Effectively marketing the launch of your small business is crucial to building a base of loyal, repeat customers and extending the reach of your brand.
No matter how excellent your new business is, you won’t attract customers if they don’t know where to find you.
Preparing for Your Grand Opening
Whether you have a brick and mortar business or operate completely online, one of the most effective ways to generate early buzz for your business is by promoting your grand opening. These tips and resources help ensure it’s a celebration to remember!
If your business has a physical location where customers will visit, a great way to spark initial attraction is by partnering with other local businesses and vendors. An easy way to start is by finding businesses that will let you put up flyers that advertise your grand opening.
If you’re planning to host an actual grand opening event, find local vendors who can provide snacks, drinks, and swag for your party. Keeping local generates business for whomever you hire, and when you partner with popular vendors, their customers are more likely to become interested in your business.
Signage and Print Materials
The last thing you want to do when launching your business is to do it subtly. You’ll want people to be curious about your business and make it easily noticeable that something exciting is happening. When it comes to visuals and signage and print materials, you have many options — here are a few to consider:
- Sandwich Boards. A classic sandwich board is a great choice because it’s reusable and hard to miss when you’re walking by. Pick something inviting that you can use for a long time to come. A chalkboard is fun and flexible and easy to add announcements to such as “Grand Opening!”
- Banners. Don’t be afraid to make it look like you’re having a party even if it’s just the first day of business. Touches like banners and balloons make it easy for customers to get curious to come in and check out what’s happening.
- Fliers and Business Cards. Smaller print materials are handy for hanging up in other local businesses or even for handing out to passers-by. Make sure to include your business’s contact information and hours of operation.
Have a Soft Launch
If there are elements of your business you want to test in a safe setting where you can gain feedback without the risk of losing a customer, do a soft-launch with your friends and family. For example, if you’re opening a restaurant and want to make sure the dishes are served in the time and manner you expect, invite a big group over for a test run before opening to the public. You can also ask them to share their fun experience on social media to create additional buzz.
Launching Online Businesses
If you have a business that operates mostly or entirely online, you can still use these tips to create an exciting launch for your business. For example, you can partner with another business to do a contest in celebration of your opening. Events like this are a great way to build your email list. Rather than printing signage, work with a graphic designer to create attractive graphics for your website and social media to announce the grand opening. Soft-launch by having friends and family test out your website to give you user experience feedback before the public launch.
Setting Up Your Business’ Online Presence
Setting up your online presence as a part of your initial marketing launch is essential to early-stage success — many customers adhere to the mindset that if you don’t exist online, you don’t exist. Often, if someone does a Google search for your business and nothing comes up, they’ll assume you either don’t exist or aren’t a legitimate operation. Maximize your online presence by using the following resources:
Google My Business is a free service from Google that allows you to set up a profile for your business, making it much easier for consumers to find you online. This service puts the power of Google into your hands because the profile you create and control is what will show up in a search. Your profile includes valuable information like your hours of operation, location, and photos — all of which are adjustable. Your business’s Google reviews will also be attached to your profile so potential customers can read about how wonderful you are. Having a Google Profile also means you show up on Google map searches. So, if you’re a florist and someone searches for “florists near me,” your profile will show up as an option.
Website and Domain Names
Choosing a name for your website and URL are important pieces of easily being found online. The name of your website is likely going to be the name of our business, but choosing a URL is a little trickier. First, you need to find one that’s available. Domain names (what the address is called – e.g., www.DOMAIN.com) are easily searchable on sites like GoDaddy and Squarespace. You should choose one that makes sense for your business, but is also search-friendly. For example, if you’re a cleaning company that’s called “Smith’s,” you might want to call your website www.smithscleaners.com, so if someone is searching for cleaners, it’s more likely your page will come up. There’s a bit of both art and science behind choosing a name, especially because search engines regularly change their algorithms. Watch this video to learn about choosing the perfect domain name.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, an important part of online marketing. Utilizing SEO tactics makes it easier and more likely that search engines (such as Google) will rank your page higher in a search. Page position is extremely important because most consumers don’t go past the first few results in a search.
There are many online step-by-step guidelines you can follow to get started optimizing your website. These optimizations include making adjustments to your headline text, body text, links on your page, and even images. Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a great place to get started – but be aware that SEO practices change very regularly, as search engines like Google are constantly updating their technology, methods, and algorithms.
If your business depends on search engine traffic to your webpage, and SEO isn’t your forte, many marketing agencies provide SEO support.
Your social media profile will likely be one of the first places new consumers will find you and gain an impression of your business. Lyfe Marketing reports that not only are people purchasing from companies on social media, but they are also spending 20 – 40% more money with companies using these platforms than those who aren’t.
Not every business needs to be on every social media platform. A tax service business probably isn’t a great fit on image-focused Instagram, and a juice bar generally doesn’t fit on business-centric LinkedIn. You can learn more about which social media platforms are the right fit for your business here.
What is important about the social media platform you choose, is that you’re good at it. A poor attempt at social media can sour first impressions of your business – customers can get turned off if your content looks amateurish or is offensive. Always post thoughtfully!
If you decide to outsource social media support is also often offered by marketing agencies.
It can be intimidating to open your business up to reviews online, but typically the pros outweigh the cons. There’s a lot of value in adding more places you can be found online, which further boosts your online presence and credibility. Make sure to register your business with these two sites:
- Yelp. Claiming your business on Yelp gives you the ability to accurately update information about your operation as well as responding to reviews. And thoughtfully responding to reviews, particularly negative ones, provides you the opportunity to minimize a bad situation. Responding to positive reviews can also help to foster a sense of community with your return customers. You also have the option on Yelp to upgrade to specialized features, such as allowing someone to call you directly from the page (on mobile) or paying for advertisements so consumers can see your business, whether you’re ranked highly on Yelp or not.
- The Better Business Bureau (BBB). Gaining accreditation through the BBB is a great way to gain credibility with any customer who is searching for your business. As well as offering accreditation, the BBB scores businesses from A+ to F. You can gain a better score by providing current information to the BBB, substantiating advertising claims, and ensuring there’s not a pattern of customer complaints.
Another great way to attract customers online is by registering with a coupon deals company such as Groupon or Valpak. If you’re willing to create a temporary deal for customers (like a two-for-one sale or a 10% off offer), these sites will advertise your deal (and your company) with customers who are most likely to be interested in your services. Customers can search directly for your business, or search by service or industry.
Even if you’re new to marketing, you’re already a great representative for your business because no one is more excited than you. Taking early steps to plan and execute a marketing plan for the launch of your business is one of the best ways to connect with new customers — well-worth the investment of both time and money.