• Jerry Thomas

How to Promote Your Bar like it's 2020

You have a great idea. You are going to open a bar – but now what?

How do you get people through the doors and money into your register?

One-time customers are great, but you really want faithful patrons to keep the doors open even during slow times. While great food and an enjoyable atmosphere goes hand-in-hand with having a successful bar, it is essential to to keep your customers engaged to earn their long-term business. And to keep you motivated, know that in 2017 bar sales brought in an impressive $28.46 billion (yes, with a B!) in revenue. And you want to be sure that your venue gets its piece of this huge and delicious pie.

So how do you stack the deck in your favor? The best strategy is to utilize these highly effective and tech-forward methods to promote your bar.

Online Advertising Hyper-Targeting

Like drinking from a firehose, advertising to anyone and everyone wastes your valuable (and limited) advertising spend. Hyper-targeting empowers you to get the best return on advertising spending (ROAS). And by advertising on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, you are able to test different advertising strategies to determine what works best for your bar (A/B Testing).

Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to advertise by hyper-targeting your ads. For example, you can advertise only to people within a 50 mile radius of your venue, or 10 miles, or 5... And you can also choose to advertise at certain times during the day. Advertising during lunch or dinner times may give you a much better response than ads run before 10AM. You can also test hyper-targeting with local radio stations and music streaming apps.

Online Menu Visibility

When was the last time you searched for a specific venue online by name? Most likely you started your search for great food and drink with “bars around me” or “best place for happy hour.” When people type and speak these queries into search engines, your venue must come up in the results.

In order to become a top listing and always come up in the best search results, you have to have your menu online in an index-friendly manner. What is indexing? Indexing refers to the situation when one has their establishment’s specific information available online, which then allows Google (and other search engines) to find such information and place, or “index,” this data in their search results for the world to discover.

Google’s primary menu provider is SinglePlatform. When you list your bar’s menu on SinglePlatform, the service also lists it on FourSquare, Yellowpages, TripAdvisor and over 100 other websites.

Offer Strategic Discounts

Your customers will often research pricing before they come to your establishment. Having promotions with various discounts and specials allows you to bring people into the venue when they make their dining decisions based upon the availability of specials and deals.

Yet before putting any strategy into play, it is necessary to think about how the strategy will be managed both short-term and long-term. Will the bar promotion only be available on certain days or during certain times or seasons? Will you have a draw-card promotion that will bring people into the bar in order to sell them other products while they are visiting? What about promotions for large groups or for people that come in during quiet times?

Make sure you don’t discount your menu too deeply, or your bar could be misinterpreted as a low-quality establishment. Discount only enough to bring people to your place of business, but not so much that you drive them away.

One important thing to remember is that if no one knows about your promotions, there will be no one to take advantage of them. You must ensure that you advertise your promotions in the most effective manner to get as many people talking and sharing them as possible.

Never Let Any Night Be the Same

If you want repeat customers, you must give them a good reason to come back. For example, one night consider having drink specials and the next night you could have a theme night and the next you could host a special event. The same people may come back because something new is happening, and you also have the opportunity to personally and directly advertise your next night’s events to your current evening’s customers -- for free! To keep your audience engaged, you have to mix it up.

Create Customer Loyalty Rewards

You see the big companies offering customer loyalty rewards programs, apps, perks and anything else they can think of. Why do you think this is? In the hospitality world, more than half of your business comes from repeat customers. Never take your patrons for granted. The hospitality industry is very competitive, and if you don’t reward your customers, you might lose them to establishments that do.

While it can be difficult for bars to give out customer rewards, especially when just starting out, there are small things you can do to show you care.

Think about doing discount wine and food tastings for loyal customers or sharing their photos on your social media feed. If they give you feedback, such as asking for a drink to be on the menu or giving other valuable suggestions, listen and respond. The more they feel a part of the bar, the more likely they are to keep coming back.

Use Your POS System to See What Is Working

While you can guess what is working best for your bar, you never want to make these critical assumptions. Analyze and look at your real data to determine what is happening with your sales and why. Look for promotional trends to see what is selling locally, when it is selling, and how promotions you have put in place are working for you. All of these things are extremely important to optimize and increase revenue and profits. If you have a POS that allows you to see graphical charts, it will soon become obvious what is working and which parts of your strategies are falling behind.

Final Thoughts

Bar promotion is difficult, but if done properly, you can have a vibrant venue that people love to talk about and share with their friends. Always give your customers a great experience so they can become your best source of advertisement and get the word out about your unique and exceptional products, services, and specials.

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