Opening a new business, a new location, or relocating your business is a lot of work. You should celebrate all that work and success. You also want to let the world know where you are and what you’re doing there. A ribbon cutting ceremony is a fun and effective way of letting everyone know you’re open for business… when done right.
Here are some tips for planning the perfect ribbon cutting.
Call Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Ever wonder who has a pair of those giant scissors you see at ribbon cuttings? It’s your local or regional Chamber of Commerce. Now you know! Chambers of Commerce of all sizes share the mission of fostering economic prosperity. There are so many ways Chambers accomplish that mission. One of them, is by offering services to member businesses such as planning and facilitating ribbon cuttings and grand opening celebrations.
Chambers keep special ribbon in supply at all times and always have a giant pair of scissors ready to cut. Yes, those big scissors do cut! Not only do Chambers supply the fun stuff, they’re also experts at planning the perfect ribbon cutting photo opportunity.
So, step one of planning your ribbon cutting is to call your Chamber of Commerce and make sure your membership is up to date and that your level of membership covers ribbon cuttings. You’re working hard enough to open your business, let someone help you with the event planning. Plus, most folks who work for a Chamber of Commerce LOVE a good ribbon cutting and LOVE cheering you on as your business grows and changes.
Ribbon cuttings serve to let the world know you’re open. Invitations to this celebration do the same work. Even if some people you invite won’t end up there to celebrate with you, at least they’ll know you’re open and considered them important enough to be invited. Ribbon cutting photos always look like a ton of fun with more people in them too.
Here are some fun ideas of what kind of people to invite to your ribbon cutting and grand opening…
First of all, invite your neighbors. If you’re opening a location on a main street, in a plaza, or a community of any kind, be sure to walk around and invite the folks who work near you. This is a great way to get to know the people around your business. They’ll appreciate that you stopped in and even if they can’t make it to the ribbon cutting, they can now help direct customer traffic your way.
Do you employ students? Ask them to invite the school mascot. Sounds ridiculous, but that’s definitely going to get you in the local newspaper.
Invite the directors of municipal departments, especially any who have helped you out along the way in opening your business. Invite elected officials. Invite all the newspapers, radio station personalities, and organizers of your town’s Facebook groups.
Punch above your weight class on the invites. Go ahead and invite your favorite local musician, sports team, or celebrity. You never know who might show up.
Most importantly, invite all the people in your personal life who helped support you. This could apply to your mechanic, your pet groomer, your favorite barista, your babysitter, your barber, your financial advisor, your mom’s best friend who you grew up calling “Auntie” even though she’s not related, your kids’ bus driver, and your favorite package delivery person.
Live Stream on Social Media
Live streaming a celebration seems like a no-brainer, but it’s still not second nature to everyone. Get a friend or employee you trust to stream your speech and cutting of the ribbon on your most popular social media platform. Your Chamber of Commerce staff can help you with this too. Once it’s streamed, you can save it and share with anyone who missed the event.
In our new world where at any given time, just about anyone could be quarantining with a virus at home, it’s become even more important that we make our celebrations as accessible as possible.
Plus, even local businesses have not-so-local fans. If you’re a small business with a local following, you might not realize that you have touched the lives of people beyond your town lines. Someone who used to live in town, who visited once, or has friends and family there might become a customer from afar. They want to be included in the fun and celebrations too.
Take a Ton of Photos
There are two reasons why I recommend taking a ton of photos at a ribbon cutting celebration.
The first reason is obvious. This moment of celebration will be relevant at least once a year for the lifetime of your business. Every anniversary, you’ll have social-media ready images to share and encourage shoppers to come celebrate every milestone supporting your business.
The second reason is perhaps a bit less obvious. People blink. When you get a large group together around colorful ribbon and giant scissors, there are going to be closed eyes in some of the pictures. Take extra to cover yourself.
A bonus tip for picture taking… make sure your business logo or sign is in the pictures you send to the press later. That’s good brand building 101.
Look out for more Ribbon Cutting Top Tips in later posts!