30 Bar Marketing Ideas & Promotions That Work

Are you looking for bar marketing ideas to grow your bar, pub, wine bar, sports bar, or cocktail lounge business?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, I share the most effective bar promotion ideas. Bar owners and managers know the key to a successful bar business is to generate as much traffic as possible. Keeping customers happy and returning is the key to a successful business, and there are many marketing techniques that bars can use to increase visits.

You can use some of the quick and easy bar marketing ideas today. Other bar marketing strategies will require more work.

I don’t think you to should implement all bar promotion ideas at once. Pick one, take action, and come back later for more bar promotions.

bar marketing ideas

Before getting into the quick tips and marketing ideas, let’s look at some of the more critical bar marketing strategies.

Google My Business Website

1. How To Grow Your Business From Local Bar Searches On Google

You cannot exist for new people if you don’t show up when they look for a bar in your area. If someone is typing “Bars Near Me,” you should show up.

The basics should be put in place first. To get your bar on Google, set up your Google My Business Account here (it’s free).

Signing up can be done very quickly. New customers will find your bar when you’re done with the sign-up process.

Cool Bar Websites

2. Build a Good Bar Website to Reach Potential Customers

A poorly designed website is not good for attracting new customers. It might not even convince existing ones to return. It’s time to invest in a great-looking website.

A good bar website has more than a first impression. It is an online view of your bar.

A marketing agency can help you make a website. But, today’s website builders are straightforward to use, which is excellent for bar owners. It’s possible to get a professional-looking website with minimal effort.

Bar Branding & Design

3. Branding is About More Than Your Logo

Everything about your bar is communicating, like it or not. That’s why it’s essential that your bar branding is consistent.

You need to figure out the unique story of your bar.

You can charge higher prices if you have an excellent bar brand and people understand how different you are and the value you provide.

A brand’s impact on word-of-mouth marketing can be positive. People can talk about you because of the stories.

Bar quote

4. Get More Online Reviews About Your Bar

There are several approaches to increase your visibility on the internet. Lots of positive reviews are one way to go about it. The reviews will help you when it comes to your bar appearing on the search results pages.

Asking your current patrons to leave a review is another method. Did you know that even though some of the reviews are not great, you will still be higher up in the rankings by the search engines?

In the Internet age, people research bars before they visit.

You must have a good amount of reviews for your bar on Google, Facebook, and Yelp. People will be more likely to visit your bar if they have good customer reviews. Still, it also helps your bar rank better on Google.

It’s possible to automate this with your bar POS software to send an email or text message after the meal.

bar POS System

5. Use a POS (Point of Sale System) for Your Bar

POS software usually has many restaurant marketing features that also work for bars to help with email marketing, customer loyalty programs, and more. Check out our review of restaurant POS systems, most of which also would be a good fit for bars.

6. Use Email Marketing to Increase Your Customer Base

Email marketing is still alive in many ways. It is growing at a faster pace than most other forms of advertising on the internet.

Email is a marketing strategy that can connect you with your customers. You can provide value and keep building relationships with it.

You might think email has become unimportant because of social media. That is not correct. Email is the most effective way to build trust.

social media

7. Social Media can Help Setup Your Bar for Success

One of the marketing strategies for a bar owner that you are probably aware of is social media. Many bars don’t have an effective plan for social media. They use social media without knowing how it can benefit them.

It is challenging to generate new customers while on social media. To succeed, you have to execute your cafe’s social media strategy.

bar interior with antique bust

8. Use Google Ads to Reach People Looking for Bars in Your Area

In this list’s first bar promotion idea, we learned that you need to make sure your bar shows up when searching for establishments in your area.

People are looking for bars in this way. Suppose a lot of other bars surround your place. The first row of the search results is likely to contain paid advertisements, so it is possible that your bar does not show up at the top.

Even if your website is suitable for search engines, you are not likely to appear at the top. This is one of the reasons search campaigns are necessary.

For example, you can limit your ad only to be visible to people based on walking distance to your bar. It’s possible to define certain words that need to be used when searching.

To learn more about advertising with Google, you can read their Google Ads guide to getting started with ads for your bar marketing.

Influencer using samrtphone

9. Hire an Influencer to Create a Following

It works so well that it is replacing traditional methods of advertising. 

The thing is that the influencers know what they’re worth. It costs a lot to get a large amount of attention for your business. Local micro-influencers or a food blogger can be the best way to promote bars. These are people with 3’000 30’000 followers who live in the same area.

If you look at your bar’s customer list, you might find that you already know some of them.

If you can, give them an incentive to promote your bar. Since they are your customer, they will be authentic and relevant to your bar. Ideally, they would @mention your bar in their post.

View from a bar

10. Host a Seasonal Bar Event

Seasonal events like Halloween and New Year’s Eve are possible to leverage. You need to know what kind of event will happen at that particular time. Next, you should start thinking about how to market your bar at the event.

You can use relevant events in the towns or cities where you’re located to give the offer relevance.

bar interior

11. Use a Client Loyalty Program to Get More Repeat Patrons

It’s essential to get new customers. But, your loyal customers should always make up most of the bar’s profit.

It is cheaper to keep existing customers rather than attracting new ones. How are you showing your appreciation to the ones who remain loyal?

If the customers stay loyal, you can save a lot of time and money. Running a loyalty program can be very easy if you have the right bar software.

Three ways to use your loyalty program are outlined here.

1) Offer discounts when they return regularly

2) Reward them for referring friends

3) Give them freebies and a drink now and then

recommend a friend to a bar

12. Run a Recommend-a-Friend Program to Get New Bar Customers

A recommended bar patron is the best new customer you can get. People are more likely to become regular customers when friends recommend a bar.

Incentivizing your current customers to recommend you to their friends would be a great way to get new customers.

A basic referral program can be implemented using bar referral cards. However, I recommend you use bar POS software to support your friend scheme.

man filming a video in a bar

13. Make a Video About the Bar for Social Media and Website

You need trust and relationships to get someone from browsing the internet to become a repeat customer.

The most efficient way to do it is through video. A video showing your bar, staff, and you is a vital marketing tool for bars.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be authentic. Tell your bar’s story and show the people behind it, just like when you meet with a new customer in your establishment.

14. Instagram Stories is Great for Promoting Bar Specials

Are you using Instagram stories as part of your bar’s social media strategy? IG stories is an excellent place to run short-term promotions.

The viewer feels a need to watch them as they only last a short time. This can be helpful in your sale of bar drink specials and happy hour promotions.

You can run a gift card promotion on your website. If you can get your employees to promote the bar special, then it’s even more effective. Employees can engage with their employer’s brand on social media through Instagram stories.

Most bar software platforms would support this (learn more here).

Cool Bar Websites

15. Optimize Your Bar’s Website with Service Pages and Keywords

In the first bar marketing strategy, you learned how to register for Google My Business to get your bar to show in the search result.

It takes more work to get your bar’s website to be listed at the top. You can improve your site to appear higher up than other similar sites.

There are two ways to achieve this. You can think of service pages as mini-websites on your main website. You can provide important information about your location, hours, and menu items with this.

The best way to do this is to include keywords on your website that describe what you offer. It would be great if you could create a dedicated page for each of your key offerings. 

It can be done quickly. It’s a good idea to include your offering and describe it in the page’s title.

You don’t have to pay anything to have a search-optimized bar website that will bring you customers for years; it’s just your time to create the pages.

16. Use Locally Relevant Hashtags for Your Bar’s Instagram

There is a lot of information available on the internet. It’s hard to compete with the millions of bars in this world.

You don’t have to communicate with everyone around the world. As your potential new clients will likely live in your city, you try to reach them there.

If you do not use good hashtags, there is a chance that you will lose out on a good opportunity. Potential new customers are interested in the local phrases used for bars.

facebook on mobile device

17. Use Active Language when Using Social Media

People need to respond to your social media posts. Photos and quotes are good, but people should also be taking action. (here, you can access some awesome chef quotes or cafe quotes that you can use on your Instagram).

You will get more people to read your posts when you use active language and push them to their circles on the social channels.

You will have more people take the actions you want if they are exposed to your social channel.

18. Collect Email Addresses

Between visits, email marketing is a must-have tool for a bar owner to keep in touch with customers.

Email can also be utilized for bar marketing targeting new customers. Even if they aren’t guests yet, it is essential to capture their email to use your newsletter to build trust.

These are two ways to email people who aren’t already repeat customers. 

1) Add an “email opt-in” to your cafe’s homepage. Constant Contact is an excellent solution to capture and send emails. They offer several different opt-in options that you can add to your cafe’s website.

2) Try a Facebook ad to collect emails: If you do not have many people visiting your website or just need even more new customers, you can run a Facebook ad for the relevant people living in your area.

One email service provider that connects directly with Facebook is Constant Contact.

people in bar

19. Gift Cards are a Good Way to Draw in New Customers

Gift cards effectively earn extra income and can be used as part of your seasonal promotions.

Similar to bar referral cards, gift cards can increase customer loyalty and get new customers. You can do that with your bar POS software.

bar exterior street

20. Improve Street Visibility to Increase Bar Sales

Street exposure is an obvious bar promotion idea on this list. We are excited to spread the word on social media, but we should not forget this traditional marketing method.

You are already paying for the space in your bar windows and exterior wall, so make use of them.

Everyone in your area should know that the bar is there. Playing music, getting good lights, and using the sidewalk are some tactics used here.

Bartender in monkey mask

21. Bar Staff Can Be Your Best Promotors.

Just like your bar window is an advertising space you’re already paying for, so is your bar staff.

The employees are the highest cost part of a bar. You have to make the most of this investment.

The staff should positively represent you. The bar’s brand communicates through what they wear and how they act.

You need to know how you want them to promote your bar. Make a note of it, and make sure staff is trained.

Bar interior

22. Ask the Local Paper to Visit Your Bar

Local newspapers are always looking for interesting stories about local people, and they can help spread the word with your business.

What is unique about your bar?

I’m sure you have a story about why your bar exists or why you’re offering a particular type of beverage and special events that no one else does. Or maybe you’re exceptionally knowledgeable about a specific way of brewing? 

Your bar has a good PR opportunity because of your story. Write down your unique story and contact regional newspapers.

two bartenders

23. How to Motivate Your Bar Staff with Rewards and Competitions

It’s a good idea to start with the motivation that comes from within. In some cases, monetary rewards are more effective if you offer a commission on specific products or services.

Peer motivation and being publicly seen are often even stronger motivators. This is why bar staff team competitions are so powerful. 

Individual achievements and the overall team result are worth rewards. This is the perfect way to get all of the team to follow the same path. 

Bar scene - music for the people

24. Use Live Music to Attract Customers

Live music is a good way to build a following and attract new customers. (You need to make sure you have the proper licenses and permits to host live music).

You can promote the live events you host on your website and reach out to local bands or musicians to tell them about your bar.

By collaborating with local musicians, growing customer loyalty can be achieved because music fans are loyal to bars and restaurants that support their community and scene.

Research also shows that music has a direct effect on the customers’ experience at the bar. Your customers are more inclined to spend and have a good time if you play the right background music.

You can take advantage of this by building a good playlist that has a positive influence.

25. Partner With Other Local Businesses in Your Area

There are other people with a business in your area. People like you want to expand their business. Look at companies located in the same area as your bar.

Some other local businesses would be a great partner for you to have. Regional cooperation can be an essential factor in choosing a location for your bar.

You can run co-promotions, and they, in turn, offer their visitors a discount on your services. 

This bar marketing idea can be used in many different ways.

26. Use Your Bar Business Cards.

Who is the best promoter for your bar? Chances are it’s you. You likely promote it daily without even thinking about it. Bar owners should keep their business cards with them to give to people they meet.

For inspiration, you can check out my list of restaurant business card designs.

Adding an excellent quote to your business card can represent you in a good way. You can find quotes to use here:
75+ Inspirational Restaurant Quotes (+ Images & Video)

the curious bartender

27. Host an Event in Your Bar

An event is excellent for getting publicity for your bar. A bachelorette party, bring-Your-friend event, and an opening event are examples of similar events you may be able to host.

Another possibility is to let another business use the bar for their event. This will give you the chance to get to know many people who have never been to your bar before. The experience of a traditional face-to-face event is something special.

customers in a bar

28. Customer Feedback is Important

Ask your patrons about their experiences with you. You need to collect feedback frequently, and you need to take action on the feedback you receive.

However, feedback is subjective, and it’s not a good idea to act on everything you are told. Instead, try to find a structured way to collect a lot of feedback and take a couple of hours every month to go through it all and spot themes of common feedback to act on.

Using bar or restaurant POS software is the best way to do this. You can collect a lot of feedback structured by setting up automatic feedback forms.

facebook pins

29. Can Facebook Ads be Effective for Bars

Does your bar have a Facebook page? 

Most bars have probably tried out some type of advertising on Facebook. Bar owners sometimes boost their posts to get more attention on Facebook. Facebook Advertising and this are not the same things.

If you’re lucky, boosting Facebook posts will only give you likes, comments, and a new customer.

What I’m talking about is something different. Facebook ads can be one of the best and quickest ways to promote a special bar event and get new customers when done right.

Facebook allows you to target different groups within a specific category. For example, you could target only women who live near major cities. Or maybe you want to reach men between 25–34 years old living in Atlanta.

bar counter

30. Make the Bar Menu Available Online

The menu is often the most looked at area on your website, and it should be part of your digital marketing strategy.

Having an easy-to-read and well-designed online menu helps people decide to visit you if they like what they see.

Keep the bar’s menu on your website and other review sites where potential customers will search like OpenTable, TripAdvisor, and Yelp.

Tips for online menus:

  • Don’t bury the bar menu on a subpage; put it on your home page.
  • Don’t use a PDF menu. They are hard to view, especially on mobile. 
  • Make sure it’s mobile-optimized so people can easily read it on their phones. 
  • Use a font that’s easy to read.
  • Make sure it’s easy to update

See examples of restaurant and bar menus here.

Quote

Time to Take Action: Build Your Bar Marketing Plan

I hope you’ve found some marketing ideas today that you think would be right for your bar. 

Of course, the marketing plan doesn’t end at this point. It starts now.

Additional reading for bar owners:
11 Creative Bar Interior Design Examples
409 Cool Bar Names (Pubs, Wine Bar, Sports Bar)

Photo of author

Jan Erling

UX Designer | Content Writer.