Donat be a One-hit Wonder

The other day, I heard the '80s super hit “Rappers Delight” and after six minutes of listening, I was plagued with two critical questions: 1.) Why is this song so long? and 2.) Why was this Sugarhill Gang’s only hit?

You’re probably thinking: “Does this have anything to do with beverage promotions?” The answer is a resounding YES!

Although I will never have answers to either query, it inspired me to remind our industry of a few key strategies to avoid ending up like this band — popular for a moment and gone the next.

Don’t be a one-hit wonder; use strategic tactics to develop great beverage promotions to avoid being just a flash in the pan.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It”
Get creative! Guests often are like in-laws: difficult to impress, typically underwhelmed and prepared to tell you about why they’re dissatisfied.

That’s why it is crucial to try to give each of your promotions something different, something that drives them out of the house and into the location, something that really POPS!

Instead of ”Buy One Get One Well Drinks,” try creating a “Take it from the Well to the Oasis” and offer a special where guests can upgrade their drink with a premium or super-premium spirit for just a few dollars more. Another example is the current trend of women wanting to try brown spirits, so have a “Bourbon and Bling” night with bourbon-based cocktails, and let women bedazzle their pre-purchased whiskey snifter with rhinestones.

“I Wanna Be Rich”
This may sound crazy, but when coming up a promotion concept, have you really sat down and asked yourself, “Is this idea going to make me money?“ If the answer is no, DON’T DO IT! If you think you’ll just break even, DON’T DO IT!

All promotions, by definition, are integrated efforts designed to promote sales and generate revenue. Taking risks is different than taking chances.  Be honest with yourself and your business. If it seems like a risk, then avoid it.

Know your budget, and don’t assume you’ll make it back. Know what you can afford and what it might mean for your business to potentially take a loss.

“Turning Japanese”
Are you trying to be something you’re not for a “limited time only?” Understand your guest and make sure that in the process you are attracting the type of guest you want into your establishment. Thing about the bars and restaurants that run “Quarter Beer Night." It usually ends with disastrous results.

Think about it: Who would be excited about beer for a quarter? Is that the crowd you want to attract? How many beers could they have with only $3? These newbies often disrupt your regulars. What's worse, they won’t come back after the promotion ends and pay full price.

Of course, you should always try to target new guests, but don’t expell your current ones in the process. Promotions should complement your guest community, not confuse it.

“Gimme Dat Ting”
Make sure you aren’t just giving things away without getting anything back in return. If the word “free” is anywhere in your promotion, nix it.

You’re a business, not Santa Claus, and this won’t insult your guests, especially if you’re running a clean, quality establishment. You can find ways to enhance the guest experience without discounting at all! For example, offer a wine-by-the-glass option that you usually have available by the bottle. Set a price that you can afford and allow the guest to indulge in something new. Chances are they’ll be willing to order it again when they come back and this time by the bottle. Cha-ching! Everyone’s a winner!

“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”
There was recently a promotion where guests received an email to go to a bar and check out the snap tags on the table tents for a chance-to-win sweepstakes. When I arrived at the bar, I took the picture of the code with my smartphone. Then I was sent a brand message that directed me to the bar’s Facebook page, where then I registered to play. It was way too many steps! I needed a drink from all the stress the actual promotion was giving me. If your program takes too much thought, time or reasoning, dump it. Guests have enough to think about, which is why they’re at your place — to relax and have a good time. Don’t make them work!

“You Get What You Give”
In the end, promotions should be like a great song, stuck in your head and that always make you smile. Good luck and cheers to your future success!

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