Bar owners are always be on the lookout for new ideas to bring in more customers to their establishment. There are an unlimited number of things you could do in hopes of slinging more drinks, but we put together 22 effective ways to bring the most notable changes.
1. Late Night Happy Hour
Instead of offering a happy hour during slow business hours, try something new. People who come to bars during happy hour or mid-day tend to drink less, so why wouldn’t you capitalize on your busy hours instead to sell more drinks? Having a late night happy hour from 9pm-11pm will certainly bring in more customers ready to party . Right when they are feeling the love, happy hour will end and you can sell even more full price drinks.
2. Weekly Tap Rotations
People who like beer have the same thing in common with people who can’t stop cheating on their wives: they enjoy variety. Having a constant rotation of beers available on tab and promoting them where your customers see is a recipe for more customers. You can promote your frequent changes on your website, social media, and email list.
3. Musical Events
Booking events at your venue is one of the best ways to increase your foot traffic. Booking small artists in your area will be of very little cost to you and it will bring in a tremendous amount of people (just make sure you listen to the artist first, you don’t want awful music all night). As you book more events, people will notice. As you get bigger and bigger artists, you can even sell tickets at the door for double the income.
4. Trivia Night
Trivia is a fun way to get large groups of friends out to your bar. Many people don’t enjoy drinking just to drink, but they will get plastered if there is a reason for it. Make trivia the reason. People are always searching for fun events on the weekday with coworkers or a cool event to show their friends visiting their city. Either way, trivia creates a fun weekly atmosphere that will not only bring in larger parties ready to drink, it will also turn many of these groups into weekly trivia all-stars.
5. Google My Business
Over 93% of google map searches are for local businesses and restaurants, so having your bar show up when people look for “bars near me” is crucial. All of these potential customers would not see your listing if you have never made a Google My Business, essentially making your bar invisible to the 93% of searches in your area. If you take anything away from this article, this is one of the most important.
6. Social Media Mascot
Why would people remember your bar? If you don’t have an immediate answer, maybe it’s time to create a mascot for your location. This works especially well for sports related bars or specialty bars with a specific theme. By creating a “Tony, The Drunk Turtle” on your social media (for example), you can have a memorable icon for your bar, answering a very important question, what will someone remember about your bar?
7. Create An Email List
The only way you can generate more income is if you acquire new customers or sell more liquor to the ones that already love you. The latter option is always the easiest. By creating something on your website, like a coupon or sign up offer, you can start collecting emails of interested customers and send them all of your new events, drinks, specials, food, and everything else that your customers respond to. The longer you have the list, the longer it will get and will exponentially generate more business. Imagine this, you send out 100 emails automatically each week and only 10% of them decide to walk in. That is 10 new potential customers every week that have the potential to spend hundreds of dollars with you every month.
8. Create A “Bar Culture”
Do you want your bar to be boring and bland, blending in with every other place that has alcohol and TV’s? Of course you don’t, this is why creating a strong brand that makes you stand out is essential. You have to pick something and FULLY commit. For example, if you create a hawaiian bar, make sure that you do it so well that if anyone thinks of Hawaii, they think of your bar.
9. Offbeat Holiday Promotion
National Pizza Day, National Wings Day, National Beer Day, National Tequila Day, you name it and there is a national holiday. Capitalize on this and offer something that will make your bar unique. You don’t have to do anything crazy, just advertising something like a new pizza combo, new tequila specials, anything that makes you stand out. You should push to advertise these new specials on your social media and website so you can get the word out to your customers.
10. Shred Your Tab Night
You heard me right, shred your tab night. No, that does not mean drinks on the house all night. However, it does mean that one lucky customer gets drunk for free! People love to win contests and drawings so make it a weekly event. You can promote the event on your social media and website in order to draw in a crowd. Who doesn’t want free drinks? Create a drawing that if the customer’s name is pulled, they get to shred their entire tab for the night right in front of the whole bar. This makes a fun event that will always make you more money than you lose from the tab (unless Frank Sinatra is a frequent winner).
11. Unusual Drinks
Bring something with a bang. Add flaming drinks, sparklers, basically anything that can be flexed on social media. Get your customers to post pictures of their incredible drinks to their social media for a small discount. One post will reach all of the posters online following, mostly friends and family in the area that are potential customers. They will all wonder who is serving the coolest drinks in the area and actively seeking out your establishment.
12. Red Light Specials
Red Drinks, red LED lights, red everything. Invite your local fire and police department out for discounted drinks all with a red theme. You could offer everything from chilli powder drinks to red hot flaming wings. To get the word out post the event to all your social media and see how your customers respond.
13. Jersey Giveaway
This one is pretty self explanatory, next time you have a college football rivalry or the world series is getting broadcasted at your bar, offer a contest to your customers. Create some kind of raffle that gives a chance to win a new sports jersey from your bar. If the bar name fits, you could even get it printed on the jersey so the winner becomes a walking advertisement.
14. Photo Contest
Have your customers promote your bar for you! Run a contest based around photos of your bar. For example, you could offer a free drink to anyone who posts a video of them drinking an entire 32oz beer in one go. This will cause many people to come in and attempt the challenge as well as posting pictures for their thousands of followers in your area to see. Use social media to your advantage.
15. Early Bird Menu
We already suggested having a late night happy hour, but you could also do early bird food specials. For example, bring people in for a lunch pizza and beer deal from 11am-1pm. This is a great way to offer rotating specials that bring regulars that keep coming back every week.
16. Create Branded Merch
Ever thought about selling shirts or other merch with your bars brand on it? Try giving it away. Seriously, this is a great way to market your bar and get the word out that it exists. Free stuff always makes people happy and it also gives them a story to tell if someone asked about their shirt. Giving out things for free you may lose a little money in the short term, but the word of mouth of a happy customer will be worth hundreds.
17. Social Media Targeted Advertising
Social media advertising is a great way to reach the exact target audience you want. If you run Facebook and Instagram ads, you can target people only in your area that showed interest in your bar and advertisement. Using this along with google search ads will help to create awareness around your brand name as well as promoting your business where the consumer will actually see it, unlike non targeted advertising.
18. Work With Influencers
Working with a local social media star can be just what your bar needs. Search for local Instagram influencers, or people that post their own lives and faces, with a good amount of followers. Reach out to them and offer them something for free and if they don’t accept offer a small dollar amount. Get them to post a picture and tag you on their main account. This is an instant boost for credibility as well as associating your bar’s name with the influencer and their many followers. You can re-post their content on your own social media pages as well, a two for one deal!
19. Make A Website
Having an online presence is one of the most important things you can do for any company, especially a local business. Your website isn’t only to look good, it can be used for online booking, a social media hub, directions, photo sharing, and an event calendar. Without a website, your Google My Business page will not rank high for the over 3.5 billion searches on google per day. Your website also gives you credibility. If you can’t afford a website, why should I go to your bar instead of one that can?
20. Create A Facebook Group
With over 1 billion people on Facebook, not utilizing it would be just plain stupid. Facebook groups help to bring people together and have conversations about their similar interests. By creating and growing a group, you can create an active community of people in your area with similar alcohol related interests. A group with a name like “Best Local [City Name] Bar Discussion”, you can bridge the gap between business advertising and the consumers social media time. You do not want to directly spam advertising in these groups, they are a place for people to connect and chat. In the beginning you have to work hard to facilitate chats and invite members, but once the ball gets rolling the group will grow on its own and you will have a database of customers you can directly communicate with.
21. Google Ads Targeted Search Advertising
Almost 50% of all searches on Google are for local businesses. Take advantage of people looking for a place to drink and put your website right in front of their eyes. By using targeted advertising, your website will show up as the top search result when people in your area are looking for a new bar to go to. While the first couple weeks may cost more because Google is learning, stick with it and your cost per click will go down.
22. Content Marketing
One of the best ways to let people know what your bar is about is to tell them! Starting a blog is a great way to create a bigger presence online and have greater reach for people looking for you. You can write about whatever you want, but make sure it’s related to your customer base, they have to want to read your blog on their own. You can talk about how to make the perfect cocktail, what mixers go good with what liquor, and any other useful or educational content your customers are looking for. The blogs would be published on your own website, making it super easy for people to find who made the post. Potential customers will see “how to make the best cocktail” and want to try it out at your bar first after seeing your credibility.
To wrap it up, there are an unlimited number of ways to market your bar but these ways are a very easy way to jumpstart your customer base. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what you do, if you have crappy food and service you will not succeed. Word of mouth starts with one impressed customer.