Attracting Customers to Your Bar in the Winter

We've just about made it to the final month of winter. February is fast approaching, and for many of us, the winter blues is settling in. If you're a bar or restaurant owner, you've probably noticed a decline in customers over the past few months, because it's simply too bitter for people to want to go outside anymore than they have to. However, you have the power to defeat old Jack Frost with a single glass of Winter Jack. So, get out your notepad, and start jotting down ideas for attracting customers to your bar this winter!

No Winter Allowed!

First and foremost, if your customers are daring enough to brave the cold, snow, blistery winds, and other wintery threats, make sure once they’re inside your bar, winter stays out. Is your establishment properly insulated? Do you have proper heating? If so, crank it up to a temperature comfortable enough for guests to take off their jackets and stay awhile! Maybe even consider investing in commercial patio heaters if you find it difficult for your venue to retain heat!

Hot Cocktails

Fresh Fruits

Have a set drink menu featuring warm, spiked beverages and cocktails. Whether people are looking for a drink to warm up with after shoveling the driveway, shoppers need a happy hour in between mall stops, or co-workers need an excuse for a Monday night happy hour (because, let’s face it: the weekend isn’t long enough), everyone deserves a tasty beverage! Consider some of these tried and true winter concoctions that are sure to get your bar filled up with thirsty patrons:

  • Spiked hot chocolate
  • Mulled spiced cider or wine
  • Hot Toddy
  • Butterbeer
  • Irish coffee

Tempt Them with Social Media

What are you typically doing on a snow day? Many of us remain bundled up on the couch scrolling through Facebook, liking posts of kids building snowmen, and teachers excited about delays and closings. It’s easy to forget about the outside world when we’re in the comfort of our own homes. It’s your goal to prevent the brain freezes and warm your customers up to the idea of trekking out for a drink with friends. Why not upload tempting pictures of your staff cozied up by the fire with one of your cocktails or a craft beer? Make a post telling your followers they deserve a drink after taking the kids sledding! Offer specials and deals to encourage and give customers a reason to take off the footy pajamas and leave their toasty living rooms.

Weekly Events and Themed Nights

Summer Drinks

Many people appreciate routine. Start a winter trivia league that occurs every Wednesday night, or pick a night of the week your bar has the lowest attendance to get people to fill your bar stools. Be sure to offer prizes and rewards. By offering gift cards or merchandise advertising your establishment, you'll give customers an incentive to participate and spend money on drinks at your place! Another option similar to this is to make it a ritual to show the new episode of a hot new TV show every week. Create a special menu or drink that’s unique to that show. And, if you're looking to catch a large weekend crowd, you could plan a summer inspired theme party on a Saturday night, and serve up fun, tropical summery drinks. Encourage attendees to wear their goggles and flippers. Why not? Once the snow melts it turns into a pool of water anyway! The ideas are truly endless. You can check out this article for even more bar marketing ideas to attract customers to your venue.

It’s Game Time

Sports Bar

Yes, Super Bowl XLIX is this weekend and hockey season is well on its way, but go a step further. It's definitely a smart marketing choice to always have the game on, but have interactive activities, too. This encourages socializing in your bar, so customers know they always have a place to go to see old pals, make new friends, or have someone to catch the game with. Invest in a pool table, foosball table, or dart board. You can even host weekend tournaments and post the details to your social media account. Give out a free drink to the first ten teams to sign up! If you want your bar to focus on sports, we have even more ideas for you to capitalize on sports bar marketing.

Just because it’s 5 degrees out, and the sidewalks are covered with salt, doesn’t mean customers can’t warm up in your bar, pub, or restaurant. By providing incentives, specials, and fun activities, you can start keeping the chill out and bringing customers in!

Posted in: Features | By Ashley Kufera

How to Increase Brand Awareness of Your Restaurant

Branding is a critical component of a business's success. From world-wide corporations to local diners, maintaining brand awareness among customers pays dividends. The tricky part is establishing the brand in the first place. Fortunately, with the near-universal use of the Internet, making yourself known in your area has never been easier. Using this handful of techniques, you can increase your brand awareness among the public and watch your profits grow.

Your Social Media

A social media presence is a vital component of today's fast-paced marketing world. Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus are all simple, effective, and — most importantly — free ways to promote your name and logo to the public. It only takes minutes to set up accounts on all three platforms, which can include information like your company name, location, and hours of operation. In addition, you should use your exact company name for every account to eliminate the potential for confusion. If another business has your name, go for your exact name followed by where you're located. For example, Giuseppi's Pizza in Los Angeles ideally wants "GiuseppisPizza." But if that's already taken, they can shoot for "GiuseppisPizzaLA" instead. Just make sure the same name is available on every social media platform for consistency and brand recognition.

twitter profile

With your accounts set up, you should engage with your audience often, including original content and responding to comments, whether they're positive or negative . When it comes to feedback, you don't have to respond to everyone, but positive comments can be satisfied with a quick "thank you" back to the customer, and negative comments can be addressed by expressing apology and what you'll do to fix the issue.

However, it's important to remember that social media is not the place to hold arguments or drawn-out back-and-forths. It's up to you whether you allow your commenters to debate, but it's generally frowned upon for a page's owner to take sides in an issue. You can address individuals through private messages to handle more sensitive issues, keeping your feed cleaner. In addition, stubborn or irrational commenters, like someone trying to extort you for free goods or extra deals, can simply be blocked. While neither of these are preferred outcomes of customer interactions, the point of a social media page is to focus your business and products in a positive light. Maintaining that focus will reflect well on your brand as a whole, helping to attract customers.

Your Blog

These days, everyone has a blog. Topics run the gamut from politics to comedy and everything in between, including plenty of foodservice options. With such a huge quantity of blogs, it's easy for potential readers to gloss over a new presence. The keys to engaging with your customers via your blog are quality and consistency.

Quality pertains to a blog's page layout, interactivity, and text. Attractive blog pages that contain links and compelling writing are significantly more likely to be read than something that's just thrown together. A couple of well-written, thoughtful paragraphs will be more enjoyable to readers, and supplying linked material — like a link to your online ordering page or menu — can give them an interactive experience so that they stay on your site longer. High-quality content is also ranked better by Google's search algorithms, which is covered below.

Consistency relates to how frequently you update your blog. For most foodservice businesses, you can easily set a schedule according to whatever metrics you want to use. In general, blogs are read most frequently on Mondays around 11 a.m. This means that most blogs are updated around that timeframe to obtain maximum readership. Your readership may vary, but the major point is that you habitually publish a blog around the same time on the same day of the week. This lets a customer know that by the time 11:00 rolls around, they can go to your website to see what you have to say. And the more blog entries you create according to a consistent schedule, the better your blog will perform as a whole.

Giuseppi's Pizza could blog about any topic, but the best choices are topics that the business can address as an expert. Establishing yourself as an authority on relevant subjects, whether they're recipes or how to run a delivery service, forges trust between your business and your readers. You can write to give an overview on your topic and then answer common questions as you go. And at the end, you can include a short bio and photo of the author that mentions why they're experts.

Your Local Presence

local

Local searches are important to a business's success. A huge percentage of people use phones, computers, and tablets to look up business hours of operation, directions to physical locations, or local store addresses. Your Google Plus and Facebook for Business pages will be the best tools at your disposal for listing all of that information. And while it may not directly result in sales, making it convenient for customers to find you drastically increases the chances that they'll buy from you. It also makes you appear more current, accessible, and available in general.

Finally, you can brand your business offline in addition to using the Internet. The best forms of offline branding include brick-and-mortar signs, logos, and outreach initiatives. Volunteering and giving back to the community — even if it's supplying free pizza for a small charity — can give your restaurant the extra boost in social exposure that your competition lacks, along with associating your name with kindness and generosity. A smile can go a long way on a person-to-person scale, and showing your community that you care can go even further.

Posted in: Trends | By Christopher Zook

Marketing to Generation Z, iGen, and Homelanders

Generation Z

After years of radical changes in social media, personal engagement, and relationship building, the next generation of consumers is getting ready to revamp the marketing game again. Generation Z is defined as kids and teens under eighteen years old, all of whom make up about a quarter of North America and two billion worldwide. They control $44 billion in the United States alone, and they will soon be the big buyers in practically every industry — especially foodservice.

To start, Generation Z grew up in a safety-conscious, post-9/11 world that included the Great Recession, bank bailouts, and a host of other social and economic issues. By those benchmarks, it's no wonder that 56% of this generation says they're savers (not spenders), making them more fiscally conservative than Generations X and Y.

However, 72% of Generation Z-ers still want to start their own business, and 26% already actively volunteer. In addition, instances of violence and recklessness have significantly declined with the upcoming generation, with the exception of the fact that they're more likely to text while driving. Overall, Generation Z is a safe, cautious, and organized bunch — the kind of people who prefer structure to chaos, planning to chance, and thought to impulse.

So how do you grab the attention of yesteryear's rugrats?

Instagram

Instagram picture

In December 2014, Instagram reached 300 million users, and the numbers are steadily climbing. While that total may be less than half of Facebook, Instagram is gaining steam with younger generations who prefer photos and bite-sized information to wordy status updates. Sentences have been replaced with images and brief captions (if any at all) to say the most while using the least. Fun photo ops, infographics, in-house art, and more are all great ideas to maintain a steady Instagram presence. The more active you are, the more followers you'll receive, and the greater the chance to increase profits.

Maintaining an Instagram presence also gives you a chance to check whenever someone posts photos of your food — and for most users, photographing food is as common as going out to eat. To give you an example of how powerful this food photography movement is, The Cheesecake Factory averages 26.2 photos per location over the course of an eighteen day period. While that may not sound like much, keep in mind that this is an average — the best locations had as many as 5,000 photos in the same timeframe. Couple that with the fact that 90% of Instagram users are under 35, and you have a social media platform that will advertise to a group of fresh consumers for free.

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing

Even more than Millennials, Generation Z responds to viral marketing. This breaks down to any fresh, new idea that has the potential to be cool, funny, or sometimes flat-out weird. Take, for example, Old Milwaukee, whose ad campaigns consist of ridiculous ways to pass someone a beer, Jose Canseco smashing a can with a bat, and Will Ferrell cracking jokes.

For the restaurants that can't afford triple-A celebrities or the destruction of random product, you can still get inventive with how you advertise. Produce something original that showcases your brand — start a flash mob with your serving staff, jump on a trend bandwagon, or even destroy a sandwich you sell in slow motion. (People love slow motion — there's actually a YouTube channel to prove it.) While it may seem pointless to blow up a meal you've made just for video views, you get the word out about your brand and associate yourself with something that people enjoyed. And that association, along with word of mouth, is more effective than any billboard.

Skip Buzzwords

Simply said, Generation Z doesn't respond to buzzwords. They prefer an authentic person-to-person experience that brings a company down to a more relatable level. Instead of flashy graphics and showy ideas, Generation Z wants you to forge a relationship with them. Replying to tweets, maintaining a polite sensibility, and practicing online etiquette are all great ways to gain the respect and business of younger consumers. And above all, don't talk down to them — they might be young and inexperienced, but they know what they like. Using the right strategies can make them like you.

Posted in: Trends | By Christopher Zook

Altering Your Menu to Accommodate Alternative Diets

For some households, dining out has become more of a task than a treat. No meat. No gluten. Paleo.

Because of society’s ever-changing dietary trends, as well as newfound allergies, it’s important for restaurant owners to tailor their menus to accommodate alternative diets if they want to maintain their status as go-to places to eat. By using basic ingredients, but offering a customizable menu, you can easily and economically market to a wide array of alternative diets. There are many simple ways your restaurant can obtain a more diverse palate. Check some of our ideas out below!

Reorganize Your Menu

Reorganize Your Menu

By simply organizing a menu, so it's clearly shown what exactly your restaurant serves, guests will feel less overwhelmed when they prepare to order. Create designated titles throughout your menu that read: Poultry, Beef, Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten Free. By making these subheadings obvious and easy to read, diners can easily flip through to the section that meets their dietary restrictions.

Add a Dietary Legend

If reorganizing your entire menu doesn’t sound too appealing, how about adding a key at the bottom of each page that has symbols to represent various dietary alternatives? This way, you can offer your same specials and entrées, but you can easily show that they can be altered to fit a specific restriction. For example, if you have a pasta menu you’re very proud of, but you’re losing business because many customers are finding they’re gluten intolerant, you can place an asterisks next to any pasta dish that can be substituted with gluten free noodles, or vegetable noodles! Also, if you make an awesome baked potato soup but want your vegan guests to also enjoy it, use a symbol to show you have a recipe to make it vegan-friendly.

Use Raw Foods and Simple Ingredients

Fresh Fruits

To kill two birds with one stone, you can simply make a vow to use only raw, simple ingredients. This will accommodate those on paleo diets, and it will market to guests that want a healthier dining out menu in general. Check out some of the paleo approved foods below, and you’ll be amazed by the countless possibilities you can concoct.

  • Grass-fed meats
  • Fish
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Certain nuts and seeds
  • Healthy oils, such as olive, walnut, avocado, and coconut
By making your restaurant menu more alternative diet-friendly, you will keep existing customers, attract new ones, and make your establishment more marketable and unique. Every business needs a niche, and this could be yours!
Posted in: Health & Wellness | By Ashley Kufera
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