The Right way to Cross-Promote / by Chris Weigl

As I took in the new Hunger Games movie on Thanksgiving at my local movie theater I had an opportunity to sit back in my chair and really appreciate how well the movie theater had sold out.  Here in Wisconsin, Marcus has – for close to a decade now – been running movie theaters that have “bistros” in them.  Basically, what this means is that for a few extra bucks you can sit in a nice, reclinable chair and get made-to-order food delivered to you in your seat.  You sit at tables which are set up like countertops and eat in rows.  Servers move in and out of the theater throughout the film and you can order anything from drinks to pasta to strawberry shortcake.  It’s a great way of branding the products of local restaurants and an even better way to sell it because your customer is sitting right there in front of a movie screen.

The theater even does “themed” specials that change with the movie being screened.  They had Hunger Games styled food specials, which in my mind wasn’t the greatest idea because the food in the Hunger Games was terrible, but hey they should get points for trying.  Movie theaters are doing something that their counterparts in Hollywood are not –they’re trying new ideas.  Marcus ran a promotion for Tuesday night movies where you could see any movie, any time at their theater for just five dollars.  That’s a great way to get people into your place of business on what for them was their slowest night of the week.  This isn’t just good for the theatre though this is good for the customer.  These “bistro” styled theaters have a more open atmosphere which allows you to meet new people but also keep your distance from those pesky audience members who can’t put their cell phones down.  The seating is raised so that you can’t see what the person in front of you is doing – which, at least from my vantage point – has always been a good thing.

The other bonus to getting people in the door is that movie theaters don’t make money on screening movies they make money on concessions.  So, throwing the concessions stand together with the movie is a really great idea because it’s going to drive up your profit margin.  All in all, this is a great way of providing service for the consumer and giving the consumer what they want.  Why more businesses aren’t thinking this way is a mystery, but it’s a mindset that promotes fun and goodwill while also bringing in more revenue in the process.