Perfecting Promotional Timing
In life, timing is everything. Restaurateur and industry leader, Antonio Fuccio, says the same holds true when executing successful promotions. With his hot season upon him at Georgica Restaurant & Lounge in East Hampton, Nightclub & Bar was fortunate enough to catch Mr. Fuccio long enough to capture his incredibly thoughtful and experienced insight into the tactics and tricks to timing promotions. Thanks, Mr. Fuccio for your invaluable wisdom!
Antonio Fuccio, second from left, Owner of Georgica Restaurant & Lounge, with three of his renowned chefs on staff.
For any holiday promotion, what is your suggested timing in terms of marketing it and then actually executing it? How soon is too soon and how long is too long?
This is an excellent question. I think opinions vary on this throughout the industry. I personally like to use a midway approach. As with any one-off event, you want to create anticipation within the target demographic. At the same time, you don't want to over-promote too early or wait too long either. Obviously, if you wait too long to heavily promote an event, you might not maximize your reach. On the flip side, if you go too heavy, and spend too much of your budget too soon, you risk your audience forgetting about the event. Also, while I never allow competition to dictate my decisions, you never want to leak too much info, too soon, so others can plan against your event. I find that implementing a staggered marketing/promotion plan over four to five weeks works best. You start with a teaser or save-the-date and then release more info each week, all while introducing more marketing vehicles over that time. It allows for a buzz to develop, people to continue talking about it and, in turn, anticipation and reach to be maximized.
Do you find more success in promotions not related to a holiday or related to more obscure occasions (like Super Bowl versus Christmas, for example)?
It's funny. I was just talking about this. I think it's cyclical and varies geographically. In New York, for instance, there was a time when no promotions were larger than the ones on Thanksgiving Eve and New Year’s Eve. While those are both still very popular, I find that, in recent years, Halloween and Super Bowl are just as big. In fact, I think they would be bigger than both Thanksgiving Eve and New Year’s Eve if the next day was a Federal Holiday.
Is it worth doing promotions during high times like Super Bowl when you are going to get a crowd of people regardless? Or is it more important because there is more competition among competitors?
I believe it is more important to promote heavily on those days for two reasons, but not for anything to do with the competition. First, you never want to risk leaving money on the table, especially during these more complicated financial times in the industry. Those are days where you can maximize profits, so to not take advantage of the opportunity is foolish. The second reason, which is often overlooked, is that those are the days you can attract new customers to your venue. They are the key in building a brand, expanding your market, and making a lasting impression on customers. Your brand image can often be both built and solidified on such days.
Can you share one example of a promo that the timing "made" it successful and one that the timing was totally off and contributed in large part to its failure?
I have found that timing has been a major part of every successful promotion we have ever done. There are too many to name. As far as something where timing hurt, I can think of one in particular. There was a big celebrity performer who made a last minute trip into town. I got contacted the day before about doing a last minute performance. It was expensive for a venue our size, but considered "pennies" compared to what this person usually gets. We agreed to it and took an absolute bath in the process. The worst part was that it ended up just being a hosting gig because we couldn't fulfill the technical rider for the performance in time.
What are some suggestions on the best ways to market a last minute promo and still garner success from it?
In this era, we are fortunate to have the digital marketing capabilities that the operators before us didn't. While some in our industry sometimes rely on them too much, for last minute promotions, there is nothing better than social media, email blasts, and personal text messaging. They are an instant reach to your client base.