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In February I attended the International Franchise Association’s annual convention. There I had the pleasure of attending a session hosted by Susan Beth (Operating Partner at NDR Capital), who interviewed Shelby Reno (Marketing & Communications Director of Two Men and a Truck International) and Eric Ersher CEO and Founder of Zoop! Fresh Soup Company.
In the session both franchise executives shared ideas in how they bringing their grand opening objectives in line with their store launch budget to deliver early success in executing a Super Charged Grand Opening.
The first thing every entrepreneur who owns multi-location businesses needs to do is keep data on past Grand Openings to facilitate the right planning conversations for the next Grand Opening.
Key items to track are:
- Dollars spent
- Method of distribution
- Total impressions created
- Frequency of impressions prior to Grand Opening
- Grand Opening (Daily) Gross Sales as a percentage of the System Average Daily Gross Sales.
For each new store opening there are 6 pillars to every new store launch plan.
Pillar 1: STRATEGY
Your entire Grand Opening campaign should begin with a strategy that integrates all forms of communications to target the desired customer.
Fully maximize the opening through promotions leading up to the event, during the event and after the event. When choosing the event you want to implement, consider what will give you the most opportunities to gain press, whether it be breaking a world record, giving away free food or donating to a special charity.
Include efforts that blanket the entire local market and garner all types of press – food drops for radio, feature TV segments, articles about the new owners and concept.
Use the store opening as a reason to further push the brand’s development in the state.
Pillar 2: PUBLIC RELATIONS
Focus on the human story – dig for interesting facts and background about the franchisee. For example, a Veteran franchisee who helped blind people summit mountains is worthy of both local and national press.
Take the opportunity to build brand awareness through business and consumer press and not just a press release.
Talk about the brand’s expansion in the area and hiring projections – reporters love stories about economic development.
Offer a charity donation or create a special giveaway, such as free food for the year for the first 50 people and free food for the day for the next 50 people. This creates an opportunity for press to capture the line wrapping around the building.
Create a consistent flow of newsworthy opportunities – milestones, anniversaries, hiring initiatives, charity events.
Pillar 3: SOCIAL MEDIA
Engaging fans and followers to get excited about the new location is always key in a successful grand opening social media strategy. Creating either a Facebook app on the main brand page or a whole new location page easily generates buzz by creating a space to house teaser photos and videos, fun facts about the new location, and a chance to sign up for a newsletter or mailing list.
Everyone loves free stuff! Utilizing giveaways and offers across various social media platforms allows potential customers to feel like they’re getting a “first look” at a new product or experience and encourages them to spread the word and create their own user-generated content to their friends and social followers.
When promoting a new app, brand page or social contest, give your messaging legs with an ad budget. On Facebook, a strategic ad budget can help create a geo-targeted page ad to encourage fans in the area of the new location, or boost a giveaway post and extend the reach of the messaging to new audiences.
Make sure to cross-pollinate all platforms with interesting, dynamic and consistent messaging.
Although Facebook is the primary platform for brand page advertising, make sure to cross-pollinate all platforms with interesting, dynamic and consistent messaging about the opening. Facebook users are not the same demographic as Twitter users, who are not the same demographic as Instagram users. Keep the message the same but cater the language to the predominant audience of each platform. Posting all secured placements across social channels increases reach and the number of impressions on press featuring the grand opening.
Pillar 4: ADVERTISING
Build buzz around any special giveaways; such as, first 50 people in line will get free food for a year and next 50 people in line will get free food that day.
Promote any deals and specials you are offering for the opening in all your advertising.
Make sure your advertising is in the form of direct mailers, local print publications, online and social media. One successful example is pull tabs that may be mailed or given out in person but must be opened on the site to receive a prize. Each tab is a winner, but the prizes can be small, like a free drink with purchase. The opportunity creates customers and then if you give them an additional tab, repeat customers.
Use the opportunity to push a special/new product that needs extra promotion.
Pillar 5: MARKETING
Sending a street team out to the local shopping areas, apartment complexes and office buildings with an offer promoting your Grand Opening will get people talking.
Partner with local organizations. If you’re opening a juice concept, leave flyers at the gym. If you’re promoting in-home care, join nonprofits in the area that support Alzheimer’s patients and research.
Studying your target demographic will be key in making sure you are hitting the right channels. Figure out who your target customer is and then research community organizations and search online for community events that you should have a presence at.
Get creative and think outside the box to get your brand in front of people
Get creative and think outside the box to get your brand in front of people like cardboard arts and crafts for a moving company, which still hits the mom demographic!
Pillar 6: DIGITAL
Make sure your online presence matches what you are trying to portray about your brand and the new opening. The voice of the copy is important for who your target demographic is. If you are a young, hip pizza or burger franchise, keep your voice consistent with slang and pop culture references.
Promote the new opening with a special banner on the main webpage or have a special landing page to announce the new opening.
Localize franchises with their own landing page that discusses any specific differences for that location. Feature this link on the main page of your website.
Update your consumer and franchise development websites each with the press placements to gain validity and champion the brand.
Special thanks to the International Franchise Association’s for inviting StartupNation to their annual convention and to the panelists Susan Beth (Operating Partner at NDR Capital), Shelby Reno (Marketing & Communications Director of Two Men and a Truck International) and Eric Ersher CEO and Founder of Zoop! Fresh Soup Company