By Nick Fosberg   |   May 24, 2012

A good bar marketing plan allows you to increase customer numbers at certain times during the year when business traditionally slows. The art of attracting business when you need it the most is an important factor in your success.  You can do so by creating promotions that can produce additional business from new, occasional or regular customers.  In addition, promotions are fresh additions to your staff member’s standard shift and can be designed to instigate conversation between your staff and customers.  This personal exchange helps customers feel more welcome and may result in another purchase or two.

Bar marketing promotions come in various guises.  The first that comes to mind is the standard drink special.  Distributors often provide free help when the special features their liquor brand.  Free help can include everything from a discounted price to placards, banners and other in-house and outside signage.

Advertising one free drink, limited to a set cost, will attract droves of customers. However, you must be selective regarding the audience you attract by carefully choosing your advertising venue. You can offset your costs by requiring a purchase prior to providing a free drink.

Customer appreciation promotions will bring in the regulars more regularly for a time.  When paired up with a drink special, a free drink or both, you are bound to fill your bar to the rafters during traditionally slow times.  Plus, since regulars make up the bulk of your business, further solidifying their ties to your bar can only mean more future success, during both busy and slow times.  One such promotion is a daily giveaway.  You can make this giveaway even more ideal by requiring the person to be present to win.  This is usually done through a daily or weekly drawing. (Further, you can hold weekly drawings on a slow day of the week.)  One way to conduct a giveaway is to provide a large, popular gift, such as an iPod.  Then each time a customer buys a drink, he/she receives a ticket to put into the barrel. The more drinks they buy, the more tickets are placed in the barrel, therefore the chances that one of your regulars will win increases.  This idea can work to make regulars out of occasional and new customers as well.  Though you will need to make an investment, the increased business and revenue during traditionally slow times will pay for the giveaway item and then some.

However, keep in mind that attracting the customer is only the first step.  The second step requires you to track the additional business generated.  By doing so, you can determine which promotions work best for your particular audience and can forecast how many additional visitors and how much more revenue your bar will produce when the promotions run.

As far as communicating the offers, you can mail a postcard, send an email, post it on your Facebook page, tweet the offer or run an ad in a preselected publication which targets your audience.  As you can see, it is important to collect addresses and phone numbers from customers. This is especially easy when holding drawings, as suggested above.

Slow business times are not the only reason to create special promotions.  If you add to your selection, promote it.  If you remodel, promote it.  If a customer wins a drawing prize, promote it.  If anything is new or different about your bar or changes to its day-to-day operations, promote it.

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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