Summer is high time for bars, restaurants and retail shops. Consumers flock to barrooms to unwind and search retail shelves for their favorite summertime picnic bottles. But with the influx in foot traffic and consumer demand, businesses need to look to marketing and promotions to stand out from the competition. While marketing should be an integral part of everyday operations, summer is primetime for winning new guests. Here are a few promotional ideas to boost sales this summer.
What Are Bar and Restaurant Promotions and Why Are They Important?
It’s simple really. Promotions drive business. Seasons can affect foot traffic and the summer, when everyone is out and about, means more competition from other businesses around you. To fight through the noise, you need to offer something that perks consumers' interests and makes them want to visit your business over others. This game never really stops, but it’s important to recognize that if you don’t find new and exciting ways to market your business, you’re missing out on potential profits, new customers and future success.
How to Prepare Your Bar and Restaurant for Summer Promotions
Preparation is key to running successful seasonal promotions. The act of planning and coordinating will ensure that events run smoothly and create an appetite for customers to come back for more. Here are a few tips on preparing for summertime bar and restaurant promotions.
Get to know your target market and customer type
Who you market your summer offerings to is as important as how you market to them. I know what you’re thinking: “Why are you telling me this? I know my target market and who my customer is!” While that may be the case, maybe one of your employees does not. Provide them with personas on your target market and customer type before implementing summer promotions or planning summer events. This will help in all manners from messaging to execution and ensures everyone is on the same page.
What challenges must your bar or restaurant overcome?
With any new business initiative, it’s important to recognize hurdles you’ll need to overcome. These can include anything from the lack of digital marketing tools or resources to staffing to weather. Perform an analysis of your current situation and coordinate with your team on how to resolve potential issues that could get in the way of your summer promotions.
For example, if you’re hosting live music throughout the summer, have contingency plans in place for inclement weather. If you’re promoting a new seasonal menu, access your marketing tools and find opportunity gaps in your marketing strategy. If you promote a one-time event and expect a packed crowd, make sure you have enough staff to run the event smoothly and products to satisfy guests.
Balance the books for better margins
Everyone loves a deal — especially when it benefits your pockets. But as a business owner, promotional deals can leave you wondering if a deal can turn a profit. Offering a two-for-one special or extending happy hour discounts can seem like desperate ways of making an extra buck or two. But doing so can have its perks. You just need to run the numbers and ensure it makes sense with your budget and margins. After all, staying in the black is the name of the game, right? So before you promote any discounts or weekly specials like $1 domestic beer nights, make sure your numbers are in order so it’s worth it.
The 10 Best Bar and Restaurant Summer Promotion Ideas
- Get Involved With Local Community Events and Happenings
- Partner with Charities & Organizations
- Capitalize on Summer Holidays
- Leverage Customer Loyalty Offerings
- Promote New Seasonal Menu Launches
- Market Two-For-One Specials or Extended Summer Happy Hours
- Offer Bartending and Cooking Classes
- Throw Pop-Up Events with Like-Minded Brands
- Host a Tap Takeover with a Local Brewery
- Have a Guest Bartender Create a Special Menu and One-Night Event
1. Get Involved With Local Community Events and Happenings
One of the first places you should look when planning seasonal promotions is your own backyard. Look through local magazines and newspapers or do a quick search online to find local community events and happenings in your area. If you’ve been around for a while, you likely know the landscape. However, new opportunities are constantly popping up and they’re great ways to connect with the local community and drive awareness of your business. Examples can include participating in local food drives, sponsoring a city-run marathon, or getting involved with a local food and wine festival or restaurant week.
2. Partner with Charities & Organizations
Aligning your business with charitable causes does wonders for your brand with locals. It shows you care and that you’re driven to help your local community. Look into what charities and organizations exist around you and consider ways you can partner with them during the summer months. For example, partner with a local charity so that $1 from every meal is contributed back to the organization. You can be humble about it, but it’s certainly something to market to your followers who are more than willing to give to a good cause, especially if all they have to do is eat or drink at your establishment.
3. Capitalize on Summer Holidays
Summer holidays are perfect markers in your business's marketing calendar. Your customers are out and about, hungry, thirsty and ready to have fun. Throw a 2-for-1 special or discount during a specific holiday. Perhaps Memorial Day Weekend is a great time to donate $1 from every sale to a local Veterans organization. What about a special Independence Day-themed cocktail menu that you promote across your social channels? Get creative and think outside the box.
4. Leverage Customer Loyalty Offerings
Customer loyalty programs should be considered an “always-on” part of your marketing strategy. However, alter your messaging or find new loyalty offerings specific to the season. What if for every $100 spent at your bar this summer, loyal customers get a cocktail on the house? That would be enough to keep me coming back.
5. Promote New Seasonal Menu Launches
Whether you change them daily or once a season, new menus are always something to promote. Therefore, they make perfect marketing initiatives to scribe into your seasonal marketing calendars. Email, social media, the website and word of mouth are all optimal outlets for getting the word out. Consumers will appreciate the heads up and flock to your bar or restaurant accordingly.
6. Market Two-For-One Specials or Extended Summer Happy Hours
These are simple, quick ways to drive business. A special two-for-one deal entices anyone who loves a good deal. Or you can play the long game, too. Extending Happy Hour by an hour all summer long is a brilliant idea for those looking to burn an extra hour at the bar. Does your business attract a lot of office workers in the area? Consider the ever–popular “Summer Friday” as a chance to pull in workers getting off early on Fridays by starting Happy Hour earlier than usual.
7. Offer Bartending and Cooking Classes
Summer is often equated with leisure. It means that we often have a little extra time on our hands. For consumers who are looking for fun ways to spend their weekends, consider hosting bartending or cooking classes. They’re a great way to engage with your customers and get them excited about your offerings. They’re also an additional revenue source that otherwise wouldn’t have been available. Sell tickets online through the website and promote available dates via email and social media.
8. Throw Pop-Up Events with Like-Minded Brands
Does it seem like you’re seeing pop-ups everywhere? You’re not alone. They’re trending more than ever as a way to create visibility for other brands as well as your own. They’re also highly marketable to both audiences and always tend to bring business. Partner with like-minded brands in your area and plan a pop-up event somewhere. Whether you’re the one “popping up” or the one hosting, you’ll be sure to drive a crowd and a fun experience in the process.
9. Host a Tap Takeover with a Local Brewery
Like a pop-up, tap takeovers are popular happenings in the local bar and brewery scene. Inquire about new beer launches happening from your distributor or brewery contacts. Offer to host a tap takeover where they’re exclusively pouring their beer that night. It makes great social media content and is highly marketable, almost guaranteeing a busy night.
10. Have a Guest Bartender Create a Special Menu and One-Night Event
Last but not least, invite a guest bartender to take over your bar for an evening. It’s even better if they excel in one area. For example, say a celebrated local bartender is known for making Tiki drinks but your bar is more of a whiskey bar. Your clientele may always come to you for a neat pour of something special, but they’d be intrigued if for one night only, said bartender was pouring special Tiki cocktails. It’s a great way to show camaraderie with other establishments, supports the wider bar scene in your community, and always draws a crowd.