5 Tips for More-profitable Bar and Restaurant Promotions


There are two critical elements in a successful bar or restaurant promotions, according to consultant Nick Fosberg, president of Bar Success. First is a market for the business, then a profitable marketing plan.

In a session at the National Restaurant Association’s BAR event during its annual show in Chicago in May, Fosberg said that the most important promotion is a lead-capture program. This is strategy and is used to collect contact information (namely email addresses) from your customers to build a list.

You want to be able to communicate with these folks and extend them special offers, he said. The customers that essentially say, “here’s my information—I want to do business with you” are “the most profitable on the planet,” Fosberg explained.

How do you get them to give you their information? Use a lead magnet, such as a contest or giveaway, he said. These are a few of the promotion ideas Fosberg shared in his seminar.

1) Free meal for a year. Everyone wins with this offer, Fosberg said. This helps you build a list from the participants, makes your restaurant stand out from the pack and typically generates a lot of free press, he said.

You can put restrictions on the offer, provided that you reveal them up front. For instance, you can specify that winners must purchase a meal and two drinks to get the free meal, which builds business throughout the year.

And you can say that entrants must be present at the drawing to win, which helps pack the house that night.

2) Flat-screen TV giveaways. These lead-generation contests tend to work best in conjunction with sporting events such as the Super Bowl, Fosberg said. You can get your liquor and beer vendors to pay for the TV, he noted.

Vacation giveaways also work well during slow times, he added. “They’re an easy way to get 40 to 50 people in the door.”

3) “Broke” promo. This is a limited-time offer based on an event that you can make up, such as your freezer broke so you’re doing a special menu at discounted price to use up the food.

You can promote these offers via email, direct messaging and Facebook posts, Fosberg said. They key is crafting the message using engaging “reason why” copy. Sharing the story that explains why you’re doing something builds a relationship with the customer, he explained.

4) Party package giveaway. These are highly profitable and can bring in hundreds of new customers while helping you build your contact list, Fosberg said. The same goes for promotions designed for birthdays.

5) New-mover promotions. Send a personal letter rather than a postcard and say something like “Welcome to the neighborhood! Come in for a free meal…” This builds instant trust and creates a relationship that will likely generate repeat business, Fosberg said.

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