Ribbon cutting is boring. If you want to ensure a large turnout at your opening event, you should switch on the creativity. From pre-event planning to marketing, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to grand opening organization which covers every process you’ll have to take charge of.
How to plan an opening ceremony
The first impression is king. Here are the tips and tricks on how to build an event that people won’t forget:
Create a profile of your target persona
If your opening ceremony is dedicated to the launch of a new product for athletes, the event will generate desired benefits only in case you’ll manage to attract people proficient in sports. Once you come up with the profile of a target persona, you’ll have a better understanding of how to tailor event experiences to your audience.
Choose an event type
The principal opening ceremony formats include grand opening, ribbon cutting or ground breaking, and opening receptions. Advertisements, invitations, and in-house specials are the core activities you should plan within a grand opening. Ribbon cutting or ground breaking events are formal ceremonies at which the key announcements are made. Lastly, opening receptions are the events dedicated to the introduction of a new product/project to the wide audience. Mix them up or choose a particular type of an opening event that can beef up your marketing efforts.
Map it out
Without a good plan of action, you won’t organize an opening event that converts. There are three fundamental aspects that you should keep in mind when mapping out your event:
- A worthy value offer. You should be 100% sure that is a good reason for your target audience to attend an opening ceremony.
- Date and time. Be strategic with the date. To win throngs of visitors, it’s better to run your opening event on a weekend.
- Business opportunities. Ensure you have a good system for contact capturing in place. The more connections you make during an opening ceremony, the more impactful your post-event activities will be.
Considerations for your event
To organize an opening ceremony which will turn out to be not only memorable, but also productive, you should focus on the following considerations:
- Develop a budget. The most efficient way to develop a strategic budget is to break the total amount of money you’re ready to spend into specific categories like catering, event entertainment, signage, etc.
- Choosing a venue. Based on a budget, location, and space considerations, pick the venue that resonates with your opening event. Ensure that a chosen venue can accommodate the number of invited visitors as well as allows people navigate easily and network in small groups.
- Invitations. Since the key message behind any opening ceremony is introducing the audience to something new, create an invitation email that is persuasive enough, but also creates some intrigue.
- Food and refreshments. Despite the opinion that catering is a focal point, you should focus on doing great business at your opening event. However, some cheese and wine or cupcakes can help you set the right mood.
- Alcohol vs. no alcohol. It’s totally up to you. In most cases, you can find champagne and wine at large-scale opening ceremonies. However, before filling wine glasses, make sure that guests under 21 won’t be served alcohol as well as clarify liability coverage details.
How to market your opening ceremony
Let’s say you finally moved one step closer to your dream and started an organic food store. Sleepless nights, huge cost investments, partnerships… How do you ensure your efforts aren’t in vain? A strategic marketing campaign that you launch right before opening the door to the public can solidify all your previous actions. Here’s how to market your opening event:
Create a story
Decide which impact an opening event should create on the target audience. Align your storytelling skills with the key goals of an event and create a story that will be remembered. From a video to a catchy copy, there are many outfits for your brand’s story.
Build social media campaigns
It’s important to get in social media at least few weeks before an event. With well targeted, buzzy social media campaigns you can substantially boost your event attendance. The golden rule is the following: catchy texts, relevant hashtags, attention-grabbing visuals, as many videos as possible.
Following the latest Facebook algorithms, focus on sharing friendly, personal insights through private profiles of your team members:
Rope the press in
Especially if you target the local community, you can maximize the outreach by ensuring that your event gets media coverage. You can take your unique story and transform it into a press release, invite media representatives to your opening event, and publish media advisories to make the news go viral.
Lay the ground for business partnerships
Invite successful industry leaders, investors, and influential business owners who hold the lead in your target niche. This strategy doesn’t only guarantee great media coverage, but also gives you the chance for starting your journey with reliable partners at your side.
Provide discounts and giveaways
If you come to an IKEA store opening at 9 a.m. in the morning, you’ll see at least 1,000 people waiting in a line. At the recent IKEA opening event which took place in Ohio, the first 44 customers received free couches and the next 100 – free chairs.
Making the event worth attending is easier if you have some lucrative discounts or giveaways on offer. Treat your buyers to some samples of your products or giveaway coupons to maximize foot traffic and raise the awareness about your brand.
Create an attention-grabbing story, send out press releases, and intrigue through social media posts. To organize an opening event that helps you reach out to both target customers and potential partners, you should have a foolproof marketing strategy.