Coming Soon signCreate a buzz all over town long before your store opens.

These days, in a sour economy, businesses opening just about anywhere are major news. So don’t shy away from publicity. Here six ways to promote your retail business before you open.

  1. Display a large banner or sign outside your building letting people know you’ll be opening. Thanks to Alyson Stanfield, a business coach for artists and an art marketing expert, for this idea which I read at her blog.

  2. Pitch the story to the local media. Contact a reporter at your local newspaper, business journal or business magazine and pitch a story about the opening. Angles can include why you chose this time, when the economy is bad, to open a new business.

  3. Write a press release. Post it on a site like Craigslist, which gets millions of eyeballs. Post it only in one category and only in the city closest to where your business is located.

  4. Plan a fun grand opening celebration. Publicize it on a local event sites like Yelp, and  This list of 27 questions to ask before promoting your event will stimulate ideas and help you plan a more interesting event. Please, no boring ribbon-cuttings. You can do  better than that. Here are some alternatives to ribbon-cutting events.

  5. Just before you open, create a business profile on Google Maps.

  6. Contact related businesses and offer to cross-promote. Ask them to display flyers about your grand opening at the front counter. Tell them that once you open, you’ll be happy to promote something they’re doing. If you’re opening a pet store, contact owners of dog kennels, dog obedience schools and veterinarians.

What other ideas can you offer for ways that retail businesses can promote long before they open? Any examples in your own community?