While on-premise promotions are a great way to establish your brand, and sell drinks and food, there’s nothing stopping you from opening your doors, and taking the party outside. As a matter of fact, a strategically designed outside element can tie very well into an on-premise promotion. With spring right around the corner (let’s hope), now is the time to start thinking about ways to tie the outside with the inside. Take a look at what the ultra-popular The Starboard of Dewey Beach, Del., does.
The Starboard is a staple on Dewey Beach, offering one of the country’s largest Bloody Mary promotions week after week. The hot spot has a very proactive promotion regimen, highlighted by its well-known Running of the Bull, a fun parody of Pamplona, Spain's, Running of the Bulls. The similarities of the two events? There’s only one – both happen in July. The differences are numerous, with the major one being that there’s only one Bull in Dewey, and it is a man and woman in a costume, so there’s no risk of getting gorged (at least by accident).
The Starboard’s Running of the Bull, which draws 2,500 people annually, has occurred each summer for the last 15 years. Each time, it starts at noon with a pep rally at The Starboard. Drink promotions, pre-run giveaways and food are a-plenty. Then, when the owner sounds the horn, the huge crowd travels up Dewey Beach’s main street (partially blocked with permits), and then turns onto the beach. Along the way, from behind the dunes, out pops the bull. From there, an “angry” chase begins BACK to The Starboard. In The Starboard’s parking lot, amid loud music, an emcee and a raucous crowd, there’s a duel to the end. The matador usually slays the bull, although there have been occasions when the sword (plastic) proved to be weaker than the horns (fur).
The party continues well into the night and early morning with on-premise promotions and drink specials.
For many bars and nightclubs, an event of this nature and size, which was nurtured and built over time, would open the door for new customers. That is just one of the goals for The Starboard. In addition to having fun, and maintaining its brand, the heartfelt reason behind the Running of the Bull is to contribute to a very important local cause – raising money for The Dewey Beach Lifeguard Association, police and fire fighters. Running of the Bull items (t-shirts, wristbands, koozies, key chains, bandanas) are sold with all proceeds benefiting these local organizations. Everybody wins at The Starboard’s Running of the Bull – other than the bull, of course.
When incorporating an outside component to an otherwise inside promotion, consider these points:
- Pre-promote the event throughout the year via signage, e-mail blasts and social media
- Tie in an important local cause
- Draw customers back into the establishment with a fun conclusion (such as Bull vs. Matador)
- Offer enticing on-premise promotions before customers head outside and when they return
- Partner with a brand to help support the promotion
- Check with your local municipality to see what permits might be needed
- Be sure to have motivated people (staff and beyond) drive awareness and create buzz; involve people who will take ownership of the event
- Make it a yearly event so customers put it on their calendars to attend each time