Former 'Late Night Industry Enigma' bar/nightclub troubleshooter. Now, a social media manager for one of the top 10 UK PR agencies. I still tweet about entertainment and the late night industry @Troylinehan and give my two cents on Social Media too
It’s funny how the marketing landscape has changed over the years and even more amusing how a few local level PR companies are ‘poo pooing’ social media as a fad and something that will NEVER be used to aid businesses… Erm, I don’t know if you got the memo, but its already happening!
I don’t know about you but I very rarely read my City’s local paper and this is only because the rich amount of media that I get sent to my computer or phone with the help of sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook… the list could actually go on and on. I like the ‘news feeds’ from these sites as they are often in a first person view, brutally honest (sometimes) and unfiltered. I like the last part the best as the press has a habit of feeding you only what they want you to hear. I’m not in to that, I want my news gritty and most of all I WANT IT NOW and not a day later after it’s been dressed up a little. This takes me back to a few local PR companies that have been working in my area, for years they have had great working relationships with many businesses of the surrounding area resulting in plenty of cash for them (those services don’t come cheap) and your business in a better position, you couldn’t have done it without them right? GET REAL!! Did you know that these companies due to the shift in the economy are actually charging more? Their job consists of (essentially) liaising with the company they are dealing with, then liaising with the press and public to create a good image… Press is written, pictures are taken and releases are sent to POSSIBLY (and there is the key word) I said POSSIBLY be printed in a paper that might POSSIBLY be seen. So hold on, let me get this straight. A company will pay great money to a local level PR company to POSSIBLY be seen? Come on… does that sound like a good ROI? Not from where I’m sitting.
The local level PR company then starts blasting social media because there are no guarantees with social media. Possibly doesn’t sound much like a guarantee either though. A smart company would integrate Marketing, PR and Social Media to create a solid platform to market from. At the moment there is no one single platform that can guarantee results, neither do I ever think there will be, but integration and understanding all the tools that businesses have is the key to marketing and business success. YES, social media is very labour intensive, but IMO is the ultimate ‘long game’. The right use of social media can help you connect and understand your customers and clients in in a better and more personal way than ever before. BUT IT TAKES TIME… NOT MONEY. When I had a popular city centre Live music venue I did a little test. I was so fed up with being hounded by newspapers asking me to take out advertising with them that I thought I’d do an experiment… News Paper vs. Social Media (let’s get down to ringside)
Now I wanted to make this fair so picked the largest paper in my city ‘The Coventry Evening Telegraph’… The stats on their site read the following -
THE Coventry Evening Telegraph is:
The local daily paid for newspaper serving the Coventry and Warwickshire area.
Unrivalled in its coverage and service of the community for more than 100 years.
Daily Newspaper of the Year - BT Awards 1999
Fastest Growing Newspaper in Britain - Newspaper Society Awards 1999
Recent highly successful community-based campaigns include - Save Our Post Offices, Justice for Matrix Churchill workers and the Heartstart Campaign
184,764* adults in the area consider the Evening Telegraph best for keeping up to date with local news and sport.
Readership figures are 162,053 (Source: Jicreg May 2005).
HI!!!… It’s me again. So the Telegraph’s up-to-date news site cant come up with up-to-date readership figures (here is the link to the actual stat page http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/tm_headline=the-paper&method=full&objectid=7503889&siteid=50003-name_page.html ) It’s a pretty sad state of affairs but everyone reads the Telegraph, so a popular music venue should have no problem getting a good return from a well placed advert right? Lets see. We spent £350 on an ad and placed it in a prime location (in the Live Entertainment section) It was a voucher that would give the holder a chance to redeem it at the bar on any Friday or Saturday that month and get 2-4-1 on any bottle of beer OR any bottle of WINE… That’s right, a free bottle of wine! The result at the end of the month? We still had the same decent numbers through the door and only 4 vouchers were redeemed. The ROI was terrible. So out of 162,052 people, only 4 people returned with a voucher?… So the other 600 people in the venue on that night don’t read the newspaper? Hmmm?
We decided to run a few special promotions for our Facebook Friends (Friends is the key word here)… I’m not the biggest Facebook fan, but for certain things, Facebook is great and for targeting certain people for certain events it’s pretty damn good. We decided to run a few live music nights that we would ONLY be ‘advertising’ through Facebook. The event pages were created and invites were sent to people we knew would get a kick out of the event “Print this invite for free admission”. This offer isn’t as powerful as a free drink, but the event was about Music, and the people invited were interested in that. They were then asked kindly to forward the invite to others that would be interested. They did!… The return? 470 people through the doors on a midweek night where the venue would otherwise be closed. ROI?… Well, the only investment really was the time, there were no printing costs, yes, we had a few bands on, but they were local bands that we would otherwise use anyway.
How Did This Work?
Our keyword is FRIENDS. We used social media to get to know the people that use our venues. They get a message and pass it on, it’s viral and if done correctly it’ll always reach the right people and give you your ROI. They can communicate with us and in turn we do the same. They tell us what they want to see, they tell us what they don’t like and we react to this (this doesn’t mean bending over backwards either), the interaction that we have with our ‘Friends’ makes them feel a part of the venue, so when we give them a heads up and an offer in return for them telling a few more people, they jump at the chance. PR and The Press can be so sterile and it can feel that there isn’t really a person behind it. Social media in your business IS a person and it has to be a person committed to engaging for this platform to work for your business.
Social media won that battle hands down. It really did! But the very best way to market (as I said earlier) is to integrate all aspects of marketing and PR with social media. Use the platform to get to know your customers. That is a knock out combination for any business.
Thanks for stopping by
OK, so this isn’t my usual post where I moan about the state of entertainment in the UK or ‘big up’ my pals. If you’re anything like me on Facebook, you get LOADS of invites to this, that and the other ‘Join my farm’, ‘Build a fish tank’ or ‘help me whack some goons’… They all get the usual ‘ignore’ treatment and I must say,this next invite for 'Project Husband' had the same effect, however, after getting the invite about 20 times I thought I’d check it out as the person posting it usually has some decent content on her page.
At first I was totally confused. I had no idea what this was all about, but after a quick scan of the page, the penny finally dropped.
35 year old singer/songwriter - Lisa Linehan has done all the wedding preparation and set the date for Feb 15th 2011 near Dallas, Texas. The only thing she doesn’t have is a GROOM! Hence, she has set up ‘Project Husband’! She goes on dates (which you can even catch videos of) and has set up somewhat of a screening process to find her perfect soul mate. It sounds a little crazy at first but I can totally see logic in this. It cuts out all the crap and brings people to the table that mean business. Of course, Im sure the down side of this is, she may ONLY end up with people who are after a little media attention or some publicity. But I for one hope she finds her happily ever after by well and truly using the ‘net’ to catch her man.
Those interested in joining Lisa (pictured) should head over to -
Hey, Lisa! If you’ve had no luck (which I highly doubt) by February, look me up! :) You wouldn’t even have to change your second name. Guys & Girls, I’d love to get your thoughts on this?
Thanks for stopping by
Hey there all, thanks for stopping by!
As some of you may know, today was the day in the UK where the government delivered their budget which shows us the ‘plan’ for the year ahead. Some predicted that this budget would also be used to try and keep power in the hands of the current government as the general election looms. Some businesses and entrepreneurs did well out of the budget but alcohol and the business of bars, pubs and clubs took it’s usual bashing by being delivered a 2% increase on alcohol duty and a 11% increase on cider. The late night industry in the UK is already in a precarious position with an estimated 47 pubs per WEEK closing down in the UK. Now, I moved over to the entertainment side of things years ago but have been known to go back to the other side of the bar and manage such venues from time to time. It’s no big surprise for those who know me well that this is something I am very passionate about. I’ve been a part of corporate late night companies and with many of them, I don’t see eye to eye. However, I believe in protecting the longevity of this industry as it is vital to a country’s economy and even a country’s culture.
So… Now to the bar & entertainment bit.
It will also come as no surprise that I am a huge advocate for live entertainment and getting THE RIGHT entertainment in to venues. It’s pretty safe to say that the late night industry took a knock a few years back with the smoking ban. Supermarkets and off licenses also dealt a blow by being able to sell alcohol at a MUCH lower price than bars. If I were the government, I’d bring those prices in line with the bars or create a national average to put anyone selling alcohol on a level playing field. And now with the added tax on alcohol, breweries will put publicans, lease holders and general managers over the proverbial barrel… You see, most lease holders are locked in to contracts that state that they can only purchase alcohol from the brewery it’s self. Sometimes the brewery will be charging 20, 50 and in some cases 80% more for products that can easily be brought at a lower price from a cash & carry. The contracts state that it is illegal to purchase from other suppliers, in many cases, taking legal action if a contract is breached. Some of these contracts exclude wine and soft drinks and say that this is the companies good will gesture. But we all know (especially if you are a lease holder) that this is not enough. I saw a quote earlier today which said “Change happens. To survive it, you must anticipate it; and to be successful, you must embrace it”. This was from an article written by Dallas Lawrence about how most big brands and companies are still NOT USING (or not using correctly) things like Facebook to get a business edge. You can read the article HERE. It’s a fact that pubs and bars a few years back were the ‘Facebook’ of their time, a hub for the community combining, Live Music, Chat, Games, Drink and Banter to all that visited. There are still a few venues like this and the reason they are still around is down to the passionate people who operate them. They invest their lives to make these places what they are.
So, what entertainment?
It’s also safe to say (although I hate to say it) that many venues who provide Live entertainment or any entertainment couldn’t give a damn about it. They see it a little bit like Field of Dreams and have the “If you build it, they will come” attitude… Screw that, If that’s what you think, YOU are contributing towards the decline of the industry and you think that you’ve helped?… pffft! get real will ya! You see, there is a big difference between just putting on a live band and showing Live Entertainment, the main difference being that one is ACTUALLY Entertaining. There are so many bands out there who will gladly play a decent venue for a crate of beer or £150. Now, if you are getting a full live band to play your venue for anything around that price, I’ll also tell you what your getting… a great big pile of shit!… It’s true. Live entertainment in the UK is filled with great bands, acts, tribute artistes. But for every great act, there are 10 terrible ones cashing in from someone’s lack of knowledge or lack of caring. It may seem like a great deal to you, you’ve got a band for £150 “Hey, I’ve put on live entertainment and it didn’t break the bank, that’s great right”? WRONG, Dummy! Your lack of caring could be damaging your brand more that you think. Don’t get me wrong though, open mic nights or unsigned band nights are a great idea if they are marketed as just that. You can’t dress an unsigned up-and-coming band as ‘the best live entertainment’ as that simply wouldn’t be true. I have a simple sum that works all of this out - SUM - Cheap Band = Cheap Brand. Your business will die in the hands of these terrible bands and ‘weekend Elvis’ as I call them, they are risking your money and your business. Customers pick up on this more than anything and they won’t be fooled. They’ll vote with their feet. Lack of caring will result in a lack of customers. Marketing can also be measured in this way. If your venue isn’t busy, you aren’t marketing it correctly or at all. Marketing in most cases is a small monetary investment but a huge investment in time and if it is your business you must invest the time. When I worked with Chicago Rock there were 64 venues ALL showing live entertainment every Wednesday night (a ‘slow’ night) it was introduced because the format worked. For many of the venues, they were welcoming an extra 500 - 1,000 customers on this quiet night, not just because of the entertainment, but because they had dedicated managers in the venue who cared about the products and pushed the hell out of each event. These passionate people were the driving force behind the venue. On the flip-side, there were venues wasting (in some cases) £2,000 on some acts only to never get a return on the bar. You’d walk in to the venue the day after and still find full boxes of flyers for the said event. They didn’t care about the product, had no passion for the business and the same successful nights that other venues had, wilted away when put in the hands of the certain venue managers. Marketing isn’t always who can have the best posters, radio coverage or a spot in the local or national news papers. As a business you should use the resources that suit your venue best. A combination of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace) and physically hitting the streets with flyers and promoting to businesses around you will work best and if you are doing it right, with the right entertainment, you WILL see a return on investment. If you follow these points as a venue, you cant go wrong -
- Customer service is vital (as a person you can singlehandedly enhance a customer’s experience in your venue)
- Entertainment - Bands, Tributes, Quizzes, Pub Games - Put quality and passion in to them and they create a fantastic atmosphere and most of all, will give people a reason to leave the house.
- Marketing - It has to be done, become the figurehead of your brand and let evenryone know what your venue is about. Most of all, do it with passion and belief in your product.
- Standards - Is your venue clean? Is your beer fresh? Are your bottles in date?
- Safety - Customers like being in a safe environment, is that your venue, or at least is it welcoming and feels like a safe environment?
- Products - Do you stock the popular products that people want to buy?
It’s now time for you to invest in your venue, with a little extra money to get the best live entertainment you can afford, to market the venue if it’s already doing the entertainment thing OR to do BOTH!… This is mainly an investment in marketing time after all and if you do it with commitment and use the best resources (there are some great acts, entertainment agents and marketeers around) you can rescue your venue and help turn the industry around. Hell, that’s what Im trying to do, one place at a time. Also, get a check out what your competition is doing, see what you can improve on and do it with a positive attitute, it’s your industry too after all. All of a sudden, that 2% and 11% doesn’t seem that much of a big deal. Of course, I’d try to cut a deal with your brewery to get some relief on the prices you are paying… Hey, be cheeky and talk to your local council and see if you can get a rate reduction, if ever there was a time to do that it would be now.
That’s my two cents, I’d love to hear yours?
Take care and get building those brands!
Twitter - @Troylinehan
I work with so many Tribute Acts and Live Bands and even they are doing the same as a few large companies. They have created a Facebook PROFILE to promote themselves… Please, get smart and create an actual PAGE on Facebook to promote what you do. You’ll never match GaGa’s millions of ‘likes’ with a regular profile. ;)
There is one thing that drives me crazy and always makes me think twice if a BUSINESS sends me a Facebook friend request… Will these douche-bags tag me in to pictures that I’m not even in!?
We’ve all had it done to us. But who’s marketing seminar was it that stated that it would be an excellent idea to tag ‘friends’ to pictures of posters, car dealerships, clubs and bars when the person tagged isn’t even in the picture?!!
Guys, this is crazy and if you have had it done to you, you know that it’s not a great marketing trick, it’s a fu*king annoying trick used by uncreative, talentless marketing wannabes! The whole social media and Facebook thing is about having people WANT to interact with you or your brand on line. If you are a bar or club, take pictures, post them on your page and INVITE people to tag themselves. Don’t ever go on some crazy GTA Style tagging frenzy. It’s not cool and MOST OF ALL, it’s very impolite.
That’s my Monday rant over with. You want people on your page?… Do something so that they want to be on your page.
Happy Monday! Keep pushing forward