It can be tough to create a buzz around your bar. You have the signature drinks, the perfect atmosphere and the prime location, but still find the place empties out too early on the weeknights. How can you attract more than just your regulars? Standing out in the saturated market is crucial, and the only way to do that is with a few new tricks, a little insight and a targeted marketing strategy.
A bar marketing strategy can help set you apart from the competitors, bring in a crowd of newcomers and keep them coming back. By reaching the right audience, you can promote your bar in a way that will help you gain traction and retain interest as well as make a few sales along the way.
Ready to get started?Here are five easy ways to improve bar marketing that will increase your visibility and keep your bar or pub busy with customers.
Anyone who hasn’t been to your bar before will discover it in several different ways: they’ll stumble upon it, hear about it from a friend or they’ll search online using popular services like Yelp. Given the prominence of local-search apps and online trip-planning, it’s most likely to be the third method. If that’s the case, you want to guarantee that your bar is on the list. And every other list for that matter—whether it’s Google, TripAdvisor or a tertiary site.
Create business accounts online and make sure all of your information is accurate. Include up-to-date hours, an accurate address and phone number, an easy-to-read menu and a short description about what your bar has to offer patrons (i.g. karaoke, a great happy hour, etc.) to let newcomers know what they can expect from their experience.
If you host a loud, epic karaoke night, then your bar wouldn’t be the ideal place for an intimate first date. If you host a slam poetry reading, then your bar wouldn’t be the best place for a rowdy bachelorette party. Many bars make the mistake of marketing to the wrong audience. Customers who show up and get discouraged or disappointed aren’t likely to return.
To avoid this, you need to understand the dynamic of your establishment and the customers who frequent it. From there, you can tailor your marketing strategy accordingly.
Say, for instance, your bar often hosts wine tastings. A good way to market these nights would be to post on social media using the appropriate hashtags and clearly define when your “Wine’d Down Weekends” take place.
Hosting themed nights goes hand-in-hand with knowing your audience. In order to draw a crowd, you will need some insight into what your customers like and want to participate in.
If your bar or pub attracts a more casual crowd, then you could implement a trivia night. Customers who arrive by a certain time are allowed to play for free and the prizes could be any number of things including discounts on drinks or meals at your bar. They could even be offered a “free” answer to a trivia question if they opt-in via text message to hear about your trivia nights. (Skip ahead to our last tip to get the ins and outs of bar marketing using text messages.)
You could also implement craft beer tastings or wine nights with exclusive drink deals on house wines and brews. Host an exclusive pop-up with food from popular restaurants or merchandise from local stores. You could have a beloved food truck come by on certain nights or even a food truck rally. Book live music on the weekends. The opportunities are endless.
The key to a successful themed night is to know what your audience is looking for, make it happen and then advertise it.
Keep customers coming back by offering exclusive bounceback specials. Loyal customers like being recognized and rewarded for their loyalty; they return for a reason and that’s because they like your bar—say thank you for that! Offering a loyalty club or rewards program is the perfect way for them to accrue points that can be traded in for discounts, drinks or other cool deals.
If you don’t think a loyalty club would do well at your bar, then there are other approaches you can take to gain popularity among your patrons. House drink deals, happy hours, beer-of-the-month clubs and signature cocktails or dishes are all great ways to help your bar stand out while giving the people what they want, a great experience.
Your website is up-to-date, you know who you want to reach, you’ve come up with concepts for your themed nights and you’re ready to offer specials. Now what? Well, as we touched on in tip number two, you need to reach the right audience—an audience who wants to hear about what events and deals you have going on at your bar and will show up to partake. Text marketing is an excellent way to do this because only those who are truly interested in your bar will sign up.
However, there are a few important steps to take to make sure you’re complying with laws and industry regulations around text marketing:
Add an age gate to your bar’s website
If it doesn’t have one already, make sure your site has an age gate that only permits users who are 21 or over to enter. With an age gate implemented, you can include a web form that makes it simple for users to sign up for text updates.
Include disclaimers with your call to action
Any time you prompt people to opt in for your texts, you should let them know what they’re signing up for and how often you’ll be messaging them. Check out our blog post about compliance for more information about what to include alongside your CTA. Businesses that sell alcohol should prominently have a disclaimer explaining that only those 21 and over should sign up for updates.
Double check that your subscribers are 21+
Another great way to garner interest in your bar is by using a keyword which people can text into your number to receive updates. If someone opts in using a keyword, make sure that no one below the age of 21 accidentally signs up. This is as simple as adding an autoconfirmation message with the request, “Please reply with ‘confirm’ if you are over 21.”
Consider using a toll-free or local number
It’s possible to use a dedicated short code to send your messages. However, with a toll-free or local 10-digit number, you can ensure you don’t violate TCPA rules around promoting alcohol. Plus, customers will be able to call your number in addition to sending you texts! Our text-to-landline service even lets you text-enable your existing business number.
With these precautions in place, you’re ready to start using text marketing! One last thing, to stay on the safe side, we recommend avoiding advertising alcohol specifically. After all, every bar sells libations. Instead, tell people about what’s unique about your establishment!
Start using these five bar marketing methods today. They’re simple, affordable and are sure to bring new customers pouring in.
Here’s how the multi-location bakery and restaurant uses SimpleTexting to promote its monthly giveaways.Read