Create a Restaurant Grand Opening Marketing Plan In 6 Steps

By Raubi Perilli

      Feb 18, 2022     Solutions    

A restaurant grand opening marketing plan is essential when preparing to launch a new location. Whether the restaurant is your first business or a new location in a different neighborhood or state, you need a plan that will attract the attention of nearby customers and let them know that you are here and open for business.  

If you are getting ready to open a new sit-down dining restaurant, fast-casual establishment, or even a bar and lounge, follow these six steps to create a restaurant grand opening marketing plan that will boost your business before you officially open your doors.

Why You Need a Restaurant Grand Opening Marketing Plan

Before we get into the steps to create a restaurant grand opening marketing plan, let’s talk about why you can't skip this process.  

When you open a new restaurant, you have opportunities to establish your brand that you won’t have once you are open for weeks, months, or years. You are in the "honeymoon phase." You are the new business on the block, and you have an opportunity to use organic media to gain new customers with less marketing cost. 

  • You are newsworthy. Media and press will be easier to acquire because local outlets are often interested in covering new businesses and grand openings. You are new, so you are newsworthy.
  • You have a clean slate. As a new restaurant, there are no existing reviews and opinions about your location. You have an opportunity to start building strong customer sentiment right from the start.
  • Restaurant customers love to try something new. Diners are always looking for something new to try. You can capitalize on their interest in novelty by welcoming them in for the first time and creating an experience that brings them back again and again.

Create a Restaurant Grand Opening Marketing Plan In 6 Steps

Follow these six steps to create a restaurant grand opening marketing plan that sets your new location up for success.  

#1) Create a plan to capture customer information.

Before your first customer walks through the door, create a plan for how you will capture their contact information. Many brands miss this opportunity when opening a new location. They eagerly get new customers to come in, but fail to make a plan to get them to return.  

From the start, plan to capture customer contact information so you can start using restaurant marketing automation and remarketing from day one. Collect email addresses and phone numbers from customers so you can invite them to come back after their first visit.  One fun and engaging way to capture customer information is through Enter to Win contests.

Recommended: 7 Simple Ways to Collect Customer Contact Information

#2) Create a local PR plan.

Your new restaurant is news. Local media outlets will be interested in covering your new business. Reach out to traditional media stations, such as local TV networks and newspapers, as well as local blogs and online outlets.  

Increase the chances that the media will cover your business opening by sharing details that make your business unique. Explain why customers will want to try your location and how you are doing things differently from other nearby options.  

Recommended: 7 Ways to Get Local Press Coverage for Your Business

#3) Plan a series of launch events.

As part of your restaurant grand opening marketing plan, consider having multiple launch events. Hosting a series of opening events rather than one big grand opening creates multiple marketing opportunities, and it allows you to test operational readiness.  

Consider having a variety of events that include: 

  • Soft launch with family and friends. Bring in VIP guests to test out your restaurant while your team works out kinks in operation.
  • Tasting event with media. Increase the chances of getting press coverage by inviting press and local influencers to get a sneak peak of your menu.
  • Ribbon cutting. Whether it is an official ribbon-cutting as part of a membership in a local Chamber of Commerce or your own event, create a photo-opp to commemorate your opening.
  • Charity night. Engage with the local community by collaborating with a local charity and create a fundraising night where a portion of the proceeds are donated to this featured charity.  Provide them with tools to invite their community and engage with your local brand.
  • Grand opening. Once the kinks are worked out and you are ready to operate at full capacity, host a grand opening. Offer specials and giveaways, and consider if you want to make the event last one night or up to a full month to drive up interest.

Recommended: Using Branded Events to Get Your Business More Visibility and Leads  

#4) Create a strong social media strategy.

Don’t wait until your location is open to start a social media strategy. Get going right away by creating pages and sharing content about the lead up to your opening. Also, run campaigns that use social media to support your other goals.  

  • Build brand awareness and generate leads by running a social media contest. Contests stir up interest and give you an opportunity to use text marketing for lead generation.
  • Get more exposure through paid social media ads. It may be difficult to grow your new audience through organic reach alone. Consider running paid ads to your contest or new profile to generate extra interest.
  • Develop user-generated content by connecting with social media influencers. Invite guests with large social followings to share their experience on social media.
  • Use social media profiles from other locations to promote the new location. If you already have a following for another location, leverage it to drive interest in your new business.

  Recommended: Digital Marketing for Restaurants: 8 Ways to Attract Customers Online

#5) Focus on customer reviews right away

Start thinking about customer reviews from day one. You are starting with a clean slate. Get ready to fill it with great reviews and recommendations. Create profiles on review sites like Yelp and MyArea Network Local Area Sites. Invite guests from your early events to start sharing reviews right away.  

Having customer reputation management programs in place is a great way to build strong momentum upfront with strong reviews which will help with driving more positive growth in local SEO as well.

Recommended: How to Get Customer Reviews and Why Every Business Must Have Them

#6) Document your strategy for future openings.

If your opening is a part of a larger growth strategy to gain more local presence in markets, document your entire restaurant grand opening marketing plan. Detail the plans as well as the results.

Knowing what worked and what didn’t will help you create even better plans as you open more locations. Plus, a strong repeatable opening strategy will make it easier for the team to focus on operational excellence.  

Recommended: Succeed at Multi-Location Marketing by Following These 7 Best Practices

Get Ready for a Successful Restaurant Grand Opening

Follow these steps to create a restaurant grand opening marketing plan, and then put your plan into action by signing up for mySuite by MyArea Network.  

mySuite is a free local marketing platform you can use to generate interest in your new location. You can create a free business profile and launch a variety of marketing campaigns to build brand awareness, generate local media coverage, and collect data from interested prospects and customers.  

Make sure your restaurant grand opening is a success. Sign up for mySuite today and start planning for making a splash with your new location.