Owning a bar can be a whole lot of work, but it can also be a whole lot of fun. On the one hand, you have people getting a little too friendly with the bartender after a few roses, and of course the occasional movie-style fistfight. On the other hand, there is the amazing atmosphere people chilling out and just being themselves can create –– the laughter, the tears, the singing and dancing. It’s a rollercoaster, that’s for sure!
If there are a lot of bars in your area, though, it can be easy to just disappear into a sea of beer. Because you’re so much more than just drinks! Take a look at the ideas below for some cool bar promotion ideas to stand out from the rest.
Get on Google My Business
This should really go without saying, but make sure your bar is on Google My Business! At the end of the day, this is really the number one bar promotion idea. It’s so much easier to find something when the address, phone number and even pictures of the exterior are right there on the first page of the search results, and isn’t a laid-back, chill experience what everyone wanting to go for a drink wants? The best part is that once you add all of the data to Google (for free!), you’ll likely never have to do it again.
Make social media work for you
It’s 2020, and anybody who’s anybody is on social media –– the same goes for businesses. Not to mention that we eat (and drink) with our eyes, so some nice pictures of the cocktails your bartenders create are a great bar promo idea.
You don’t have to be on every social media platform there is, because there’d be no time left to do anything else! What you should do, however, is pick, say, two different platforms and stick with them and post on them regularly. Did your bartender create an absolute work of art of a drink? Stop! Before anyone drinks it, take a picture and post it. Did you put up lots of super-spooky Halloween decorations? Take a picture and post it. Does one of your bartenders juggle bottles like Tom Cruise in Cocktail himself? Record a short video and post it. Are you noticing a pattern? Anything that is colorful, eye-catching and shows off just how much fun everyone is having at your bar is perfect social media content. Don’t forget to add relevant hashtags!
Social media is great for event promotion, too! Any event you may be organizing should be right up there at the top of your Facebook page so anyone visiting your fan page can find out about it and save the date.
Cool bar promotion idea: create a signature drink
Bartenders can get bored of making the same drinks over and over again, so giving them the opportunity to get creative with their work will definitely be good for morale. Consider adding a new drink to the menu, say, once a month, and don’t forget to promote those new drinks on your social media! A new drink added is a great reason for patrons to drop by and check it out.
Offer free drinks for check-ins
Yes, social media again. What can we say? Social media is here to stay, and the sooner you start wielding its potential, the better! One of the easiest ways to get the word out about your bar is to offer free drinks for social media check-ins –– all people visiting your bar have to do is check in, and they score a drink on the house. Does the idea of handing out free stuff make you balk a bit? It shouldn’t, mostly because at the end of the day you profit more than you lose. When someone checks in to your bar, all of the people they are connected with on social media have the opportunity to find out about your bar. And because people tend to be friends with people like them, chances are your patron’s friends will be willing to check out your bar, too.
Of course, be sure to limit the number of free drinks to one per patron. Otherwise, things could get messy pretty fast!
Start a blog
A blog may seem like an odd choice for a bar at first glance, but alcohol is actually a complex topic with millennia of history and myriad variations around the globe. Granted, not everyone will be interested in the years of work it took to develop a new wine grape in Australia, but some true aficionados will be fascinated, and you will gain the respect of the more sophisticated connoisseur community.
Organize ladies’ nights
Is there anything women like more than glasses of rose that’s half off? Well, maybe, but not a lot of things. Ladies nights are a simple yet consistently effective way to get women in to hang out with their girlfriends and talk about their exes. Add some Friends or Sex in the City trivia competitions to that and watch your event turn into one heck of a party in no time. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider inviting a Chippendales-style performer to come in and treat your female patrons to an eyeful on, say, Women’s Day. They are guaranteed to love you forever.
Pub promotion idea: host live music
Not every band is Metallica, and it doesn’t have to be. Cooperating with a band, even a small, local one can be a great pub promotion idea –– and it’s great for the band, too. They get the opportunity to perform in front of a larger group of people, and you get to boast live music, and who doesn’t like that! Many world-famous artists got their starts in small local bars…we’re not saying you may be hosting the next Iggy pop, but you never know!
Partner with local businesses
This is another win-win scenario. There must be some local breweries or wineries in your area that make quality beer, wine, or spirits. Why not get in touch with them to see about selling their products at your bar? Nowadays, people are growing more and more tired of international corporations and their uniform, bland offerings. Teaming up with a nearby winery or brewery business –– and, you guess it, boasting about it on your social media –– can encourage quite a few people to come in to try something new and unique, or simply to support locally-owned businesses.
Organize karaoke nights
And speaking of live music, how about the occasional karaoke night? Alcohol and singing go together like bread and butter! The equipment you’ll need is neither expensive nor hard to get your hands on, and the fun is sure to make every cent you spent worth it. If things go well, you could even organize karaoke competitions, complete with prizes for the winner as decided by popular vote. Adding the element of competition always makes things a little more interesting!
Have a late-night happy hour
Bar traffic starts to die down as 10 p.m. approaches, but it’s actually easier to remedy that than you think. Have a second happy hour lasting from 10 to 11 p.m. to keep people who were already there around longer, and get new customers coming in, too!
Sports bar promotion idea: host the bar game Olympics
How about transforming your humble bar into the mythical Mount Olympus one or two evenings a month? This is the ultimate sports bar promotion idea! Everyone loves classics like Beer Pong and Flip Cup, and few things could be better for business than an excited crowd cheering and booing the teams. And guess where the losing teams are going to want to go for a rematch next weekend? That’s right, your bar. No ad you could pay to run on TV could ever get anyone that excited about visiting you.
Offer bartending classes
There are several different ways of bringing this idea to life –– you could either organize small classes for, say, couples, that are looking for a cool date, or you could organize classes for entire groups, say bachelorette parties or office get-togethers. Either way, everyone is sure to have a great time, learn something new, and most importantly, form a bond with your bar that keeps them coming back.
Lounge promotion idea: do some cocktail-pairing
This is more of a lounge promotion idea. You may not be a restaurant, but that doesn’t mean your employees can’t handle some snack-sized foods to go with your best drinks. Cocktail pairing is a great lounge promotion idea. Most people hear “pairing” and think of wines. Show your customers how many cool pairings there are that they’ve never heard of and get their taste buds dancing. A chocolatey lava cake and a Sazerac. A Negroni and parmesan. A Bloody Mary with a shrimp cocktail. A Martini and oysters. It’s always fun to learn something new, especially if you get to have some vermouth while doing it, right?
Host an open mic night
Let your customers try their hand at stand-up comedy in front of a live audience, all while sipping some liquid courage. Who knows, one of them might go on to be the next Jerry Seinfeld, and it was your bar that made it happen!
Host decade-themed nights
Bars are not just for trendy 20-somethings! There are plenty of older people who would love to spend an evening playing cards together sipping something tasty but who are simply not fans of all that newfangled music. People go for drinks to kick back and relax, and nothing relaxes people better than listening to hits back from when they were bangin’! Once again, wield the power of social media to get the word out about the 60s Swing Night, the 70s Disco Night or the 80s Glam Rock Night you’re organizing. As an added bonus for this Friday night bar promotion, be sure to give people in clothes that match the music a free drink and watch some older people have a ball!
Sometimes the only thing keeping people from spending an evening on the town is feeling guilty about leaving their poor dog at home alone. Solve that problem by allowing patrons to bring their (well-behaved) pups inside with them, and of course putting out a water bowl or two to make sure the owners aren’t the only ones getting something to drink.
Have some board games around
Leaving a stack of board games somewhere in plain view creates a relaxed, homey vibe, not to mention how much longer people will be willing to hang out at your bar if they’re engrossed in a game. You could even take this idea step further and organize boardgame tournament evenings. Who doesn’t like a little competition?
Make obscure holidays great again!
Did you know that the Prohibition ended on December 5th, 1933? Don’t worry, most people don’t. That’s why making that day a holiday to be celebrated at your bar will help you stand out as original and fun, if not a bit quirky. Then there’s New Wine, or Beaujolais Nouveau day, which falls on the 3rd Thursday of November and is as great a reason to celebrate as any! In this day and age, we have so much information at our fingertips that we feel like we know it all, and that’s why little bits of previously unknown trivia make for a truly pleasant surprise!
Start a mug club
Encourage regulars to bring their own mugs to drink out of when they come by. That’s sure to results in a sizable collection of cute and quirky mugs, but also go a long way towards making people feel more connected to your bar.
Have cocktail recipe competitions
Give your bartenders an hour or two off from making cocktails, and instead make them the judges in an epic battle that decides which of your patrons can come up with the best new cocktail recipe. Can’t you just smell the liquid creativity in the air?
Have cocktail ingredient guessing competitions
Get your bartenders to mix up a few cocktails only they know the ingredients of and then have participating patrons try to guess what’s in them while the audience looks on. The winner gets a free round for all of their friends!
Raise money for special causes
This one allows you to get even friendlier with your local community and do a good deed while you’re at it, who could hate that? There are always people or organizations around you raising money for something, be it the animal shelter or someone’s expensive medical treatment. Hosting an event that will donate, say, 30% of the proceeds to said cause is a fantastic way to do a good deed for someone in need that might even get you a little local press coverage, if you’re lucky. And even if not, being known as the bar that likes to help feed homeless pups is just about the best kind of publicity you can get.
Have a business card drawing
If your bar is located in an area that makes it the favorite spot of local professionals throwing one back to relax after a long day, have them leave their business cards behind in a pail and then have a draw once a month or so awarding the winner with a bottle of something tasty on the house.
Profit off local events
Is there a concert happening somewhere near you? Or perhaps some sort of comedy show or art exhibition that is expected to draw a sizable crowd? Put up posters around the venue offering a free or discounted drink to anyone who presents a stub from the event.
We hope that these 24 cocktail bar promotion ideas will help make your bar the hub for fun in your townw or neighborhood. Be sure to let us know how it went!