When a new business or store location opens, an opening event is a great opportunity to make an impression on the community you’re entering. In a city teeming with festivals, parades, and conventions, your grand opening will need to be carefully planned to stand out and succeed.
Before you start, you should decide on the goals of your event and set a budget. These two factors will affect your event planning from start to finish. After that, just follow these seven steps and you’ll be well on your way!
1) Set a Date
As we already mentioned, there are always lots of events happening in New Orleans! Check to make sure your opening event won’t conflict with any major events in the city by browsing local calendars like this one.
You should also keep your guests in mind by choosing a date and time that will be convenient for them. Plan in advance to give guests enough notice.
2) Create an Event Concept
Spend time considering what kind of opening event would be best for your business and target audience. Is it an open house? A party? Will there be a ribbon cutting or ground-breaking ceremony? Is there a theme?
3) Decide Who to Invite
First, you should find out how many guests your business or store location can accommodate. Then, consider these different types of guests and assemble your guest list:
- Potential customers
- Local news reporters
- City council members
- Local chamber of commerce
- Other business associates, members of the media or community leaders
The purpose of the event should be to get potential customers excited about your business, create awareness of your company, and start the formation of long lasting relationships with future customers. Make sure that whoever you invite is on brand with your company’s mission. You probably shouldn’t invite local pastors to a nightclub opening!
4) Choose Entertainment, Food, and Beverages
Entertainment can help attract and keep guests, so choose wisely! Usually a DJ is less expensive than live bands, but never underestimate the power of a performer. A brass band, second line, or local artist may be able to pull a crowd on their own merit.
For both food and beverages, remember to keep track of all necessary permits. Are you planning on selling alcohol? Are you planning on blocking off parts of a street with food trucks or BBQ carts?
5) Don’t Forget the Small Stuff
Don’t sweat the small stuff. But, don’t forget the small stuff either. It’s easy to overlook the things that don’t immediately come to mind:
- Trash cans
While you may be focused on everyone having a good time, someone else may be rushing around trying to figure out where to go to the bathroom. The behind-the-scenes elements of any opening event are what separate the well-run parties with the disasters. Cleaning up after your event will also ensure that you still have a good relationship with the venue or with your new neighbors.
6) Promote Your Event
If you want to throw a good opening event, it’s not enough to just throw up an invitation on Facebook. You have to put in the work by reaching out to news publications, reporters, bloggers, influencers, and your potential customers. Ideally, you’ve already collected a list of names and emails of people who are excited about your business. Reach out to them directly and send them a personal invitation. Make the invitation fun, catchy, and sharable. You want your opening event to spread by word of mouth because friends trust each other more than they trust new businesses.
That being said, make sure to use social media as much as you can without bombarding your audience. Facebook is a great place for you to put all of the opening event information, answer questions, and build excitement. Tweet out details as the event nears, post high-quality pictures on Instagram to let people know what they can expect, and make sure to use hashtags.
7) Follow Up
What good is an opening event if you don’t use it to propel your business forward? Before or during the event, capture as much information about your guests as you can:
- Phone number
Use their information to follow up with them after the event. Only follow up sparingly, as most people don’t like to be bombarded with constant marketing. Add them to your newsletter or marketing funnels and work to convert partygoers into customers.
These 7 steps aren’t set in stone. For each event, base your planning off what’s best for your business and brand. However, if you remember these guidelines, planning your opening event won’t be such an overwhelming task.