Small Town Approach To Big City Marketing

While the focus grows to a more globalized world, losing touch with the local market can be detrimental to your business. Marketing and promotional techniques should be crafted and molded to fit into the local area, whether that’s a big city or a tertiary market.

Christie Leigh Bellany, director of sales and marketing at Boston-based Big Night Entertainment Group, which owns seven bars and nightclubs in the New England area, says the company uses myriad strategies to attract guests to its different venues. “It’s really all over the board,” she says, based on what venue they’re focusing on.

GEM Boston

Boston is a big city, and the company works hard to find a way to connect with its patrons. This starts with creating a personalized tone on social media. While that keeps some guests satisfied, Bellany says the company recently did a local mailing to drive more demand to the venues. “It’s pretty rare,” she explains. “I’ve lived in downtown Boston and have never had a local bar or restaurant mail something to me.”

The company sent out an offer to get local people to BNEG’s establishments in the neighborhood. The mailer was sent to places 10 city blocks from the restaurant, and Bellany says “a lot of people messaged me saying ‘We got your mailer. We’re coming in soon with it.’” It was a great way to connect in a more traditional manner she continued.

With several different segments of people living in Boston, which can prove challenging for owners trying to establish a neighborhood feel, it’s important that you personalize the approach for each segment. A daunting task in a large city, but well worth the payoff since marketing to the city as a whole can be problematic.  

From older professionals to the 600,000 college students that flock to Boston in the fall, the way the BNEG team markets to each group is important. “Knowing your demographic is the most important part of marketing and creating promotions,” she says. People “are similar in many ways but often different in just as many.”

At BNEG’s biggest nightclub in Boston, Estate, the group knows they’re catering to 21 to 29 year olds. “It’s very different marketing to them than it is marketing to girls and guys that are in their 30s.” Estate is also seasonal, Bellany says, because of the college population, which drops off when students leave for the summer. “So, we go out to our local community,” she says to market once they leave. Therefore, local people are often the targets of our marketing campaigns during the summer months.

Instead of focusing on the college campus, Bellany and her team market five to 10 miles outside of the city to college-aged people that are coming back to Boston for the summer and staying at their parents’ houses. “We start passing out flyers and VIP passes. We also go to local businesses in the community, like a gym or tanning salon to get more local people,” she says.

Red Lantern Boston

While local mailing and handing out flyers can work for certain segments, Bellany says the company puts an emphasis on email promotions where local guests are invited on certain nights for special offers. Additionally, BNEG does social media contests to give away a VIP table or a complimentary dinner. “People are definitely listening,” she says. “We have a high response rate” through these channels.

Text-message marketing also is growing. Guests can sign up for a mobile club with a specific number for the venue and receive special offers. “We’re building up that database,” because it’s “the easiest way to reach people directly,” she says.

Local marketing is important no matter the size of the city because the localized approach with big strategies helps create and maintain regulars. “We get a lot of regulars, and they are building the base of our restaurant,” she says. “They’re your loyal followers. They’re talking about you, they’re bringing friends and they make you more money.”

“Connect with them and make them feel like you care about them. You want to be their neighbor. That’s the most important thing.”


Suggested Articles

Learn how to convert interested leads into faithful followers and, eventually, booked clients.

Research from the latest National Restaurant Association and Yelp Show the Latest Rate in Closures

Six-month sales, education and networking virtual event series offers a brand-new approach for the industry to connect with owners, operators and supp