Restaurant Marketing: Grand Opening Checklist to Create Buzz

There’s a lot to do and think about leading up to your restaurant’s grand opening. You want to make sure people show up, enjoy the event, and spread the word to their friends and family.

Thinking ahead, making detailed plans, and collaborating with the right people in your local community can help keep you on track and ensure your grand opening makes a splash.

Here are a few important steps to take when planning your grand opening:

Launch a social media campaign

Creating accounts on popular social networking sites is one of the best ways to generate buzz ahead of your grand opening. Setting up Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts for your restaurant allows you to reach more people and start building your brand before you’ve even opened your doors.

Here are a few tips to build your social media following and encourage people to attend your grand opening:

  • Create a custom hashtag to include in all your posts
  • Start geotagging your location in order to help people find you
  • Post your menu and link to your website
  • Create a Facebook event for your grand opening
  • Share photos of menu items and/or drink specials
  • Make sure all your posts are public and shareable

Establish a marketing budget and timeline

Your grand opening is a big dealit’s your first chance to connect with your customers and the local community. It’s important to develop a detailed budget and timeline leading up to your grand opening.

Fit Small Business recommends spending 20% of your marketing budget for the first year on your grand opening. You want to spend enough to make sure it’s a success, but not so much that you don’t have sufficient funds to market for the rest of the year. Once you’ve had your grand opening, you’ll have a better idea of how to market to your target customer and fine-tune your brand.

Invite local influencers

One of the best ways to spread the word about your grand opening is to connect with local influencers who have a following and are trusted in the community. Social media influencers and food and lifestyle bloggers are a great place to start. One post or hashtag from the right influencer can help you reach your target customers.

Also consider inviting figureheads in your local community, such as politicians, news anchors, local bloggers, or police and fire chiefs. Their presence will help your grand opening feel like a community event.

Begin with a soft opening

Hosting a soft opening before the big event is a great way to get feedback from your attendees and give you and your staff valuable practice. Depending on your budget and timeline, you may even choose to host more than one event.

There are a variety of ways to host a soft opening, including:

  • Organizing a “Friends and Family” night
  • Partnering with a charity and hosting a fundraiser
  • Simply opening your doors for a specified amount of time without any advertising

Be sure to communicate what your soft opening entails so your guests know what to expect.

Partner with a local business

Consider partnering with a local food magazine or drink vendor. For example, you might create a dinner special paired with a local beer from your favorite brewery or partner with a newspaper to create a giveaway or raffle.

Collaborating with other businesses for your grand opening is a great way to network and introduce your brand to more people. It also gives the event a friendly, community feel.

Your grand opening is your chance to make a first impression. You want people to have fun, enjoy the food, spread the word, and, most importantly, want to come back. Establishing a presence on social media, involving the community, and carefully planning and budgeting your marketing efforts will help make your grand opening a success.