Targeting the right demographic should take precedent over all else. However, some owners wonder if they can be more than what they set out to be. For example, can a sports bar double as a nightclub and vice versa? It seems that some owners may think that this might be the only way to gain an expansive crowd ranging in ages and demographics.
But that is not always the case.
First and foremost, bar and nightclub owners “have to have a point of view,” explains Ted Wright, owner of word-of-mouth marketing company Fizz. “It’s not necessarily knowing your demographic, it’s knowing your point of view.”
A point of view begets a targeted base, sources said.
“The more accurately and efficiently you can speak to your demographic, then the less effort, energy and ultimately money you spend,” explains Leigh Maida, owner of Local 44 as well as three other bars in Philadelphia.
Wright says the first thing owners should do is to figure out why people are coming to the bar in the first place. Bars that think they can be everything to all clients are wrong, says Wright. “They die,” he explains. Unless a bar is a well-known neighborhood establishment, then sticking with a concept will help engage loyal customers for years to come.
For Maida, her four businesses highlight craft beer, so that’s where she focuses her promotions to engage their target demographic. “We have a long history now of quality events so people do know that they can expect a stellar draft list and great food, and in general a polished event when we host something.”
To understand who you are requires building a community, a core demographic that drives demand. “Not just bar fly regulars but a community of craft-beer enthusiasts, a community of neighbors, a community of people who just enjoy spending time in our space.” However, this does not mean limiting yourself to your regular clientele; you need to continuously be reaching out to individuals that fit your target demographic in order to bring them in and grow your community.
Once your concept and community is established, it makes it easier to market to this core demographic. Find out “where do they gather together physically, where do they gather together online or virtually,” then seek those places out.
For example, if the theme of a specific bar is for gamers (video), Wright says to find forums, blogs or user groups where gamers congregate. Then let them know that your bar is having a video game night with beer and nachos available to all participants. That’s where you get people that are really interested.
Targeted marketing always works best, even if it’s grassroots. “You not only have far better success in getting your message to the people who will respond, but your message comes across as a more polished one,” says Maida.