the local press to your event. You can even reach out to a local radio DJ or news anchor to cover the event. The more coverage, the better. Plus, if they come to your event, they'll probably promote it on their own channels and to their own networks. You can use their local celebrity to appeal to your audience.
For news media that can't attend, you can send a press release before and after the event to make it easier to cover it.
Additionally, forging a relationship with the press is a good long-term play. If the local media covers your business at all, more people will become aware of your business and can visit after the grand opening.
4. Traditional Advertising.
For local businesses, traditional advertising is still vital to a great marketing campaign.
You should hang up flyers wherever you can and use a good, old fashioned "Grand Opening" sign. After all, that's how my husband and I found out about the new restaurant in our town.
Additionally, local radio and billboard ads are a great way to get in front of your audience. Since the local citizens don't know you exist yet, it's imperative they become aware of your brand.
Another traditional method is direct mailings. Direct postcards to a certain zip code is a great way to reach a local audience.
5. Social Media.
Most likely, not every citizen is going to drive by your billboard ad, see your flyer, or hear your radio ad. To fix this, you should also reach out to local audiences online.
If people don't see your brand's sign, they should become aware of you online. Plus, the more people who see your promotion, the more who will show up.
Additionally, you can create a branded hashtag for citizens to use during your event. This will help create buzz and more brand awareness among your audience.
6. Local companies.
Another creative marketing tactic is to advertise with other local companies.
For example, usually, coffee shops have a bulletin board dedicated to community events. You can use this space to post a flyer for your grand opening.
Additionally, many local companies, such as hotels, have brochures at the reception or front desk. You can reach out and see if they'll let you place a flyer there and tell their guests about your event.
Other local places that might have advertising opportunities are schools. Yearbooks and sports fields usually showcase plenty of local ads.
It's important to use your grand opening as a way to build a relationship with other local businesses.
How Soon Should You Market a Grand Opening
Before we dive into how soon you should market your grand opening, let's rewind a little.
Prior to your grand opening, your company should have a soft launch, or soft opening, to work out any of the kinks.
Since there are bound to be some issues, a soft launch lets you figure those out without a huge audience.
This means that you might be open for one to two weeks before your official grand opening event.
On the other hand, your soft launch may not be open to the public. You could just invite a group of guests for a test run. In this case, you'd actually open your doors to the public for the first time at your grand opening event.
Either way, before you host a grand opening event, you should begin advertising two to three weeks beforehand.
This means you'll probably make the creative elements and get those in place two to three months before the grand opening.
Before you advertise, you'll need to have your ads written, graphics created, and local press contacted and lined up.
Hosting a grand opening event isn't just important for brand awareness. It's also a great way to start growing your audience and customers. During your event, you can gather emails, so when the day is over, you can send your audience marketing updates, discounts, and links to your social media.