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Four Steps to Nail Your Grand Opening Marketing Strategy

Help spark the “I have to be there” kind of demand for your grand opening and year-round.

By Tracey Bowyer



Every day, a new franchise location pops up in the neighborhood — be it for McDonald’s, The UPS Store, H&R Block or Subway. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a multi-unit franchise brand like McDonald’s or a smaller franchisor in the early stages of growth. At the end of the day, every business always wants to grow and expand.
When speaking of growth and expansion, it’s not just talking about opening up new business locations or hiring more staff. It’s about improving the quality of each experience shoppers have with your brand and the quantity of sales at multiple touch points — whether in print, online, mobile, social or in-store. With every new store opening comes the added pressure and urgency to nail the marketing for that all-important grand opening.

To prevent your new franchise location from becoming yet another failed business statistic, it’s important to tackle the grand opening with advance planning, digital ingenuity and local relevance. Here are four sure-fire tips that will help you spark the “I have to be there” kind of demand for your grand opening and year-round.

1.Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Once your franchisee has a grand opening packet — filled with approved internal signage, exterior banners, brand logos and other marketing templates — what’s next? “A successful grand opening is built upon a solid promotional offer,” said David Buckley, chief marketing officer of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores.  But it’s not just about creating a promotional offer that might be seen by potential customers. To paraphrase the enigmatic character played by actor Marlon Brando in “The Godfather,” “Make them an offer they can’t refuse.”

If this sounds like a daunting task to tackle and achieve, don’t be overwhelmed. It’s possible. Remember, put the individual needs and wants of your local customers at the center of your offer — wherever they might see your business, whatever devices and channels they use to research and buy, and even the types of content and ads that are most likely to influence them to come in-store to browse and, if you’re planning this right, buy items repeatedly. The first step is to identify what goals you want to achieve and which audience segments are most valuable to your business’ long-term growth.

Is the offer of 20-percent-off the first visit strong enough to convince them to head over to your store on grand opening day? Would a free gift with purchase (much like Sephora does for its “VIB” shoppers) incentivize them to stop by? Or could you convince them to return for a second, third and even fourth visit with the promise of a discount? These are just a few questions you should ask to make that offer compelling and irresistible enough to consider buying from your store over and over again.

2.Use quality content to boost SEO and bring shoppers through the doors.

Once you’ve defined your promotional offer, it’s time to make it seen. Here’s where you might ask if it’s more effective to post promotional flyers, send direct mail coupons, pay for pay-per-click ads or distribute the offer via email. These are all good questions. With nearly nine out of 10 consumers researching products and future purchases online, having a strong web presence is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. Take, for example, a 30-something single woman in Cleveland whose kitchen is in serious need of a remodel. Where’s the first place she’ll go before she’s ready to hire a contractor who is affordable and trustworthy? Chances are she’s heading to one of the top three search engines first — Google, Yahoo or Bing.

The simple fact is that quality content is the most effective search engine optimization tactic. Write, design, promote and optimize your content with the mindset that your customers’ local needs always come first. How can you do this? Create unique, individual content for each page of your website — optimized for ZIP code, neighborhood and city or town. Also, include descriptive keywords in your individual page titles and don’t forget specific locations and business descriptions. Finally, create and update listings on Yelp, Google Places, Yellow Pages and other directories for your new store location. Make sure the new store’s name, address and phone number are correctly shown on each listing.

3.Use social media to lay the groundwork for trust and credibility.

First things first, don’t try to be everywhere. Focus on the key social media channels that matter for your business. And think about how and why each social media channel you use will drive actual customer engagement, loyalty, reputation management and in-store sales. If you aren’t sure which social platforms to go with, start with Facebook. It’s not only the most popular with consumers — 71 percent of U.S. adults use it —it’s also extremely versatile for the type of engagement it allows you to have through posting photos, sharing updates, promoting events and more.

In addition to posting relevant information about your business on your Facebook page, curate content from your particular industry — photos, videos, events, quizzes, contests and news — as a way to trigger direct responses and dialogue. Ultimately, franchise businesses and their customers tend to have a more intimate, personal relationship with one another than most other businesses.

Once you have a loyal franchise customer, it’s harder to lose them — unless you fail to fulfill their needs. So don’t ignore that: invite your customers to get a behind-the-scenes look into your staff’s everyday lives, the fun they have doing their jobs, the work they put into store events and more. You can even hold contests to incentivize people to “Like” your business page and hopefully, make the news and promotions for your grand opening seen and found by more people. And don’t forget to post updates and photos on grand opening day, plus, thank customers for coming to your location.

4.Target Facebook users by location to promote local products or services.

The power of persuasion is something that works well on Facebook. With geo-targeted Facebook ads, you can capitalize on the high adoption of social media among today’s shoppers and advertise specific products and services that are relevant to shoppers within a short radius of your new franchise location. Essentially, you can customize who receives each offer based on a person’s ZIP code, gender, age and even the device they’re using. The features can get granular, but just targeting customers based on their Zip code is helpful in bringing them to your new franchise location.

Once a Facebook user clicks on the offer, he’ll be taken to a page where he can enter his information and then receive the special deal. Beyond building anticipation, excitement and momentum for your grand opening, Facebook ads are also a very low-cost way to increase leads, conversions and sales for your franchise location. Therein lies the beauty of Facebook advertising for small businesses — it creates a direct pipeline to local commerce.

Tracey Bowyer is vice president, products and solutions for G/O Digital, which provides local digital marketing solutions. Find her at


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