By Nick Fosberg   |   December 8, 2015

If you’re looking for a new promotion you can run that gets your customers involved, builds up excitement, is competitive, and makes you a ton of money, then I’ve got a pretty simple promotion you can run.

This will work for any bar and some restaurants. Best part is, it’s very simple to run, set up, and costs very little to promote to get a great turn out.

Overview Of Promotion

January is considered to be National Soup Month and on January 4th it’s considered to be National Spaghetti Day. This is a perfect opportunity to run a customer cook off promotion where you get your customers to compete on who has either the best soup or the best spaghetti!

A few months back I released a video about how to run a chili cook off promotion which this is pretty much the same exact promotion just done with different food. The way this promotion works is you get 10-15 customers to compete and offer a prize to first, second, and third place.

How To Run
The Promotion

The way they win is by customers coming in and voting for them. The way I do this at my bar is each customer pays $5 and gets 5 tickets to try all the different options. Then they will use those 5 tickets to vote for who they think has the best. They can use all 5 for one person or split it up how they like.

The customers would make all this food at home and bring it in in a crockpot. You don’t charge them to get in it, you don’t pay them to get in it either. They just do this out of fun and the competitiveness that is in them.

First place we would give 70% of the money collected from customers and a trophy for bragging rights. 2nd place got 30% of the money. 3rd place we did a $25 gift card.

It would be best to run this on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. That’s when I do mine here in the midwest.

How Do You Know If This
Will Be A Success For You?

You might be sitting on the fence like “Nick, this is kinda different! I don’t know if this would be good for my business or not.” Hey, you’re normal! I understand!

So here’s what you need to do. Talk to 10-20 of your customers and tell them about this idea and find out two things. One, would they show up for something like this and if they think it would be fun. Two, would they want to participate or do they know someone who would want to participate.

If you get a good response back, BINGO! You know you have a market for this. You’d also want to ask your staff too and get their opinion. Always remember, just because you don’t like something or don’t think something will work, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something. Business isn’t about US and what WE want. It’s about the customers and what THEY want.

Get 10-15 People Signed Up

Before you start promoting this, you want to make sure you have contestants first. All I’ve ever done was send out a e-mail to my list of customers about the promotion and asked people to reply. Then follow up with them from there.

Besides that you could always send out Facebook posts or tell your staff for every contestant they get signed up, you’re going to give them a $10 gift card or something like that. Turn you staff into your promo team and give them incentives for putting the most important part to this promotion together….Contestants and the food!

How To Get 75
People In The Door

What I tell every contestant that gets into the contest that one of the easiest ways to win is to invite their friends and family up to support them and use all 5 tickets just for them. So what do you think happens?

A lightbulb goes off in their head and they say “Oh yea, that makes sense. I’m going to call all my friends and family up here so I have a better chance at winning!”

If you have 15 contestants and if they only got 5 people, that’s 75 people alone! Pretty simple right? Exactly.

However, you don’t want to just count on that. Since there’s ZERO food costs or anything coming out of your pocket besides the trophy and some tickets, you should spend a few hundred bucks advertising the event on Facebook and wherever else your target market is.


This is a very profitable promotion because there’s very little cost to put it on and you have your contestants doing a lot of the marketing for you. People love competitions and they love when they can pay just $5 to try out a bunch of different types of food.

Instead of thinking about promotions based on price and entertainment, think of how you can involve your customers into the promotion and do something totally different and competitive. These are the types of promotions that will make you stand out from everyone else and get new customers in the door.

Nick Fosberg

Nick Fosberg is known as one of the highest paid, marketing and promotional consultants in the bar & restaurant industry and he owns 2 bar / restaurants in the Chicagoland area. He's famous for creating some of the highest grossing digital marketing promotions in the history of the bar & restaurant business..... without spending a penny on marketing. All done through e-mail & Facebook posts. 

Click here to get a free copy of my latest book.

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