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Increase Business Through Bar Promotions

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It's time to start planning how to get more people into your bar.

"The only cost-effective way to advertise a bar is through word-of-mouth," says Bob Johnson of the Beverage Management Institute, in Clearwater, South Carolina. "When you don't have word-of-mouth working for you, you are in serious trouble."

"Effective word-of-mouth advertising is priceless," he continues. "It means everything is right. Everything is happening. The bar is alive. Your employees love working there. They are saying great things about the place, and that is passed on to your customers. The customers love being there, and they tell other customers.

So what are some ways to generate word-of-mouth buzz? You can create special promotions for your bar, launch a direct-mail campaign with a newsletter for regular customers, develop an exciting web site, and any other creative marketing techniques you can dream up.

Another way to promote your bar is to get involved in community events and charity functions to gain exposure. Dave K., a brewpub owner in Boise, Idaho, made a name for himself and his bar in his community, especially in the first few years. "We participated in a lot of charity events, especially in the early years of the business. Anything I could get my hands on to promote the bar, I did it. If a festival was going on, and they wanted to charge $3 per beer and donate the proceeds to charity, I'd donate four or five kegs and put up a big banner. I got involved in every positive community event I could from Diabetes to Epilepsy to the Heart Foundation to the Botanical Gardens to Saving the Parks ... you name it."

After your bar is up and running, you'll have a better idea of what nights need a little boost. Most bars are busy on Friday and Saturday nights, with Thursdays coming in third place. You might decide you need to pump up business on Monday or Tuesday, so pick one day and keep it going until you have established enough regular business to move the promotions to a different day. Of course, you'll still do your holiday promotions, like July 4th, Super Bowl, Cinco de Mayo, etc., on the appropriate days.

Here are some ideas to keep in mind when you're working on promotional events.
PREPARE - Work out a budget. If your promotion continues for more than one day, budget for the entire time you want it to run. A good goal to shoot for is to make a profit that's three times the cost of the promotion.

MAKE A SCHEDULE -Design a planning calendar at least eight weeks before the promotion. Depending on the size and magnitude of the promotion, you may want to start advertising it at this point, too. Never advertise an ending date, though, so you can cut it early if it doesn't do as well as you planned, or you can extend it if it really takes off.

MAINTAIN THE ENERGY LEVEL - On the day of the promotion, don't stop the action to give away prizes or make announcements. You can turn the music down, but don't turn it off. This will keep the energy level high and consistent. If you absolutely have to turn off the music, never keep it off for more than 10 minutes, or you risk people getting impatient and leaving.

PARTY ALL NIGHT - Schedule your prize giveaways, contests and entertainment to run throughout the night. If you have a grand prize to give away or a finale planned, don't do it until after midnight so your guests stay in your bar as late as possible. Promoting your bar can be fun and creative. During a promotion and after it's over, ask your customers and your employees for feedback and critiques. Of course, your sales will give you a lot of the information you're looking for, too