That wonderful (yet intimidating) time has come — the grand opening where you spread the word about your business’ presence.
This is the time to go big, whether you’re launching a coffee shop, a restaurant, a store, or any other form of business.
Here’s a list of 69 grand opening ideas to make this event so memorable that people can’t help revisiting you.
Enhance your physical presence in the area
Make sure your business stands out in the eyes of passers-by and local people.
1. Soft opening
Many businesses launch a soft opening day before the official grand opening as a test-the-waters event. Soft openings are open to family, friends, and acquaintances for feedback.
A soft opening is beneficial because:
- Family, friends, and acquaintances are more understanding and supportive of inexperienced situations.
- You can ask for honest feedback without fear of being judged by strangers.
- You can anticipate problems and prepare solutions before the official grand opening day.
- You can have some ideas on how to improve the overall experience for visitors: decorations, services, food, staff, atmosphere, and so on.
- Create the first buzz to pique the curiosity of people passing by.
2. Display a “Coming Soon” sign
This is a great way to attract passers-by. The “Coming Soon” sign should be well-designed to draw attention to your business and make them curious about your grand opening.
3. Have custom signs made
Sidewalk signs with custom printed logo and branded messages help people get to know your business better.
4. Have a theme for your grand opening
Choose a fun theme for your grand opening day. It can be related to a season, holiday, movie, time period, or country. You can prepare food, beverages, music, decorations, staff uniforms, lighting, etc. to match the theme. Great for social media photos.
5. Organize nostalgic-themed grand opening
Many people enjoy the nostalgic feel of the past. A business dressed up as a 1970s event will catch their eye.
6. Set up booths, standees, mascots
Put booths and standees outside of your business to let people know you’re organizing a big grand opening event inside. Plus, if you have a brand mascot, have someone wear the mascot costume.
A photo booth for customers and a brand mascot is a great way to engage customers and encourage them to take photos and tag you on Instagram.
7. Put on graphics on store windows
Curious passers-by can be piqued by well-designed window graphics.
8. Use pennant strings
This is an eye-catching and affordable method to fascinate people and draw them to your business.
Expand your digital presence
9. Invest in your business website
A business website shows information about who you are and what you do. Potential customers can easily learn more about you and shop online.
If you haven’t created a business website, it’s time to create one. If you’ve already had a website, you should announce the grand opening as soon as possible.
You should also invest in improving visitors’ experience on the site:
- Make the grand opening announcement pop to attract visitors’ attention.
- Use services that make your site loads quicker.
- Redesign the website so it looks cleaner and attractive.
Social media is one of the quickest ways to spread the word about your grand opening. Try posting photos/videos of the preparation process on channels where potential customers are. Food, beverages, discounts, giveaways, etc. are good topics to start.
11. Create a branded hashtag
A branded hashtag helps people recognize you quicker. Users can click on the hashtag to see posts from other users. Additionally, you can encourage your audience to use this hashtag to enter giveaways or receive promotions.
12. Use Snapchat geofilter
Creating a Snapchat geofilter is a great way to promote your grand opening. Visitors can use this filter to take check-in selfies. If you want to reuse their photos for future promotions and event recaps, ask for their permission.
13. Reach out via email
Email is one of the quickest ways to invite potential customers, suppliers, and partners to your grand opening. This method requires pre-collection of emails.
Remember to include the information about the date, time, and location of the grand opening so recipients know exactly how they can attend your event. You can also send reminder emails a day before the event.
14. Put food and music on your ads
Put the food and music offered on the grand opening day on posters and ads. This will appeal to food and music fans.
15. Create a Facebook event
When someone clicks Attend a Facebook event, their friends may see this on their newsfeeds and consider joining. To create a Facebook event, here’s the guide from Facebook.
Post on these groups to announce your grand opening and attract local visitors. Interact with them frequently to learn more about their interests and gain exposure in return.
17. Create a Yelp account
Millions of people visit Yelp each month to find local services and businesses. Getting your business listed on Yelp is a free and effective way to spread the word about your presence. Yelp Elites may visit and write some reviews, too.
Use traditional media channels
Are traditional media channels dead? Definitely not. Besides promoting business presence on social channels, you should also appear on TV, newspapers, radio, print, calls, and direct mails.
18. Print table tents
You can design and print table tents that promote your grand opening, then partner with other relevant businesses in the area to display them.
19. Distribute flyers
Flyers are inexpensive and they’re another channel to spread the word, so why not? You can post flyers on public bulletin boards, schools, gas stations, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.
20. Distribute brochures and business cards
Be present at your business location before the official day and distribute brochures and business cards so people know more about your business.
21. Reach out to TV and radio stations
Ask them to mention your grand opening on their shows. If they don’t, ask if they offer advertisement slots and consider putting some ads there.
22. Contact local press
Ask them to write about your grand opening. If they don’t, you can take high-quality photos of the event and write interesting content, then send to them and ask for a publishing opportunity.
23. Send snail mail (direct mail)
Snail mail is a personalized way to notify the local community of your grand opening. Some people actually appreciate it because not many receive direct mails these days.
What should you write in your snail mail?
- Announce the date, time, and location of the grand opening.
- List the activities, rewards, offers, and anything interesting happening on that day.
24. Make cold calls
Make cold calls and personally invite people to join the event. Even though jaded customers are fed up with cold calls, this is still an opportunity to reach your potential customers.
Partner with local charities and schools
25. Support local charity
Your grand opening event can be held to raise funds for a local charity you partner with. Choose a cause that you support, reach out to local charities to look for partnerships, and donate money from the grand opening event to the partnered charity.
In return, the partnered charity can advertise your grand opening event and attract those who care about the same causes. Remember that this is not all about selling, but more about giving back and bonding with people who support the cause.
26. Find dance teams and bands from local schools
Hiring student bands and teams to perform on your grand opening day can be a cheaper alternative to professional performers. Plus, fans and supporters of these bands may also visit.
27. Invite local organizations and people
Consider inviting these people to build relationships and gain exposure:
- Fire department
- Council people
- People from organizations with good causes: animal rescue, blood donation, etc.
- Members of media channels such as newspapers, TV, radio
28. Offer discounts for students
Giving students 15-20% off can attract young customers.
Drive the first customers to your business
29. Have a band play at your grand opening
Booking a band for your grand opening day will attract a crowd. Find out if you can use the band’s name on posters or social media.
30. Invite local influencers, bloggers, reviewers, and speakers to your grand opening
These individuals have large fan bases. If you can get their positive reviews or mentions, good chances are their followers will be interested in your business, too.
You’ll want to invite influencers that align with your business and products/services. For example, if you’re opening a beauty salon, it’s best to invite beauty bloggers to the event, or invite an expert in the industry to talk about skincare.
However, most influencers don’t come to events for free, so make sure to plan your budget for this.
If you can’t afford the costs of influencers’ presence at your event, try sending them free samples of your products. If the products are of high quality, some of them may mention you on social media.
31. Display works of local artists
Contact local artists whose works match your business’ vibe and taste. This way, you’re establishing relationships with the local community and promote your business to the artists’ fan bases.
32. Organize a publicity stunt
Publicity stunts such as flash mobs, giant inflatable balloons, popups, world record attempts, and creative giveaways can attract a crowd and even local media reporters.
33. Host block party
Host a block party and invite owners of nearby businesses to come and join.
34. Arrange food trucks
A food truck in front of your business can capture food lovers’ attention, especially when you’re opening a Food & Beverage business.
35. Attract kids
This grand opening idea is wonderful if your business serves families. Balloons, comic books, clowns, areas for face painters and coloring, safe playgrounds, free ice cream, etc. are great ways to attract kids—plus their parents. You can set up a play area for children and hire a babysitter so that adults can browse your offerings.
36. Try to break a world record
Trying to break a record on your grand opening day can attract lots of attention. You can check out The Guinness World Records’ websites and think of some great ideas.
This can be challenging, but if you can do it, then good chances are you’ll attract all the attention in the area.
37. Ribbon-cutting ceremony
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is a special and memorable event. It not only encourages attendees to show up, but is also a photo-worthy moment.
Get people to know about your presence, products, and services
38. Organize guided tours
Taking visitors, especially members of the media, around for a tour of your business helps them understand who you are and what you do. This idea is extremely special if you provide artisan products. Visitors can observe how you produce your products and get to know your business on a personal level.
39. Offer a demo of your products/services
Walk your visitors through a dance or a boxing class. Give each participant a 5-minute massage session. Show how to use a product.
40. Give away promotional custom-printed goods
Giving out promotional products during the grand opening day can attract visitors and gain exposure for your brand.
Print your logo and business name on inexpensive goods such as pens, tote bags, key chains, balloons, etc. to remind recipients of your brand.
41. Offer free treats and foods
Offering free treats, foods, and beverages on the grand opening day is a good way to entertain participants. If you want to make it special, you can also hire a professional caterer or a favorite local restaurant. If your business is in the Food & Beverage industry, offer samplings of your menu items.
42. Hire a photographer
The grand opening is a one-time event, so make sure to have a professional photographer to capture the events, activities, products, and services. These photos can later be used to send to local newspapers or as marketing materials.
43. Upsell without annoying customers
An event full of interested participants is a good opportunity to upsell. Offer additional dishes or desserts when taking orders or an extra nail service after a haircut. Train your employees in advance so they know how to upsell without annoying customers.
Partner with local businesses
Partnering with other businesses is a win-win situation. Partners gain exposure to each other’s audiences while opportunities for awesome collaborations are open.
44. Seek relevant businesses
Search for relevant businesses in the area whose customers are more likely to resonate with what you offer.
For example, for every purchase, customers of a grocery store are given discount coupons for a coffee shop nearby; and customers of the coffee shop are given discounts for purchases made at the grocery store.
45. Find and network with local businesses/join local organizations
Find local organizations and associations such as the Chamber of Commerce and join them. Here’s where you can seek support and advice from other business owners and entrepreneurs.
46. Create collab products to cross-promote
A coffee shop can collaborate with a bakery to offer a mouth-watering breakfast set. A restaurant can collaborate with florists, photography studios, and wedding planners to offer attractive wedding packages. Both businesses can cross-promote each other to their audiences.
47. Give special offers to nearby businesses
Giving samples of your products or discount vouchers can help establish positive relationships with nearby businesses. You can invite them to the grand opening, and ask for their empathy if crowdedness and parking problems arise on that day.
48. Partner with movie theaters/florists/coffee shops/eateries
Partner with small local eateries and coffee shops and have them serve custom printed paper cups (with your company information and grand opening information on). You can also give visitors movie vouchers and flowers.
49. Seek support from vendors
It’s important that you establish good relationships with vendors—people that help build your business. Ask them if they’re willing to help with supplies, preparations, and giveaways. On the grand opening day, invite them to the event and offer them special discounts.
50. Show up at community events and locations
Local events are great places to connect with your potential customers. Plus, people who attend festivals, local events, and college events are more likely to attend your grand opening. Set up a stand there and hand out sampling products/flyers or demonstrate your services.
51. Offer partners and local organizations tables at your grand opening
This is another way to show appreciation, spread the word, and attract mutual audience.
Offer attractive incentives
52. Send out buy-one-get-one coupons
Buy-one-get-one coupons encourage people to buy more or bring at least one more person with them to your business.
53. Offer one big prize
A big prize such as a trip, a digital device, or free service for one year can grab people’s attention.
54. Give special rewards to the first 50-100 people to visit
Special rewards incentivize people to flock to your business early. People are more curious if they see a queue formed outside a business.
55. Offer bounce back coupons
Bounce back coupons are only valid the next time customers visit your business. They are a great chance to attract regular visitors.
56. Offer shocking discounts
Offering discounts up to 30-70 percent or half-price services is one of the fastest ways to draw people’s attention.
57. Host giveaways
Who doesn’t love free stuff? You can host giveaways with some appealing prizes to attract customers and word of mouth. Create an agenda so that people know when your giveaways take place and look forward to them.
58. Organize classes and workshops
Organize classes and workshops related to your products/services. For example, if you’re selling cakes, you can organize workshops on how to bake simple cookies. If you open a photography studio, you can show people how to take portrait photos.
59. Organize eating contests
Can you count the views on mukbang and eating challenge videos? Create an eating contest such as fast eating can draw a large crowd. Photos of participants and winners can also be hung (if they agree).
60. Prize drawings throughout the day
Visitors put their names in a bowl and you draw one name every hour. Those who win can get free items: samples of your products, food, gifts, vouchers.
Connect and incentivize visitors to come back
61. Offer gifts and coupons for likes, retweets, check-ins, and user-generated content
Connecting with customers on social platforms is crucial because you’ll want to appear where your customers are. To encourage people to interact with your, offer them rewards if they:
- Like your Facebook page
- Retweet your tweets
- Check-in by tagging your social account
- Post a photo or video related to you
Interact with people who share about your grand opening and your business on social channels. You can look for them via (branded) hashtags and tags.
63. Offer takeaway gifts and goodie bags
When visitors are about to leave the event, give them something to remind them of your business. For example, product samples, goodie bags containing branded pens, key chains, notebooks, etc.
64. Offer virtual swag
Virtual gifts such as ebooks, online coupons, and gift cards are flexible and don’t take physical space. You can also ask for email addresses.
65. Write thank-you cards, emails, and posts
Prepare handwritten thank-you cards to give to customers for every purchase made. Send thank-you emails to those who’ve left their emails. Craft social posts to show appreciation to your audience.
66. Create a loyalty program
A loyalty program can help retain and entice customers to buy again.
67. Create a referral program
Offer a free service or discount when someone refers you to another customer.
68. Ask for testimonials and stories
Ask for testimonials before customers leave. Customers can do this in a notebook, on a handwritten form, or online.
69. Extend your grand opening
It doesn’t have to be just one day. You can extend the event to the whole week. This way, people who can’t come because of a schedule conflict have another chance to visit you.
Another idea is to tailor each day for a specific group of participants: a day for friends and family, a day for local journalists, a day for vendors and partners, a day for guests, etc.
You can also vary the activities by holding different events for each day, as long as your budget allows. Use any of the grand opening ideas we’ve suggested above!
6 steps to prepare for your grand opening
Below are 6 steps to help your start off your business right.
1. Choose a grand opening type
Your grand opening type depends on your business type. Is it going to be an open house event or a ceremony? Do you want it to be formal or family-friendly?
2. Set goals
A grand opening often has 3 main goals: get people to know about your presence, drive the first customers to your business, and establish relationships with potential customers and partners.
Get people to know about your presence
You want people, especially locals, to know about you and what you offer, whether through ads, promotions, media, or word of mouth.
Establish relationships with potential customers and partners
Relationships lead to word-of-mouth marketing and better opportunities. A nail salon owner can refer their customers to visit your hair salon. A satisfied customer can recommend your products to their friends and family. T form and strengthen relationships with the neighbors, local press, politicians, businesses, customers, etc.
Drive the first customers to your business
People are skeptical to buy from a new business. To attract them, you should focus on:
- Drawing people’s attention by offering incentives and creating buzz: giveaways, free samples, demos, celebrities, crowds, etc.
- Creating a great experience for visitors: adequate parking space, quick service, short wait times, etc.
Knowing what goals you prioritize will help you choose suitable grand opening ideas to use.
3. Set budgets for the grand opening day
Don’t blow too much of your marketing budget into one day even though the grand opening is important. Splurging on the grand opening may reduce the marketing budget you have for the rest of the year.
You should spend about 15-20% of your marketing budget for the first year for the grand opening, with a minimum amount between $4000 – $6000. For those with a lower budget, invest in more affordable ads such as posters and flyers, social media ads, etc.
You should budget for:
- Invitations and advertising: Try to attract target customers rigorously before the grand opening. Put ads and invitations wherever your audiences are, with high frequency, to gain exposure. Don’t be too spammy, though.
- Supplies: the food and drinks you’ll serve, materials and equipment used for the day, etc.
- Gifts, prizes, vouchers, giveaways, special offers.
4. Choose a date for the soft launch/official grand opening
To choose the official date for the opening event, pick a date and time when people are more likely to shop at your business. You can observe the patterns of customers in that area to get an idea. A soft opening can be launched 1-2 weeks before the big day, allowing you to fix any issues that may arise.
It’s best to avoid holidays or nearby popular events such as a large baseball game or a festival. Unless your grand opening is a Halloween-themed event, you don’t want to compete with those big days.
Knowing the right time to open your business also brings ideas on what to offer customers. If the weather is hot, give them something cool. If the weather is cool, give them some hot beverages.
5. Prepare for the grand opening day
There are many aspects to plan ahead for a smooth grand opening. Here are some aspects you need to consider:
- Who will greet visitors? Who will hand out brochures, flyers, product samples?
- Do you need to hire some security guards?
- How many extra staff do you need when the visitor volume increases?
- What training topics should you give your staff before the date? Customer service skills?
- Do staff members understand the products and services enough to answer customers’ questions?
- Are staff familiar with the workflow? Do they have enough time to practice before the actual date?
- Will visitors flock in at certain times of the day or scattered? (You can forecast this by observing nearby businesses.)
- What activities will be organized before, during, and after the event?
- What are some gift ideas for early comers and leaving visitors?
- Do you need to find extra parking space?
- Do you have enough room for visitors or do they have to wait outside the business?
- Do you need to prepare coat racks, shelves, or lockers for customers to put their stuff in?
- Do you have to file any permits?
Materials, ingredients, equipment, inventory
- Is the equipment in good condition?
- Is the inventory sufficient to accommodate guests?
6. Promote your grand opening
When all the preparations are finished, it’s time to let people know about your event.
- Some ad channels you should consider:
- Social media
- Coupon sites
- Signs and banners
- Sidewalk stands
Make your business grand opening a memorable event for visitors
By organizing appealing activities before, during, and after the grand opening, you’ll help potential customers decide whether to come (back) or not.
Focus on making the day as pleasant and exciting to visitors as much as possible. Make them feel like attending your event is totally worth their time.
As long as you plan and prepare carefully using the long list of grand opening ideas in this post, your grand opening will be successful.
Let’s get ready to kickstart your business!