You did it. You planned your business and are making your dream a reality—an amazing feat. Now, you’re ready to open your doors to the public.
Here is our opening day checklist, encompassing all the steps you need to take to get your business ready for that big day, and finally open your doors (either literally or metaphorically speaking, if you are running an online or service-based business).
For a more in-depth guide to the opening day process (with advice from real business owners), check out my article “How to Attract Customers on Your Opening Day” too!
1. Come up with a “business story”
Before you open your business, you need to get your story straight.
Now, the term “story” can be a little misleading—it’s really just what sets your business apart, makes you unique and invites customers to check your business out.
- Figure out your unique selling proposition
- Determine what “pain point” or need your business is solving
- Write up a brief statement, similar to an “elevator pitch”
- Memorize your story, or be able to discuss it when needed
- Craft a statement and press release that can be shared with reporters and on your social media sites
2. Alert the press
You want as much coverage of your opening day as possible. The more people who know about the opening of your new business, the more successful your opening day will be. Spend some time coming up with a plan to get the word out.
- Contact local press such as your local newspapers, radio shows, and so on with your press release and details of your opening
- check out our article on doing your own PR without hiring an agency for more detail on how to accomplish this
- Submit your story to any relevant HARO inquiries
- Create a visual draw to entice media coverage
- Lead with your unique selling proposition and business story
- Make sure you avoid negative publicity
3. Build your social media presence
Don’t wait until after your business has opened to start establishing your social media presence.
Your social media channels are a great way to get in contact with the media and industry leaders in your area; they’re also a great place for you personally to spread the word about your business’s grand opening.
- Set up the necessary social media channels (if you haven’t already)
- Get into the habit of posting before you officially open for business
- Share your press coverage on your various social media sites
- Create unique social media campaigns, such as a contest, hashtag specific to your business and opening, and so on
4. Create a paid advertising campaign
Social media and guerrilla marketing is a great way to get the word out about your business, but it may still be a good idea to create a paid advertising campaign in the run-up to opening day.
- Conduct research on your industry to determine what type of advertising performs best
- Evaluate your options for paid advertising
- Create an advertising plan for your business
- Set up a Google Adwords campaign
- If you create an offline ad campaign, make sure it’s effective
- Order great offline marketing materials
5. Host an event
Now that you’ve done all the prep work, it’s time to plan for the actual day of opening. An opening day event is a great way to get buzz going, and prompt attendance and media coverage.
- Join a local chamber of commerce
- Hold a ribbon cutting ceremony
- Plan a small event to coincide with your ribbon cutting ceremony
- Invite any relevant city officials, tastemakers, local industry figures, and nearby small business owners and neighborhood members to attend
- Invite local media to participate in, photograph, and cover your event
- Share photos from your event on all your social media channels
6. Hold a soft opening or VIP night
Instead of (or in addition to) your opening event, you may want to consider holding a soft opening, or a VIP night for members of the community.
- Consider holding a soft opening to start
- Invite industry leaders and other VIPs to a VIP day/night
- Share coverage of the event on social media channels or with relevant news outlets
7. Feature special sales, discounts, or limited-time offerings
In addition to your opening event, have a strategy in place for sales, discounts, or special promotions for your opening day.
This could look like a boutique offering 10 percent off purchases above a certain price point the day they open, a new restaurant creating a specialty cocktail to celebrate the day, and so on—the possibilities are endless!
- Set up special discounts or sales for your opening day
- Make sure you protect your business when offering sales and discounts
- Create a new product or service specifically to celebrate your opening
- Offer goodie bags, hold a contest, or set up some type of giveaway (use social media promotion here, too!)
8. Extend your specials to continue attracting customers
The reality is that not everyone who wishes to check out your new business will be able to do so on the first day you open.
So, with this in mind, consider extending your special promotions as an incentive to draw in those customers who couldn’t make your opening day.
- Keep your intro pricing, sales, or other specials going after opening day (for a few days to a week)
- Continue to mention your opening on all social media channels
- Encourage those who haven’t come in yet to do so soon
9. Continue providing a great service, product, and experience
Your opening day is over—and hopefully, it was a great success.
Now, it’s time to keep the momentum going, and make sure your customers are satisfied with your business.
- Respond to all reviews on sites such as Yelp and Google reviews
- Make sure to respond to all reviews politely and professionally—even the negative ones!
- Build a customer email list
- Ask your clients or customers for feedback on their experience
- Continue building a strong social media presence and posting on all channels
- Think of new, exciting promotions, improvements, and events to keep customers coming back time and time again!
What do you think is the most important aspect of a successful opening day? Are there any points on this checklist that you’d like us to cover in more detail?
Please let us know by sharing this article on Facebook or Twitter and telling us what you think, or reach out to me directly on Twitter @BrianaMorgaine!