Let’s admit it. Before we visit that fancy new cocktail bar around the corner in person, we often do an online research to make sure that it’s worth a visit. Checking the menus, photos of the place or reviews from other customers, running the story in our heads what we might order, do or say.
As much as you might think that it’s all about your bar, more often it’s about the people, reassuring themselves that they will fit in and being able to feel awesome.
”It’s not about being able to sell wine, beer or cocktails but the ability to help your customers be awesome.”
To ensure that it’s the right kind of story that your potential customers tell themselves that will make them visit your bar, you need an online presence.
Having a few marketing strategies in place will help you build your digital brand and presence, attract more customers, and engage with the most loyal ones to encourage their return.
Here are my 7 top marketing strategies to attract, engage and keep customers today.
#1 Word of mouth
This is probably the most efficient piece of free advertising out there, as you can get your most loyal fans promoting you without paying them. This is also one of the best ways to get started with marketing, so there is no doubt that you need to spread the word about your establishment.
Now, it’s easier said than done but I’ll share with you a few tips that you can follow to get you started.
Basically, there are three groups of people that you can reach out to promote your bar: your customers, your employees and industry influencers.
So, do you go about making these people promoting your bar?
Tip#1 It all starts with a great customer service, so if you build a relationship with your customers consistently, you will build a fan base of your loyal customers that will most likely refer to their friends.
Tip#2 If you include your employees as a part of your brand identity, they will help you to reach more people and spread the word on social media.
Tip#3 Reaching out industry influencer or celebrity bartenders will make your business stand out if you implement the right strategy.
#2 Focus on your audience, branding and define your goals
Before you start with any advertising online you need to have the fundamentals in place. Your vision, branding and perfectly crafted marketing message, the core of your marketing strategy.
Without these elements, no marketing strategy will ever work.
1. Do the research and create marketing message
Before you start any type of marketing, you first need to know who your audience is. Your targeted research dictates your entire marketing strategy and should include the location, age, income, beverage preferences, competitors but you also you need to know their fears and desires.
When you’re crafting your marketing message, you need to get really specific. Think about what’s unique about your bar and what you want to be known for and then shape it using different marketing strategies.
2. Define your goals and branding strategy
You need to set some measurable goals to make marketing strategies and bar promotions worthwhile.
Your brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand to achieve specific goals. The common misconception is that your brand is your product, logo or website but it’s much more than this, it’s the perception of your brand as a whole, something intangible.
Based on your defined goals, you can assess your marketing ideas whether they can be accomplished while remaining affordable and doable.
#3 Online Advertising and Marketing strategy
Since TV, radio and print advertisements are becoming less and less effective every passing year, you need to adapt to digital marketing world out there that is changing every single year. So, if you don’t want to be left out then you need to keep a pace with social media channels and online advertising or PPC.
Let’s take for example Facebook, not that long time ago it was efficient free advertising method by simply posting updates about your bar. But the reality is that it’s simply not enough anymore and if you’re not paying for ad placements, you are limiting your reach.
But don’t take this wrong way, online advertising is not and should not be about giving away your money for something that may or might not work. As a Bar Manager, you should create an effective strategy that will let you advertise online in places like Google, Bing, Twitter or Facebook and still be profitable.
Here are a few strategies how to stand out in the fast-paced world of social media and digital advertising.
Since you’ve done research about your targeted customer, you have a pretty good idea on which platform they might be hanging out and thus where your marketing strategy will be the most effective.
1. Social Media Advertising
Integrating your ads into social media will make an impact on your customers if you implement the right strategy.
I know many business owners who have tried to place ads on social media but without much of a success, so they simply drop out and say that it doesn’t work for them.
Well, I have good news for you because Social Media Advertising works for everybody as long as they are able to test it out, track their results and find the ad that works.
Yes, it might be as simple as that.
2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
With a search engine marketing, you can get visibility of your brand to grow your business in today’s competitive marketplace, using paid advertisements that appear on the search engine results pages.
When people are about to visit a new place, they use search engines such as Google or Bing, so if you use highly targeted ads then your bar will get noticed online and attract new customers.
This is an efficient way to attract new customers as your brand needs to get noticed first by people that are not familiar with your establishment. With the powerful tool of retargeting advertisements, you can then win the customers on your side.
4. Video Marketing
The video marketing is an effective and trending way to tell your marketing message. Use video optimised sites to tell a story of your bar business and take your ads to another level.
#4 Special offers and Promotions
Special offers and promotions should not be created just for the sake of being but preferably have some unique selling proposition to attract the crowd.
Always try to picture yourself in the eyes of your customer and ask if the current promotion is providing any value to them.
Here are a few tips and strategies for your next promo.
1. Create a sense of urgency
You have that batch of your signature barrel-aged cocktail that will soon run out. Create that sense of urgency with a “limited time special”, you will have people lining up in no time.
2. Create a cocktail competition or contest
Host a contest for the best signature cocktail or cocktail competition around a particular spirit brand that you want to upsell.
3. Create theme cocktails
Design theme cocktails around a certain topic which will have an impact on your customer.(James Bond Cocktails, St. Patrick’s day cocktails)
4. Use Socia Media Channels for your next promo
To make your ideas for the next promotion spread, you need to engage on social media channels with your potential customers. Once you pick the best platform where your potential customers might be hanging out, be as helpful as possible and fully engaged before revealing your special offer.
#5 Start with Email Marketing and Loyalty program
Email marketing is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to build a fan base of your most loyal customers. If you start with email marketing and customer loyalty program today, you will be way ahead of your competition that means a huge increase of your regular customers, public awareness but most importantly, sales.
The Loyalty program includes a group of members that you engage with through a power of email marketing message. With successful strategies, you can build and schedule email campaigns that will build trust and provide value to your members that can eventually turn them into paying customers.
Now, how do you get people to sign up to your Loyalty program?
There are two ways that you can use, but at its basic core, it’s the same thing.
You need offer incentives in exchange for their email address.
Tip#1 When your customers visit your bar, offer them a discount or free drink on their next visit in exchange for signing up to your Loyalty program.
Tip#2 The same thing you can do on your website, offer your new visitors something of a value in exchange for their email address.
Think of your targeted customer and be creative with your incentives. It can be an educational material, cocktail masterclass or a special promotion.
If you are just starting with Email marketing, I recommend Mailchimp as email software platform with a free plan for the list under 2000 subscribers and recently introduced free automatization tools.
#6 User-friendly, SEO and responsive website
Today, most people research your bar online before visiting in person, so having a professionally designed, user-friendly and most importantly functional website is essential to attract more customers to your bar.
Luckily, there are a bunch of cost-effective tools that you can use to design your own site without much of coding knowledge such as WordPress, Wix or Squarespace or if you are not tech savvy, use professional services.
A couple of essential features that you need to have on your website.
1. Your Menus
Most customers want to see the menu before they go to a bar or restaurant that means, it’s essential to include all
your menus online.
2. Your Contact Information and About us page
Your address, phone number and opening hours should be easily accessible on your website. So your potential customers don’t have to think twice about visiting your establishment. Setting up About us page is highly rewarding, it lets you introduce your bar and team by telling a short story.
3. Social Media Integration
Your website should have integrated a social media buttons in case your customers want to connect or share some photo.
4. Reviews and Reservations
Before customers visit in person, they want to know what is the place all about. High-quality photos of your bar can be an appealing way to give them an idea what to expect.
6. Mobile and SEO Friendly
Responsive website on any device will enhance customer experience. And if you establish at least some basic Search engine optimised strategy (SEO). It can boost your organic traffic and bring more people to your bar.
#7 Start an industry blog
Blogging is a great way to boost your online presence as it establishes better customer relationships, provides you with content for social media and most importantly it drives traffic to your website.
With your cocktail blog and choosing topics that resonate with your audience, you can position yourself as an industry leader.
Next time when readers of your blog are thirsty for some well-crafted cocktails, they might visit your bar as they consider your bar an expert on craft cocktails.
For your blog to be recognised and found in search engines, you need to implement some basic SEO Optimisation strategy including your targeted keywords, attention-grabbing headlines or meta descriptions.
Did you like this article? If so then share it. Still got some questions or looking for more info? Then go over to my consulting page and let me know what you’re struggling with. You never know, I might be able to answer just that.