The Best Marketing Mixer: Traditional and Social Media

Traditional and Social Media Marketing Strategies for Bars and Restaurants

With so much focus on selfies, likes, fans, and followers it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when social media wasn’t the dominant marketing vehicle for getting the word out about your events, promotions and contests.

Though you could argue that back in the olden days, circa 2003 or so, there were just as many people lined up at your door, entering contests and spreading the word IRL (“in real life,” for the uninitiated).

What’s different now, however, is not so much that social media enables you to quickly reach a broader audience (though it does). It’s more that it allows you to engage your top customers between visits. These are the customers that you actually want to come back and to tell their friends about your place.

However, this doesn’t mean you should abandon traditional marketing for a pure social media play. When you combine the two, you attract and engage your ideal customers in half the time.

To successfully do this requires an integrated marketing strategy that’s focused on promoting specific campaigns across a variety of channels. This differs from executing individual activities like creating a flyer and then shifting gears to work on your Facebook page. Those one off tactics take a lot of time and don’t necessarily move the needle. Instead of spending time trying to come up with a variety of pithy posts and timely tweets, focus on promoting integrated campaigns across a variety of marketing channels.

For example, let’s say you’re hosting a private event and the goal is to fill the place with your best patrons and inspire them to bring a friend, a.k.a., a new customer along.

You start by engaging them face-to-face while they’re at the bar. You may have a flyer to hand out but you’ll also want to talk up the event. Then, to keep the event on their radar, encourage customers to like your Facebook business page. Focus on what’s in it for them by letting them know the page has more details about the event as well as insider deals.

You can also initiate ongoing dialog on the Facebook page by asking fans to share their favorite memory of being at your place or to vote on a signature cocktail, for example. The updates keeps your page current in their Facebook feeds, gets them more excited about the event, and gives you insight into their interests for future marketing campaigns.

You may also want to consider running an event themed trivia contest with coveted prizes such as a backstage pass or limo service. Promote the trivia contest on your website, have your staff talk it up, and feature it on your chalkboard. Host the contest on Facebook or Twitter and encourage customers to participate while they’re at your establishment. This spreads the word in person and online since your customers’ friends on their social networks can see what they’re up to. You can then feature the contest winners in your bar and on your social media pages.

To create a full circle effect, take pictures during the event and ask attendees to post their photos and comments on Facebook, Instagram and other networks. 

Odds are that an integrated marketing campaign isn’t vastly different from what you’re already doing. The big difference is that you have tighter integration with all of your activities. This keeps your place top of mind, reinforces your messages, drives repeat business, allows you to attract the type of customers you want, and saves lots of time.


Want to learn more from Ron Cates of Constant Contact about social media best practices? Attend the Nightclub & Bar Show - the industry's largest annual gathering of bar, beverage and nightlife professionals - where he will be speaking twice; once on email and social media marketing and once on the mobile craze.  The 30th Anniversary Event will take place March 30-April 1, 2015 in Las Vegas. For more information about the Nightclub & Bar Show, visit