A London fetish club without the metal, mood, or pretensions, but with lots of fun instead? Meet the happiest of ‘Slappers’, Pierre and Hannah, Founders of the Slap Stick Club.
The fun loving fetishists offer their thoughts on the club ethos, competition, customer engagement (despite social media restrictions and customer discretion) and other marketing topics.
BRIAN GRAY: So in a nutshell and in your own words, what is Slap Stick Club, and what’s the brief history behind it all?
Pierre: The Slap Stick Club is a social, fun and friendly fetish party with a focus on play. We started on this little adventure mainly to fill what we think was a gap in the London fetish scene and to create the type of event we craved for ourselves. I also clearly remember a hot tub and way too much prosecco… That helped a lot to kick-start the creative part.
Hannah: We also wanted to create a party that crushed the grimy underground reputation of fetish. Why can’t it be acceptable in everyday life?! Of course we are all too aware of why it is stigmatised so but this is our own little way of helping normalise kink and sexual liberation.
Given your name, many people would be forgiven for initially thinking you were a comedy club rather than a fetish club. What made you settle on this moniker? Were there any other contenders?
P: Very early on, we knew we wanted to have a much more relaxed approach and environment than other clubs. Sometimes everything feels so horribly serious! (“Why SO serious?!”) So frivolity and humour were a given from the start. Hannah came up with the “Slap Stick Club” very quickly; it immediately felt like the perfect match for us. It’s an identity and an attitude, it’s a cute pun, infinitely reusable (I love being able to call our patrons “Slappers”!), and instantly recognisable once you’ve heard about it. It was also miles away from the “hardcore” naming we’d seen floating around.
I remember thinking about “DIY KINK” when we were still at the project stage but in retrospect… Just no.
H: People are still very nervous about admitting they are part of this kind of ‘scene’ and by giving it a name that is not directly linked with sexual escapades allows us to market more freely and our adored Slappers to share without worry of people making assumptions (even if they are true!). Also, I just love a good spanking! Seemed fitting 😉
There’s obviously a very well renowned and long established London fetish club that’s successfully spread its wings near and far. And there are other fetish clubs competing as well. Where do you fit into this? How do you differentiate yourselves?
P: And we do visit all of them more than often! We are in no way aiming to eclipse any of those, but we bring a needed (we think) alternative to the giant, everything-for-everyone clubs, the “kinky” sex-parties, swingers clubs and the specialised, niche events. We want to bring another flavour, a night where you don’t have to worry about the make or cost of your outfit, where you know you won’t have to wait hours for “your turn” on the furniture, with space to meet people and try out new things. In summary, a place to actually play in a safe and friendly environment!
H: We are very active hosts as well. We are there to facilitate people’s exploration of the scene and a chance to actually talk and converse as well as play and join in. We welcome everyone that comes in. We have a defined ‘uniform’ so we are easily identifiable and this helps make people feel special and included. I mean, this is a fabulous community! We want you to feel that way too!
What can attendees expect on a visit to the Slap Stick Club?
P: Firstly, Hannah and I endeavour to personally meet all of our attendees to welcome them, take them through the house rules and introduce them to the club. Then, once inside, a friendly and open-minded crowd, lots of furniture pieces and our fan-favourite “cuddle-puddle” corner. We also aim to organise one or two performances or demonstrations at each party. We also have a Polaroid camera available for use by our patrons; that way, no risk of digital traces AND you get to keep a souvenir! Oh, and stripes. Loads of black and white stripes!
H: And don’t forget the welcome glass of bubbles! We also chose to pass up the heavy metal and house music and have opted for a more electroswing/jazz or rockabilly theme. I have always loved the idea of being spanked to Duke Ellington.
What defines your typical Slap Stick Club attendee, and what three adjectives would you want your customers to associate with your brand?
P: Hmm, Awesome? Our core audience is quite eclectic in taste and experience. Some are avid players and other are new but ready to explore.
For our brand, that’s easy: friendly, fun, sexy !
H: Our attendees started as our friends and I think because of that, we have continued to spread that vibe. People are open and intrigued, nervous but enticed. And I have to admit, they are a goddamn sexy bunch!
A well-positioned company seeks to ‘own’ one word in the minds of consumers (i.e. Volvo and ‘safety’). What would be yours?
H: hahaha – agreed.
What has been the highlight so far in your journey, and why?
P: I had a very meaningful and heartfelt exchange with one of our attendees following a minor incident and them telling me they’ve rarely felt that looked after and safe in any other club was really an intense feeling. More generally, any returning customers are proofs of a job well done!
H: The highlight for me is most definitely with the people I have met through our parties. I have met some fabulously interesting people all doing wonderful and ambitious things with their lives and these parties have brought us together. I am so excited to see where these happy collisions may lead us!
Good marketing is important for any company, not only to thrive but just to survive. What have been your key marketing learning points and observations so far?
P: There have been a few things:
Regularity in communication. Every day, every other day, talk to your audience. Not every post needs to be a masterpiece in social media marketing, but tell your story, even if it’s just your mood.
Diversity. There’s nothing worse than being predictable. If you do the same thing or use the same pattern repeatedly, you’re going to bore people.
Meet face-to-face. This has been one of the funniest part of this “job” so far; meeting the latex maker, furniture builder, club owner, performers. Word of mouth is not dead and no amount of retweet is going to top befriending your colleagues on the scene! (And I’d say ESPECIALLY on the fetish scene).
H: Marketing for events like this is tricky. Facebook refuse to advertise or boost posts for anyone with an adult content. Many people (including a segment of our target audience) are new to the scene and so don’t want to engage in anything that may link them to that activity. PR is great. Personal connections with established people in the scene always helps.
We do still do flyers. They are good in shops and stores. We also flyer other major clubs on the London scene. But it is a tricky product to market for when you are still relatively new. We are constantly learning and reviewing what we do. I have also been thinking about setting up a fetish marketing symposium of some kind…. fostering discussion and sharing ideas.
What has been your biggest marketing challenge so far, and what steps are you taking / have taken to overcome it?
P: Let’s say a widely popular online social network’s views on what constitutes “suggestive” and adult content…
We had to re-orient paid advertisement towards specialist sites, sadly with widely less reach (if much, much more relevant!). We’re slowly building our SEO profile as well, but that more of a long-term game.
H: Yes, I agree. There is a growing level of competition out there and we are constantly reminding ourselves not to feel threatened by this but challenged and excited by these new events and clubs – possible collaborators! We have our own, I believe, strong, brand and we should continue to push that and not panic!
If you could get another adult brand – whether lingerie, sex toys, fetishwear, pleasure products or BDSM equipment – involved with your events, what would it be and why?
P: Latex /fetishwear designers, in a heartbeat. Party for purely selfish reasons, but also because we know our core audience love them as well and it would provide a real win-win scenario for everyone involved.
H: I agree. Latex fashion is what got me into the scene. I think there is a lot of scope and diversity in that area. It photographs well, there are a lot of designers out there that we can easily collaborate and cross promote with and it is diverse; like our audience. We are aware some of the bigger clubs also have these connections however for us we see it as even more immersive. And who doesn’t like getting dressed up?! This is the perfect escapism (I’m a real exhibitionist so that helps!).
What are the most valuable things you’ve learned so far in your fetish event careers?
P: Triple, quadruple-check dates, times, costs, etc. with ALL your providers or third parties!! There’s a pervasive tendency for forgetfulness that you have to contend with constantly…
And when you do find consistently reliable partners, cherish the hell out of them!
H: For me it is the duty of care. What we are doing in terms of play pushes the boundaries of sexual exploration and with that comes a great responsibility for the event managers to ensure that people feel safe and are safe. If we look at some of the activities that people partake in, it can be tricky to ensure that people really are having fun and are not put in compromising positions. Therefore we have our house rules. Everyone is taken through them on arrival even if they are a seasoned Slapper! And myself and Pierre are constantly on the lookout. We encourage play but if we think it is going too far, we will intervene. We do break brand here and take this VERY seriously.
And what does the next twelve months hold in store for the Slap Stick Club?
P: More slaps! Obviously larger parties but also more community-orientated events in between (talks, meet-ups, sexy Sunday lunches). We also have a few fun collaborations in mind…
H: Watch this space! xx
If you fancy giving the Slap Stick Club a visit – and after reading this, it’s mightily tempting! – visit their website at slapstickclub.com Don’t forget to say hello on Twitter too, at @slap_stick_club
Instagram too? Yep…. slapstick.club
ARE YOU AN AMBITIOUS, MARKETING-LED, COMPANY IN THE SEX TOY, LINGERIE, FETISHWEAR AND EQUIPMENT OR DATING / EVENTS SECTORS?
If you’d like to be interviewed about your entrepreneurial journey and associated marketing issues that will be interesting to the Lascivious Marketing web fraternity, then get in touch!
Until next time!
PS. And don’t forget to sign up to receive SIX OF THE BEST – our free weekly email containing key weblinks covering the sex toy and adult retailing world AND hot marketing tips for your business.