How I target the perfect nightclub customer

The Best Targeting Tactics for Bar and Nightclub Owners

When I do my initial consultation with any bar, nightclub, or festival, I usually ask questions like:

  • What age demographic is coming to your bar?
  • What do they wear?
  • Do they go to school?
  • Where do they work?
  • What kind of people are they?
  • What do they drink?

You would be surprised to hear how little business owners know about their own customers, or rather, the group they should be targeting with their marketing. Often, people have a very generic sense of who their customers are. They kind of “get” that their customers are about half and half male and female and around age 21–25 because they are mostly students from the local university, for example. That’s a good start, but it’s too general. A bar owner should know if their typical clientele likes Corona or Dos Equis, or if they’d prefer vodka over rum. If it’s vodka, then what kind of vodka do they prefer? Would they rather buy the domestic brands because they are cheaper, or would they rather have the premium brands because they want to be ballers?

These types of questions are very important in establishing a lasting business. If you look at a Corona commercial, you’d see a nice beach and a relaxed atmosphere. On the other hand, as Dos Equis commercial has the “Most Interesting Guy in the World”. Even though these are both Mexican beers, they are both very different brands with very different commercials. That could tell you something about your customer, and this can also give you a bit of insight on how to market to those customers. If they are big Corona drinkers, you may want to tweak your marketing and give it a more relaxed feel. For a more Dos Equis drinking crowd, you may want to tweak your marketing with a more fun-loving feel.

Being creative in your marketing is a very important part of running a business. You can’t just create a nice flyer and put it out there anymore. You have to know what you’re doing, and this is one of the biggest reasons why so many bars and nightclubs are failing right now. The days are gone when you open the doors to people with the attitude that they should feel blessed you have opened a club for them. The control is in the consumer’s hands, and they don’t give a shit about what you have going on, unless you make them care.

One great way to learn about your target audience is by utilizing Facebook’s Audience Insights. This is a tool within the Ads Manager, or in Power Editor, and I encourage you to start learning how to use this. Try going to Audience Insights and putting in a geographic area, such as your city, and then put in some other demographics that you know about, like whether your clientele is mostly male, mostly female, or both. You might also pop in the appropriate age group for your demographic. Add in a couple of interests, and Audience Insights will start telling you what other things they like.

It’s really amazing what you can find out. You see, Facebook has gathered so much data on us through the pages that we like, the things that we say, the interactions that we have, etc. This has allowed them to profile people quite well, to the point where they can provide marketers with incredible amounts of detailed information. Therefore, this is a great tool to utilize for your own business. It gives you a comprehensive view of who your ideal customer is.

Now, it’s a good idea to look at your competition to see how they are targeting the same audience. This works for every single niche in all industries. You should also pay attention to other industries that are targeting a similar audience to your own. You might look at how car companies are targeting young college students, for instance. Another example is how cell phones companies are targeting customers in the same age group. What story are they telling? Don’t just look at the bar down the street.

The great thing about looking at how other industries are targeting your kind of demographic is that the advertisements come from professionals who have spent lots of money to test and study your demographic. They are doing what you should be doing for your nightclub, so why not piggyback a bit off the efforts that they have already made and the money they’ve already spent? You can come up with some really great ideas of your own this way.

Most of all, you’ll want to find out what messages will really hit home with your customers. In marketing, it’s all about testing, because you never know for sure how people are going to react. You might have a fairly good idea about who your customers are and have a broad view of how they might think, but you have to test things out to be certain. A big problem that we had was the ease of running a radio ad campaign and then test it for four weeks to see what happens. When you’re basing decisions on things that you cannot track or on partial or inaccurate results, you could end up wasting a lot of money.

An awesome aspect of social media is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money testing. That radio ad that a business owner used to run to test his audience could have cost him upwards of $4,000 per week and 4–6 weeks. Today, you can test your audience out on numerous social platforms and only invest a few dollars on each per day. After just a couple of days, you’ve got some good data on how people reacted and make some solid decisions from there. If they are reacting well, you can begin to scale things up, and if they aren’t, you know to go back to the drawing board before you spend too much money. At times you may just be able to tweak some aspects of your post, like the image you are using or the message itself.

Marketing has become a full-time job because of how segmented things have become. You can’t just get your kid or bartender, who is “on” Facebook, to be your Facebook manager. It just doesn’t work that way. You have to do research, you have to test, and you get have to know your target audience to do all of this effectively.

Always remember New trends come out, and what your people react to differs. Not only that, but this happens quickly. It’s different month after month after month. A good example of this is when Instagram came out, I started seeing less clicks on Facebook because of the way Instagram worked. Now that Snapchat is out, people see an image for five seconds before it disappears, and this effects people’s behavior. So, the point is that you can make notes, but don’t expect to have to refer back to them for very long.

Again, you can refer to Audience Insights whenever you like, and that’s what I advise that you do. What’s cool about relying on this is that the data you gather reforms as your audience changes. After all, this year’s group of 21 year olds isn’t going to have the same taste in music as last years, and things like that. So, gathering data about your demographic is useful, but needs to be continuously reviewed in the bar and nightclub industry. Audience Insights helps you to know your audience and keep up with the latest trends.

Keep an eye on what’s out there and available for you, and remember, marketing your business is a full-time responsibility. I know you’re extremely busy, doing all the firing, hiring, putting out menus, making sure events are booked, etc. That may mean you need to hire someone, but you have to make sure that it’s someone who understands demographics and analytics as well as advertising, so that they can do the job well. Not long ago, you could post an event on Facebook and just have six of your staff members share it. That’s not good enough anymore, and relying on such simple tactics will put you out of business. On the other hand, if you take this all very seriously, you will cash in.

Check out the new Nightclub and Bar Marketing podcast on and get it on iTunes.

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