How to Put Your Bar on the Map

Running a bar is more than just running a business. It’s running a business while dealing with constant and direct competition on all sides and constantly shifting trends, crowds and demands. But some bars still manage to be packed every night of the week (even Sundays!). How do they do that? And how can you jump on that bandwagon? Here are some tips for getting your bar on the social map no matter what day of the week it is.

Target a market and find out what they want

Most importantly, figure out in depth and in detail who you are targeting with your business (young adults, the older generation, freshly legal) and ensure your business is successfully and wholly targeting this market. If you would like to target the freshly legal generation but your bar specializes in scotch-based drinks, you’re probably doing something wrong. Pinpoint your ideal client, research them thoroughly, and make every future business decision with their profile, interests and desires in mind.

Have unique drinks

Don’t just have the staple drinks. Have drinks that are your creation and only your creation. The uniqueness will get you recognized and you’d be surprised how many one-time clients can be converted to repeat clients simply through their love of a special drink. Further to this, have a signature drink. If you’re a Hawaiian-themed bar, always serve one special concoction in a coconut and call it your signature beverage. Clients will love the novelty but consistency of knowing that even with constantly refurbished drink menus, your signature drink will always be available.

Use social media

Social media can be a great way to get your bar’s name out there. Likewise, word of mouth can be strong via social media. Give incentive for clients to "check-in" at your bar or “like” your Facebook page and make it genuine. Give them a great experience and a social media platform to broadcast it on, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. That means maintaining social media accounts with updated weekly or daily drink specials and bar hours so potential clients know you’re still trendy and active on the scene.

Use suggestive selling

Training your staff can help a great deal when it comes to increasing the amount of an individual tab through premium product selection. Educate your staff to be both waiters and salespeople. Why would anyone choose the higher quality (and more expensive) liquor option if your staff can’t even justify the choice to them? Make sure your staff can answer questions specific to the product you’re selling as well as provide unique suggestions to curious clients.

Have drink deals or promotions

Having drink deals or themed days can drastically improve a business. Having slow Sundays? Make Sundays $2 beer night, advertise it properly, and you’ll see almost instant results. Make the night of the week the excuse to go to your bar. No one wants to pass up on deal that will be exponentially more expensive if they come to your bar the next day. Or even better and in order to target a larger clientele, make every night of the week a different drink special night. Almost every potential client will be bound to consider going at least one of the nights of the week with that set-up.

Have specific marketing strategies for specific drinks

Know what sub-type of your target market is going to go for what drink and know how to entice them to that drink in the moment. Do guys usually drink beer while women are the ones ordering all the cocktails? Or is it more specific than that, with women between the ages of 21-28 being more likely to order beer while women older than 28 tend to order wine and younger than 21 tend to order cocktails? Figure out the specifics of your target market’s preferences and then implement these details into your marketing strategy. If young men tend to go for beer and also really love the Montreal Canadians, associate your beer advertisements with hockey. Offer Habs paraphernalia to anyone able to chug a beer under 4 seconds. Or set your clients’ beers down on hockey player coasters.

Serve food

Based on the pub tradition, many bars have already realized the benefits of offering a food menu to clients. Besides the obvious increase in profit you would ideally be making through snack sales, a hungry client happens to be an unhappy client. Offering clients the option to get food at your bar will attract clients earlier and for longer, as opposed to having clients come after dinner or leave early on in the night when their post-drinking munchies kick in.

Coordinate bar theme with décor

Although the cost or lavishness of your bar’s décor does not necessarily affect its business, your bar being called "Cowboy’s Paradise" and featuring neon 80’s booths will probably not attract the type of crowd you’re aiming for. Similarly, menus and drink options should be coordinated with your bar’s theme (even if the theme is as simple as “classic grunge bar”). Make sure the interior, exterior and menus all relate to the intended perception you would like your bar to have and if it doesn’t, it may be worth investing the extra time and money to coordinate things in the long run. Perception is everything, after all.