Promoting a Grand Opening

Get customers old and new to your new store

When you’re expanding, moving or opening a new location, the to-do list is long, but make sure to consider the promotion and marketing of your new or added store.

Scott Clark of Spa & Sauna Company of Reno has traveled this road three times and is moving his original store to a higher-traffic location. “The first store is in a fairly remote part of town with lots of warehouse space, not on a main street,” Clark says. “We’ve had to promote that store aggressively to attract customers. Unlike other retailers, where they spread their additional stores across a wide area, our stores are all in the same ZIP code, carrying somewhat different products. Because those stores are easier to find than our original store, they drive most of the business. We’ve made the first store work by trading low rent for higher advertising and marketing costs.”

Clark attracts customers to new locations starting with an announcement to existing ones. “We send emails, post cards, direct-mail pieces, use a little bit of TV and newspaper to announce our grand opening event.”

At Backyard Pool and Spa in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, owner Don Smith did the same when he folded his second store in Keswick (about 45 minutes north of the main store) into an updated original store at a new location in Aurora. “Several months before the move, we advertised it in-store to customers,” Smith says. “We also utilized our service department techs. When they went on a call, they left a letter with the customer detailing the move. We also retained our old phone numbers; this is so important and often overlooked. You might not reach everyone on your customer list; by retaining the old phone number, established customers can still find you.”

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Established customers are good, but you need new customers, too. Rather than rely exclusively on social media, Clark deliberately buys a mix of traditional and online media. “Our biggest challenge with social media is the difficulty in measuring its effectiveness,” Clark says. “Views haven’t necessarily translated into clicks and contacts on our website from Facebook.” Organic website traffic and Google Adwords are additional tools Clark uses.

Smith’s customers, on the other hand, use social media heavily. “We promoted our new store on Facebook and Twitter, driving traffic to our website,” he says. “We enlisted our local Chamber of Commerce and had a ribbon cutting ceremony at our grand opening.” Photos from such ribbon cuttings are often printed in local newspapers. Smith also held a grand-opening evening social event with hors d’oeuvres, and invited customers, their families, friends and suppliers.

Smith asked the new occupants at his old location if he could leave printed maps and directions to the new store location, which he says were expensive but worth it. The new tenants happily agreed, as it meant not having to repeatedly give directions to Smith’s store.

Since spas are big-ticket items, Clark finds out where a new customer is in the buying timeline at a grand opening event. He reaches out to them with drips of information so that when they are ready to buy, the prospect automatically thinks of Clark’s new or existing stores. “That’s a hard reality to swallow in marketing,” Scott says. “We were in San Jose, California, for many years. One day a guy walks into the store to buy a spa. The guy asks, ‘How long have you folks been in business?’ I tell him, 12 years. He says, ‘No way…I’ve been driving by this place for 15 years and I’ve never seen you!’ He was blind to our 30-foot monument sign that read SPAS, until he was in the market for a tub. A grand opening just wasn’t on his radar when we opened.”