Monday, April 18, 2011

Recommendations to club night promoters for smarter use of flyers

This post is based upon findings from the 2010 Leeds Clubber Survey, which had a particular focus upon attitudes towards, and usage of nightclub and club night flyers in Leeds by both promoters and clubbers alike. Along with this a literature review was carried out into best practice flyer design and distribution techniques, the culmination of both have contributed to the recommendations made below.

Club night promoters are largely aware that flyers are not as effective a promotional method as what word of mouth recommendation and social media are (although they don't always want to admit this). Word of mouth and social media come at very little cost, other than ensuring that the people who have visited club nights have had the most enjoyable of times. 

Promoters should capitalise on the fact that the majority of their customers are regular repeat visitors, by continuing to entice them back.  Whether it is the musical repertoire of a particular night, the quality of the venue, the price of drinks or the entry charge, whatever feature or combination of features that a particular club night has that is attractive to its customers should be maintained, and every now and again improved upon to reward those loyal repeat customers who keep coming back.  As many clubbers already know which club nights they are visiting, it is unnecessary to give them another flyer.

With that said, there is still a place for flyers, but their use could be smarter and certainly more efficient.  For mainstream club nights that attract a wider audience of clubbers and particularly student clubbers, on street flyer distribution will never be as efficient as it could be as long as a mass distribution to anyone and everyone is adopted.  Therefore the following recommendations are made:
·     target your existing customers with flyers as they leave the premises (exit flyering), only reward them with something better than a ‘paper’ flyer.  Re-usable flyers made of something that is more longer lasting than paper could further encourage repeat visitation.  For example a plastic credit card sized flyer that upon presentation gave the bearer something that other clubbers did not get in terms of reduced entry or a special offer could be an attractive proposition to customers.  Such a flyer should include clear information about what it entitles the bearer to, as well as terms and conditions;
·     encourage earlier nightclub attendance by providing flyers with special offers for those who arrive earlier;
·     if flyers made of paper and card are to be used, then use them more efficiently by making them last for a prolonged period of time, and making their presentation upon arrival at a club entitle the bearer to a special offer or discount that non-flyer bearers are not entitled to.  Flyers could be collected by door staff, and then exit flyered back to customers as they leave;
·     flyer content needs to adhere closely to what is suggested in this post, and this needs to be more consistently applied by promoters to all of their flyers;
·     capitalise upon the fact that clubbing is a social activity, and allow just one flyer to entitle a group of clubbers to a discount;
·     do not employ people to distribute flyers that are not friendly and chatty, consider the quality of the flyer transaction rather than the quantity of flyers that are given.  Flyers taken by clubbers for the ‘wrong’ reasons (often pity and guilt) are realistically of very little worth;
·     other than special offers consider ways by which flyers might contribute to the atmosphere of a club night, by giving them a purpose for a ‘fun’ activity that takes place during the club night, this might encourage clubbers to keep hold of them and not throw them away;
·     and be conscious of an ageing population, which will mean an increase in older clubbers. Older clubbers are less likely to pick up flyers so promoters should begin to consider alternative ways to promote to them.

Flyers for club nights that feature ‘niche’ and specialist music genres certainly have a place, particularly as their audiences are interested in reading more about them.  Flyers for these type of club nights that are distributed by friendly people who are passionate about the music are likely to have a greater efficiency than flyers that are left static to be collected or are distributed by people who do not represent the ‘scene’.  It is therefore a recommendation that flyers for ‘niche’ and specialist music nights are distributed by fans of the music, in the places that are frequented by their target market, and that conversation forms part of the flyer transaction.

All letterbox flyering should immediately cease, it fuels ill feeling amongst clubbers to flyers, promoters and their club nights.  It is potentially damaging, and risks souring the relationship between clubber and promoter.  The only possible exception to this rule is if flyers are used in a friendly ‘door-knocking’ manner and given by hand along with conversation.  This is what some specialist dub-step promoters do in halls of residence, knock on a door, ask the occupants if they are fans of dub-step music, if they are not, they apologise for bothering them and move on.  If they are fans, they give them a flyer into their hands and tell them about the club night.  For this to be carried out effectively it needs to be done by people who are genuine fans of the music.

Club night promoters need to acknowledge that clubbers are overall an environmentally aware group, and that needless waste created by flyers enforces a negative perception of the promoter and club night.  In addition to what has already been stated above about reusable flyers, the following initiatives should be considered:
·     promoters should be seen to be more active in picking up discarded flyers;
·     have clearly marked ‘flyer bins’ along the street where distributors are so that those who do not want to keep flyers dispose of them in a way that allows them to be used again;
·     make greater use of posters and lesser use of paper flyers;
·     produce fewer flyers that are valid for more people, thereby encouraging group visits;
·     concentrate more on social media and online promotions.  It would be relatively simple for promoters to distribute a link to their customers that took them to a page of flyers that contained special offers that could be printed by clubbers or even saved onto mobile smart phones and shown upon entry to gain a discount.

It is a recommendation to all club night promoters to be honest with themselves about the use of flyers, do they really represent true value as a promotional medium? To really be able to gauge this, promoters should attempt to survey those entering clubs (particularly in queues) to gain a clearer understanding of the impact that flyers really have upon their customers choice of club night. Promoters should consider experimenting with club nights that are not promoted at all by flyers - and if any of you are 'brave' enough to do this, I'd be very interested to hear your results!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clubbers in Leeds and Flyers

The information contained within this blog post is edited highlights from the conclusion to the Leeds Clubber Survey 2010, which focussed heavily on the attitudes that clubbers in Leeds have to flyers and flyering activities.

Clubbers in Leeds are venue-loyal repeat visitors to the same club nights on a regular basis.  The single largest influence upon them in choosing a venue is word of mouth from their friends and associates with whom they go clubbing.  Clubbing is a social activity and this means that the most successful promotional methods, which might influence visitation to club nights are those that are also social by nature.  Word of mouth and social media are therefore highly influential in the minds of clubbers.  The involvement of friends and peers in the decision making process with regards to club night visitation is vital.  Flyers alone are not social, particularly statically placed flyers and flyers posted through letter boxes, and whilst out of all promotional media they are the most successful, they are considerably less successful than word of mouth and social media are in terms of influencing clubbers.  

Clubbers in Leeds have a love / hate relationship with flyers, while 42% of clubbers overall and 49% of student clubbers are influenced by flyers ‘regularly’ or ‘all of the time’, they consider flyers a waste of paper and damaging to the environment.  The most important aspect about flyers to clubbers in Leeds (and particularly student clubbers) is that they contain a monetary benefit to them, which is more likely to encourage clubbers to pick up a flyer than any aspect of its design or written information contained upon it.  Price-conscious students are almost twice as likely to pick up and take statically placed flyers than non-students from both nightclubs and pubs / bars, while they are on the hunt for a bargain.

Clubbers that have a particular interest in specific ‘niche’ genres of music, are more likely to be interested in the written content of flyers, than those who are interested in more mainstream chart and commercial music.

On street distribution of flyers is an emotive issue for many clubbers, which on the questionnaire attracted a wide range of qualitative comments.  The majority of clubbers do take flyers from people in the street (81%), but the importance of the appearance of the person giving out the flyer is greater than the flyers content.  This enforces the point raised above about the importance of social involvement in the promotional process.  Flyers being placed statically for customers to take themselves, and being dropped through letterboxes do not allow for an affective relational link to be made.  This is a key advantage that flyering in public places by flyer distributors directly into the hands of potential customers can have, however the manner by which this is undertaken is key.

Clubbers are more likely to take flyers from distributors who are friendly and who they find physically attractive - in essence, sex does sell, and this is possibly one reason why sexual imagery is often featured on club night promotional materials.  In terms of flyer content, special offers are the most important feature on a flyer to clubbers and in particular students.  Clubbers are also more inclined to take flyers if they are distributed in the correct locations.  Outside of, and near to clubs at the beginning and end of a night is a favoured location by clubbers for accepting flyers, providing the club night being promoted on the flyer is correctly targeted e.g.  that dubstep nights are promoted outside of dubstep nights at other clubs, so that leaving clubbers can take with them the information to digest.  This suggests that clubbers are more susceptible to on-street flyer distribution while they are in the process of clubbing than when they are not, and when they can see a connection between themselves and what it is that the flyer is promoting.

Other positive reasons why clubbers may choose to take flyers from distributors include: a friendly appearance of the distributor; a shared musical interest with the distributor; and the distributor appearing representative of the club night, i.e.  being into the ‘scene’.  This is especially important to clubbers who have a specific ‘niche’ musical interest such as basslines, dubstep, hip hop or heavy metal.  This again points towards a social and relational link assisting the promotion of club nights, where there is a common bond between clubber and distributor.  The quality of the flyer transaction is being lost as promoters grow financially, particularly when competition rather than community is a driving force behind putting on club nights.  Certainly for comparatively smaller community minded ‘niche’ music club night promoters, quality is more important than quantity.

There are many negative reasons why people take flyers from distributors, these include: the already mentioned pity for the distributor; forceful distribution; clubbers going through the motions of taking flyers; out of politeness; out of guilt; and feeling under pressure.  It is the role of distributors to give out a set number of flyers, often in the least amount of time possible.  Individual street distributors often do not have a financial stakeholder interest in the success of the flyers that they distribute, so instead of selling the club night, they are selling the flyer.  This is potentially very wasteful for club night promoters where sums of money have been invested in flyers and flyering activities as a promotional medium.  Flyers taken by clubbers in this way are only kept by the majority of clubbers for ‘seconds’ or ‘minutes’ before disposal, this compares with ‘days’ (in the case of student clubbers) for statically placed flyers that have been voluntarily picked up by clubbers. 

Many clubbers find on-street flyering activities an ‘annoyance’.  The general ‘hassle’ of constantly being approached by distributors to take something that they were not interested in was a nuisance to many clubbers.  On-street flyering was considered invasive by clubbers and ‘overkill’ was a theme, whereby there were simply too many distributors concentrated in particular areas.  The beginning of the academic year was identified by more than one promoter as a time when flyering activities are at their peak, this is to raise awareness of their club nights amongst new students and to enforce awareness upon returning students.  The sheer scale of such promotion (one Leeds promoter alone gives out 100,000 flyers in the first two weeks of term) may also be enforcing a negative image of these brands upon clubbers who do not want to be bothered by flyer distributors.  These comments are echoed by the environmental concerns that clubbers have over ‘waste’ in terms of paper being wasted on flyers and litter being created by flyers.  Despite the majority of clubbers taking flyers from on-street distributors, the ‘perception’ that clubbers have of on-street flyering activities is not positive, and is certainly mixed.  Flyers are augmented nightclub products, and are therefore representative of the club night that they promote, negative perceptions of flyering may also apply to the club nights which flyers promote.

There was universal condemnation of club night flyers being distributed through letterboxes in the home and this included halls of residence.  This method of distribution was considered untargeted, an intrusion, wasteful and a health and safety risk.  The majority of clubbers indicated that they disposed of flyers distributed in this way within seconds.

Despite everything negative that has been stated about flyers, there is evidence to suggest that they still play a roll in club night promotion.  Younger people are less likely to search for information about club nights than older people, particularly students.  If this information is ‘pushed’ upon them it could help in their decision making process, albeit if they are in the correct target market and responsive to this form of promotion.

If flyer efficiency is expressed in terms of the amount of money spent on flyering activities being divided by the amount of money being generated by door income and ticket sales, the likelihood is that there is a greater efficiency where there is a genuine interest in the recipient of the flyer in the music of the club night than where there isn’t.  Promoters of ‘niche’ genre specific music nights who employ genuine fans of the music to distribute their flyers to the correct target market in the correct locations are likely to have a greater flyer efficiency than promoters of more musically mainstream club nights targeted towards a wider audience.  When this wide audience includes a significant proportion of students, a greater flyer efficiency is likely to be achieved when flyers include special offers as a part of their content.