When you're not sure what to do after a long workweek, they're there to remind you what the "hottest," "sexiest" and "most talked about," events are in the city. They randomly text you to let you know that you're on the guest list for the party tonight. They always have a spot for you at their table. And most importantly, they're your best chance to get past the velvet rope.
Promoters can be our best friends, but at times, a bit of an annoyance as well. But even if you can't stand what they do, they're an essential part of any nightlife business; the problem is, some do it much better than others. If you're thinking of opening a club, you stand no chance without the help of promoters. While some of their tactics may be irritating, their job is to get the droves through the doors, and at the end of the day, they always deliver.
Becoming a club promoter isn't a stereotypical career path, but there are examples of those who play their cards right and treat their craft like a business — not just a way to get comp bottles and a little something on the side while working on TPS reports during the week. Case in point: New York City's own Privileged Marketing.
We're all familiar with the Strategic Groups and Miami Marketing Groups of the world, but what many in nightlife don't know is that it's not easy to transition from a street promoter to a bona-fide nightlife businessman. Eugene Abreu, co-founder and CEO of Privileged Marketing Group, started his career in nightlife promoting college parties at Syracuse University; as soon as he saw that opportunities were much greater in the Big Apple, he created Privileged in 2008 with partner Alex Thaler.
"Privileged is a nightlife marketing group that caters to the more premium half of the neo-Latin market," Abreu says. "We plan and execute our weekly events from start to finish, from operations and promotional material to strategic collaborations."
Eugene Abreu and Alex Thaler founded NYC's Privileged Marketing Group in 2008.
Privileged stakes its claim at one of New York City's most popular Uptown nightlife venues, Phuket. While it's not located in nightlife hotbeds like the Meatpacking District or the Lower East Side, Abreu and Thaler still manage to pack the space on a consistent basis, largely because of their strict business approach to promoting.
"To me, marketing is and will always be what it is: communicating what you have to offer and proving its value to your target demographic," Abreu says. "No matter the market that you're catering to, if you consider yourself savvy in marketing, you know you have to do your homework. Research, strategize, execute, then monitor."
There are certain misconceptions when it comes to club promoters, e.g., they're greedy, annoying and only looking to make a quick buck off of your presence in the club.
"All promoters aren't greedy," Abreu says. "We understand it's a business and the club needs to benefit as well. It's a partnership at the end of it all. People assume that because someone calls himself a promoter, they will automatically bring 100-plus people to their establishment. Everyone is a promoter nowadays. Some clubs need to get references and proof of prior experience before getting involved."
Privileged ensures NYC nightclub Phuket is packed on a regular basis.
Deals between nightclubs and promoters typically involve the promoters receiving anywhere from 10% to 25% of bar sales for exclusive contracts on a given night. However, as of late owners are cutting back and attempting to do all of their promoting in-house. But when major holidays roll around, the involvement of club promoters is always welcome to ensure that the venue packs out.
Outsourcing marketing efforts is quite the norm in any nightlife venue, but certain characteristics must be met for an overall successful end result. Promoters have and always will be a major ingredient, but those with a serious business approach and proven track record, much like Privileged, stand the test of time in a business that’s constantly evolving.
"Nightlife is all about hospitality and doing what you say you're going to do," Abreu says. "You have to be an incredibly personable person and build a solid network of relationships that value your word and the hospitality you deliver on a consistent basis. Treat it as a business, and the outcome will be incredibly rewarding."
Common Tactics that Give Promoters a Bad Name
1. Email blasts are pretty much useless in this day and age.
2. Mass text messages are annoying beyond belief.
3. Facebook invites do not work. Events themselves are useful, but do not feel the need to get RSVPs.
4. Tagging people to flyers on Facebook automatically gets you de-friended.
5. Automatically friend-ing people to your "Facebook Groups" involuntarily gets you de-friended.
Steps Promoters Can Take to Create a Legitimate Business
1. Register the business. If you take the business seriously, you should be putting your money in the bank, writing checks and writing off your expenses.
2. Stand by what you say. Your word in nightlife is everything. Your reputation will spread like wildfire, so make sure to be honest and do what you say you're going to do.
3. Have every partnership agreement on paper with terms and conditions. Make sure everyone signs off on it.
4. Don't take shortcuts. Make sure that quality is held high. Put time and effort into everything you do, from business cards to websites; the first impression is a lasting one.
5. Business development is key. You have to be able to see opportunities when they present themselves. Always see the bigger picture.