If you’re looking for bar promotion ideas to bring in more customers and boost sales, you need to figure out where the big spenders are. You’re in luck: we have the ideas and the data!

The food and drinks sector reached over $700 billion in sales by end 2016 and is still growing. The key demographic for this growth? Millennials. Recent statistics show that Millenials dedicate 23.8% of their spending budgets to bars and restaurants. This amount is remarkably higher than other age groups.

bar promotion ideas - consumer spending by generation via businessinsiderData from Bank of America Merrill Lynch credit card spending data. Via Business Insider.

With that little tip in mind, we here are 10 bar promotion ideas for you to bring in the customers, even on a weekday — and yes, to pander to those millennials too.

1. Leverage Happy Hour Sales

Studies have shown that freebies (discounts, coupons, price slash, etc.) tend to increase our oxytocin level (the happy hormone) by 14%. And if your customers are happy, you get more sales. You can use this to your advantage to boost your bar sales.

happy hour promotion - the hightower

The Hightower’s beautiful website calls outexactly when their happy hour is. 

The happy-hour sales technique is one of the best bar promotion ideas you can try. You can offer reduced prices for your drinks at specific times.

This technique is tricky. You must be careful while offering this to avoid running at a loss. Here are some tips:

  1. Offer happy hour sales at the right price: If possible mark-up your best-selling drinks slightly to offset any losses from the happy hour bonus.
  2. Focus on repeat customers: Again, a loyalty program is about the best way to earn repeat customers. Your happy-hour sales should be built around your repeat customers. Set it for the time they are most likely to be in your bar.
  3. Use upsells: Make sure your happy-hour offers have combos that you can upsell to your customers.
  4. Tell Everyone about the Happy Hour: Make sure you happy hour details are signposted everywhere – in the store, on your web and social profiles, in local restaurant and nightlife guides.

2. Screen Popular Events, Like Live Sports or Movies

Most popular sports (such as triathlon or tennis), events, and shows happen in the late evenings and continue into the night. This is just the perfect time for workers to saunter into your bars after a long workday.

Take advantage of this opportunity and screen these popular events. You can spice things up by offering reduced prices for drinks to celebrate a victory even.

The Burlington Bar in Chicago screens Game of Thrones to a packed audience…and the reaction video got 5M YouTube views!

Monitor your customers and track their taste. If you find an overwhelming majority prefer a type of sport, then that’s your ticket to more sales.

However, ensure that you are not breaking any laws or infringing on broadcasting rights in this case – be sure to check your local permits!

3. Drive Social Sharing Moments with Visuals Like Stunt Barmen

In the age of social media videos, stunts and cool tricks get the most attention. If you want people to know your bar is in their neck of the woods, this is a good strategy.

One example is to get your barmen to perform some mixing stunts with their drinks. No, it doesn’t have to be a complicated stunt. Hilarious stunts work just as well. The idea is to get shareable moments, and get these videos posted to your bar’s social media.

You can add mini-promotions to them too. For instance, give a gift to the first ten people to share a video about your bar.

If they generate traction, more people will be trooping to your bar to see these stunts happen in real life. Plus, having a fancy decor for your bar would also be great in this Instagram age – especially for millennial customers.

4. Use A Loyalty Rewards Program (like Candybar)

Increasing customer retention rate by 5 % for your business can boost profits by 25% – 95% percent. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper to keep bar patrons coming back than to bring new customers through the door.

Digital loyalty programs work better – we made an infographic about it!

The simplest loyalty rewards is a punchcard; buy 8 drinks, and get the 9th on the house free*. (*Or whatever suits your margin). Candybar offers a digital punchcard that lives in the customer’s mobile, so they won’t lose it — even when a little tipsy!

A loyalty rewards program helps keep track customer rewards helps you eliminate errors in calculating your customer rewards per visit. Plus, a loyalty program keeps your loyalty program right in front of your best customers, even when they’re not in your bar – and it encourages them to return a few more times to claim the reward.

5. Host Theme Nights at Your Bar

Routine is boring. Science has proven that the human brain craves surprises, and you can use this to your advantage.

Instead of letting your customers walk into your bar and create their own fun, help them out. Create theme nights for a few days of the week.

You can create a night for wine tasting, another for karaoke, and some other nights for blind pairing. Publicize these events on your social media handles for maximum reach.

bar promotion ideas - theme nights

You can also steal a peek at our article on grand opening ideas for restaurants

Rotate these themes often to prevent your customers from settling into a routine. The more you can surprise them, the more they’ll troop to your outfit. The aim is to keep them guessing what is going to happen next.

6. Set Up Competitions

Entertainment is an excellent way to de-stress after a long workday. You can improve the visits of customers to your bar by creating fun competitions and games.

There are many great game ideas for bars. For instance:

  1. Air hockey
  2. Foosball
  3. Pool
  4. Trivia

Set up rewards for the winners to pique the interest of other first-timers. Also, allow your customers to suggest new games too. Be wary of troublemakers though. Ensure that sore losers are seen out of the bar before they start a fight and ruin the mood.

7. Engage Local Influencers

According to Rakuten marketing, 99% of consumers discover new products & events because of influencers they follow. If you are serious about racking up those bar sales, then influencer marketing is your ally.

But you cannot just consult any influencer. Your bar is a local brick-and-mortar business. Only people within your neighborhood can patronize you. So you must seek out local influencers.

Find those social media handles that bear significant influence on your target customers. Don’t just shoot for Kylie Jenner or Markiplier either: you want to find influencers with an engaged following, who respond & reply, rather than those with a big number.  Often times, micro-influencers are more willing to do more for your brand.

This effort is sure to get your name out there in the faces of new customers quickly.

8. Invite Celebrities

This is one surefire way to improve the number of visitors to your bar. If you can afford an A-list celebrity, then go for it. But my guess is you can’t just like many other bars.

You have to realize that your bar is a local business. And in most cases, there’ll be famous artists and performers in your locality. These people are celebrities in their own right too. Your customers may relate with them better than many bigger names even. Contact them and arrange for them to perform for your audience.

You can even create a themed night for these performances too. This way you’ll create a name for your brand while boosting your bar sales.

9. Get Involved in Charities, and Support a Cause

It’s no news that millennials are very much into philanthropy. According to Deloitte, 86% of millennials believe a business should focus on charities as much as they focus on profits.

If you can tap into this sentiment, then you are sure to retain more millennial customers over time. You can support important causes like education, public cleanliness, and waste recycling. Create a public profile around these charities and get your regular customers onboard.

More often than not, they’ll be willing to help, and this will improve your overall public image in the local press. It’s an easy way to get more customers for your bar business.

10. Host ‘Mixers’

Science postulates that strong social bonds help to relieve stress to a great extent. Even Oxford University believes a moderate bar-crawl can improve overall wellbeing.

Many bars are a haven of sorts for singles looking to socialize. So why don’t you use this information to your advantage?

You can create a buzz in your neighborhood that your bar hosts mixers for singles.

During these ‘mixers’ events, encourage customers to meet and know new people. You can create an online buzz for this activity and encourage newbies to tag along with their friends too. This is sure to boost your customer count and consequently, your profits in the long run.

Bar Promotion Ideas Wrap Up

Yes! There you have it. Ten solid ways to improve your customer count to your bar business.

No. You don’t have to put all of them to work immediately. And you don’t even have to implement all of these bar promotion ideas to find success. No need spreading yourself out too thin. Just pick a few and execute them flawlessly. You are sure to see a boost in your sales and profit records in no time.

Nicholas Godwin

Posted by Nicholas Godwin

Nicholas Godwin helps businesses tell profitable stories that their audiences love. He's worked on projects for Fortune 500 companies, global tech corporations and top consulting firms, from Bloomberg Beta, Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte to HP, Shell, and AT&T. You can catch Nicholas on TechContentLabs or say hello on Twitter.