Since writing this post over a year ago, I have had multiple requests for more bar promotions, so I finally got off my perfectly sculptured ass and complied.
I spent time speaking with 12 of my bar owner friends and asked them the best bar promotions they ever ran, and I then I wrote an e-book called The BIG Black Book of Bar Promotions, which has 51 of the highest profit, crowd-gathering promotions in existence.
So, feel free to check out the original 10 best bar promotions below, but if you find that you simply MUST have more, you can go ahead and download The BIG Black Book of Bar Promotions at the bottom of this post for FREE and I will email it to you immediately.
Now let’s quickly discuss the reason you’re here, which is how absolutely essential it is to not only get new people into your bar/restaurant, but to get them to come back again.
If you haven’t heard of The Rule of Three in the bar/restaurant business, I’m going to give it to you right now, and I’d suggest you put your A.D.D in a headlock and pay attention because this rule is more necessary than cheese is to nachos.
I learned this rule from Jon Taffer, and whether you think he’s over-dramatic or not on television, the guy knows his shit inside and out, so make sure to take note:
THE RULE OF THREE
- The first time someone visits your bar, there is less than a 50% chance they will return.
- The second time they visit, they now have a 50% chance of coming back.
- The third time they visit, there’s a 70 percent chance they will come back a fourth time.
And one final Taffer statistic to seal your commitment to filling your bar:
Increasing guest frequency by just one visit per month increases your revenue by up to 12 percent.
Those are some serious and exciting stats, folks. Simply knowing this frequency pattern motivates the hell out of me to hustle like a gangster and drive people into my bar.
But remember: these 51 Bar Promotions will certainly get them into your place AT LEAST once, but then you have to make sure they have a great experience so they want to come back again and again, and of course…again.
You can use multiple promotions to attract new customers and get the first and second timers to come back, but if your staff isn’t providing fanatical customer service, your promotions will fall flat because the rule of three will never occur.
That’s all for now. Thanks for being here. Enter your name and email at the bottom of the page to download the free e-book The BIG Black Book of Bar Promotions and watch new guests come stampeding through your doors like a rabbit running from a greyhound.
In the meantime, you can go ahead and dip your toesies into the promotional waters with my original 10 Best Bar Promotions (+1 Bonus Promotion).
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
June 15, 2015 Post:
There are no two ways about it, the competition to gain customers and get them to give up their hard earned money is fierce among bars and restaurants. If you aren’t creative and think up ways to pull them in, you might as well pack your shit and close up shop because your job as a bar/restaurant owner is to provide an experience that exceeds your guests expectations, and if their experience at your bar involves watching a Tuesday night tennis match on the tv while the bar across the street is rocking Tuesday night blues (cue crickets here), pour yourself a beer to cry in because you won’t have guests for long.
With that said, customer service is still top dog in keeping your guests coming back for more, but here are the top bar promotions that I’ve seen work in multiple bars over several years. In other words, they are tried and true and will turn people’s attention your way like sharks to blood.
1. CUSTOMIZED ENGRAVED MUGS
This one takes some involvement on your part, but it is as badass as it gets when it comes to bar promotions. I’m talking a Viking-like kind of bad-ass-ness, which is exactly what you’ll feel like when you hoist your personalized copper or tin mug to the sky to toast your comrades while discussing village pillaging and horned helmets. I’ve seen this work best for a draft beer club, but you can use it in anyway you want.
Basically after a regular drinks 100 draft beers (or whatever you decide) they get their name engraved on the mug and they leave it at the bar. Every time they come in, you pull their mug off the shelf and fill it up with their favorite frothy draft or grog or whatever else makes them feel manly. This promotion creates a deep customer loyalty unlike any other bar promotion I’ve seen, similar to frequent flier miles for an airline.
2. HOST A WEEKLY OR MONTHLY TOURNAMENT
This is best to do during the beginning or middle of the week to draw people in. It could be anything that appeals to the competitive: darts, poker, pool, corn hole, beer pong. As long as you have an organized, energetic person running it, tournament night can turn huge.
3. FLIP-OFF MONDAYS (OR WHATEVER DAY YOU CHOOSE)
This is for the laziest bar owner in the world who’s idea of promotion is to stand on the sidewalk out front and yell, “Hey! Come here!” This promotion requires you acquiring a coin of some sort and getting the word out.
That’s it, but people love it. When guests first come in, you flip a coin for them which they call in the air. If they’re right, their first drink is $0.25, if not, full price. So simple a bear on a unicycle could run it.
4. BARTENDING CLASSES
In case you haven’t noticed, commoners secretly fantasize about being a bartender, even if only for a weekend. Like going to rock ‘n roll fantasy camp. Of course you’ll need to have someone on staff capable of delivering dynamic lessons and who actually knows what he/she is doing, so hopefully your bartenders aren’t nitwits, but like the engraved mugs, this particular promotion is a differentiator that people won’t forget, not to mention all the people they will mention it to.
5. TRIVIA OR KARAOKE NIGHT
Sure, it’s cliché, but then again so is denim and look how long that’s been around. This falls under the category of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
6. AMAZING RACE
Putting on an Amazing Race can be a colossal task, but the rewards are worth it because the word of mouth lasts for months after, which means your bar is on the tongue and lips of local yokels for a long time to come.
The best way to go about putting on such a race is to scour the internet for competition ideas and then set up a small race in your area. A good thing to do is work with other bars and set up some of the competitions in their bar. This creates good camaraderie with your fellow bar owners, and your guests will love it too. The only problem you’ll have is the former competitors will keep asking you when the next one is.
7. GIANT GAMES
For whatever reason, the novelty of gigantic chess pieces, Jenga blocks and Connect Four pieces gets people more excited than birders spotting a red-breasted, web-footed merganser.
8. SEX NIGHT
It sounds better than it is, but there’s no reason why it can’t turn into what you’re imagining after you leave the bar. It’s best if you have a sex cocktail list made up with all the drink specials printed on there: Blow Job shots, Screaming Orgasm, Sex on the Beach, Panty-droppers, etc.
The subliminal power of the cocktail list alone will save you the pain of embarrassing yourself with horrible pick-up lines, if you’re into that sort of thing.
9. INDUSTRY NIGHT
In general, bartenders love industry night because it means people who work in the bar and restaurant industry in the area will come in and get discounts on drinks, and tip gargantuan amounts of money because it is one of their own. The main criteria for this is to get a paycheck stub and ID for anyone you don’t know so it proves that they indeed do work in the industry.
10. SPORTS POOLS
Whether you love them or hate them, sports make the world go around when it comes to leisure time activities, and if you want to take advantage of that all you have to do is gasoline that fire by doing some football squares, March Madness Pools, etc, etc, etc.
Better yet, if you can pencil in the time, run a fantasy football league and give discounts to those who are in the league when they come in to watch the games.
11. (BONUS) ANIMAL RACES
Animal races are frickin’ awesome, assuming of course no animals are harmed during the production of the promotion. You can use anything, from hermit crabs to turtles to (my personal favorite) goldfish.
Just make sure that you give the animals a good home during the days they aren’t competing and that you don’t invite any PETA members because they will go all Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction on you (except they won’t boil your bunny of course).
Best of luck.
Cheers, until next time.
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