Are you wondering how to make the most of the lockdown situation?
One of the best ways to utilize your time right now is to revisit the foundations of your marketing strategy.
And even if you can’t spend a lot on promoting your bar, it pays to do the basics well. You don’t have to know every tactic out there and spread your attention too thin.
By choosing a sound marketing strategy that fits your bar situation, you can hone in on those few activities and efforts that have a significant ROI and you can perform consistently.
In this article, we’re going to look at 10 bar marketing strategies you can choose from based on the type of your establishment.
But before we dive in, let’s highlight the difference between a “strategy” and a “tactic”.
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Strategy vs Tactics
A strategy is your overall game plan – the overarching way in which you want to achieve your marketing goals.
In contrast, tactics are the specific measures you take within your strategy. So there could be numerous tactics or ideas you employ to achieve your strategic objectives.
The rest of this article will focus on different strategies you can adopt but we’ll also provide tips to get started with each of them. So you will gain a solid understanding of the difference between the two when it comes to bar marketing.
Things to consider before choosing a strategy
In order to choose a specific strategy, it’s important to understand your customers, positioning and the key goals you’re trying to achieve.
Understanding your customers
Getting a clear view of who your customers are, including demographics and spending habits, will make it easier to set realistic goals and tailor your approach for your target market. If you need help with brainstorming and mapping out your customer profile, check out the Value Proposition Canvas.
So before you dive into the nitty-gritty marketing work, always have your customer profile in mind, whether you’re going after regulars from your neighborhood, international tourists and anyone in-between.
Your bar positioning
The way you stand out from competitors, the atmosphere and interior you’ve created and the location of your bar are key factors in your market positioning.
So you might be the perfect place for a 1-on-1 meeting or group gatherings or watching a big sports game. The strategy you choose should complement your overall positioning so your business runs like a coherent machine.
Defining your marketing goals
Due to the nature of “strategy”, you need to define your goals in advance.
For example, a good strategic goal would be to increase average revenue per customer from X to Y within 3 months. This lets you weed out only the most relevant approaches and gives you a defined timeline so you can act with more urgency.
In contrast, setting a goal such as “increase revenue” will bring too many options in front of you with no clear winner. That’s when it’s easy to go after multiple ideas and tactics without a coherent end in mind.
So decide on a measurable goal and make sure you can really focus on it for at least 3 months. Be as specific as possible here, including numeric targets and a timeframe to achieve them.
If you need help getting started, check out this post on setting Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).
Boost your sales with these bar marketing strategies
Now that you have a clear view of your goals, customers and positioning, let’s dive into the specific bar marketing strategies you can choose from.
This bar marketing strategy is all about increasing the average spend per customer.
To get started, define your current position using your POS data. Simply divide your revenue by the number of customers in a given time period to get the average spend per customer. Next, choose a realistic target to aim for when you re-open. If you need a way to track footfall automatically, check out Purple.ai.
This strategy is useful especially if you have a smaller venue and you need to make the most of every customer that gets through the doors.
As for the tactics here, you can try using detailed descriptions for the items you serve. By giving the background of the various drinks and training your staff on them, you can increase average spend by up to 27%.
2. Themed nights, games and discounts
This strategy is about introducing themed nights and discounts to balance demand during the week.
If you have a large venue and slow weeknights, this might be a great way to stimulate footfall during the week and help towards paying overhead.
Read more about bar games and themed nights.
3. Adding your special touch
This strategy is about bringing your creative personality to the table and building a funky image.
Think about the little things here – details in your interior, how you serve food and drink, exotic beverages people can try and any other factor that can help you stand out.
While this strategy is a nice addition for most bars, it works best for small, cosy venues looking to attract and retain regular clientele.
4. Becoming the local expert
The Local Expert strategy is about promoting local food, drinks and culture in your bar.
There’s a growing demand here so you can turn “local” into your competitive advantage.
Of course, it’s crucial to tell the story behind your drinks and your staff is well trained to offer these local specials.
That’s a great strategy if you target people in your neighborhood and tourists alike. If you’re in a busy, central location, you can attract travelers looking to try out local food and drinks.
5. Focusing on your online experience
This strategy is all about bringing an amazing experience for people who browse your website on desktop and mobile.
The idea here is to stand out with a beautiful and intuitive look. Most importantly, people should easily see your top offers and your menu, especially on smartphones.
It doesn’t have to cost the world and you can even start for free with tools like this app builder.
This strategy works great if you want to attract people for special occasions like birthdays, corporate parties and other events that require some online research before selecting a venue.
6. Driving business with referrals
This bar marketing strategy is all about your customer experience and reviews.
Some of the tactics used here are building your reputation on places like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google, making sure to reply quickly to both positive and negative reviews.
Try to focus on the platforms that are used the most by your customers and encourage them to leave reviews there (otherwise, many of your happy customers won’t take the time to do it).
7. Participating in local communities
This strategy is about engaging with your community and partnering with other local businesses.
It’s a great choice if you have a bigger venue as it lets you host events for local meetups and other occasions.
Some of the tactics here include partnering with influencers and networking with indirect competitors to bring each other more business. Think restaurants, hotels and experience businesses that you can promote and vice versa.
8. Using data to make business decisions
This strategy is about adopting a new perspective on business – using data to make decisions whenever possible.
Here, it’s important to have sound reporting in place that lets you frequently monitor key metrics and base your decision on hard data instead of assumptions.
So this strategy is all about adopting a mindset of an experimenter. It’s essential for high volume sales and running multiple locations.
9. Mastering search engines
This strategy is about being found on search engines like Google. It works great with the online experience strategy so people can find you in the first place.
There are 3 big areas here: organic search results, search ads and Google My Business. So you show up ahead of your competitors for the most relevant keywords.
Each of these areas deserves a guide or a full book on its own so you can refer to the below resources for more details:
- Local Guide to SEO for Bars
- How Restaurants and Bars Use Google My Business
- The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads for 2020 by HubSpot
10. Maximizing social media as a channel
Lastly, you can utilize the power of social media to drive new customers and repeat business.
The key here is creating a visual identity to your bar, sharing your atmosphere, and the inner workings of how you do things.
Videos, social ads and giveaways are the bigger tactics here and they help you take advantage of the social media algorithms for networks like Facebook and Instagram. Check out this article to learn more.
That was a quick look at the key bar marketing strategies in 2020 and beyond.
Depending on your bar’s positioning and customers, you can choose a strategy that best suits your situation.
If you have a smaller venue, focus on upselling and adding a creative touch to your operations.
For bigger establishments, themed nights, games and discounts are a great way to balance out demand over the week. Also, think about hosting and creating communities to raise brand awareness.
And you will never go wrong by keeping a close eye on your numbers and utilizing data to drive your business decisions – both big and small.
Glimpse provides business analytics and loss prevention technology for bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
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Glimpse provides business analytics and loss prevention technology for bars, restaurants and nightclubs.Learn More