By Nick Fosberg   |   March 15, 2012

Often, bar owners confuse marketing with advertising. Advertising is an aspect of marketing, but it is not the entirety of marketing. Marketing is an all-encompassing term that applies to almost every aspect of your bar business. It’s the purveyors you choose. It’s the posters on the wall. It’s what the TVs are tuned to at different times of the day. Yes, it’s the promotions you choose to run. But at its core, marketing is knowing your customers and giving them what they want the way they want it.

Before you even consider bar promotion ideas or marketing strategies, you have to know your customers. Below are 9 questions to ask before using any bar marketing strategy.

1. Who are my customers and potential customers?

Many bar owners would say, “Anyone who pulls up a stool!” and they would be right. You serve everyone, but your repeat customers are going to be those who live and work near your bar. Those are the customers that will make your bar a success.

2. What kind of people are you targeting?

The answer to this question is important. Are your customers young? Old? Executives? Or blue collar workers? The answer to this question will influence everything from what you order from your purveyors to what specials you offer during happy hour.  The most successful bars have a specific audience they target.  More importantly, they meet the demands of their target market.

3. Where do they live?

Most of your customers will live close to your bar, but there may be some that commute and become regulars. It is important to know where they live and what tastes dominate that area.

4. What can they buy?

Stocking your shelves with what your customers demand is business 101. Knowing your customers helps you to determine what they can afford and what they will buy. There’s no need to stock a selection of 20-year-old single malts if your customers cannot afford them.

5. Am I offering the kinds of goods or services they want?

Knowing what type of customers you attract means you can stock what they want. Don’t waste space. Stock what sells.  This can vary depending on local tastes.  Don’t just offer what YOU want, ask your patrons what they want more of and watch your bar filled with more happy customers.

6. Are my prices consistent with what buyers view as the product’s value?

Once again, knowing your customers allows you to know what they expect to pay.

7. Are my bar promotional programs working?

Your customers will vote with their Dollars. You will know within a few days if your bar promotion is working. All you have to do is check the register, or you could just ask.

8. What do customers think of my business?

As a bar owner, you are in the perfect position to poll your customer base. People love talking to barbers and bartenders. Rarely does a business have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with a customer for an hour or more. You have the ability to do that every day! Use it to improve your business.  Even more, get them to shout from the rooftops about your business.  Make it easy for them to share their experience on your fan page, Yelp review page, Google Places page and more.

9. How does my business compare to my competitors?

Use your ability to interact with your customers to poll them about other bars in the area. Obviously, you are doing something right, but is there something you could do better? Your customers know the answer.

As you can see, marketing your bar is more than just hiring the Jaegermeister girls for a Friday night or running a 2-for-1 happy hour special. It is knowing your customers inside and out. If you know your customers, you will be able to choose a bar marketing strategy that works rather than wasting your time and money and what does not.


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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