There are many ways to increase your bar’s customer base, but they are usually at a cost. Whether that’s a direct cost, such as spending on Facebook advertising, or an indirect cost, such as offering discounts for a happy hour, most are not completely free.
Here are six ways to increase your bars customer base for free. The only cost may be your time.
Offer amazing customer service for word of mouth
Word of mouth still holds the most weight as one of the best marketing mediums there is. The only way your bar will get positive word of mouth spreading is by offering an excellent service. From how well the drinks are poured to how friendly your staff are, amazing customer service should be at the forefront of your marketing efforts.
It’s worth investing your time into training your staff to offer impeccable service. You could argue this isn’t free, but your staff should be there anyway continuously improving on the job.
Top tip: Keep on top of review sites as a benchmark for your customer service. If your staff aren’t mentioned in positive reviews or you’re getting negative reviews in general, then you know you have work to do to improve this.
Find free online listings
Assuming you have invested in a beautiful website, you need to make sure people know about your bar. There are lots of websites and apps where you should be listing your bar for free so potential patrons can learn about your bar. There are obvious sites like Google, Trip Advisor, Yelp but there are many more.
For example, an effective free app you can list on is Bloc. It’s more than just a simple listing as users can check-in to your bar, connect with other people before they go and Bloc even pays users for attending, using geo-location.
Your first 75 customers are free and then it’s only £2 (inc. VAT) per customer after that. There’s no contracts so you can stop your campaign once your free usage is over.
Top tip: Search the app stores in the ‘food and drink’ categories. There you will find other smaller apps that you can list on for free.
Email marketing is an effective medium for bar marketing and is a great way to increase your bar’s customer base for free. You can simply use software like MailChimp to send a newsletter on upcoming promotions or events to draw in patrons.
Building an email list is simple too. You should create a lead magnet on your website’s homepage. This is usually a pop-up or call to action on your website that asks the visitor to input their email address.
The most effective way to do this is to offer an incentive such a free drink but in the spirit of the ‘free’ theme of this post you could also offer a free recipe they can download or simply just ask.
Another effective way to capture email addresses is by offering free WiFi in your venue. To get onto it the user simply has to submit their email and approve being contacted.
Top tip: Don’t email your customers too often otherwise you’ll end up in the spam folder. Only email them if you have an amazing deal that they won’t be able to resist or a huge upcoming event.
The effectiveness of social media is continuing to rise. You should have a Facebook page, be on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and even Tik Tok.
They are all free and are a great way to showcase your bar’s best photos and videos. They don’t need to take up much time as one video for example can be shared across all of those platforms.
Top tip: To keep your staff motivated you could give the responsibility of these accounts to them on rotation. Instagram stories, for example, only last 24 hours so the content doesn’t need to be ridiculously professional.
A lot of your patrons will be searching specific areas for bars to attend on Google. Making sure you are in the top three links on Google Places involves SEO.
Use Google Keyword Planner or Uber Suggest to find keywords that your patrons might be searching i.e. Sports bar London. Next include that keyword phrase on your website. You also need to create a Google Local account.
The final piece of the puzzle for making sure you’re in the top three is getting lots of reviews, and hopefully positive ones.
Top tip: You could start writing a blog on your website. Google loves new, well written content and will reward you on Google Places in terms of SEO.
Ask for reviews for Google Local
Google Local likes reviews. By gathering as many reviews as you can increase your chances of being featured in the top results when someone searches a bar on Google.
Top tip: The easiest way to get reviews is to simply ask. Your bar should have regulars, friends and repeat customers. These are the best people to ask as they will be keen to help.
If you want to explore more ways to increase your bars customer base, here is a list of 50 bar marketing ideas that work.