50 Bar Marketing Ideas: How to Market a Bar

 

Bar Marketing

 

Bar marketing has gone beyond setting up and handing out flyers on the streets. It’s become more complicated and competitive with the rise of digital marketing.

You need creative and modern marketing ideas to help get customers to your bar in the first place and then keep them coming back for more.

While traditional marketing in your local area is still relevant and does work, the introduction of the digital landscape along with research-savvy patrons means that you need to create the most successful marketing for your bar through online marketing and traditional mediums.

Successful in doing so means you can reach your target audience across more than one platform, which will increase the likelihood of getting the results you want from your marketing.

Here are our 50 of our best bar marketing ideas that will bring you the results you desire. Use the links to jump to the section you want to read:

1. Develop Your Bar’s Brand Identity & Culture
2. Find your Ideal Target Audience
3. Develop an Internal Mantra
4. Kickstart Word of Mouth
5. Offer Amazing Customer Service
6. Craft Unique Experiences
7. Build an Easy to use website that’s mobile friendly
8. Make sure you can be found on every online listing
9. Stay on Top of Review Sites
10. Utilise Social Media
11. Follow Other Bars on Social Media
12. Respond to Comments on Social Media
13. Be Insta-Credible
14. Use Instagram Stories and Highlights
15. Only Use High-Quality Photos Across your Social Channels
16. Throw Competitions on Social Media
17. Take Advantage of Hashtags on Social Media
18. Show Off Your Staff
19. Automate the Twitter-Sphere
20. Pin Your Photos on Pinterest
21. Setup Snapchat Marketing Campaigns
22. Pay for Geo-Targeted Ads
23. Use Re-Targeting Geo-Targeted Ads
24. Add Video Marketing to your Campaigns
25. Become A Google AdWords Expert
26. Dabble in Influencer Marketing
27. Promote User-Generated Content
28. Start a Blog
29. Get Handy at SEO
30. Sponsor Local Sports & Rec Teams
31. Implement Loyalty Programs for Influencers
32. Take Advantage of Email Marketing
33. Use Promoters
34. Host Events
35. Throw Themed Nights
36. It Pays When Guests Play
37. Throw Tasting Nights and Masterclasses
38. Form Partnerships
39. Offer Promotions, Coupons and Discounts
40. Experiment with Pop-ups
41. Get Fresh Off the Press
42. Set Up Google Alerts
43. Implement Online Reservation Tools
44. Start Networking
45. Create a Gift Card for Bar Marketing
46. Create a Secret Menu
47. Get Mocktails and Healthy Beverages on Your Menu
48. Go Local
49. Hold pay-per-view nights
50. Don’t Forget Traditional Advertising

1. Develop Your Bar’s Brand Identity & Culture

Your bar is a brand and you need to have an identity and core values if your bar marketing is going to work.

Your culture is the type of experience you create at your bar and should be based on the customers you’re targeting.

For example, is your bar a sports bar with big screens? Your target audience is probably sports fans, so you need to think what experience they would want. Or maybe your bar is a dive bar aimed at students.

 

Sports Bar

 

The more apparent your bar’s experience, the more memorable your culture and the easier it is to attract your desired audience.

Although these are common bar types, your own bar experience may morph between different types depending on your style and the customers you want to attract.

Local neighbourhood bars tend to blend elements of different bar experiences, so you may want to bring out the cheap student deals on some nights and create a sports experience on others to create an eclectic and unique culture.

 

2. Find your Local Target Audience

By deciding upon your target audience, you can then build your brand with them in mind.

This allows bar marketing to be easier as you know who you’re targeting and the messages you want to send will be clearer and have more of an impact.

You need to create an ideal customer profile based on demographic and psychographic data to shape your bar marketing strategy around their preferences.

Demographic Data

Relevant characteristics using demographic data include; age, gender, occupation, education and income. Gather this information by thinking about the characteristics of your current customers and taking time to learn more about their backgrounds.

Psychographic Data

Psychographics are the mental characteristics of your customers and preferred clientele.

This includes behaviour and beliefs like personality, hobbies, style, and humour. By talking with your customers and engaging with your community you can learn what characteristics your patrons might have.

 

Customer Profile

 

Ask why people visit your bar and what customers are looking for when they choose your bar over another venue.

Once you collect all this data, use the information to create a client profile that describes your bar’s ideal clientele.
Then you’ll be able to determine the best products, marketing, and promotions to reach those customers.

 

3. Develop an Internal Mantra

Your unique mantra is a sentence or small paragraph that explains why your bar exists, explains what your bar does the best and outlines what makes your bar different from your local competitors.

An internal mantra is called an ‘internal’ mantra because it’s for your business and your staff to remember, it’s not announced to the public.

Firstly, ask yourself, what products are you good at selling, or more importantly, which products do you want to be good at selling?

If you outline this in your mantra sentence or paragraph, then you can get your staff inline to deliver exactly what you want.

 

Internal Mantra

 

You’ll find eventually, that your customers will visit your venue for this product.

Here’ an example of an internal mantra:

‘Venue X* exists to deliver industry leading wine at affordable prices, through a friendly and professional service; to the hipsters and workers of London.’

If your clear with your staff from their induction that this is your mantra and the goal you want to achieve, then they can get onboard with helping make this a reality.

 

4. Kickstart Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful bar marketing mediums there is. When done right, peer to peer referrals can snowball, leading to free customers.

If your bar’s service is poor or the drinks aren’t poured correctly, then it doesn’t matter how much you spend, your marketing results will suffer.

The better your bar is, the more likely word of mouth and your bar marketing will work.

Spend on your bar first and perfect your service. It’s sustainable financially, and you will get amazing results in the long run, consistently.

Harness your bar’s culture and promotions to establish your identity as the music bar, sports bar, or karaoke bar in your area, and word-of-mouth will spread like crazy.

 

5. Offer Amazing Customer Service

Great customer service is essential for your bar marketing efforts, especially for word of mouth marketing. It is essential that your customer service be memorable and consistent.

It can be as simple as having your bar staff greet your customers with a smile and genuine conversation. Train your staff to be friendly, personable, and make sure they make recommendations based on customer preferences.

Create an ambiance that’s worthy of royalty and go beyond expectations in terms of service and word of mouth will quickly spread.

 

Bar Marketing Customer Service

 

Marketing is all about planting the seed for a future sale, and by delivering unforgettable customer service, you will stay top of mind of customers who will want to come back.

 

Craft Unique Experiences

People attend bars for the experience, culture and the ambience, not just for a drink.

The better the experience your patrons are having, the more likely word of mouth will spread, and others will want to attend as well.

 

Hidden Spirit London

 

Decorate your bar, create signature drinks, and schedule live music and promotions in a way that gives customers a unique experience they’ll return to again and again.

 

7. Build an Easy to Use Website That’s Mobile Friendly

The world has gone digital.

Customers, more than ever, are using mobile and the internet for finding bars to go to.

Here are our top tips for a successful website:

1. Keep it simple
2. Make sure it’s friendly on every single device, especially mobiles
3. Use lead magnets to capture data
4. Include all the important information; hours, menu, photos and a little bit about your bar.
5. Implement an online booking for if relevant
6. Include an event calendar if you throw events
7. Link your social media so your users can see photos to get a feel of your bar.

 

Piquant Website Theme

 

Website styles and themes go out of fashion very quickly, so be sure to update your website regularly to keep ahead of the curve. This goes for all of your bar marketing efforts, as you need to be up to date with every marketing trend.

 

8. Make Sure You Can Be Found on Every Online Listing

Now you have a beautiful website it’s time to make sure people can find it. As part of your marketing plan you need to list the website on as many websites and apps that you can, so you can be found.

A lot of them are free, think Google Local, Yelp and TripAdvisor. They display your hours, website, address, reviews and even photos for potential customers to see.

You can also find lots of apps by visiting the ‘App Stores’ and searching by category for food and drink. You’ll find all the top apps there that can list bars like yours.

Bloc for example, is an app that goes one step further than just listing your bar.

 

Bloc App

 

Instead, it incentivises people to attend by rewarding them with real money, so your customers can earn real money by attending your bar.

It’s free to try with £150 ad credit which is 75 customers for free. After that it’s only £2 (inc. VAT) for every customer that attends (using geo-location).

Bloc is just one example of an innovative way to market your bar. There are others, you just need those that will work for your business.

 

9. Stay on Top of Review Sites

Monitoring review sites is incredibly important for discovering what your target audience is saying about your bar.

If you’re getting good reviews it means customers are far more likely to recommend your bar. Positive reviews are essential for bar marketing success.

If you’re getting bad reviews, then take it as constructive criticism and listen to them to continuously improve your service.

You should be constantly tweaking and improving your bar so your customers can only leave positive reviews.

There are many websites where people can leave reviews but the main ones are TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp.

 

Google Local

 

Note that on platforms such as these, customers can leave a review even if you haven’t submitted your bar’s details yourself.
Invest your time into analysing all the reviews across the internet. Most of these platforms allow you, as the verified owner, to reply to reviews.

Acknowledging and thanking reviews is good practice, even if they’re negative. Always reply in a polite and professional manner and avoid getting in disagreements, even if you strongly disagree with the review.

This can be damaging to your brand and all of your bar marketing efforts.

So how can you get good reviews so that your bar shows up first on Google’s map?

Encourage your customers to write reviews. You can ask via social media, emails or even in person at your bar.

Get creative and be transparent with what you want, and you will see great results!

 

10. Utilise Social Media

Social media has become one the most powerful tools available for successful bar marketing. Social media helps with increasing sales, building a brand and retaining loyal customers.

To get started you need to create a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, an Instagram account and Pinterest account.

 

Bar Marketing Social Media

 

With this setup, you’ll be able to showcase your bar with high quality photos, show happy customers and give customers a sneak peak of behind the scenes and show off your staff.

You’ll also be able to share special discounts, exclusive deals and promote your news.

Most importantly you’ll be able to connect with your customers by commenting and direct messaging to build rapport for repeat customers.

It’s vital that you keep on top of your social media accounts as non-active accounts are a lot worse than not having an account at all.

It’s not too time-consuming and photos can be shared across multiple platforms with one click.

The biggest trick for utilising social media for free isn’t actually on your handles, but actually making sure your customers and snapping away and sharing their experience.

A bar marketing hack is to make sure your food is ‘Instagrammable’ and you can reach thousands of potential customers for free.

Each customer can be become a free social influencer, you just need to make it easy for them to be one.

 

11. Follow Other Bars on Social Media

Benchmarking is a term in business you should familiarise yourself with. It’s the process of evaluating something by comparison with a standard.

In relation to bar marketing it’s the process of analysing other bars, to see what they are doing well and improving upon those things further.

By following bars that you like on social media you can use their ideas as inspiration for your own.

This can be from content, décor and even marketing ideas. You should also regularly visit top bars to draw inspiration from your own experiences.

 

12. Respond to Comments on Social Media

You can build online relationships with your customers by interacting with them across all your platforms.

A simple reply, or even a like, can strengthen your relationships with your customers that will pay dividends in terms of repeat business in the future.

Keeping your followers and customers engaged is vital. Especially if they ask questions or post a complaint.

 

13. Be Insta-Credible

Instagram is one of the best ways to promote your bar on social media, as visual content is in high demand.

You should also use Instagram to relay your brand messages to your target audience and is a platform to play around with your brand identity.

 

Instagram Marketing for Bars

 

For example, a bar marketing themselves with a focus on high-end cocktails might share photos that include other luxury items such as travel and fashion. This way your customers can start associating your bar with luxury.

Basically, sharing content that you think your fan base will enjoy.

You should also bear in mind that many people, millennials especially, attend bars just so they can photograph themselves and show off that they have attended.

You should come up with something unique, creative and ‘Instagrammable’ that people won’t be able to resist taking a photo of.

You should also take advantage of Instagram’s stories and highlights as part of your bar marketing campaign.

 

Bar Marketing Instagram

 

Pro Tip: If your bar has been tagged by one of your customers you can repost it on your page. Free content for you and they will appreciate the repost.

You need to give them credit by tagging them in the caption so other people will want to come try your bar in hopes of getting their photos reposted too.

 

14. Use Instagram Stories and Highlights

Instagram stories are an excellent way to keep your followers engaged with your brand.

They don’t need to be as high-quality as your Instagram posts because they disappear after 24 hours. If you want to keep them, you can save them as a highlight to show off certain aspects of your bar’s experience.

For example, a highlight could be titled ‘Drinks’, so when a user clicks on this highlight folder, they can see pictures or videos of all your drinks.

Remember, photos saved in highlights should be high-quality. Whereas, if you know a story won’t be saved you don’t need to worry about quality as much.

 

Instagram Stories

 

Good practice for Instagram stories is to continuously show your patrons having fun in your bar. Your goal is to achieve ‘FOMO’ for your followers watching (fear of missing out), so that they attend as well on another date.

For your highlights title ideas could be drinks, recipes, the bar (décor), staff and behind the scenes.

Top tip: Give an influencer access to your stories for a night, so they can document their evening, showing off how fun your bar is. You can then save this as a highlight which could impress your followers for future sales.

 

15. Only Use High-Quality Photos Across your Social Channels

It’s important that you only use high-quality photos when you post on social media.

Each post represents your brand, so if a post is low quality, followers will associate your bar with being below par.

High quality photos also increase engagement which can help grow your following.

If you don’t have the time or resources to constantly post on social media, stick with quality over quantity. One amazing photo is better than five average ones. It doesn’t matter if that means not posting for a few days.

 

Quality Drink Photos

 

Here are our tips for taking high-quality photos that will increase engagement and lead to successful bar marketing:

1. Involve people when taking photos of your drinks or food

People like faces. A photo only showing a drink is boring and there’s not much to engage with. Instead show off your drinks with someone in the photo, smiling. This will make it look like that person is enjoying the drink and is far more likely to get a positive response.

2. Good lighting

The key to a good photo is all in the lighting. Try and take your product shots during the day near windows. You’ll get a much better final result.

3. Dusk and dawn

Also known as the golden hour. Try taking photos as the sun rises or the sun is setting. You can get some really cool natural shots for your social media. This lighting is a professional’s dream.

4. Be consistent with the quality

Social media can be a false place. Make sure your drinks are poured exactly the way they appear in your photos. If a customer receives a drink that looks nothing like the photo you took earlier, it might be seen as false advertising and your customers won’t take lightly to that.

Top tip: You can increase sales by posting photos of drink recipes that are a lot of effort or difficult to reproduce.

For example, you could post a photo of a beautiful cocktail that everyone will want to try. If you post the recipe in the caption, then people will see how complicated it is and know they will have to attend your bar to enjoy it.

 

16. Throw Competitions on Social Media

Who doesn’t love winning? And who doesn’t love winning free stuff?

This is why your reach, that is the people you could reach, can be incredible, when throwing a social media competition.

Throwing competitions on your social media is an easy way to gain more followers, increase revenue and raise awareness of your bar’s brand.

 

Instagram Competition

 

Here are some social media competition ideas you could try:

1. Tag two friends

This works best on Instagram. To enter followers need to tag two friends in the comments. This way these two people will see the competition and potentially tag two of their friends. This can snowball and reach thousands of people.

2. Sweepstake competition

This is a simple competition where the follower has to enter their email address to enter. Remember to communicate that they are opting in to be contacted by you.

3. Photo hashtag competition

This is a good one if you’re in need of user-generated content for your social media. To enter, users have to upload a photo in your bar and include a unique competition hashtag. Once the competition is over you can search for that hashtag and find all the content that should keep you going for a few months.

4. Survey

This is good competition to run if you need customer feedback. To enter followers have to complete a short survey.

5. Twitter RT

If you want to build your Twitter followers a good competition to run is one where you ask your followers to follow your account and RT a specific competition Tweet that you wrote. This way you can tap into their friends who should follow your bar.

Top tip: For the prizes consider free drinks in your bar, like a free bottle of champagne. The winners are unlikely to come alone and could end up buying more drinks after so it’s revenue for you. You could also consider merchandise as prizes with your logo on them, this way your winners will be walking advertisements for your bar in your local area.

 

17. Take Advantage of Hashtags on Social Media

Hashtags can be powerful on social media when utilised correctly. They are a great way to increase engagement with your brand, which should lead to more customers.

The first thing you need to do is come up with 1 to 3 hashtags that are unique to your bar and use them continuously.

You should have one designated to your bar’s name and then one for your local area with a combination of your bar’s name. You should even consider a fun one that your followers will enjoy using. For example:

#TheRedback
# TheRedbackFulham
#RedbackDrunk

You want to encourage your users to use them as well. This increases engagement and builds a community of customers because hashtags can be searched.

Also, you can jump on the hype of existing popular Twitter hashtags like #ThirstyThursdays or by inventing your own, hashtags are a great way to have some fun with followers.

 

18. Show Off Your Staff

Although not directly a marketing idea, happy employees are an indirect effort for your bar marketing efforts.

It says a lot about your business if you have happy employees. Showing them off on your social media will gain appreciation amongst your followers.

Cheerful workers are not only contagious but are also more likely to go above and beyond in terms of customer service. This will benefit your bar’s marketing efforts in terms of word of mouth marketing.

 

Bar Staff

 

Word of mouth marketing begins with your employees. Incentivising your bar staff to gain customers is a great way to kick start this word of mouth. Bonuses, free drinks and merch are just some ideas of how you can incentivise your employees to go the extra mile for your business.

You should also see an increase in positive reviews from customers if your employees are happy. If you look at any review site, you won’t need to scroll far to see a mention of how the staff treated that particular customer.

 

19. Automate the Twitter-Sphere

More and more people are now Tweeting and it’s a platform your bar should consider as part of your bar marketing plan.

You can share recent news, updates and most importantly reply to customers who mention your bar’s handle. It’s become a popular platform for businesses to handle customer complaints, so it’s a useful tool to setup.

It’s quite difficult to build a huge following on Twitter because people mainly follow celebrities and it’s not as visual as Instagram, so it’s harder for customers to engage with your account. But the trick is to stick to it and Tweet regularly.

Twitter doesn’t need to use up all of your time either. Tweets can be scheduled on sites like Hootsuite.

You should schedule your Tweets at the best times, e.g. at 4pm on a Friday.

Top tip: Journalists use Twitter a lot for their work, so you should follow your local papers writers and engage with them to increase your chance of being covered for free press.

 

20. Pin Your Photos on Pinterest

Pinterest is another platform that is incredibly visual, so it’s another powerful platform for showcasing your bar’s best photos.

It’s not as popular as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook but is largely used by females.

‘New and popular social media platform + A bunch of businesses that are too scared to use it = Big returns for the early adopters.’ Corey Eridon (nextBars.com)

Here’s a guide in getting started with Pinterest and is worth trying to see if it works for your bar.

You can ‘pin’ photos of your best drinks and food that you can link to your website and social media.

 

Cocktails on Pinterest

 

Pins are then re-pinned by other users, which creates an endless marketing cycle for your bar.

Make sure that you brand each photo before you pin them. That way when people come across them, they know exactly where to go and drink them.

 

21. Pay for Geo-Targeted Ads

Facebook, Instagram, Bloc and Twitter are all platforms where you can pay to reach a highly targeted audience in your local area, referred to as geo-targeting ads.

You create an ad creative, choose your audience and pay for clicks or impressions.

Why geo-targeted ads?

Most people are looking for bars near their homes, so you’ll get the most value out of your budget if you spend on geo-targeted ads. Only users in a specific radius see your ads (removing non-relevant impressions).

You can also choose your audience such as age, gender and interests. If your perfect client profile are sports fans, you can target these people in your local easily with geo-targeted ads.

 

Facebook Ads

 

Pro Tip: You should run ‘specific’ campaigns with a clear purpose and set up a method of being able to track the results outside of the specific platforms analytics.

For example, you could advertise a ‘buy one get one free’ drink in your bar exclusive to the ad campaign. At the end of each week you could see how many of these were ‘cashed’ in and compare them to your analytics.

This is a good way to know if it’s actually working or not.

 

22. Setup Snapchat Marketing Campaigns

Snapchat is a platform you want to be on if you want to target millennials and gen Z. It is mainly used by people up to the age of 24 and should be considered to be part of your bar marketing plan if you’re targeting this age bracket.

These customers aren’t necessarily on Facebook anymore because it’s become unpopular for this age bracket because ‘their parents use Facebook’.

Like Facebook and Instagram, you can set up geo-targeted ads. One really cool feature that Snapchat allows is ‘Branded geo-filters’. You basically set a radius around your bar and if anyone takes a ‘snap’ in your chosen radius then they can apply a filter to their photo with your branding.

This can then reach that person’s followers. It’s a chance to be really creative and is powerful for brand awareness.

 

Snapchat Geo-filter

 

Top tip: if you have regular patrons who are prolific on Snapchat with a large following, you should incentise them with free drinks to continuously snapchat in your bar and use your new geo-filters to raise brand awareness.

 

23. Use Re-Targeting Geo-Targeted Ads

Re-targeting ads are extremely powerful, effective and should be considered to be part of your bar marketing plan.

Have you ever visited a website, left and then seen this websites product being advertised to you across all your social channels?

These are re-targeted advertisements.

The way it works is that when you visit a website, you store a ‘cookie’ in the form of a pixel. Platforms such as a Facebook then use this cookie to advertise to you.

It’s easy to set them up too. When you create a Facebook ad you will have the option for ‘re-targeting’, select this and follow Facebook’s instructions for setting them up.

The reason they work is because when a customer goes on your site, they may not be ready to attend your bar i.e. they land on your site from your other marketing efforts on a Monday morning.

 

Re-targeting Ads

 

Obviously, most people don’t want to go to a bar on a Monday morning. They then forget your bar ever existed. But on Friday they are hit with a re-targeted ad (because you have set this up to do exactly that), and now they are familiar with your bar and in the perfect situation to want to go.

 

24. Ad Video Marketing to Your Campaigns

Video has become a must have in any bar marketing campaigns.

They work because they are brilliant for telling your bar’s story and delivering branded messages.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to secure sales as customers can connect on an emotional level.

Customers want the whole story behind menu items. For example, they want to know where the hops were grown and how – or how a distiller chose a spirit’s name.

You should use video in your geo-targeted ads as well as for your social media posts. A really ‘cool’ video can associate your bar with being a ‘cool’ place to hang out, and it can be as simple as that.

 

25. Become A Google AdWords Expert

A huge percentage of people are searching for bars to attend on their mobile and desktop.

Google, of course, is the platform most customers are using to search for bars. It’s one of the most effective mediums for bar marketing there is.

Google Adwords is Google’s answer to geo-targeted ads.

When someone searches for ‘Cool bars London’, you can pay Google (using Google Adwords) to be at the top of the search results for that search phrase.

It’s super easy to set up your campaign. You simply create your ads and then choose the keywords you want to advertise on.

You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find these keywords and to see how many people are searching for them as well as the price you will have to pay to come up.

Relevance is really important. There’s no point in your bar appearing for ‘Sports bar in London’ if you’re a high-end cocktail bar without any TVs.

 

Google Adwords London

 

You can place keywords you don’t want under ‘Negative keywords’ so you don’t show for them. Each month you can see the key phrases people searched for when clicking on your ad so you can filter out the keywords you don’t want.

Pro Tip: Google have an amazing sales team that are ready and waiting to help you get setup for free, so you can get the best results from Google Adwords.

 

26. Dabble in Influencer Marketing

Since the rise of Instagram, influencers have become one of the most desirable jobs on the planet.

Influencers are people who have built up a large following on social media and are persuasive in getting their followers to try new products and go to new places.

Influencers already have a loyal following that will listen to their recommendations and advice. You can tap into their following by getting them to post pictures or by mentioning you on their social media.

The easiest way to get influencers to promote your bar is by inviting them to come for free. Whether in free drinks or a free meal.

If their followers see multiple posts about your bar, then they will truly start believing it’s worth a visit.

 

Influencer Bar Marketing

 

Top Tip: You can make every customer an influencer by offering an ‘Instagrammable’ welcome cocktail or amuse-bouche. If it’s Insta worthy, and it’s posted, those customers are promoting your bar to their followers.

 

27. Promote User-Generated Content

If you have drinks or a photo op for bar marketing, customers will take photos and upload them onto social media without you even having to ask.

User-generated content is also a great way to increase engagement and create rapport with your customers because you can re-post them.

By using content that your followers post it will save you time and money.

 

User Generated Content

 

Using content from your followers helps you as a brand connect with people on a human level and come across as authentic.

Top tip: Encourage your customers to use one of your hashtags so you can easily find the photos to re-post. You can also search for your bar by location and find photos that way.
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28. Start a Blog

Writing a blog has many benefits.

The biggest being that it increases your chance of being displayed at the top of Google’s organic search results.

It also gives your social media accounts more depth as you can share your new content across all of your channels.

Blogging is an excellent way to share knowledge and become an ‘expert’ in mixology and hospitality management.

 

Bar Blogger

 

Here are some topics you could write about:

1. Show off drink recipes

If you have amazing recipes for drinks such as cocktails, you can share these with your readers.

2. Employee spotlights

Write about your bartenders and other employees. Loyal customers will love reading about them and it will help build rapport with your employees and customers.

3. Pairings

Explain to your customers how to pair your menu items. If you serve food and drinks at your bar let customers know what goes together.

Top tip: Journalists use blogs to research topics. Follow journalists on Twitter and build a relationship with them. You never know, they might mention your blog in their latest article.

 

29. Get Handy at SEO

Local SEO for bars is important. It’s one of the first places customers will go to find your bar.

Even if they know of your bar already and know they are going, they will still use Google to find information such as opening times. So it’s really important you appear at the top of the search results.

Appearing at the top in your area is a huge competitive advantage over your competition because you will be clicked first.

SEO takes time, commitment and knowledge but if you’re willing you can get lots of free customers, so it’ll pay dividends in the long run.

There’s a lot of credibility that comes with being ranked well by Google, so your potential customers will land on your website trusting you from the off.

You want to make sure you rank in your ‘local pack’, also known as the top three Google map spots, when users search a specific keyword like “best cocktail bar London.”

These top three bars will receive the most traffic because they are the first results a user sees.

 

SEO Joke

 

How do you get in this top three?

1. Optimize your website (make sure it’s mobile friendly)

2. Have a ‘Google My Business’ account

3. Have a ton of online reviews

Top tip: Optimize your website with keywords that make sense for your bar. Use the Google Keyword Planner to find the best keywords that customers are searching for.

Use what you find in your research to optimize your site with these words and phrases.

 

30. Sponsor Local Sports & Rec Teams

Sports teams are usually quite large and there is usually a big social scene surrounding the winning and even the losses.

By sponsoring a local sports team i.e. buying the kits and putting your brand on them you can secure future business after games.

As part of the agreement your bar should be their watering hole after their games.

 

Bar Marketing Sponsor Local Teams

 

Sports games usually happen at the weekends in the afternoons and even on Sunday’s, so it’s a good way to get a lot of people into your bar, even at slow times.

 

31. Implement Loyalty Programs for Influencers

Concentrating on your current customers for repeat business is a cheap and effective way to increase revenue.

Loyalty programs are a great way to increase your chance of repeat customers.

By setting up a loyalty program for your best customers and influencers with a large following, you can continuously reach a lot of people at once.

For example, you can create an army of influencers by offering a free bottle of champagne for every 5th post they upload to their followers.

Influencer marketing doesn’t work well when an influencer only posts once. People have become wise to influencer marketing and can spot a sponsored post from a mile away.

 

Loyalty Card

 

But if one influencer keeps on promoting your bar continuously then their followers will find it difficult to ignore and will start believing your bar is the place to be, even if they haven’t gone yet.

32. Take Advantage of Email Marketing

Email marketing is an effective way to reach your customers and to keep them coming back to your bar.

Email marketing doesn’t work without a database of email addresses. You need to build your list of email addresses and here are a few proven ways to build one:

1. Create a lead magnet and landing page on your website. This is an enticing pop-up or button on your website that asks for their email address in exchange for a reward. For example, you could offer a free drink to anyone who submits their email and comes within one month.

2. A lot of customers will want to connect to your WiFi (you should offer this for free), but if they want to get on, ask them to submit their email.

3. You can throw competitions on your social media or from within your venue. When they submit their entry, you can ask them to submit their email too.

 

Bar Lead Magnet

 

Once you have a good email database you can reach your customers with promotions and special events.

You can use an email client like MailChimp to send your emails so you can track open rates, click rates and unsubscribes.You should always include a hook so your email adds value, otherwise you will find your customers will hit unsubscribe and your hard work will be undone.

Top tip: A good email marketing campaign starts with a good subject line. Customers won’t open your email in the first place unless the subject line is enticing. Avoid spammy subject lines like 20% off, limited time only.

Instead, appeal to them by making it personal and relevant. E.g. Jack, Happy Birthday, we have a gift waiting for you…

 

33. Use Promoters

Promoters are like influencers except they work exclusively for your bar and they only get paid based on how many customers they bring you.

They may not have a huge social media following like influencers, but they are still influential in their circles, that might be hard for you to reach.

For example, you could use a promoter specifically for a university. They should attend the Uni and have a large friends list (you can grasp this by their Facebook and the amount of friends they have on that platform).

If you throw ticketed events at your bar, then promoters are easy to reward. You can pay them £1 for each ticket they sell for example.

Alternatively, you can reward promoters based on bar spend or the number of people on a guestlist.

 

Promoter

 

Top tip: Promoters sway usually diminishes with age so get new promoters every year to keep your clientele relevant.

 

34. Host Events

Your bar could be hosting lots of different types of events and therefore increasing revenue as a result.

Events include charity events, product launches and birthdays. These types of events bring in large crowds and is an easy way to fill up your bar with people.

Events also work really well for your social media reach as usually many photos are taken. Special events like birthdays are usually referred back to and talked about far more.

These types of events are more likely to attract celebrities, influencers, journalists and bloggers so it’s a good chance to get free publicity.

Allowing your venue to be available for venue hire is a good idea if you’re always quiet on certain days, e.g. Sunday nights.

There are sites such as Hire Space, where they will list your venue for you and you can choose when the venue is available for hire.

 

Bar Marketing Events

 

Top Tip: You could host an event specifically for local influencers and celebrities.

Offer free food and drinks, along with VIP treatment during the event, in exchange for a story or exclusive content.

 

35. Throw Themed Nights

Themed nights can give your marketing a purpose and it’s easier to come up with content. It’s also easier to target a specific audience that will be interested in the themed night you’re throwing.

If you anticipate a night might be quiet it could be worth throwing a themed party to make sure patrons show up. It’s also a good way to reach new customers who might not have been interested in your bar originally.

Some bars even go as far as sticking to a theme as their main attraction all year round. One of Bloc’s advertisers ‘The Bletchley’ entice cocktail enthusiasts into their bar with a WW2 theme.

Alternatively, you could introduce a schedule, with singles night on a Thursday and a pub quiz night on Monday’s.

 

St Patricks Day

 

Top tip: Don’t forget the holidays. Add every single holiday you can think of to your Calendar and throw themed nights on the ones you know your patrons will be interested in (like St Patrick’s day).

 

36. It Pays When Guests Play

Nielson On Location’s research found that it pays when guests play. The research recorded that when guests played bar trivia games, they spent 21% more per table than non-playing tables.

This research insinuates that by giving customers satisfaction through gaming and connection, revenue can increase. They basically have so much fun that they forget to leave the bar.

Top tip: Get your most enthusiastic staff member to host live games one night a week, and those slow weekdays will be no more.

 

37. Throw Tasting Nights and Masterclasses

Related to themed evenings, you could throw tasting evenings and masterclasses.

Some of your customers might have a favourite beverage or up for expanding their knowledge and taste, so when you throw a tasting night for specific alcohols you can draw these people in.

You could even hold tasting events and masterclasses in line with certain holidays. For example, Irish whiskies on St Patrick’s Day.

This is also a clever little tactic to shift some inventory that might need to go, but at the same time keeping revenue up and building relationships with patrons.

 

Whiskey Tasting

 

Top tip: Don’t be afraid to give away tasters for your top shelf liquor. By letting your patrons try the best stuff, you never know, they might want to pay for a full glass in the future because they’re hooked.

 

38. Form Partnerships

Partnering with different brands, sports team and clubs could secure a constant stream of revenue for your bar.

For example, you could offer a percentage discount to large businesses with lots of employees. They simply just need to show their staff ID card to your bar staff.

You could even arrange it so the discount is only valid when you’re quiet, so it fills empty seats when nothing else is working.

Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge London has partnered with BMW.

BMW’s staff get a 20% discount off food. With this partnership in play both brands plug each other on their social media so lots of benefits come from it.

 

Partnership for Bar Marketing

 

Try and partner with a local business or two and you could have a constant stream of business.

 

39. Offer Promotions, Coupons and Discounts

Offering drinks promotions goes further than just getting customers to come to your bar in the first place. You can get social media content, better reviews, email addresses, word of mouth spreading and lots more.

Here are our top tips for promotions and discounts:

1. Create a sense of urgency

Create a sense of urgency with a “limited time special” as a discount on inventory that you need to get rid of.

2. Throw contests

Host a competition around a particular spirit that you want to upsell e.g. best signature cocktail.

3. Create cocktails around themes

Design cocktail discounts around a theme, e.g. St Patrick’s day cocktail that includes Irish whiskey.

Another note is that you should be very descriptive with your menu items. It has been shown to drive sales by up to 27%, if you show an extensive description, according to Cornell University research. Customers are even willing to pay 10% more for well-described items according to the research.

4. Use social media channels for your next promotion

Create a social media plan for your upcoming promotion. Including what you’re going to post and when. Plug the promotion across all your best channels and make sure people are sharing the promotion.

 

Happy Hour Sign

 

5. Use 3rd party businesses for your promotions

Try advertising a discount on sites like Groupon. These have thousands of freebie and discount hunters waiting to find the next best deal.

Limit the number of sales via this route though as it will cost you due to the hefty portion of sales they take.

6. Happy hours

Offering discounts on drinks or food is a good way to spread the word about your bar. Don’t rely on discounts alone to market your bar, but it’s one method to combine with others.

Try offering discounts during a happy hour or running promotions for example.

 

40. Experiment with Pop-ups

There are lots of events like festivals and sporting events where established bars with permanent addresses are popping up.

By having a pop-up tent or bar at an event means you can reach a whole new audience in a different demographic.

Mahiki in London do this well. They have a permanent address on Dover Street, but they pop up at events like Henley Regatta and Polo in the Park.

They know their target audience is affluent and they’re likely to be at these sorts of events.

If you’re thinking about opening a new bar as an extension from your original one in a different city or location, you can trial it with a pop-up first.

 

Pop-Up Bar

 

Just because your bar is a hit in one town, doesn’t mean it necessarily will be in another.

 

41. Get Fresh Off the Press

It’s not easy getting in national press as a bar, but local press is much easier.

You should try and get in both local and national press by being ‘newsworthy’. Here are some ideas that you could try:

1. Win awards, journalists love covering award winners, so get involved and compete for that ‘best bar in the UK’ for example.

2. Tip off the press. If you have celebrities attending your bar, tip off the press so they can snap them leaving. You could get a little mention in the photo’s caption.

3. Come up with press that’s slightly outrageous. This technique is called ‘the Purple cow method’ and is a way to stand out. For example, did x spend £40k in your bar in one night? Did someone enter your bar riding a horse?

Top Tip: when you’re mentioned by the press, show off your good publicity on your website and your social media.

You will increase engagement as fans will help spread the word, and newcomers will be encouraged to visit in person when they see trusted sources celebrating your bar.

 

42. Set Up Google Alerts

Google Alerts are useful as they notify you when your business name (or other designated keyword term) appears in a new piece of content on the internet. This makes it easy to keep tabs on who is talking about you and your news.

 

43. Implement Online Reservation Tools

Implementing an online reservation tool on your website makes it easy for your customers to make a booking at your bar.

This is especially useful for customers who want to book for a large number of people for an event like a birthday. When people want to sit down and book an area or table an online reservation tool is very convenient.

You can also use 3rd party reservation tools like Open Table or Design My Night to tap into their audience. This way your bar can feature on their sites and you can get bookings through them.

 

44. Start Networking

Your bar is a local establishment which means you should be “networking” with your customers, employees and other local businesses, including other bars.

Other local bars are unlikely to be competition as they will have a different culture and a different target audience.

 

Bar Networking

 

By working with other bars, you can recommend each other to patrons. For example, if you don’t show sport but a local sports bar does, you can recommend that bar. That sports can they repay the favour in the future.

 

45. Create a Gift Card for Bar Marketing

You should have gift cards available for your bar. This allows customers to buy them as gifts and means you can get new customers who might not usually have attended your bar.

Once you have gift cards created you can use them for giveaways, competitions and to give to celebrities, influencers and bloggers.

 

Bar Marketing Gift Card

 

46. Create a Secret Menu
This one is great for word of mouth and social media brand awareness.

Have your best mixologists create a signature cocktail but don’t add it to the menu and definitely don’t share the recipe anywhere.

 

Secret Bar

 

Have your most loyal patrons and influencers spread the word with hashtags like #secretmenu. News will travel fast and customers will want to try it to guess what’s in it.

 

47. Get Mocktails and Healthy Beverages on your Menu

The healthy beverage and mocktail market is booming.

As people are becoming more health conscious and the culture around drinking is changing you must have mocktails and healthy beverages on your menu.

By marketing that you offer healthy drinks and alcohol free drinks you can tap into this market and increase revenue.

51% of millennials and Gen Z purchased more mocktails than they did two years ago according to research from Technomic’s Beverage Consumer Trend Report.

In the same report, apparently 54% of millennials seek out immunity-boosting, antioxidant-rich beverages. Mix in some blueberries in a piña colada or experiment with cinnamon. You could also offer “skinny” versions of your most popular cocktails for dieters too.

 

Mocktails

 

Instead of just offering cheaper sodas and mixers, focus on high margin mocktails like ‘Gourmet Lemonade’ or ‘Homegrown Virgin Bloody Mary’s.

 

48. Go Local

Using local liquor has a big advantage when it comes to your bar marketing efforts. Customers want beer, wine, and liquor with a local connection and story. So, you’ll keep them happy by going local.

You could even bring an influx of new customers from the local businesses selling to you too.

Your local booze suppliers will also have a local customer base so they could alert their customers that you’ve got their drinks in stock at your bar, it’s a win-win.

You can also make massive savings as they’ll be lesser known brands and you’ll save on delivery costs too.

 

49. Hold Pay-Per-View Nights

Pay-per-view can be a very fruitful exercise to take part in for your bar marketing plan. It will cost you a couple hundred pounds or more to get setup but the money you will make it will be well worth it.

Some pubs report double, triple and even quadruple their normal Saturday night takings according to figures.

 

Pay per View Bar Marketing

 

The trick is to show fights (or the best events that will be on pay-per-view) regularly, rather than just as special one-off. That way, people will associate your bar as the place to go whenever there’s a big sporting event.

 

50. Don’t Forget Traditional Marketing

Bar marketing managers in the hospitality industry are going away from traditional marketing and replacing it with digital marketing, as digital marketing is seen to be cheaper and get better results.

Ironically, this actually now presents an opportunity. Which is why you shouldn’t forget or write off traditional marketing.

If there are 10 bars on one road, back in the day all 10 would be handing out flyers to people walking down the street. That person would receive 10 flyers, be over-whelmed and probably dismiss them all.

But now it’s likely a person can walk down the same road and not receive a single leaflet. But if you handed that person one flyer, they would probably consume the information and it could be effective.

So, don’t write off traditional bar marketing and give it a try if no one else around you is. There won’t be as much noise and you could get amazing results.

 

Traditional Bar Marketing

 

In the hospitality industry, traditional marketing methods are defined as physical marketing material. Here are some mediums you could use:

• Newspaper ads
• Radio
• Flyers
• Posters
• Street Press
• Newsletters
• TV
• Skywriting
• Billboards
• Bus-stop advertising

Top tip: Track the effectiveness of traditional marketing by using a unique telephone number or email address different to your usual one. You’ll soon find out how effective your traditional marketing is.

That concludes our 50 marketing ideas, we hope there are some good ideas in there that you could try and wish you every bit of success in the future.