Profitable Promotions: Sports Bar Promotions

With football season just around the corner, get a head up on your competition by putting into practice some of these sporting tips. And check out our promo playbook here for more ideas on how to make your bar or nightclub the go-to destination.

Sports Seasons/Events
Not a sports bar? It doesn’t matter. Sporting events are critical to a bar’s success. “Sports are one of the biggest opportunities we have during the year. It impacts all of us, from hotel bars to local bars and everywhere else,” says Jon Taffer, president of Taffer Dynamics and the Nightclub & Bar Media Group. “A guy who can master sports promotion can increase his revenue by 30 to 40 percent.”

Sporting tips
• If you’re looking to attract a crowd on game day, first identify your target, Taffer says. Do you want patrons for a one-night event, like a UFC fight or the Indy 500, or are you looking for a continual season crowd, like NFL football fans? For a single-night event, plan it similar to how you’d plan any promotion, but for an entire season, start promoting the event two to three weeks before the start of the season. “People choose where they’re going to spend their football season at the beginning of that season,” Taffer explains. “Once you’re past the first weekend, your chance of changing their place to go to has diminished greatly.”
• Develop “planks” on which to build your promotion, including food, beverage, entertainment and contests/giveaways — but offer something special rather than just discounting. Taffer recommends renaming chicken wings “barbells” for a fight night and offering a special price. “I’d rather see you change your chicken wings’ names and offer them at a lower price than take your regular chicken wings and discount them, because then it doesn’t appear as if you’re discounting if it has a new name.”
• Start your own fan club. In a town with a popular pro sports team? Well, pick another team — or a few! If you’re located in Chicago, rather than being a Bears bar, become the official headquarters for the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers — whatever teams have a large fan base in your area. Divide your bar into various sections decorated in that team’s color featuring servers decked out in that team’s jersey. Your guests will feel at home and will come back for every game that season.
• Do something different. “Everybody in America does Monday Night Football promotions, and everybody’s watching the same game and it’s on TV at home.” How can you stand out? Taffer suggests his always-popular “I Hate Football Mondays,” which is marketed toward women. The trick: Keep the game on, so guys can come watch too and bask in the beauty of the women who showed up because they hate football.
• Get social. Use social media sites to find and market to fans of the team or event you’re promoting.
• Though marketing is crucial, a promotion won’t work unless it’s a truly clever idea. “Don’t leave the drawing board before it’s compelling,” he says.

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