No Guessing Games Allowed in Promotion Planning

A hypothesis is an educated guess. Sure, it’s a guess…but it has the backing of theory, a solid education and maybe some post graduate study behind it, right? So why then, when it comes to promotions, do we have a “throw the spaghetti on the wall and let’s see if it sticks” mentality? They say in retail that it’s location, location, location. When it comes to promotions, it’s all about ideas, ideas, ideas. And not just any off-the-wall notion, it’s the well-thought-out idea that leads to success. So, let’s start at the beginning, with the ideation of your promotion.

In theory, a promotion should:
1. Enhance or build the bar or nightclub’s brand
2. Meet the “perception” or “corporate” goals (be seen as philanthropic, green, relevant to target)
3. Meet “promotion” goals (drive traffic, drive behavior – party bookings, e-mail club, drive sales and profit)
4. Create excitement for the bar or nightclub brand with consumers
5. Create energy with staff

That is quite a lot for a few pieces of point-of-sale to do, so how is it possible to create success with your promotion? Here are a few insights that have served us well over the years.

Be honest. Be truthful and realistic about who you are and who your customer is. Sometimes this is the hardest advice to take. Many of us in the industry have the inherent need to be liked, to be all things for all people. This is not what your goal should be. Embrace your niche and feed your differentiating factors. If your bar is the local college hangout run amuck with junior year frat boys, own it! Martini and Manicure Mondays are not for you, but Beer Pong, Giant Jenga and PBR Kegger Parties are right up your alley!

Promotions are a Team Sport. This is not a do-it-yourself job. You need backup and reinforcements. Create a team for brainstorming and the proverbial gut check. The team should have someone who represents each aspect of your restaurant, bar or nightclub, as well as a mix of people in the target market. This team is responsible for researching, ideating and creating as well as implementing and executing. There are many reasons to do this, but I will highlight two in the interest of space. First, a well-rounded team can create a well-rounded promotion; they’re able to develop and attack a promotion idea from all angles, to give you better perspective. Second, buy-in is a lot easier to achieve when your execution team is part of the idea team.

Dig for Data. This part of the creative process is often overlooked but is the most important factor in developing a successful promotion. It has three components:
1. Hit the streets – Research the competitive set. And again, honesty is key here. What are they doing now, and what was successful for them in the past?
2. Look in the mirror – What have you done in the past, and what were the results?
3. Dig up the data – What is the data to support your promotion? This could be hot trends, flavors, news or web clips on what other bars and restaurants around the country are doing. Any backup you can provide that would assist your team in developing a well-thought-out promotion is necessary and invaluable.

Now share all your information with the team, and you are ready to start brainstorming. Hey, who said this was easy? It takes time, creativity and a whole village to pull off a successful promotion, but it’s my guess you’ll do just fine…as long as you start with a strong idea.


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