Soft openings are a great way to launch a new business to a select crowd, before an official “Grand Opening” for the general public. Many industries have successfully used soft openings to generate buzz about their new business before they’re officially open, but it’s not as easy as just sending invitations and hoping for the best.
Just like with a grand opening, you should have goals beyond getting customers in the door for the first time. The allure of a new store or restaurant is often enough to bring out the masses, but without some creative marketing ideas thrown into the mix, they aren’t likely to come back to support your business down the road. There are a number of soft opening ideas that you can implement that will help to make the most of your pre-launch launch.
First thing’s first though. You have to let your guests know about the opening. Unlike a grand opening when you can hang a custom vinyl banner in front of your location, a soft opening requires invitations be sent on personalized greeting cards or handed out with customized club flyers.
Great job, you have 100 people showing up for your soft opening – now what?
Make Your Guests Your Priority
Planning for a soft opening can be stressful, and odds are, that not everything will go 100% according to plan. That’s Ok. If you are able to get the right people in the room, you’ve done your job. Opening a restaurant? Make sure to have local food writers in attendance. Identify people in your community and industry that have the power to influence others, and do everything you can to make them your priority.
Another benefit of a soft opening is that you can actually spend a bit more per guest to enhance your appearance too. Step it up a notch, print plastic business cards and postcards for guests to take away from the event. If you can get the most influential people in your area to support your business, the rest of the community will follow.
After the Soft Opening Comes The…
You thought we were going to say “Grand Opening.” Nope. Thank you cards. Not everyone will pick up a plastic card on the way out, or remember to bring your postcard from the car to the office, but you can make sure they don’t forget by sending a thoughtful card thanking them for attending the event. Plan it right, and you could be reminding them just in time to write an article or tell their followers on twitter in time for your Grand Opening!