Becoming the “it” place in the neighborhood isn’t a matter of luck nor is it about being the hot, new establishment in town. Today, the most direct path to popularity and prosperity comes from establishing your brand online. Though it’s not simply about having a Facebook page or a Twitter account. It’s about having a strategy that’s focused on engaging existing customers and inspiring them to tell their friends about your business. To get you on your way, following is a three-step plan to building your bar brand online.
Step One: Define Your Brand
Here are five questions that will help you define your brand.
1. Describe your ideal clientele.
2. Do your prices reflect that audience, your location, and the quality of products and services you offer?
3. What makes your bar different from the customer’s point of view?
4. What is the primary reason patrons come to your establishment (location, price, special occasions, etc.).
5. What type of experience do you create for customers (romantic, fun, casual, formal, etc.)?
Based on your answers to those questions, you’ll have a strong sense of the types of marketing campaigns that will attract customers.
Step Two: Build Your Marketing Foundation
Before you dive into the execution of your fantastic campaign ideas, you need to establish a marketing foundation that includes the following three elements.
1. A strategy for getting found online so that your establishment appears in online directories and search engines when consumers are looking for a place like yours. To save time from listing your bar on individual online directories, consider using a technology such as Single Platform that automatically populates all of the relevant online directories and ensures your business appears in local searches.
2. A focused approach to social media that includes the two or three social networks where your ideal customers are most active.
3. An integrated marketing campaign calendar that is mapped out six months in advance, includes online and offline campaigns, and strikes a balance between promotions and sharing engaging content.
Step Three: Engage Your Audience
Now you’re ready to engage your audience and launch your campaigns. Remember, engaging your audience is about establishing a genuine connection based on their interests as opposed to overtly selling.
Here are five ways to engage your customers so they’re inspired to return.
1. Initiate conversations so you can learn more about your customers’ interests. For example, asking your Facebook fans to share what they like most about St. Patrick’s Day will give you insight for planning your next event.
2. Encourage customers to share their positive experiences on online review sites.
3. Create the customer experience online by taking photos of recent events and encouraging customers to post their own photos and stories of memories you’ve helped them create.
4. Reward customers for their loyalty. Recognize your steady patrons with extras such as a free appetizer, backstage passes to a concert in your bar, or a private tasting of a new wine collection. Then feature them on your website and social networks.
5. Create offers that are mutually beneficial. Don’t let the negative stories about daily deals deter you from creating an offer. You can ensure it’s mutually beneficial if you maintain complete control over who receives it, are able to turn the deal off at any time, and you have access to the emails of new customers that signed up for the deal through an existing customer.
It comes down to creating a great experience at your place and then encouraging customers to talk about it online.