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10 tips for a successful ribbon cutting

Have fun with your ribbon cutting
Have fun with your ribbon cuttingGetty Images

Ribbon cutting and ground breaking events are meant to be momentous occasions drawing attention to the creation and success of new businesses. Given the present economic climate celebration of new business is truly valuable. Unfortunately, most of these events are scripted, boring, and barely blips on the radar for business communities and media outlets. These tips will assist you in avoiding the typical fate.

  • Plan ahead. Give at least two weeks notice to local officials, media outlets, local chambers, and your organization’s important members. The more notice you give, the more likely their calendars won’t be booked already.
  • Offer something unique. These invitations are commonplace. Incentivize your invitees by including a gift, tour, or demonstration. Food isn’t an incentive, it is expected.
  • Prepare for bad weather. Even if it is just for a photo opportunity you will be expecting important members of the community to stand outside the business. Have a tent on standby, provide umbrellas for your guests, and be sure to have a large indoor space available for the majority of the event in preparation for inclement weather.
  • Educate your audience. Create handbills or brochures with interesting facts specifically for this audience, not just your regular marketing materials. Highlight information relating to the creation of the business, who will be speaking at the event and what their role has been in supporting the new business, examine goals and ideas for the future of the business and the role the business hopes to play in the community.
  • Present a compelling program. Most ribbon cuttings and ground breakings are cookie cutter and repetitive, don’t follow the generic formula. For a retail business have a fashion show or demonstration of the products being sold. For a restaurant don’t just serve food, prepare it in front of the guests. For a business which provides a specific service demonstrate what those services will look like. During the public speaking portion encourage audience participation and utilize humor.
  • Ask for support from your local Chamber of Commerce and city development department. New business is good business for organizations whose job it is to promote business. Get them involved from the beginning and they will shoulder some of the responsibilities from organizing the guest list to taking photos.
  • Don’t assume your guests are experts in your field. After the presentation take some time to interact with the people who have spent time supporting your business and explain in detail what exactly your business will provide.
  • Provide good food. Not a box of donuts and bad coffee. Get creative.
  • Don’t stop celebrating after the ribbon cutting is over. The event itself may take 30 minutes to an hour, but that doesn’t mean your celebration is over. Offer discounts, tours, special gifts all day or all week to the public and present this as a part of your business’ ribbon cutting celebration.
  • Follow through. If you didn’t get the turnout you had hoped for, particularly from the media, follow up with a post-event press release including photos and the information you provided at the event. Stay top of mind with the media and local organizations. If you received help from a chamber or business development organization, stay involved, attend their events, and participate so that you are recognizable.

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