Popular Posts

Tuesday 3 May 2011

A Twitter-only Approach to Online Marketing - Club 12a in Cambridge

When the newly-opened 12a Club in Cambridge (reviewed in depth here) was at the licensing application stage, it gained approval only after agreeing that all publicity would be word-of-mouth only.

As the club's General Manager Mark Pope explained, that restriction had far-reaching implications that ended up shaping not only the club's marketing strategy, but its entire approach.

Firstly, the entire concept of a discreet, members-only club by definition makes a virtue out of the requirement not to take out any paid-for advertising.

Next, the name, 12a, is actually the club's address and since there is no restriction on putting the address up, that allowed them to by-pass the restriction on signage.

The interior theme also reveals quirky and humorous references to the "hush-hush" nature of the place, with a set-up like a 1920s speakeasy in Prohibition-era America.

Obviously, owning the building you are in with a thriving restaurant downstairs reduces the pressure to generate cash immediately on opening and allows a more measured approach to marketing.

By recruiting Mark - formerly a sommelier at upmarket Cambridge restaurant Alimentum - the club has someone who is well-connected in the local food and wine trade and who is able to approach the types of local business people who might be interested in joining.

Over time, the venue is also planning to expand its offering so that it is not just an after-work venue for client meetings or discreet parties, but can also provide meeting facilities in a much more interesting environment than, say, a local chain hotel conference room.

Other planned events include wine tastings with Cambridge Wine Merchants whose flagship branch is just around the corner in King's Parade and the Cambridge Food and Wine Society.

However, with no website yet, it is perhaps the club's use of Twitter as a promotional tool that has really set it apart.

I first heard of the club via a retweet offering free trial membership for their 200th follower and at that point was sufficiently intrigued to find out more.

A quick check on Klout reveals the club's score is an impressive 45 (higher than mine ...), so I asked Mark how he had achieved this.

The key principles, when he explained them, were instantly obvious and sensible - as clear-sighted thinking so often tends to be:

- identify key influential local people
- engage them in a dialogue on Twitter
- take advantage of their influence and networks to promote the club
- obtaining retweets from these people will then get spread throughout the large number of their followers and spread the word
- establish the time when both these people and the club's followers are most likely to be on Twitter and use this time to focus on tweeting
- lots of use of the hashtag (#) for key words and @ mentions for key individuals will get the club shown up in searches

All of this sounds like it is straight out of a marketing textbook - identify your key audience, establish your key messages and keep repeating.

It also follows the basic principle of social networking - if you can arrange to hang out with influential people, some of their "aura" of influence is bound to rub off.

What makes Club12a's approach particularly interesting is the use of Twitter as their only online presence. Much cheaper and more flexible than building a website, it is a global communication tool, but used to target a very specific local area.

Of course, it helps when the networks on Twitter reflect those in the real world, so perhaps the point here is that using Twitter is not a substitute for the old-fashioned methods, it just adds an extra dimension to them.

The other aspect of this which is perhaps only possible with a social media approach is turning your customers into marketeers.

There are two ways in which customers can do this - either as Amplifiers or Evangelists.

Amplifiers simply pass on existing messages to their followers (e.g. by retweeting); the best Amplifiers are the most influential people, those who have a large number of followers who will be guided by their lead.

Evangelists, by contrast, originate their own positive messages but may not have high levels of influence.

The trick here, then, is to take the positive buzz from your Evangelists and distribute it via your Amplifiers.

In an ideal situation, your Evangelist would also be an Amplifier, but that's the equivalent of getting Mick Jagger to write a newspaper article on how good your rock band is - or perhaps more relevantly these days, getting a rapper to name-check your particular brand of Champagne in a hit song.

Compared to the costs and inefficiency of classical advertising where, according to the adage half your money is wasted but you just don't know which half, this approach is highly targeted, efficient and influential.

The next stage of the club's marketing strategy is to focus on bloggers (so my self introduction was presumably well-timed) and at some point to launch a website.

However, with the success of the Twitter campaign, it seems like neither of these is desperately urgent.


12a Club on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/12aClub

No comments:

Post a Comment