First impressions are everything. If you’re launching a new business, a grand opening event provokes excitement, curiosity, and a sense of community. But a boring old ribbon cutting won’t cut it.

From idea to operation to afterglow, here’s how to come up with grand opening ideas, market your event effectively, and execute with style.

Zero in on your goals for your grand opening

A grand opening isn’t just any event. Your goals for your business are specific. For instance, you might be looking to:

  • Create awareness around your brand. This is your first big marketing effort, and you can only do it once. Make sure you have a tight, unified brand message. Everyone on your staff should know exactly how to talk about your event — and your brand — from the get-go.
  • Get people excited about your business. Beyond awareness, you want to create an authentic connection with your local community. You might not be the first store of your kind in town, but your grand opening is the event that can differentiate your business.
  • Build relationships with the community. Your grand opening event can kickoff your relationships not just with customers, but with business partners and vendors you’ll interact with in the years to come. Get these relationships off on the right foot by inviting them to a grand opening party that will genuinely excite them.

With your business goals in mind, it’s time to brainstorm grand opening ideas.

Grand opening ideas that stand out

Every successful launch starts with a great idea. Here are just a few grand opening ideas to make your launch an affair to remember.

Break a record

Guinness World Records has been wowing people since the ’50s. But did you know that the famous organization behind record-breaking spectacles has a strategic Business Solutions team?

These experienced marketing pros can help your organization break a record at your grand opening party. The Guinness team helped LG Electronics build the world’s tallest house of cards atop an LG washing machine while it was running. They can help you think of a record to break, and pull it off.

Create a publicity stunt

The Tour de France started as a publicity stunt to promote a new French newspaper. The Macy’s Day Parade also started as a stunt. Now, the annual events are beloved traditions, televised across the world.

Attention-getting stunts can make for the most effective grand opening ideas to generate PR. Consider choreographing a flash mob, creating a human billboard, or launching your own annual race or parade to catch people’s attention.

Bring a past decade to life

You might not be able to book a famous artist, but cover bands that harken back to a specific musical era can draw a surprisingly large crowd. Encourage costumes and serve food and drinks typical of the decade to extend the theme.

Dress it up

Over 50 percent of millennials cite Halloween as their favorite holiday, but it doesn’t have to be October for people to want to dress up. Inspire attendees with a thematic costume challenge. If you’re opening a store devoted to luxury items, for instance, a Great Gatsby party makes for a great time — and social-media worthy photos.

Support a cause

Is there a charity that’s closely aligned with your business’s theme or goals? Is there a local cause you could support? Fundraisers, sponsorships, and simple donations are all great ways to establish your brand as charitable and attract a generous crowd.

Looking for more generous grand opening ideas? Read 100 Unique Fundraising Ideas That Actually Work for more event inspiration.  

Marketing your grand opening event

Marketing grand openings is slightly different than promoting other events because your brand or space is new. That means you might not have an existing audience to market to.

To reach new people, you’ll need to adopt some specific tactics.

  • Local PR. Did you know that 91% of Americans still listen to radio? Radio, TV and newspaper advertising is an effective way to reach a local audience. You could also invite a DJ, anchor or journalist to cover your grand opening event in person. Offer them VIP treatment to entice them to attend.
  • Social media. If you don’t already have social media pages set up, you must before your event. Tag your posts at local hot spots and with popular hashtags so users who aren’t yet following you will see your posts.
  • Make a Facebook Event. Create a Facebook Event from your Facebook Business Page so your grand opening event will come up for all users who conduct a relevant event search.
  • Advertise online. Take advantage of online advertising platforms like Google and Facebook that allow you to set a budget and zero in on a local target market.

Once you gather email addresses in the registration process and at your event itself, you’ll be able to send attendees marketing updates. Consider emailing them post-event with a discount and links to follow you on social media.

Looking for more ideas to promote your grand opening? Check out Where to Promote Your Event for more tips.

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