America’s Backbone Weekly: Start Planning
The day you open the doors of your retail business is a huge milestone. As a small business entrepreneur, you’ve spent months—years even—planning, raising funds, overcoming challenges and more to get to this point. Don’t underestimate the importance of your launch. It’s a golden opportunity to capture business early and keep customers coming back. Budget plenty of time and money to build buzz and spark interest around your business.
In additional to traditional methods, use some of these nontraditional marketing methods to promote your grand opening even futher:
Get noticed from the street
Make your retail store, restaurant or shop stand out from the rest of the businesses on your street with eye-catching visuals. Get creative with your window displays to draw people in, for example, by asking your employees to serve as real-life mannequins. If you own your building, ask a graffiti artist to tag an image or saying on the side of the building that catches people’s attention.
Throw an over-the-top party
People love fun, especially when it is a free party. Don’t go in the hole throwing the event, but if you can afford to spend some money on great food and drinks — or put together an event in collaboration with another business — entertainment and activities for your launch, people will show up. A great party will shine a positive spotlight on your business when you need it most. Plus, once people in the community have thoroughly enjoyed themselves on your dime, they will be more likely to become your customers when they need the products or services that you offer. Put on a fireworks show, hire a local band or other form of entertainment—like a fire breather or acrobats—and provide snacks and drinks. Promote your event well in advance.
Create a store meet-up
A great way to build customer loyalty is to offer customers opportunities that fuel their passions or educate them. Set up a store club or other social get-together to encourage people to visit early on and come again. For example, if you run a clothing store for women, you could bring in a stylist each week to share fashion tips with customers. A local coffee shop could hold a monthly book club, or a store that specializes in cookware and other kitchen gadgets could hold a bi-monthly cooking class.
Meet-up.com is great for setting up groups for people with like-minded interests, so create your group several weeks in advance and promote it through your other advertising channels. Finally, schedule the first club meeting the week that you open to get interested people in your store soon after you launch.
Create a series of videos—funny or informative—leading up to the launch and share them on Facebook and YouTube. Contact news outlets, and ask them to share the videos on their social media accounts. You might also reach out to other local businesses and ask them to promote your videos on their sites; in exchange, you can promote their businesses to your customers. That kind of collaboration yields great results for everyone involved. The key is to provide something highly shareable, so make sure that it is either really funny or really helpful if you want people to share it freely.
Build a street marketing team
Send a group of employees or volunteers out into the streets with signs and fliers promoting your launch. Their job will be to ask other local shops to post your signs and to hand out fliers and other promotional materials that contain your logo and store information to passersby. If you want to be really different, have your street team put on a flash mob in a really busy area in your community. Make sure you record the flash mob so that you can share it through social media.
Host a charity event
Giving back to your community is a great way to get noticed and build goodwill toward you and your business. Plan a clothing or food drive or fundraiser at your place of business to coincide with your launch, or invite a local charity group to use your facilities for an event.
You’ve put so much into your small business; don’t skimp on your grand opening. Plan and budget accordingly so that your local community is excited for—and will be present—when you open your doors.
Jaimy Ford is a professional business writer with nearly a decade’s worth of experience developing newsletters, blogs, e-letters, training tools and webinars for business professionals. She contributes to both The Intuit Small Business Blog and Docstoc.com. She also serves as editor-in-chief of Sales Mastery, a digital magazine written specifically for sales professionals.
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