Promoting Nightlife Without Discounting

Whitney Johnson, Global Director of Bookbottles, LLC, is new to the Nightclub & Bar show and the industry but she’s certainly not new to marketing and promotions. She has worked in our industry for 3 years and while some may view that as detrimental, the wise will see it for what it is: a fresh perspective. Whitney finds the industry exciting and definitely eschews the, “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” approach to which many seem to cling.

What Whitney wanted the audience to take away from her seminar was that there’s a difference between promotions and discounts. To understand this, nightclub operators must recognize the importance of brand marketing, pricing structure, inventory control and brand perception. She broke down each in expert fashion. When marketing your brand, for instance, you need to know what experience you want to deliver to your guests, present a venue that fits within that desired experience and understand that special events should be presented as a bonus to promotions rather than the whole promotion.

In terms of pricing structure, ask yourself the following questions: What are my guests willing to pay for my atmosphere? What are they willing to pay for my products? Answer those questions and avoid pricing yourself too low or too high. It turns out that pricing structure is rather simple to understand. Do market research, figure out your target market and figure out how to reach that market and be profitable. Once you’ve got your pricing structure under control, inventory control is next. Designate a decision maker who will decide what inventory will be marketed and who will control it, understand that reservations should be viewed as inventory and consider using a table reservation management system, and control your usage of free inventory as free items can make you and your brand look cheap in the eyes of guests.

And that brings us to brand perception. How do people perceive your brand? How do they perceive your venue? Adopt the belief that “free” is a four-letter word, first and foremost. Instead of giving away inventory, create packages that entice your target market to increase perceived value. Also, it’s imperative that your promotions make sense to your target demographic. It something is too esoteric or makes little sense in comparison to what your brand is known for, it simply won’t work. Next is the fun part: put a marketing strategy into place and spread the word. As Whitney put it, “Without an audience, you don't have a business.” To capture that audience, let your target demographic know why you exist and what it is you stand for.


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