It's now just under three weeks until the Fractured Foundation / Horizons Music Dream Thief 3 album launch night at Brixton Jamm, and in this third edition of our bi-weekly feature on how to promote your own club night we will be focusing on some of the essential considerations you should be making when it comes to how, when and where to sell your tickets, and the things you should be looking into when it comes to online advertising.
So far, in parts one and two we have covered choosing a venue, booking artists, designing and distributing flyers, and creating other content such as videos and podcasts to engage potential punters. We will now continue with our coverage of the promotional campaign for Fractured Foundation, and get into a few of the important things to bear in mind when it comes to getting your tickets out there, as well as choosing the right websites on which to promote your event. So, without further ado, let's get cracking and find out how to keep on boosting interest in your night and ultimately raise the number of clubbers at your event...
Paid-for Online Advertising
With all of the ways you can reach people for free on the internet, you may not want (of be able to afford) paid-for advertising as part of the promotional mix for your event, but we would definitely recommend you try and do at least some. With websites like Facebook beginning to severely restrict what you're able to do before having to cough up a few quid, and other sites with strong followings realising they can charge top dollar for advertising on their pages, you will probably soon realise that spending a bit (or a lot!) on online advertising will be necessary and beneficial - but don't go reaching for your cheque book just yet!
While we don't think anyone reading this will be in need of any tips about the fine art of sucking eggs, it's worth quickly pointing out before we continue onto the subject of advertising, that there are some principles that need to be born in mind from the start, and indeed throughout your adverting campaign.
Simply speaking, advertising can be viewed in terms of quantity (how many people are you reaching?) and quality (are they the right kind of people?), and since it costs money, the minimisation of wastage is crucial. What sort of people are really going to want to come to your event, and where is their attention focused?
Are you considering spending silly money on shouting about a drum and bass event you're promoting in Suffolk on a nationwide student website, with a huge number of visitors within your target age group, but not a great number of whom are actually into the scene, or live anywhere near to the club? You'll be wasting money if you are!
Assuming that you are doing this with a firm knowledge of your market (and if you're not, then should you really be getting into club promotion?), we are going to bypass the colossal subject of market research, and go straight into looking at what media you can use as platforms for your adverts.
There are, broadly speaking, two forms of advertising: online and offline (which we'll look at next time). If you're considering placing adverts online, what websites do your target audience visit for things like news, entertainment and downloads of content? You need to be sure that when you're dipping into your budget, any web pages you want to be on 'officially' with adverts promoting your event actually get sufficient traffic to ensure your advert will be seen.
Presumably you're a user of the kind of sites you feel will be good options for advertising on, so you'll probably want to make a list of these to start off with. In addition to this it will be worth asking like-minded friends and other associates in your scene to compile a similar list that you can cross-reference with your own, as well doing a few Google searches for any other websites you may not have been aware of.
You'll now have a good catalogue of sites such as news portals, music download sites, forums and online radio stations, among others. However, do you really know which of these websites are frequented by clubbers in your part of the world who may be interested in events like yours? If they're not, and you've already shelled out for advertising on them, then you've just wasted valuable money again. D'oh!
So, now you need to get in touch with these websites and ask for more detail (if they can provide it) on their 'metrics', that is numerical data things like how many visits they get, how many unique uses they have, which of their pages get the most traffic, who their users are, and any other information they may have about their audience that will tell you if it's worth investing in.
You will find that the lengths different websites go to in order to analyse their audience vary drastically, with some having their user statistics readily available from using software like Google Analytics or conducting audience surveys, while others may not really know anything about their visitors, except how many they get. Try and find out as much information as you can about the users of any sites you may be thinking of putting an advert on. Once you have as much information as possible, along with the costs of advertising on each site, you're in a position to decide where your precious budget might best be spent.
Top tip: If you're low on cash, try to negotiate 'contra deals' where possible. This is where an advertising opportunity is bartered like-for-like without any money changing hands. Something along the lines of, “We'll put your logo on our flyers if you let us put an advert on your site”. If your flyers are being printed anyway, and you've got space on them for someone else to piggy back, ask them if they'd be interested in a contra deal with you.
Leaderboards, banners, buttons, skyscrapers
Right then, the research is done and you've pinpointed 2 or 3 websites that would definitely be suitable for targeting your potential crowd. You're set on where to place your online adverts, but what exactly is an online advert, and how do you make one? The names above make up just some of the range of wacky jargon reserved for web 'display' adverts, and if a web site is going to let you place your advert on their pages, it'll usually be down to you to get the advert produced in the right format and to the right specifications. Digital adverts will generally be in Flash format and are the moving strips and squares you find on the online magazines, forums and websites you're targeting. Needless to say they're moving to try and grab your attention and stand out from the normal pics and wording on the site.
There are numerous shapes and sizes of these ads which different websites prefer to use, and a quick Google search for the set ad specifications will give you the info you need. Similarly to our earlier feature talking about flyers, online ads and the careful designing of them is up to you. Whether you dish out your precious wedge on getting a top-notch graphic designer to knock you up some artwork, or try and pinch the pennies and design them yourself that's totally your call. Remember though, as we mentioned before, it's all very well designing your own ads with cheap-as-chips software, but if the end product doesn't look like it's been professionally produced it's liable to put off your potential ravers at first glance.
So then, this is all starting to come together eh? You've booked a great venue with a thumping sound system, you've got yourselves a line up that any club would be proud to host, you've got artwork done and have flyered clubs…ah yes, but you need to actually flog some tickets! But where's the best place to do this, and how do you actually get your event listed?
Well, the answer is actually pretty straightforward. Where did you buy your last ticket for a club night from? K-Mag? Data Transmission? Resident Advisor? Direct from the club? There's your answer right there. Contact them all. Any club worth their salt will inevitably have their own box office, online or otherwise, and should make your tickets go 'live' as soon as you've got all the finer details confirmed with them. As for other places there is no rule. Again this is really a case of knowing where your audience shop and are most likely to get virtual footfall when looking through online listings.
With almost every clubber having some sort of access to the net nowadays, there is very little to lose in adding your event to as many sites as you can. There are two main reasons for this, the first is that obviously the more exposure and potential places for punters to read about your event and then buy your tickets the better, and secondly, online ticket sales are so easy to control.
What we mean by this is, once registered onto these sites, you can add your allocation of tickets, upload your artwork and a bit of blurb to entice and excite the masses, and then wait for them to fly off the virtual shelves! Simply set a time for your tickets to go 'offline' or end and most of the listings sites will automatically send you an email with your list of ticket sales and names for you to print out and cross reference at the door of your club.
Another good thing with online sales is that you can go in and amend your tickets at any time, for example, it's a good idea to have a few 'earlybird' tickets, or at least advance ticket prices to give people an obvious benefit of buying their entry before the night. If sales aren't looking quite as healthy and plump as you'd like you could try a few promotions like 'group purchase' discounts or selling the next 50 tickets at an incredibly slashed price. Again though, this game is such a fine balance between keeping your integrity and not cheapening the event. Don't panic too much. With so many decent events and club nights out there people have so much choice of where to go with their mates.
I for one rarely buy a ticket for a club more than a week in advance, if at all. Presale ticket numbers aren't always the best guide to how your night's going to go. It may well be that with a week till your event your presales have barely got off the ground, but if your line up has the quality to attract a crowd, if you've really done your homework on the potential clubbers and targeted them, and if you've stuck to your promo plan then the numbers should come.
Of course this is business, so everyone has to take their cut! Most websites that you register with and sell tickets through will generally take about £1 or £1.50 for every ticket sold. Some don't take anything however but add booking fees, etc so make sure you shop around and decide on the best avenues specifically for your event.
Another good option that's worth investigating are the ticket agents that run in conjunction with Facebook. Fatsoma and Skiddle are two of the best online ticket agents that can work with your Facebook 'friends.'
With Fatsoma for example, you can actually send out an email to your 'friends' with a link to your event's branded Fatsoma box office. That 'friend' can register their details and then spread the word to their Facebook 'friends' and sell your tickets. They are known as reps and it effectively gives you a much wider reach as you're utilising their lists of contacts, who, generally will be into like minded things as them... like sick drum & bass club nights!
For every ticket sold through their individual account they get a cut of the ticket price. It requires extremely little work from them, just an email out to their mates with a bit of blurb saying they're going to this great night and to come along and buy a ticket through them. If they get a few sales it effectively gets them a free ticket and a few booze tokens! Everyone's a winner! This is what the Fractured Foundation box office looks like, and you'll notice the 'rep this event' opportunities.
More Video and Audio Content!
We'll finish off this edition by continuing to stress what we feel is the importance of creating plenty of videos and podcasts along the way to support your campaign. In the last instalment we showed you Fractured Foundation's first video that infused a touch of comedy into footage taken outside Fabric. If you haven't yet seen this clip then you really should, check it out here.
When creating video content to promote your night, you may also find that simply talking about it on camera can be a very effective way of putting a 'face' to the brand, and also allow you the opportunity to show your enthusiasm for what you're doing in a way that can't be achieved as easily throughout the rest of your promotional campaign. Take a look at the short interview the guys from Fractured Foundation (DJs Intracut and Subtraction) did to give a bit more information about their event, that went beyond the details given on their flyers.
Again, we would suggest that regular podcasts give your potential audience something they can download and listen to again and again, and can give you the chance to showcase your music and talk more about your forthcoming event. You can listen to the second Fractured Foundation podcast here.
Next time we'll be taking a look at some of the ways you can provide extra incentives to attract an audience to your night (other than just by having an awesome line up appearing at a great club!) and touch on some the not-so-obvious and more innovative techniques you can use to deepen your penetration of your target market to really raise interest in your event. Until then we hope you are making plans to come down to Fractured Foundation at Brixton Jamm on 10th August!
Words: James Skinner and James Bowman
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