Pints of beer being held up in a toast

23 Bar and pub marketing ideas that work

18 January 2019    |    By: Kris Littlewood
Operating a pub or bar has never been an easy job. Firstly, there are the long opening hours and high operational costs to consider, and that’s even before you start to think about managing the staff rota.

But while around 18 pubs are closing down every week in the UK, turnover growth has skyrocketed in recent years,  making it a lucrative opportunity for prospective landlords.

To help your venue flourish in an evolving market, we’ve compiled a list of bar and pub marketing ideas to help your establishment stand out from the crowd.

Take a look at our pick of the best pub promotion ideas below.

Are you looking to target a particular clientele? Do they have a favourite decade, movie theme or music style? Ask for people’s opinion on social media to determine which kind of night would bring in the most customers.
A quality quiz night will make your customers feel like it’s Saturday night, even on a Monday evening. It keeps things interesting for regular punters and attracts new ones, too. Best of all, if you ask each team to throw in a couple of pounds, it pays for itself!
Casino table
Don’t worry, you won’t need to be Caesar’s Palace to get a casino evening going. All you need to do is set up a few poker tables and rally the troops. Not only will the indelible offer of cash prizes attract punters, but it will keep them there for a while, too. Before starting a poker night, ensure you are familiar with the Gambling Commission’s advice on allowing poker in alcohol licensed premises.
Pool tables and dart boards may be a pub staple, but there is much more you can do to stand out in the 21st century. Introduce board games, and games console nights to reinvigorate your venue.
Bringing in a live band will spice up the weekdays and draw in punters during the busy weekends. There’s no need to break the bank, either; local acts who are finding their feet are often low cost, plus it shows you support your local community.
Everyone loves a good singsong – so why don’t you take advantage of the nation’s one true love with your own karaoke night? Not only are they fun, but they are effective at drawing in large groups.
Live sport in pub
Turn your bar or pub into ‘the peoples’ front room’ by televising sport. Whether its weekday Champions League bouts or Premiership Rugby matches at the weekend, the biggest sporting events of the year will help to pack out your bar. Before you show televised events, ensure you have the correct licences in place.
Writing a weekly blog post allows you to take direct control of your marketing, which can then be promoted across your social media accounts. Here you can bring attention to new food and drinks menus, as well as any upcoming events.
Having a strong online presence is key to reaching potential new customers. If you have a website, update your content regularly with news stories, business updates and menu changes.
With so much choice in the hospitality sector, customers now want to know exactly what they’re getting (and how much they should expect to pay) before they walk through your doors. Whether they’re coming for a pint or opting for a three-course meal, your menu will show them you’re ready to cater to their needs. It also gives you a chance to show off!
From food and drink to family deals, offering discounts on selected products can help to keep your punters happy. One of the most popular pairings in sports bars is beer and burger deals. Cater your deals to your clientele.
App visualised on a phone screen
You needn’t be Steve Jobs to execute this one. All you need to build your own mobile app is to find a free DIY app builder like this one. This will help you to stand out from your competitors and build a loyal customer base through exclusive app offers.
Using social media influencers to promote your venue can help your business engage with a wider customer base. In fact, research from Influencer Marketing Hub showed that influencer marketing was the fastest growing customer-acquisition model in 2017. For example. if you’re launching a new children’s menu, why don’t you partner up with family-focused influencers to target your key demographic?
For customers to enjoy your establishment, they first need to be able to find it. The best way to do this is to register all your details on Google My Business. This will give prospective punters all the necessary contact details they need to find you.
Stats from Marketing Tech News reveal that only 57% of small businesses are using social media to communicate with their customers, compared to 90% for larger companies. Posting on social media regularly helps you to speak to new customers and control how others see your venue.
Cocktail shaker and a cheese board
If you're close to similar pubs or bars, serving a unique drinks menu can help your establishment stand out from the competition. Play around and work up a creative cocktail/mocktail list (get a mixologist if you need help).
Who doesn't love happy hour? This is a great way to encourage repeat business and give your customers a bargain. Plus, if your punters enjoy it, they'll likely stay for the full-priced drinks after happy hour is up.
As the market for real ales grows (more than 300 breweries were opened in the UK in 2016), you can cultivate a loyal customer base of beer drinkers with guest ales. Make sure you regularly rotate your beer selection to keep your customers coming back.
Look after your local community and they will look after you – and nowhere is that truer than in the ‘local’. You could offer your pub/bar as a venue for a book club or neighbourhood watch meetings; whatever it is the locals are invested in, your business could be there to help.
Regular punters deserve a ‘thank you’. A simple way to do this is with loyalty cards. Not only does this promote repeat business, but the sight of your loyalty card in their wallet will intrigue others.
To get the community behind your establishment, you need to think about what they value most. Contact the local press and update them on what your venue has coming up (charity events or one-off nights), or call up an industry magazine with a unique story.
Young people enjoying beer at a festival
If you’ve got the space and a hoppy selection of ales, consider hosting a mini beer festival. Invite different breweries to come together, charge a small admission price, and serve food, too. Thirsty patrons are sure to spread the word!
It’s true what they say – the customer is always right. So, it’s a good idea to let them have their say. Whether this means putting a suggestion box on the bar, opening your social media up to recommendations, or adding a feedback card to every table; any response, good or bad, will benefit your business.
Now you know what it takes to market your pub or bar, the next step is to make sure you’re covered should the worst happen. Check out our pub insurance and wine bar insurance to see which policy is right for your business. Alternatively, call us to speak with one of our trained insurance professionals for advice.
Kris Littlewood
Article by
Kris is a marketing professional with over 15 years of experience across both the insurance and hospitality sectors. Specialising in digital marketing communications, he has also been awarded a Certificate in Insurance qualification from the Chartered Insurance Institute. As a digital marketing consultant at Premierline, Kris has an in-depth knowledge of the needs and concerns of small business owners across the UK and enjoys writing about marketing, innovation and business strategy.
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