By Nick Fosberg   |   October 31, 2017

I here it all the time! “I’ve tried every sports bar promotion there is!” or “I can’t think of any new sports bar promotions that’s going to excite my customers or attract new customers!”

Ever say that to yourself? Ever have a hard time figuring out what you can do differently then your competition to stand out and win over new customers?

Today I’m going to bring you 5 new sports bar promotions that work & make money. Let me be upfront though…… will all of these be “brand new” ideas. No! However, the front end and back end strategy of some of these will be totally new, which will bring you 10x the ROI vs marketing the good old traditional way!

Before I dive into these promotions, incase you’ve come across this article as a first time reader of my work, I first want to give you a quick rundown of how I’ve created the highest grossing promotions in the industry for sports bars, restaurants and pubs, using zero marketing dollars.

I use a simple 3 step system.

  1. Get Leads
  2. Build Instant Relationship + Trust
  3. Big Money Promotions

This 3 step framework and the case studies it’s produced is the reason I’ve been asked to speak for the National Restaurant Association, Jon Taffer, Nightclub and Bar, and several other industry events.

How To Apply This 3 Step System To
Your Sports Bar Promotions

Step One – Get Leads 

This is where you use online or offline media to target your perfect type of customers with a irresistible offer. This front end offer to acquire new customers – you usually breakeven on, or might even lose a buck or two. Why? Because the more valuable the offer, the more people are going to BITE!

Now, in order to get this offer, the prospect must hand over their personal contact information online through what’s called a “lead capture page” (I’ll show example in a minute) to receive the offer. This creates a “lead” and then the offer is sent automatically to them by e-mail with a timed expiration date and reminders of the offer to get them in the door.

Why is getting “leads” so important?

Because the people who actually give you their name, e-mail, and birthday information are telling you that they WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU…..or they wouldn’t be wasting their time giving you this information – right? You’re “qualifying” them.

Why is this important?

Because these “leads” are going to be the most profitable people on the planet to market to in the future for your promotions. You’ll get the HIGHEST ROI E-mailing them, targeting them on Facebook, sending them direct mail, texting, etc…. to the people who’ve expressed interest in doing business with you! Common sense right?

Why is this so important…. Because you can literally spend $500 this week generating “leads” for your next sports bar promotion and get a return on that $500 for months, even years, when you continue to market to these leads – THE RIGHT WAY!  

Step 2 – Build Instant Trust + Credibility

This is where you deliver your offer they signed up for by e-mail. But that’s not it. You also tell them who you are, what your brand stands for, why you’re different from the competition, etc.

Think about it like this. What would you want every brand new customer to hear come out of your mouth that would get them to instantly trust you and like you, before they ever stepped foot into your door? What would you need to say in that first message where the irresistible offer didn’t even matter to them anymore, but now they felt CONNECTED to you and your brand?

In my #1 selling book Bar Restaurant Success: How To Attract New Customers, Turn Them Into Raving Fans, & Become Unbeatable In Any Market – I reveal a simple formula how to do this and an example of how my clients and I do it. You can get a FREE copy of it here, just cover shipping and handling.

Step 3 – Big Money Promotions 

Step 3 is all about using your list, communicating with your “leads” & customers through their personal communication channels in a conversational, friendly tone and get them back in the door for your promotions. This is how you create big pay days because you’re targeting people who LIKE YOU, TRUST YOU, & ENJOY doing business with YOU! When you do step 2 correctly, it makes your marketing 10x more effective.

What I Want You To Understand….

Too many owners focus on the first time sale and NOT  the lifetime value of a customer. There’s no long term strategy in place to get the highest ROI. If your ad dollars are going to ads that just promote your prices, entertainment, sporting events, and that’s it, you’re wasting your money. 

You’ll get 10x more new customers in your doors, when you make them an offer they can’t resist. More value equals more redemptions, and I’m NOT talking about FREE offers, but offers where you at least breakeven, or lose a buck.

However, when you apply this front end “break even” strategy, there must be a backend strategy in place to make a BIG profit and hopefully turn them into loyal customers. I lay out my entire LRVO (Loyal Regular Value Optimization) system out in my book that covers this more deeply.

Now that you understand the most profitable way to spend your marketing dollars, lets get into….

5 New Sports Bar Promotions
That Work & Make Money

#1 – Lead Capture Giveaway Promotions

If you don’t have a customer list or haven’t engaged with your e-mail list in a long time, this would be the first promotion I run. Lead capture giveaway promotions are where you giveaway a big prize that your target audience wants, but in order to win, they have to sign up with their contact information and of course be present to win.

They can sign up in house or online. What I have found to work best for sports bars are giving away 50 inch TV’s or tickets to sporting events. You want to have prizes that ATTRACT your ideal customer. Sports fans!

Here you’ll see an example of what a lead capture page looks like.

They easiest and fastest way to get hundreds, if not thousands of people to sign up is run Facebook ads targeting males within 3-5 miles of your sports bar who like certain sports / teams in your area. Drive them to this page to sign up.

Everyone Is A Winner!

In order to increase the number of people signing up, I make everyone a winner by giving away a free meal or a $5 gift card to EVERYONE. Here’s the strategy to this entire promotion.

  1. You drive people in the door BEFORE the big giveaway and you make the free meal / $5 gift card where it’s good only on a day you NEED business, and that 1 beverage is purchased. Yes, you may get some FREEBIE seekers, but you’ll see you’ll come ahead.
  2. You get a ton of people in the day of the giveaway – big pay day. (must be present to win).
  3. You build an ASSET, a LIST of customers who WANT  to do business with you. A list of customers who ENJOY going to sports bars. (Remember, targeting of your ads is critical so you attract the right people.) Most important,  you can use this list all year long, email or text, and get them in your doors for other events. If you can collect birthday info, you can also add them to your birthday program!

The big idea I want you to walk away with is lead capture promotions are going to be the driving force to your success because it allows you to ONLY market to people who WANT to do business with you in the most profitable way and give you the opportunity to build relationship and trust with them – IF you continue to e-mail them once a week or once every 2 weeks. Once you have a big enough list 1,000-2,000 people you don’t need to spend a whole lot of money on marketing to new customers!

#2 Meat Raffle 

Sports bars attract men and MOST men eat meat, wouldn’t you agree? A promotion I just started running at both of my bars has been a meat raffle where for 2 hours, every 15 minutes, we are giving away steaks, pork chops, chicken breasts, ribs, brats, etc, etc.

The best part is….. I don’t pay a penny for the meat! I reached out to a local meat company and told them I had a promotion I wanted to run with them and that this would be a promotion that would benefit them more then me. I said that I would like to just “TEST” this for 30-60 days first before we both committed long  term, and if they felt they were out any money what so ever, I’d pay them back.

Anytime you’re looking to partner, you make sure you take on a majority of the risk to make this work. Make sure they know you’re just looking to test the concept first, before there’s bigger commitment.

Long story short, they agreed and give us all the meat free. We do all the advertising which is about $50 a week for the first 4 weeks. We even got them to GUARANTEE 50 free pieces of meat to the first 50 in the door – at BOTH locations!

The way I set this up is we created coupon cards for 6 oz free filet, but in order for the customers to get the free steak, they have to bring them to his store. All the other meat we giveaway every 15 minutes, they get that on the spot. The owner of the store said he’s NEVER had a more successful promotion that brought in NEW customers in his doors.

When you think outside the box, you can create incredible promotions that not only help you, but help other local businesses in your area.

How We Give Away The Meat

Everyone who walks in the door gets a ticket. Then for every drink or food item they get, they get a extra ticket. Every 15 minutes we pull a ticket to win some meat and that’s it! People LOVE to win stuff. Especially guys love winning meat while at the same time getting to watch their college games.

This promotion alone has increased our sales between 20-25% within just 4 weeks of promoting it. The way we kicked this off was first using our customer list through e-mail, Facebook, texting, in-house signage, and employee posts. Then we spent another $200 on Facebook and Instagram targeting NEW customers, who liked sports, but was NOT on our email list or didn’t “like” our Facebook page.

That’s the other important piece to collecting e-mails. You can upload them to Facebook and Instagram and create ads / promotions that either A. Target only them or B. Excludes targeting them.

#3 FREE Wings For A Year

This is just like the lead capture promotion I talked about, but a different prize. Run this online or in house. Build a HUGE list of people who LIKE wings. Make everyone a winner by giving away an order of 6 where they have to come in BEFORE the main event. We give away 6 of our jumbo boneless wings, which we prep and cut ourselves, so it’s super cheap, under $1.25 per order of 6.

This is the perfect promotion to send out a press release for and get the news involved. FREE PR!

After the promotion is over, now you aways have this list of customers to target for other promotions or your wing night! List building is KEY.

In my newest book I go through all the different ways to build a e-mail list and HOW to e-mail your list without them getting sick of you. How to get them to WANT to open your e-mails every week. Click here to get a free copy. Just cover shipping and handling.

#4 In House Leagues

Running in house leagues are one of my favorite promotions to run as you get 20-30 people COMMITTED to showing up once a week, hang out with their buddies, and throw down some beers.

Dart, pool, in-door bags, Golden Tee, beer pong, etc. etc.

What I did to change this up a bit and make this more fun, DIFFERENT, then the competition, is Bar Olympics! This is where you take 3 different games and do best out of 3. We will run these leagues for 10-12 weeks, each team puts in $5 per night, and the 1st place team walks with 70% of pot, 2nd takes 30% of pot, and 3rd gets $50 gift card.

#5 Eating Competition

Eating competitions are a great way to get your existing customers excited and get new customers in the door. It’s crazy. It’s different. It’s fun!

I’ve done pizza and one pound burger eating competitions. We usually get about 15-20 guys in this. What’s great is all their friends want to watch. So they do a lot of the marketing for you by brining in 4-6 people each.

What do you think their friends do? Yes, they take video and the blast all over social media. Ton of free exposure here. This is another perfect opportunity to get the news stations out to record this – more MASSIVE free exposure.

How did we promote this? Zero marketing dollars. Just e-mail and Facebook posts. Plus we keep the LIST of customers who signed up the year before and THEY are the FIRST people we contact. Why? Because who do  you think is going to be the easiest to sign up? The people who have already done this before! The people who like you, trust you, and want to do business with you.


Lead capture promotions, list building is NO secret. It’s the good old fishbowl strategy. However, 99% of owners don’t use their customer lists the way they should. They just hammer their customers with promotion after promotion but don’t deliver real value or build relationship. The key today is winning over the trust of your customers, listening to your customers, giving them what they want, and communicating with them like real people / friends.

Here’s a image of a recent email I got from a client of mine, who follows my e-mail marketing strategies and promotions…..

restaurant email marketing - sports bar promotions

When you know how to build relationship with your e-mails, this is what happens. You ATTRACT people to you. People RAVE about you. And ultimately you out-beat your competition.

If you want to know how to attract new customers with sports bar promotions, turn them into raving fans, and become unbeatable in your market, get a FREE copy of my book.  Just cover shipping and handling.

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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