Digital MarketingEntertainmentNightlife

When is collaborating with the competition a good thing?

A big question that I’ve been asked lately is if a business owner should use social media to promote in your area, or in any way.  This really comes down to who it is that you’re planning to work with.  It is okay to work with competitors sometimes.  For example, it can be a good thing to work with someone to get more traffic into your area.

Let’s say that your bar is on a street that has 15 other bars, nightclubs, and restaurants on it.  It is actually quite common for businesses in areas like this to ban together to bring more people in.  When you have more traffic in a particular area, then all of the businesses within that part of town can flourish.  The point is that you shouldn’t be fearful of working with your competitors at times.  You don’t always have to be cut throat and always trying to take out the other guy.  This isn’t really ethical anyway, but it’s definitely not a way to go about running a business well.

When you are unwilling to work with other businesses in your area, often this results in a downward spiral for both your business and theirs.  This can lead to one person dropping their cover charge and you having to lower yours, to name just one example.  Maybe they start reducing the price of their drinks and you end up having to as well.  No matter what the situation, there are some scenarios where it can be beneficial to both you and your competitors to work together.

Also, when businesses get too competitive, people tend to notice.  This makes people uncomfortable and stop coming into an area, and then everyone is left fighting over what’s left.  This is actually something that I’ve seen happen over and over again.  I totally understand if you don’t like your neighbors or your competition, but bringing more traffic into an area is much more important than trying to shut down every other bar and nightclub on the block.  After all, when there are 15 bars, nightclubs, and restaurants in a certain area, and only one is doing well, people perceive the entire area as trashy.

If you are competing with a nightclub directly, it’s not a good idea to post their events, of course.  However, you can find complimentary businesses to help you bring more traffic down to the area your bar or nightclub is in.  So, if you are located in an entertainment district or a downtown with lots of businesses similar to yours, you’re going to want to promote the idea that people want to visit the area and then come and see you.

Now, let’s say that you own a nightclub that’s located right next door to a restaurant that is open early and very late.  You could potentially work with them and promote the idea that once your bar closes at 2 a.m., people can head over to XYZ restaurant to grab a bite to eat because they are open until 6 a.m.  In return, maybe they can hand out some flyers or coupons for your business, right?  They could also promote the idea that when a person is done with their meal, they can go dancing next door.  Hopefully, that makes sense.

Businesses that are complementary to your own can be a great tool to utilize in your marketing, and of course, there are occasions where you can both use your social media platforms to get these messages out.  This can be very powerful in itself.  A very creative idea can be extremely beneficial to both your business and the ones surrounding you, if both parties understand the agreement and are willing to own up to their own part of that concurrence.

This leads into another question that I often get, which is, “Is it best to just keep your distance when it comes to working with other businesses?  Could this be damaging to my own?”  Again, this depends on the area your business resides in, and it depends on the businesses you are thinking about working with.  When I was a young kid, I worked as a promoter.  At the time, I was doing very well at the venues that I was working for, but I also was very friendly to the business owners in the area, even though some of them were my direct competitors.  I was welcome at their places too.  There were even times where I would buy them a drink or they would buy me one.

I am a firm believer that businesses can go a lot further if they can be civil to the others in their area.  Secondly, you never know when you’re going to need others to help your business thrive.  There might come a time when you will need to work with the other bar or nightclubs in your area just to get people to start visiting coming down to that portion of town again, and things like that.  Maybe some bars have flourished on the other side of town, for example, and you have to work together to start bringing business back.  If you are already on friendly terms with each other, it’s going to make it easier for everyone involved to brainstorm together and tackle the problem as a team.

I recommend that you always try to stay on the best terms possible with the business owners that surround you.  They know that you’re always going to try to get the bigger market share, and you know that too, but there’s no reason why you can form friendships, or at least act civilly towards each other.  Again, you may need the help of the businesses that are down the street from you, or across from you, or right beside you someday.  So, make sure that you keep that relationship open.

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