2012 Promotion Planning Guide

Planning a promotion is time-consuming, but the return on your investment is a crowded bar and ringing register. To help you get a serious jump on this crucial work, we’ve assembled our 2012 Promotion Planning Guide, including a calendar of events and holidays around which you can build sales-sparking promos and some expert how-to advice.

Some holidays are well-known and important: The day before Thanksgiving, for instance, is one of the busiest bar days of the year, and you can always score sales on Super Bowl Sunday or St. Patrick’s Day with the right specials. However, others are more kitschy, providing ample opportunities to pull patrons into your establishment for some unexpected fun.

The key is to plan ahead, and we don’t mean a few days. Look through our 2012 Promotions Planning Calendar, then open your own calendar and mark a start date of when you’ll begin developing your promotion for each event you want to capitalize on next year; figure four to six weeks in advance. Don’t miss out on the dollars that important sporting events, holidays and days that celebrate spirits, such as rum, bourbon and vodka, can bring into your bar. With this calendar in hand and our constant updates to the Promo Calendar on nightclub
.com, you’ll attract crowds almost every day of the year.

Map Your Program

By Mark Vidano

Successful promotions come from solid planning, but it seems even holiday and calendar promotions sneak up on us. While a few weeks prior seems like plenty of time, you’ll need to figure out what you’re going to promote, get point-of-sale (POS) material produced and then let customers know in plenty of time to make plans to attend. A promotion should attract new customers or get another visit from an infrequent customer, one that comes in once every few weeks. So, you need to have materials out three to four weeks in advance of a promotion or special event. Think about it: Even if you can plan quickly (two to three days) and get something designed and produced in five to seven days, you still need to start planning your promotion at least four weeks in advance and that doesn’t include the extra time needed if sponsors are involved.
So how do you do it? First, designate someone on your staff — DJ, head bartender, assistant manager — who will get behind the program and drive it.

Next, give them an outline we call a Promotional Execution Guide (PEG); over time, this process will become easy to manage. Include the following:

  • What — A summary of the promotion and goal(s).
  • When — Pertinent “headline” dates (start, end, contest dates, finals, etc.).
  • Who — Who is doing what and by what date? Sponsorships, POS materials, drink development, running the contest (if there is one)/contest rules, media, staff, food, etc.
  • FAQ — Think of all of the things a customer or server may ask and make sure you have an answer. Can someone reserve a table? If so, who and how? Who handles reservations, and is there a special reservation list? Is there an employee incentive? How does it work? What are the prizes? Are there food specials? What are they? A FAQ list can be hung on the employee bulletin board or attached to paychecks to make sure everyone is aware of the event as well as when and how it works for staff and guests.

Most important: Keep it simple. If it takes more than a sentence to explain, it’s too complicated. Commit to proper planning, and the result will be a fun and profitable promotion!

Brainstorming That Works

By Annie Akin

When it comes to promotions, it’s all about ideas, ideas, ideas. So, start by brainstorming, and keep this in mind: Be honest and realistic about who you are and who your customer is. Many of us in the industry try to be all things to all people, but this only leads to confusion for the patron.
Embrace your niche and feed your differentiating factors. If your bar is the local college hangout, run amuck with senior-year frat boys — own it! Martini-and-Manicure Mondays are not for you, but Beer Pong and PBR Keg Parties are right up your alley!

Promotions are a team sport. You need backup and reinforcements. Create a team for brainstorming and the proverbial gut-check, involving someone from each aspect of your establishment, as well as a mix of people in the target market. This team is responsible for researching, ideating and creating, as well as implementing and executing the promotions. A well-rounded team is able to develop and attack a promotion idea from all angles to give you better perspective. Also, buy-in is a lot easier to achieve when your execution team is part of the idea team.

Dig for data. The data-gathering part of the creative process often is overlooked but actually is the most important factor in developing a successful promotion. It has three components:

1. Hit the streets: Research the competition. Again, honesty is key here. What are they doing now, and what was successful for them in the past?

2. Look in the mirror: What have you done in the past, and what were the results?

3. Dig up the data: What data supports your promotion? This could include hot trends, flavors or news about what other bars and restaurants around the country are doing. Any backup you can provide to assist your team in developing a well-thought-out promotion is invaluable.

Now share all of your information with the team and start brainstorming. Hey, who said this was easy? It takes time, creativity and a whole village to pull off a successful promotion, but it’s my guess you’ll do just fine... as long as you start with a strong idea.

Scoring a Sponsor

By Richard Verrecchia

So you want to put on a promotion, and you want to get a supplier involved. A promotion should be considered from the retailer and the supplier sides; the business proposition needs to work on both ends. Look at your promotional idea from the supplier’s point of view and ask yourself, “Would I invest in this idea?” That is what you ultimately are asking suppliers to do.

Here are a few easy steps to ensure a successful promotion for all of the parties involved:

1. Plan in advance. Don’t be calling supplier partners three weeks before the promotion starts. Late notice does not allow sponsors to plan their budgets accordingly, so plan at least four to six months ahead! Project anticipated sales volume — such as an increase in spirit sales of 10% — and identify what that means to the supplier, i.e. how many cases are needed. Case volume equals support dollars, so your promotion budget will be based on how many incremental cases you can sell. Also, a promotion can have multiple supplier partners; many times, the most successful programs do.

2. Appoint a staff member to spearhead the program. Give him or her instructions, timelines and checklists along with some free reign to get creative and make the program as successful as possible. Track the progress and support him or her along the way.

3. Train, train, train! Your staff needs to know the who, what and when as well as how the program works. From managers to hostesses, all involved personnel should be aware of the promotion details. Keep the supplier involved and use a local distributor network to help train your staff.

4. Reward and track your results. Efforts without results are meaningless. When you have great results, be sure to reward the staff. Did you meet the 10% increase you planned? If so, congratulations all around and rewards for all who contributed. If you didn’t meet the goal, why? Solicit input from the front-line folks on how to make it better.

5. Have a follow-up meeting with the supplier to evaluate the program. What went well? What did not? Learn from your mistakes and go at it again. A well-organized operator can have many promotions throughout the year. Once the suppliers know you can deliver, they will line up to work with you.

Good luck!

Patrons Say Promotions Matter

Don’t take our word for it: Consumers say promotions attract them to a particular bar or restaurant. According to a survey of 500 adult patrons of casual restaurants conducted in February by Next Level Marketing:

  • 59% visited a bar or restaurant based on a promotional offer, up from 46% a year prior.
  • 72% say Special Promotions are very-to-somewhat important when deciding what restaurant to visit, and this is higher for females and younger consumers.
  • Consumers are equally interested in beer, wine and spirits promotions; males are more interested in beer and females are more interested in spirits and wine.
  • 67% of consumers clearly prefer promotional offers with a fixed price vs. an offer of $1 off an unspecified price.


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