A few months ago I sent out an e-mail to promote my freelance advertising services. It was a quick way to reach out to business owners, so I cast my line literally hundreds of times and waited for bites. The law of averages paid off and I attracted six potential clients. The first company to respond was an adult entertainment club. I met Steve, the middle-aged strip club owner who had a very common problem with slow weeknights. He explained that he’d worked in hospitality for sixteen years and that it makes no difference whether you’re the local fish and chip store or the trendiest university bar in town, the weeknights are always quiet. Having lived in the heart of the Auckland CBD I knew what he meant. Even Auckland’s most prominent bars, restaurants and clubs rely on a good All Blacks game to stay afloat.

Speaking with Steve, I quickly learned that the common marketing solution to the Monday - Friday drought is to come up with a big weekend idea and a plan to suck every cent out of anyone looking for a good time. Hopefully by the end of the night you’ll be counting the cash and the low weeknight turnaround will be insignificant.

We explored a number of ideas that would make weekends more exciting and eventful but we arrived at one conclusion: consumers are tired of clichéd advertising lines that promises an unforgettable weekend experience. Besides, it’s always risky to give customers great expectations because if you can’t deliver, they might not come back.


After mulling over the brief for a few days, I realised that within Steve’s biggest challenge was one obvious solution: a quiet strip club has a higher ratio of dancers to customers, which of course means that one customer can enjoy the attention of more dancers. This would allow Steve to let in only a handful of customers at a time and thus make his club exclusive instead of quiet. Best of all, the idea wasn’t difficult or expensive to trial. We had simply turned a negative situation into a positive situation through a change in perspective.
 
Ogilvy Executive Creative Director Rory Sutherland suggests “advertising adds value to a product or service by changing our perception, rather than the product or service itself.”
 
In Steve’s case he had identified a problem, namely quiet weeknights, but he hadn’t asked why. As a strip club owner he initially struggled to come to terms with why a strip club would even need to advertise. Surely the lure of scantily clad women was enough? Tapping in to his customer’s mind-set, and changing his own perspective, proved to be the way Steve improved his business.
 
The next time you’re stumped for a good marketing solution, change the way you think about how your customers interact with your business. It worked for Steve, and more importantly, it worked for his customers.