Grand openings are special events that can help you create brand awareness and reach potential customers. Here are five virtual ideas to launch your business.

Just a few years ago, many entrepreneurs and small businesses would host extravagant in-person parties to celebrate the launch of their new company. Of course, since 2020, the pandemic has created the need for a lot of businesses to get creative when announcing that they’re open for business.

While grand openings may not look the same as they used to, there are still plenty of ways you can mark the occasion with virtual events. Below, you’ll find five ways you can celebrate the start of your small business, without hosting a large in-person event, as well as some of the more traditional forms of grand openings, and what to do before you launch.

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Traditional Grand Opening Ideas

Before we get into the different ways that you can virtually celebrate the launch of your business, let’s take a look at a couple more traditional grand opening ideas. You can use this list as a source of inspiration for either in-person or digital events. The choice is up to you!

The below includes two of the most popular ways that brick-and-mortar locations typically announce that they are open for business.

  • Performing a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: If you’ve never been to one of these before, it’s exactly as it sounds. A big ribbon is placed in front of the store’s entrance, and a key stakeholder in the company – think business owner or CEO – cuts the ribbon to mark the opening of the location. The ceremony usually includes a speech, which thanks attendees for being there and provides relevant info about the launch of the business.
  • Hosting an Event or Launch Party: Grand openings are typically open-invitation events for your local community to come and see what your business is all about. You want to encourage as many employees to attend your grand opening as possible. As the host, you would likely offer food and refreshments and maybe even consider providing live music featuring local artists.

Virtual Grand Opening Ideas

If an in-person grand opening is not an option for your company due to health and safety restrictions or limited space, having a virtual celebration is a great alternative.

With a virtual grand opening, you can still get the word out about the launch of your business but you won’t have to consider certain limiting factors. For example, online events don’t have to worry about enforcing in-store safety precautions like social distancing, or coordinating the event to accommodate a large group.

Virtual grand opening events are also the perfect way to introduce your business if you run an online shop or other digital venture.

Here are five ideas to help you start planning your virtual launch:

1. Host a live stream event

In today’s digital world, most consumers are familiar with virtual meetings and online platforms. So, why not invite your community to join you for a live stream event.

With a virtual celebration, you can also open up your guest list to potential customers outside of your local community.

Set up a camera in your shop and welcome attendees at a specific time. From there, you can provide a Q&A or info session about your new store, and even show them around your retail space. With this type of event, you can do many of the same things you would do for an in-person party – with the exception of food, of course!

Popular online platforms to host a live stream event include:

  • TikTok Live
  • Zoom
  • YouTube Live
  • Twitter Spaces
  • Google Meet
  • Facebook Live

2. Provide a virtual tour of your store

Similar to a live stream event, you can also invite your customer base to join you for a virtual tour of your store. This would be a bit different from the above in that you would want to structure the event to be more about introducing your space.

You can either do your tour live on any of the online platforms listed above, or pre-record a video to share on your social platforms.

3. Offer promotional products

You don’t necessarily need to throw a party or event to mark the launch of your business. You could always announce that you’re open for business by providing customers with different promotional offers.

For example, you could do a giveaway for customers who buy from you on opening day. You could also offer a gift with purchase or discounted prices for your first day of business only.

4. Create demo or product videos

You can also announce that you’re open for business with promotional videos that offer demos or info about your products or services. This type of content should be heavily branded with your company’s name and logo, and clearly indicate how potential customers can buy from you.

Unlike educational videos, the purpose of these promotional pieces would be to inform your audience of what they can purchase from your store and when you officially open!

5. Invite customers to an online pop-up shop

Retail pop-up shops have become popular ways for small businesses to feature their products within a brick-and-mortar space, without having to lease their own store. They’re also a great way to boost sales, as they are typically only around for a limited time, which can help create a sense of urgency for the buyer.

This concept can also be used to the advantage of online businesses. By creating a simple one-to-two-page website, you can offer specials on your products for a short period of time to announce the opening of your business. Once you’ve officially launched, the online pop-up shop comes down and is replaced by something more permanent, such as an ecommerce site or shop on Etsy.

What to Do Before Your Grand Opening

Putting together a grand opening event, regardless of it being online or not, takes a lot of work. Ensure that your launch is a success by:

  • Spreading the word and generating buzz through:
    • Ads and promotions, such as radio spots, newspaper advertisements, discount codes, and mail outs
    • Social media by utilizing shared posts and hashtags
    • Content marketing, such as blogs, pre-launch landing pages, and e-blasts
  • Have a soft opening or launch
    • Host an invite-only event to get people talking about your company before your grand opening
    • Provide exclusive savings for early customers, followers, or those who share their email addresses with you
  • Connect with other local businesses
    • Source partnerships with other companies in your area who would mutually benefit from promoting your products or services

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