Bar Marketing: 9 Ways to Change the Way You Advertise for the Better
It doesn’t matter whether you call your bar a lounge, tavern, nightclub, dive, gin mill, gastropub, or something else similar for a place where alcohol is served, it is still a location where people come to drink, socialize, dance and look for romance. However, in today’s world, the traditional bar is competition with upscale restaurants, hotel lounges, pop-up nightclubs, raves and even private parties. So, if you are interested in attracting, engaging and keeping your customers, it is vital that you make changes to the way that you are advertising and promoting your business so that you can fully embrace social media, mobile marketing, and digital promotions. Here are nine ways you can do all of that:
1. Focus Specifically on Your Audience.
Bars rely heavily on recurring customers. Therefore, it is imperative that your promotions appeal to those customers in addition to any new customers that are attracted to your establishment. While hospitality is considered within the service industry, many business owners target the wrong audience. For example, unless they are just local eccentrics, multi-millionaire tycoons are not going to be interested in the community bar. At the same time, upscale promotions that feature drinks made with exotic ingredients aren’t going to lure in factory workers.
If your intention is to target the corporate crowd, then your strategy will likely want to focus on meet-and-greets that are promoted on social media, promotions that are driven by your menu, wine tastings, theme nights, and games that will attract an assortment of business customers, including those that are interested in drinking as well as those looking to network with associates and friends.
2. Define Your Goals.
If your only goal is to increase business by holding promotions, then you are literally asking for failure. To ensure your promotions are actually worthwhile, it is important to first set a few measurable goals. Determine what it is that you are looking to achieve. Some potential goals may include the following:
- Creating buzz around members of your targeted audience, such as hipsters, corporate types, neighborhood sports fans, club kids, and any other demographic targets.
- Getting a leg up on your competitors.
- Persuading patrons to spend additional money on branded spirits and/or food.
- Trying to get patrons to arrive earlier and leave later.
- Celebrating milestones and occasions at your establishment.
- Providing customers a chance to give back to the local community.
- Fostering a lively atmosphere.
- Introducing new foods, drinks and/or entertainment options.
Once your goals have been defined, you can then move on to assessing marketing ideas that are based on accomplishing those goals in the hopes to staying doable and affordable.
3. Tap Into the Minds of Your Customers.
When it comes to planning your promotions, one of the best resources that you have is your existing customer base. So, take the time to reach out to some of your existing customers and find out what they would like to see in terms of your upcoming promotions. For neighborhood bars, customers may be interested in a gaming tournament or a budget beer night. Other ideas include trivia night, pool tournaments and social media games (think treasure quests and scavenger hunts).
4. Bring in the Foursquare Crowd.
While Yelp used to be the one and only social app player in the hospitality industry, Foursquare entered and decided to give them a run for their money. So, it is important that you engage their members, as this can prove to be very beneficial for your bar. The primary demographic for Foursquare is media-savvy, college-educated younger individuals are actively-involved with their friends and enjoy hanging out with them in hot nightspots. Business reviews and photos taken at your business and then posted on Foursquare can definitely help boost bar business.
Another idea to excite your regular customers and also attract some new business, especially from the social media crowd, is to considered featuring a celebrity bartender. The celebrity can be anyone – a news anchor, sports figure, famous chef, actor, author, national figure, or even local figure.
5. Use Automated Promotions.
Marketing automation is a perfect way to connect with larger audience and to compete with larger nightclubs and bars. Your social media marketing campaigns can feature attention-grabbing hashtags, offer discounts for intimate gettogethers, and also promote food and drinks specials that will help ensure patrons continue visiting your bar on a regular basis.
6. Market to the Sports Crowds
Since a large number of bar patrons are often huge sports fans, you may want to consider compiling a list of sports marketing ideas. These should include supporting a wide range of sports, from local high school, college and professional teams. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Consider naming some of your beverages after popular athletes.
- Host replays of some of the most classic games during the slower periods of the season and off-season.
- Run Pay-Per-View events and consider charging a little extra for your patrons to watch.
- Have live events where famous athletes attend and “hang” with your customers.
- Offer food and drink specials during playoff games and some of the most anticipated rivalries.
- Use team colors to decorate the bar.
- During sports trivia, reward winners with team merchandise.
7. Bar Games and Social Media
Video games can bring in a lot of customers, so you will definitely want to use this to your advantage. However, there are a lot of other bar games and social media-related games that you can use to attract customers, including:
- Classic games, such as darts, pinball, 8-ball, and board games.
- Bingo, karaoke, and trivia
- Poker nights
- Interactive social media games
- Dancing contests and games
- Encourage patrons to dress in vintage clothes for a throwback night
8. Bouncebacks and Specials on Beer
Bouncebacks are one of the most common ways to get bar patrons to return to your establishment. Bouncebacks can be automated via digital marketing methods and can offer rewards for your customers. The exact amount will depend on your exact prices, but you will essentially offer a certain-priced voucher for your customer to use on their next visit. These can be restricted to beverages or food, if you’d like. Alternatively, you could offer vouchers that are based on certain signature cocktails that will only be available for a limited time.
Beer specials also gain a lot of attention from customers and your promotion should be developed based specifically on your customers. You can hold a beer tasting or promote a certain beer special for domestic brands. You could also offer your customers beers from all around the globe. You don’t have to limit it to beer, either, you can also have wine tastings and hold contests where patrons can create/name a signature cocktail with the chance of it remaining on the menu.
Something to note: it has recently been reported that hospitality establishments are failing to take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free promotions. Many are offering their customers free incentives nearly 50 percent of the time, but they aren’t offering BOGO deals enough. It is a huge opportunity for your bar to generate more customers and revenue.
9. Don’t Overlook the Simplest of Promotions.
Believe it or not, it is sometimes the simple promotions that are the most effective of them all. For example, classic promotions like singles’ night, ladies’ night, BOGO incentives, live entertainment, dance contests, hiring a DJ, awarding drink tokens, dart tournaments, bumper pool, etc. are promotions that are huge hits with customers even today.
And you can take them to the next level with digital marketing, as it will help you reach your intended audience much more efficiently and help keep them interested and engaged. So, whether you are promoting culinary events, beverages, contests, social games or community events, you need to remain connected with your regular customers while also trying to reach out to those who share the concept of your bar.
When it comes down to it, it is all about trying to create a unique identity and provide your primary customers with promotions that they want and like. You can make it happen by keeping the things intact that keep bar patrons wanting to come back for celebrations, companionship and fun times.