I Learned How to Pack Your Bar After I Attended an Open House

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I drove through an area recently in which a subdivision called Central Park was being built. I was hundreds of miles away from New York City, so it wasn’t the famous one. I went into the open house at the sales center and realized exactly what the developers were doing.

They were tapping into the younger and newer home buyers, using marketing to get them excited about living in a place that sounded like and reminded them of NYC’s Central Park.

The imagery they used reflected the experiences promised to new home buyers, even though the subdivision was, at the time, just a field of dirt. There were images of happy people walking a dog through a park. Of stylish couples laughing while drinking wine and cooking together in their upscale kitchens. Of the types of gorgeous structures that younger buyers aspire to own. The sales center was making me feel like they could bring a little bit of NYC to this town.

Although the excavations had just begun, the condos were sold out. Real estate developers had sold these homes with just their marketing. They had used emotion to make people want to live there.

And it had worked.

So, how does this translate to your venue?

Too many bars and nightclubs have cookie-cutter marketing. It’s time to step up the game. Take the marketing ideas of the real estate developer and think about the strategy they used when you’re planning to market your events. Making an emotional connection will pack your venue; promoting cheap drinks and ladies’ nights will not.

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I’m going to take the developer’s marketing idea above and translate it for use at your venue.

Let’s say your ideal customer is a university student. In the ad copy you would use words and phrases that are relevant to the students. In this case, their attention is based highly on location and community (where their friends and fellow students are going).

Some phrases you could use for this demographic would be: “5-minute cab ride from school” or “In walking distance of residence.” Those are the things that matter to your target demographic. You need to know your customer well to target them effectively.

Contrary to what you’re thinking in your marketing, music style is usually secondary to location for this demographic. This is why—in a university town—you find a local sub-par bar down the street packed while the beautiful nightclub with the great DJ is struggling.

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When it comes to imagery, video connects them with their friends emotionally and provides a sense of belonging. They want to see people like them, so using video taken from the venue within the past few weeks is a smart move because it would include recognizable people.

4 Tips to Follow in Your Marketing

  1. Know your customer. Which platforms are they using most? Is it Facebook? Instagram? Twitter (again)? If your demographic is much older, we know not to market on Snapchat. If they’re from out of town, Google Search can be powerful. Know who you’re targeting and then create your marketing plan based on where their attention is going.
  2. Paint the picture of the community. Don’t be generic. Speak directly to your demographic and use visuals that attract them. You want them to feel like their friends frequent your venue, that it’s the location where people want to be, the location that they want to be.
  3. Share the atmosphere. Can we stop it with the “DJ so-and-so playing top 40 all night” promotions? Why are we still using this in our marketing? Share the atmosphere that your target customer is looking for: Are your customers going to jump up onto the bars because it’s such a crazy party? Are they line dancing? Are they dressing high class? Use the right visuals and phrasing in your marketing to describe the atmosphere.
  4. Treat every night like an open house. If your customers arrive to bartenders cutting up lemons, sitting on their phones or setting up their bar areas, what does that make your bar look like? Not ready. Not professional. Make sure the entire team is prepared, every night.

Real estate developers use story-driven marketing. They use experiences and imagery and create a vision for you. Do the same. Be like a real estate developer when it comes to marketing your nightclub or bar.

Louie La Vella is a renowned event marketing director with bar, nightclub and major festival clients around the globe. La Vella is also a speaker at the Nightclub & Bar Show and contributor to Nightclub.com. You can connect with La Vella online and download a free copy of his latest audiobook at audiobook.louielavella.com.

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