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Question: How can I maximize customers on the opening day of my business?

Tap Your Network

“A top lesson I learned very quickly about my first day of business is that empty spaces are foreboding. Look to your close circle and incentivize them to help you look busy by either physically milling about or — if the event is virtual — commenting. Suddenly, second and third-degree connections of your close circle become your power crowd.”

Assume Something Will Fail — And Be Ready

“The first time we launched Contactually, we had a major bug in our process that we hadn’t fully tested. During the second product launch, a server failed. And during the third product launch, queues got backed up. The lesson here? First, assume that something will go wrong, and prepare your team. Second, take it in stride; just work with your team to solve the problem, and keep going.”

Give a Coupon for Their Next Visit

“Most customers that come to your place of business on opening day will likely purchase something. However, the key to a successful opening day is to get the customers to come back a second and third time. Consider providing an incentive, such as a coupon for a percentage off next visit, to inspire the customer to visit again soon. Getting customers to come back often is the key to long-term success.”

Put Out “Instant Clicks” Advertising and PR

“Having the right press connections and a strong paid advertising plan in place — ready to go for your first day of business — will allow people to know who you are and generate strong buzz right from the get-go. If you or your PR firm can get you placement in top industry publications, and you’re putting out sponsored ads on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, plus retargeting, you’re already winning.”

Get the Community Engaged With Local Chambers

“If you’re looking for a full house on opening day, don’t miss a chance to meet the local business chambers and associations supporting the business community. They have tremendous power to help increase your exposure and even coordinate special events on your opening day that get the buzz around town. These groups are especially productive for businesses focused on the consumer market.”

Staff Effectively

“Whether you are an online business running a new Kickstarter campaign or a physical store, it’s very important to create a great first impression. One way to do this is to be able to quickly and effectively offer customer support. Don’t worry about the overhead costs. Bring on extra staff and make a great first impression.”

Collect Contact Information

“Your very first day of business is your first opportunity to start a long-term relationship with your customers. The key is to collect contact information, including email. Consider incentivizing with a chance to win a gift card. It may seem trivial, but collecting contact information will help you make more money as you grow your business.”

Create a Solid Advertising Campaign

“Budget between $5,000 and $10,000 for your grand opening advertising campaign. A solid campaign strategy must have a consistent “call to action” message and should incorporate paid internet advertisements, direct mail, and online vouchers (such as Groupon). Partner with your local chamber to arrange a ribbon cutting ceremony with the mayor, and be sure to invite news personalities.”

Create Pre-Launch Buzz That Can’t Be Ignored

“The first day of a brick-and-mortar business opening is incredibly important, as it sets the tone for the days to come. One of the best things you can do is create pre-launch buzz leading up to your launch event. First, consider the pain points of your customer. What would get them really excited? Next, craft a strategy to offer something out of the ordinary at your launch event. Then, promote.”