Successful Tastings Take Planning

The beverage alcohol industry is continuously introducing new products, and your guests are undoubtedly always looking for the next exotic liqueur or unique vodka, especially as Americans become more international. It’s easy for something new to get lost in the mix, but hand-selling is one of the most effective ways to get a product off the backbar and into the hands and mouths of your guests — that’s where well-planned, marketing promotions come into play. Tasting events keep your place fresh — after all, you’re offering the latest and greatest new product, perhaps something that’s not yet available down the block — and can create a great vibe in the bar, so they’re worth hosting.

Many on-premise tastings and promotions for new products are executed by a brand’s hired marketing company and feature pretty, young women and attractive men. Sounds like a turnkey program, but there are several things a bar or nightclub operator can do to make the most of the tasting:

1. Advertising before the event: It’s important to advertise the promotion before the day of the event. Where there are free samples and/or reduced drink prices, there will be customers.

2. Time the event takes place: The most essential component to the execution of any tasting is attendance. If your busiest time is 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, schedule the promotion from 3-5 p.m. If it’s 10 p.m. to midnight on a Friday, schedule it then. You get the idea.

3. Duration of the event: The majority of events are effectively executed within a two-hour time span. This ensures a good outreach to a larger body of consumers without overdoing it or running the risk of serving consumers more than once.

4. Be fully stocked on the product: Without a product to promote, you can’t sell it.

5. Place branded materials on bar and throughout the venue: Consumers may taste a product and enjoy it, but then let it slip it to the back of his/her mind, especially if he/she is in the middle of enjoying another drink. Providing a constant reminder will increase sales even after the promotional team leaves.

6. Create drink specials: Like branded materials, it’s important to further engage consumers. If he/she tastes the drink, likes it, but then deems the drink expensive, he/she will purchase something else. Offer the drink made with the brand you’re promoting at a special price, and be sure bartenders and servers can describe and discuss it with guests.

7. Offer branded giveaways: People love free things — offer them something more than just a free taste. Engaging games and contests for free merchandise help get the crowd in the door and keep the energy high as well.

8. Get help from the DJ or emcee: It’s important that consumers know what’s going on, especially if it’s crowded. Utilize the DJ or event emcee to introduce the promoters and drink specials and to drop the brand name, along with that of your establishment, throughout the evening.

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