Grand openings, market entries, new product launches – no doubt, they’re a lot of work. One restaurant owner once described the experience to me as “birthing a baby.” I may not be a restaurant owner, but I have opened and rebranded my own business, helped restaurant owners open hundreds of locations and I’ve given birth to three boys. So, yeah, I see the comparison.
Following countless openings and launches, we have two things to pass on – think outside the ribbon-cutting box and stay hyper-local. For larger restaurant brands and companies, name recognition isn’t always enough. Customers want authenticity and connection that’s relevant to them.
Here are some approaches we keep top of mind months before our openings:
- Speak the local language. There’s no better way to spot an outsider than someone who doesn’t know the community’s voice and culture. Make sure your messaging reflects the local lingo. Use your city’s nickname, how guests refer to your neighborhood or even more common ways of referencing local neighborhoods or trading areas. Not from the area? Do a Google search and read articles on the area.
- Engage even before your doors open. Social media has sparked many new opportunities for restaurants to connect with their customers well before they begin serving them. Your marketing efforts should start months before the grand opening – from targeting specific audiences, providing sneak peek experiences and even offering giveaways and contests. Fun and compelling content can have people lined up at the door on day one.
- Leverage area influencers. Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful and social influencers have maximized it. Micro and nano influencers (10K followers or fewer) have genuine connections with their followers because the majority of their audience lives and plays where they do. So, they’re instantly relatable. Identify the ones that align with your brand and pursue partnerships ahead of the grand opening or invite them to experience what you’re all about so they…pass it on.
- There’s still power in earned local media. Media is changing. The days of only watching the 6 am news every day are gone. Instead, consumers are turning to community newspapers, community calendars, newsletters, blogs and more. They want their information dialed down and from a trusted source. It’s vital that you know which outlets your prospective customers are turning to for their news and find the best ways to reach them.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Download our grand opening starter plan and begin marking off your to-dos.
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