Here at Motoza, we support our small and local Austin businesses. One of our all-time favorites is The Alamo Drafthouse. We have long been patrons of the theater and we’re big fans of the food, the service, and the dedication they have to film.
As a marketing agency, we recognize that they have established a brand for themselves and they have really stuck to it. They are always looking for fun and new ways to experience film. Every month the different locations will host multiple special screenings that aren’t just the regular recent releases.
For example, I can see that my local Drafthouse is doing a special screening of Matilda (1996) for kids. It’s called Kid’s Camp and the tickets are pick your price, $1, $3, or $5. All proceeds go towards local nonprofits and schools. There are also regular screenings of movies with live commentary over it by a local comedian. This month they chose to do a tribute to Mark Wahlberg and are asking everyone who buys a ticket to bring in a DVD or Blu-Ray of their favorite Mark Wahlberg movie for them to vote on and watch with commentary.
These types of showings typically sell out pretty quickly. Even though the demographic of Mark Wahlberg fans is extremely specific and narrow, special events like this make people excited and Austinites are typically willing to shell out a little money for the full Alamo Drafthouse experience.
Because of my familiarity with Alamo Drafthouse, it came as no surprise to me when they posted on Facebook that they were holding a women-only screening of Wonder Woman. I thought it was a unique idea, especially since they made it known that anyone that identifies as a woman is welcome, and even the servers and projectionist there would be women. As soon as I saw the post I wanted to buy tickets (as I am a woman), but alas, I had already promised to see the movie with friends in Houston.
I didn’t think much of it after that until I noticed that the special screening was getting pushback from certain sources online, and then many other people were coming to its defense. The Alamo Drafthouse stood their ground against the haters and in the end, the screening sold out rather quickly. Quickly enough that it even warranted adding more women-only screenings.
From a business perspective, there are a lot of lessons one can derive from this. Firstly, you need to know what your business stands for. I am fairly certain that The Alamo Drafthouse knew that they could be thrown in hot water for creating this special screening but they did it anyway – and when they stood up for themselves there was an army of people standing with them.
Which brings me to my second point. As I mentioned before, The Alamo Drafthouse has special screenings like this all the time. Most of them don’t make any national newspaper headlines. Because they knew what they stood for and stood their ground, they were able to expand their audience and market. They had people rallying behind them, and those people started demanding more women-only screenings. The Drafthouse is rightfully catering to them.
Thirdly, don’t be afraid to narrow your market. No business is going to be able to please every customer every time. You’ll end up spreading yourself too thin. Sometimes the key to success is finding a more niche audience to market to. In this case, it’s women who love superhero movies. You may think that a niche market is small, but once you find a few people in your audience to love your product or service, they are much more likely to recommend it to their friends – friends that are also in your niche market.
I applaud the effort that The Alamo Drafthouse is making to include women in a space that they are often excluded from (superhero movies/comics), and I encourage you to take note of how they handled the situation. Sometimes taking risks can pay off.