If we had to think of one of the businesses with the most competition in the UK, we immediately think of the bars. In 2020, according to Statista, the number of bars in the UK amounted to 46,800, a number that is still constantly growing.
But how do you say? All that glitters is not gold. Also, in 2020 out of many open businesses, thousands closed with negative balances, marking a considerable turnover.
There are many reasons why an activity ceases, but in this case, we believe that there is a factor that unites many failures: the absence of a strategic marketing plan for bars.
Increasing the takings of the bar is certainly your first goal and to achieve it, it is not enough to open and have a nice place that is welcoming, clean, with a complete offer and perhaps even with very kind dining room staff. Many have closed thinking so. Why are so many bars empty during peak hours? Why does everything work perfectly, but customers don't arrive?
The answer is that today, even bars need a complete and multi-channel marketing strategy, just like the marketing of restaurants.
The contemporary bar has long since emerged from the shell of authenticity that has always characterized it, catapulting itself into a new reality in which, without an effective strategy, you are already at a disadvantage.
So let's see together what the main channels of strategic marketing for bars are.
1. Business plan for bars
Let's start from scratch. Opening a bar isn't as simple as many think, at least not today. Without careful planning of all activities and costs, you risk a real flop.
There is no strategic marketing for bars that can hold up without a good business plan. The business plan for bars is a document that briefly describes the entire project: market and competition analysis, capital needed to achieve the objectives, management and marketing strategies, sources of financing and the implementation plan.
Thanks to this document, it is possible to estimate in advance the possible earnings and possible expenses and, more generally, the feasibility of your idea.
How often do we get caught up in fantasy, enthusiasm and extravagant ideas in the world of entrepreneurship? Of course, everything is right and essential to creating a project that works, but without drawing up an effective business plan for bars, you will never realize how feasible your idea is.
Setting clear goals is the first step towards studying strategic marketing for your bar.
2. Digital marketing and website of your bar
Also, in this case, the protagonist of your success is the web. I'm going to be a bit raw, perhaps, but you can no longer think of opening a bar without being present online.
Bars, in digital marketing, follow a slightly different logic than restaurants or other businesses, but having a website undoubtedly makes your strategy more complete and effective.
Through the blogging activity, you can create a content marketing strategy and exploit the power of SEO and SEM, which help your bar to be visible among Google search results.
The website is also a great way to present your bar menu (read my article on how to create a perfect bar menu), offers of the month or special events.
Email marketing is another very functional channel of strategic marketing for bars. For example, using the data required for the Wi-Fi connection, you can create a mailing list of customers who have already visited your bar and keep them updated on news or simply maintain a relationship with them.
The great advantage of this system is customization, unlike social media, which instead communicates to the general public.
3. Social media management
The ideal place for your bar business is undoubtedly social media.
Social pages are the most frequented, shared virtual place and can influence your audience the most; that's why they absolutely cannot be missing from a strategic marketing plan for bars.
Through images, videos, stories and, above all, comments, social media become the most direct way to talk to your customers and to get them to talk about you.
You can create interesting and shareable content by leveraging virtual word-of-mouth action. In addition, we know how much social media play a key role when we have to choose a place by relying on reviews and opinions of those who have already been there.
Social networks are also a great way to share your bar menu, your offer and all the news in real time. And then, we want to talk about the power of one of the flagships of food marketing. The photos. Take many photos, obviously of high quality (the basis of food photography) and publish them on the social profile of your bar. Photographs, like stories on Instagram, are a great way to let your potential customers experience your place virtually.
The bar tends to be an informal environment, which is why social networks such as Facebook and Instagram cannot fail to be part of a strategic marketing plan for bars.
These channels, along with the website, are often underestimated because they do not generate direct sales and are therefore neglected, abandoned or, sometimes, not taken into consideration. Indeed, social media do not sell the product directly but take care of other essential aspects to ensure that you can sell the product: awareness, engagement and lead generation, directly to your ideal target.
5. Create Bar events
Although the web is one of the most important parts of a strategic marketing plan for bars, it doesn't mean that everything else is not very functional; quite the contrary.
Bar events still remain a way to involve customers and create a fun and entertaining place. In addition, many contemporary bars, due to their characteristic of being larger than traditional bars, lend themselves very well to out-of-the-ordinary initiatives and activities.
What am I referring to? Musical aperitifs, tastings, artistic events or exhibitions, for example. These are all occasions which, although they require a greater organizational commitment on the one hand, on the other hand, bring enormous advantages: they retain customers and attract new ones, and they help to enhance and improve the brand image and brand awareness of your bar and make your offer heterogeneous and always renewed.
6. Organize promotions
Organizing "happy hours" regularly and offering special discounts on specific days of the week: are two excellent ideas to attract new customers and strengthen the loyalty of the regular ones. Have you ever thought about organizing themed evenings?
For example, during the last week of October, you could set up the place with themed decorations for Halloween: a nice way to arouse the curiosity of customers looking for a special experience. These people could come to your restaurant for the occasion and decide to go back if they like it, for example for a dinner or an aperitif.
7. Offer vouchers
Let's be clear: who doesn't love saving a few pounds? Discounts also allow you to attract new guests and entice regular ones to choose your service again. The voucher never goes out of style, but why limit this tool to something to be used as a last choice for a birthday or Christmas gift? Many cities offer new residents vouchers to help them integrate and also to encourage them to spend something to support the local economy. Vouchers of this type are also often distributed by tourist offices.
8. Email marketing
Don't focus only on social media because email marketing is still a tool that can prove to be very useful and effective, especially if you manage to convince many people to subscribe to your newsletter, perhaps by enticing them to do so, thanks to a special offer presented on your site. What is the use of a newsletter? It is used to inform members of the latest news and future events, to share advice you want to give to customers (perhaps recipes for dishes or cocktails!) and also to remind them from time to time that it's been a while of time since the last visit and the time has come to return to your place!
9. Reward regular customers
The reason that drives people to always return to the same restaurant or bar, beyond the quality and quantity of food or drinks, is the ability of those who manage it to welcome customers, make them feel at home or give them a pleasant and special experience. So pay attention to details, show empathy, be sociable and talk to customers, of course, without ever becoming intrusive! Make sure they understand that to you, they are first and foremost people, often members of the local community and not just numbers, who help you run and grow your business.
In short, a dessert or a digestif offered from time to time will certainly not ruin your finances; they do not cost much and will certainly pay off in the long run.
10. Particular attention to the customer
Sometimes the word "marketing" is ascribed only to specific activities related to a certain process. Marketing, on the other hand, must be a real way of living and acting for companies.
Among the strategic marketing actions for bars, attention to the customer is also part, a detail in which not everyone invests, yet it makes a difference. You can aim for the best digital marketing strategies, and you can organize a crazy and attractive calendar of events, but if you don't put the customer at the centre of your business, success will be short-lived.
Friendliness, a smile, kindness, and trust are all aspects of customer care and invite him to return to an environment where he had a good time and felt pampered.
About the environment: remember to create a familiar and comfortable atmosphere, a beautiful and, at the same time, functional reality suitable for all times of the day. The choice of design is an integral part of strategic marketing for bars. It must never be casual but chosen and thought out both in relation to your target and, more generally, to the image you want to convey to your customer.
It's true it's not easy to open or manage a bar, but with the help of a professional and the right strategies, it won't be that difficult either.
10. Open a Google My Business account
Few know the importance of the Google My Business account. In addition to being a free business promotion service, it offers the possibility of being able to perform various fundamental functions for the strategic marketing of your bar. It is a service that promotes your business on Google by creating a profile card of your restaurant with all the necessary information you can enter and manage directly! Such as the closing and opening times, the telephone number and the street where the bar is located. How often do we find ourselves in a little-known area and are looking for a bar to have a drink or an aperitif with friends? Thanks to the local SEO service, just write, for example, "bar near me" on Google and your place profile will appear among the nearby bars for those keywords. Also, on your Google My Business profile, you can upload photos and reviews and interact with customers. A truly powerful tool if you think that 5 million searches for bars are made on Google every month.