How to Market Your Bar, Pub, Club or Restaurant
This section won’t focus on the importance of bar marketing – hopefully you’ve already figured out that fact for yourself. If you haven’t, let me tell you once and for all – you need to market your bar and continually advertise to stay alive and competitive.
How about we start with everyone’s favourite way to market a bar – the free way. There are still some places – mostly online, where you can advertise your bar and your bar’s events for free.
1. Knowing the Right People – A good way to get free publicity for your event is to look to local writers and bloggers. Make a contact list of all the people who write about events going on in your city and make sure you email them a personalized invite each time you throw an event.
2. Food Blogs – If you are having a food-related promo, find someone in your city who blogs about restaurants and food and invite them in for a free meal. If you are launching a new top shelf vodka or tequila, find bloggers who have blogs about spirits or bar hopping. If you can’t persuade them to come into your place by offering them something for free, see if they allow advertising on their blogs and sites.
3. Online Classifieds – there are other ones but Craigslist is the biggest. You can advertise your event for free on online classifieds and online event calendars. Try doing a search for your local city + “submit event” to see what sites are accepting online submissions of events.
4. Social Media – we won’t get into all the different platforms out there but they are all free and have already established audiences. But they do take time and effort to make successful, don’t kid yourself. If you want to develop a presence and / or expertise in some area on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, for example, you’ll need to really become involved in those communities.
5. Group Deals – group deal sites like Groupon don’t cost anything upfront and, although they do take a big chunk (usually in the 50% neighbourhood), it does bring in new customers and get your name out there – for free.
6. Review Sites – make sure that you are claiming and optimizing your bar’s presence on review sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, TripAdvisor and the like. These sites, aside from being yet another way you can interact with your customers as well as create new ones, also boasts huge traffic. Find your business on these sites, optimize the listing by adding pictures, videos, coupons etc and make sure the information is correct.
7. YouTube – a Youtube channel is free and, if you have a phone or laptop, so is making a video. Think about starting a Youtube channel and teaching your audience something. Maybe it’s creating unique cocktails, talking about craft beer, mastering kitchen preparation techniques, teaching Thai cooking; whatever it is, make sure it’s entertaining and provides value and try to put out at least 50 videos (each one shouldn’t be any longer than 4min).
Bar Marketing the Paid Way
Now that we’ve covered many ways to market your bar for free, let’s get into some of the paid and, some would argue, easier ways to get people in the door.
1. Pay Per Click Ads – this type of paid advertising is one of the most popular forms online with Google’s Adwords and Facebook Ads being the two big players in the industry.
2. Plenty of Fish – not many people know that you can advertise on POF. And their targeting capabilities rival those of Facebook.
3. Banner Ads – buying banner ads on local websites can get your bar or bar event the exposure that you’re looking for. When you start talking numbers, make sure you ask how many Unique Visitors the site gets not how many Hits it gets.
Now that we’ve covered some free bar marketing methods and several paid bar marketing methods, let’s get into more paid bar marketing methods but these ones we consider to be less effective than the online methods above.
It’s been our experience that the ROI for advertising with most offline publications is not high enough to warrant it. They are a good way to get your brand out there…maybe. Even then, it’s still very expensive for what you can’t measure that you get.
With that in mind, here are some ways you can market your restaurant or bar in the more traditional (and less effective) fashion.
1. Local Newspapers / Magazines – find the newspapers and / or magazines that your target market read and find out about ad rates. Remember that you can ALWAYS negotiate your rates. Offline publications are struggling to stay alive these days and their rates and the deals you get (sometimes) show it.
2. Radio Advertising – if you’ve got the cash, go ahead and blanket your message across the radio. It’s going to cost you though – and it’s tough to measure any type of return. It’s better to work out some deal with the radio station where you can do something in trade.
There are, of course, dozens and dozens of other ways to market your bar. The most important thing is that you realize the importance of bar marketing and you’re here trying to find bar marketing ideas and tips.