Nothing says Grand Opening quite like a “ribbon cutting” ceremony. A few VIPs, a big pair of scissors and, voila, your operation is off and running. There was a time when that type of ceremony, including the stock photo and a couple of nice media placements, was a good way to hit the ground running.
These days, however, if you’ve waited for Grand Opening to make a big splash, well, it may just be too late. What you do beforehand, in the weeks, if not months, prior to the big day, is just as important to what you do when the doors open.
We currently are in the midst of a campaign to launch New England’s first LEGOLAND Discovery Center. There’s certainly no way to predict what will happen on May 23, when the doors open and the LEGO bricks start flying. What we do know, however, is that there’s already a palpable anticipation. We’ve seen it on Facebook, and we’ve seen it in the response to ticket availability.
Part of that can be attributed to a basic passion for everything LEGO. But part of that can be attributed to a series of initiatives undertaken to build momentum, through earned media and social media. From a public competition for a Master Model Builder to the search for a Junior Construction Panel to building a replica World Series Trophy and unveiling it (with photos alongside the authentic version) after the Red Sox improbable run.
As we continue to navigate the long tail of this launch, following are a few ideas that can be applied, in some form, to just about any opening:
– Content. With writers, editors, photographers, designers, etc. pulled in more directions than ever, provide gift-wrapped content. A photo gallery, a time-lapse video. Ideally, something they will amplify digitally.
– Engagement. Create events and initiatives that media will find irresistible.
– Reach. Touch different media with different initiatives, so as to broaden the message, and establish relationships that will help you down the road.
– Insight. Provide media with exclusive sneak peeks. A hard-hat tour. A first look at renderings. A sneak peek at one element of the finished product.
– Involvement. Where possible, involve your target audience in the process. Our searches for a Junior Construction Panel and Master Model Builder both gave our target audience a chance to participate and feel included.
– Connection. Where possible, create a face and personality. Our Master Model Builder search let fans know just who they would engage with when visiting the attraction.
In our ever-cluttered digital and physical lives, we need to find ways to get media, and our consumers, to stop and take notice. And we can’t wait until it’s time to deliver the whole story.
By creating these types of opportunities you can seed the information that gets published, posted and shared, fostering the digital and analog circles through which people uncover, engage and pass along. Provide a little taste as you go, and you’re likely to find that the grand opening is about confirmation, not surprise.