Quick Tips for Successful Event Promotion

You know the most successful promotions come from solid planning, but with all the demands on an operator’s time, it seems even holiday and calendar promotions that happen at the same time every year “sneak” up on us. Year after year we get calls in mid-August about pulling together a football promotion or in mid-February about St. Patrick’s Day.

While a few weeks before the date seems like plenty of time to prepare, you still need to figure out what you’re going to promote, produce POS material and then let your new or infrequent customers know something big is going on in plenty of time for them to make plans to attend. Let’s face it: You don’t have to worry about the regular guest showing up…they’ll be there. A promotion should be designed to drive in new customers or get another visit from an infrequent customer. If your infrequent customer comes in once every few weeks, then it makes sense to have POS materials out three to four weeks in advance of a promotion or special event.

Think about it: Even if you can do quick planning (two to three days) and get something designed and produced in five to seven days, you still need to start planning your promotion four, five or even six weeks in advance, not two or three. The four to six weeks doesn’t even include trying to get sponsorships for your promotion. This will take extra time because you’ll need to work out the details and because your sponsor may desire more than a few weeks of promotion to get their ROI.

Wow… that’s a lot to think about in a busy world of people calling in sick, checking incoming orders, controlling your monthly P&L and taking care of the day-to-day guests.

So how do you do it? First, we recommend designating someone to help — a DJ, head bartender, assistant manager — someone on your staff who will get behind the program and drive it. Give them an outline to follow and over time this will become a fairly easy process to manage through short follow-up meetings. Here are some of the things that you can include in your outline, which we call a P.E.G. (Promotional Execution Guide):

What – 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 the things a customer or server may ask, and then make sure you’ve thought of the answer. Can someone reserve a table? Who can? How do they do it? Who in the location can handle these reservations? Is there a special reservation list somewhere? Where is it located? If someone wants rules to a contest, are there printed copies? Where are they? Is there an employee incentive? How does it work? What are the prizes? Are there food specials? What are they?

This FAQ can be hung on the employee bulletin board or attached to pay checks to make sure everyone is aware of what the event is, when it is and how it works for both the guest and for them.

It sounds like a lot of information to get out there, but remember: If it takes more than a sentence to explain, it’s probably too complicated. Keep it simple, and commit to proper planning — both will make for a fun and profitable promotion!

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