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The nightclub business rests on promotion. People in the door mean drink sales, cover charge payments and other sundry purchases, including food and merchandise. Without customers, a nightclub stays will fail.
Jenny Fulbright of Power Home Biz writes, "If you expect 5,000 customers at your door in one night, you need to find ways to promote your business, increase the level of awareness about your nightspot, and reach new customers while keeping the regulars." Club owners spread the word through several different methods, including promoters, special offers and bar incentives.
Create a brand and stick to it. Nightclub consultant Dave H writes, "Attract a unique following, possibly a following that would not otherwise so much as consider the nightclub scene. You're offering something they can't get anywhere else." Narrowing down the brand and demographic helps advertising dollars go further while targeting exactly the people you want.
Open your club with a grand opening bonanza. From the beginning, market the club as something new and interesting. This is also an early opportunity to set the tone of the club. By inviting VIPs and important folk who spend well and look good, the club establishes a tone that is welcoming to high-demand folks while still be accessible to typical patrons.
Build a base of regulars that will bring in others. Do this by offering a VIP card program for frequent visitors, comping drinks and showing supporters attention. Word will spread that your club treats repeat visitors well, which will in turn bring in others who desire the same perks.
Host open bar events sponsored by a liquor company. The sponsor sells you the liquors for a reduced price or gives it for free. In return, the club opens its doors and has free drinks for a period of time featuring the alcohol. If sponsorship doesn't happen, hold open bars or drink sales as a loss leader for part of the night. Variations on this include "ladies drink for free before 11 p.m." and "pay X price, get free drinks" deals.
Campaign with a hot touring band to hold their next concert afterparty at your bar. Get in touch with the band through their label, or contact the concert promoter for more information. Offer free drinks for the band and their entourage, along with a break in admission costs for fans. This works best for niche or local bands that do a lot of self-management, or bands signed with indie labels.
Hire promoters and pay them for each person they bring. Promotion crews are great for bringing in hardcore, reliable clubgoers who are attractive and fun. However, they'll expect VIP treatment in return for their attendance. Good promoters may also insist on a percentage of the bar take for the evening.
To monitor promoter performance, require each of them to have a guest list and clearly marked marketing items. Fliers should have their initials, and they should surrender their marked guest lists every night. Promoters that deliver can be offered more nights or higher compensation.
Use a website, Twitter, texting and other social networking to spread the word and create a mailing list for future events. This is great low-cost or free advertising with little work. Send out weekly messages with door discounts and offer a lower cover charge with a flier printout. These methods also allow you to get a quantifiable look at advertising efficiency, since you can count fliers.
Gigi Starr is a freelance fashion writer. She previously served as the blog editor for a major online fashion blog and has more than a decade of backstage experience in the beauty and high fashion industries. She has worked for businesses like an internationally renowned theatrical touring company and events such as the Mercedes-Benz N.Y.C. Fashion Week.