Words by Kavina.
You could have the best lineup and marketing strategy in the world, but the glue that holds the success for the offering at your venue is consistency. All it takes is one brilliant idea plus a little bit of patience to see it through, and in a few months from now, you could find yourself on the path to gaining a reputation for dishing out delicious rosters of local artists, expert beverage knowledge, or really unique specials that the community looks forward to experiencing on for their next A+ night out.
All it takes is one good idea, rinse, tweak and repeat to help you get your offering on track, and keep you motivated to hit one out of the park. They say it takes years to become an overnight success, but we reckon we could cut that back to a few months.
We’ve got a few thoughts on how you can stay consistent.
Pick one thing and become the expert
It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert according to Malcolm Gladwells Outliers. So that’s only 5,000 shows at two hours each, some busy Fridays of food and drink specials, 10,000 smiles from happy patrons, or however else we’re quantifying this for the purpose of being inspirational and getting things done.
Becoming the master of one thing is a far better strategy for making an impact, than trying to do it all. You’re more likely to gain trust as a venue that does one thing better than the rest, instead of being a venue that does everything. You might have seen the article on PedestrianTV about the Cafe63 chain in Brisbane which reached Twitter fame for serving up a 15-page food menu featuring celebrities, sports icons, and Disney characters as inspiration for regular food items like bacon and eggs and providing a price breakdown for every basic condiment available on earth. We’ll all be left wondering if the 20ml of balsamic vinegar generously listed as ‘free’ is a sarcastic ode to every painstakingly minor request your server has ever had to take or a printing jumble up of an inventory list plus the answers to pop trivia, but it managed to get us talking about a place that would’ve generally gone unnoticed.
Whether you’re taking on special events, food offerings, or entertainment, be like the worst or the best menu in the world. Think of everything, down to the unique florists and bakers for your special events to pop-up merch stands for every local artist that comes through your doors. Bring in the best chefs from around Australia for featured dining experiences but make it a whole education.
The need to be authentic and unique
While there’s always a marketing formula for success, it’s still important to remember that your venue is the biggest asset in your arsenal. There’s no venue out there that can offer your unique street corner perspective, or wear your funky venue interior quite like you can. Dig deep, spend some time peering into those mirrored disco balls and reflect on who you truly are and what your venue represents. Consider your interests and the companies which work around you. If you’re in the tech and startup vicinity, you might create a space that encourages innovators to haunt. Team up with your local think hubs and corporate spaces to bring in unique speakers, to make your space the inspirer of great thoughts. Take your interests and share them with your venue goers, it’ll give you heaps of inspiration for keeping your venue's social media presence fresh too!
If in doubt, think about what your customers see then give them more of that
It’s a whole lot easier to envision your venue through your customers' eyes, and then figure out the best ways that they may want to experience it. Take your cues to enhance your space from your natural surroundings. Maybe you’ve got the perfect lighting to collaborate on weekly art exhibitions, the best intimate seating arrangement on the block, or the best bathroom mirrors that put basic MET GALA celebrity bathroom selfies to shame. - Yah, another Insta win for your free advertising!
Get a better idea of what your customers like by engaging online
In order to stand out from the rest, you have to engage your customers beyond advertising or the appearance of your venue, and most of that happens before they walk through the front door. If your customer hasn’t seen the sign out front boasting about the typical lunch specials also featured by the other pubs down the street, they’re sure to notice it online first.
Use the opportunity to ask your customers what they’d like to see on the menu via Instagram Story polls, start conversations about music trivia online or showcase the offering at your venue by educating your followers on suppliers bringing in unique food and beverage. Ask the bands who are playing at your venue to send in playlists or videos of home jam sessions.
Use your consistency tools
Every week at your venue will be different from the last, but the consistent use of tools like data analytics from google analytics, to your customer check-ins or spending gadgets, will help you to make sense of the habits behind customer choices at your venue. Once you take a chance out of the equation, it’ll make it a lot easier to see how you can better offer a great idea instead of accidentally tossing it before it can gain traction. Maybe you didn't have as many people indoors for your gig because the weather was too nice, or the beer festival down the road impeded with the roster of tastings you put on for the month.
Take into account what customers are viewing on your social sites, which pages are of most interest on your website, and where most of your inquiries come from. Are they booking online via a link from your Instagram? Which demographics interact with your posts and are they vocalising comments or sharing them to their friends?
How do you stand out from the rest of the crowd offering the same thing?
With so many venues vying for attention, it’s important to consider how your event offering will be a stand-alone beacon instead of one in a sea of many. By considering the offering around your offering you take simple concepts and supercharge them. If you’re creating a unique series of anything, add an additional flavour in the same dish, celebrate a theme of inclusivity in all the music your venue plays, offer up a unique florist down the street to help create special wedding day photo memories. Take the chocolate sundae and add the sprinkles in ten different flavours because, at the end of the day, we all want the same things at heart, but we don't mind a new spin on a classic.
Read the room
Is your offering catering to the clientele that is actually frequenting your venue or the people you’d like to attract? If you take into account the foot traffic in your neighbourhood, your regulars, and what’s missing from your entertainment district, then you’ll be able to appropriately fill a need that people are looking for, instead of a limited idea of what you believe your venue should be.
It also pays to think about how your different customers can comfortably fit into your space while getting the best of their experience. Sports pubs with large dining rooms attract a large variety of people, from Grandma and Gramps to ‘tha boi’s’ which is great, but because of noise issues overlapping from the bar to the dining room, you end up with more complaints that diners cannot hear each other while the cheering and loud music radiates through the venue.
Another way to be consistent is to model your success on those who have achieved your goals before you, yes I got that from Tony Robbins. It’s not copying, it’s applying effective strategies, and accentuating your own brand by applying these concepts. ChinChin is a fine dining staple because of its art concept, badass but contemporary fusion dining, as well as a fun and bubbly personality that goes beyond restaurant service, to merchandise, and coffee table cookbooks. The sky's the limit, if you follow in the footsteps of those already killing it, you’ll at least end up amongst the stars!
Consistency is the key, but don’t get consistency burnout!
“Be consistent” are probably the most frustrating and accurate two words of advice you’ve ever received in your life. Anxious flashbacks to uni assignments, exercise schedules, years of failing forward while always seeing improvement, have been the biggest headache as well as the key to your greatest successes. By simplifying an overwhelming concept that feels like it can see no end, it takes doing small things on the daily, improving incrementally, and staying hydrated in whatever form of beverage you choose to indulge in. The act itself isn’t the hard part, it’s staying in the game long enough to see your results. So trust that the ideas you come up with for your venue offering are pretty on par with the rest of the world, and use whatever means necessary to help you improve, and stay on track!