5 Easy Ways

bar marketing skills

I’ll be the first to admit, I am no bar expert, in fact I know nothing about the bar business. I keep it that way for a specific reason, I’ll discuss later. So why would I send you a letter about helping your bar if I am not a bar expert? Well, for one very good reason, I am your customer.

First off, let me introduce myself, my name is Craig Osterhoudt and I help bars, pubs and taverns in Las Vegas make more money with effective digital marketing. I have been an entrepreneur since I graduated from UNLV. Having owned businesses in several industries such as finance, construction and contracting, automotive, marketing and advertising and many others, I have extensive knowledge of many different business types. I have been able to do this for one reason.

bar marketing skills

“What I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for, your competitors.”

Bar Social Media Marketing

So, like I said, I have no experience with running a bar, none whatsoever. However, my experience, my expertise, my “particular set of skills, is Marketing. Marketing is a skill that translates to any industry if you know how to do it right. However, there is one issue I have come across with all of the businesses I have owned and run. The more I got to know about the business, the more I had difficulties marketing the business.

You see marketing is about identifying with the customer, and showing them (in a cost-effective way) that you are offering what they want, in a way that entices them to use your product or service. The more you know about the nuts and bolts of a business, the more you alienate yourself from being a customer and evolve more into an owner/operator etc.

This is why I don’t learn the bar and tavern business from the inside out. I view bars and taverns solely as a customer and that helps me market bars and taverns more effectively. And believe me, I am your perfect customer.

I am the guy who just stops in a bar for happy hour, late night, in between etc. If I like the place I will stay and hang out. If I like it a lot I will throw 20 bucks into a machine. Then 40, then 200. I’m the guy you want to stop by your bar. I don’t eat at Applebee’s and Outback. I eat at bars and taverns. When people want to meet up for drinks or dinner, I don’t invite them to the strip, I meet them at a local bar, somewhere between our homes that is convenient for both of us.

I grew up in Las Vegas, eating at places like the Lift, Instant Replay and Four Kegs. I used to be in a pool league that played at the Rice Paddy, Dealers Choice, the Hard Hat and Foothills. When I need WiFi, I don’t stop into a Starbucks or McDonalds, I keep a list of bars near me who offer free WiFi. To this day, I can be still be found in my old time favorites like Champagne Café, Larry’s Hideaway and Dino’s.

You will NEVER catch me at a Dotty’s though.

Which leads me to, “Why I Choose to help bars and Taverns.” I have been a bar and tavern customer since I was just a kid. Some of these places are as home to me, as the house I grew up in. However, I have to sit here and watch these places fall like flies to Dotty’s or something similar.

My favorite Philly Cheese Steak was at Triple Play, now a Joanie’s. My favorite Karaoke place was Bailey’s, now a Dotty’s. My favorite late night stop on the way home for amazing food, Foothills Express is also now a Dotty’s. It’s maddening. All of the places I used to love to go are dropping like flies and it has to stop.

So, that is why I choose to help bars and taverns in Las Vegas, get more customers via an effective digital marketing campaign. Every time I see another bar or tavern fall to the mini-casino, I read another marketing book or gain another certification. I learn more and more how to effectively market bars and taverns to hopefully help one of my places stick around for the long haul.

So, what does any of this have to do with you? Why am I bothering you with all of this?

Well, I wanted to introduce myself and let you know there is information free available to you, to help market your bar or tavern. Pretty much all of my ideas, tactics and strategies can be found, for free, on my marketing channels. Here are a few you can take a look at if you get a chance.

Website – www.barandtavernmarketing.com

Facebook – @barandtavern or www.facebook.com/barandtavern

Twitter – www.twitter.com/craig_o

There are some other resources I have available for those bar owners who feel like they could use some help especially with social media.

The fact is marketing and advertising has completely changed over the last 5 to 7 years and many of us have found ourselves lost when it comes to marketing. When we used to do ValPak, Yellow Pages and Radio, now there’s Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and Social Media Marketing. A client of mine asked me, why should I use Social Media Marketing? There is no way to measure the return or find out if its working or not. I referred him to a quote by Gary Vaynerchuk –


If you look at the most successful, busy bars in Las Vegas, you will notice that they have a strong social media marketing program, and the fact remains that it’s the way things are now and as bar owners we need to embrace it. Luckily, it’s pretty easy and its cheap. Also, the best thing about social media is it makes if very easy to spy on what your competitors are doing.

Free Tip – Watch what successful bars are doing on social media and mimic that. Boom, you don’t have to be a social media marketing expert, just a good, “mimicker?” (is that a word?)

To get started check out a few of my resources, they will teach you everything you need to know about how to market your bar or tavern effectively.

Don’t get me wrong, Social Media Marketing isn’t all that I do. There are still several conventional marketing methods that work great, however they don’t work the same as they used to. You have to use them smarter, since they are more expensive and less effective than they used to be. I know several businesses that all they ever did was take out a yellow pages ad each year, and that was all they needed to stay in business. My how things have changed.

Anyway, if you want my help, feel free to give me a shout. I don’t charge for meetings and I will give you a free consultation at your convenience as both our schedules permit. As a parting gift as a way of saying thanks for fumbling through this letter of mine, I would like to offer you free access to my special educational booklet.

“5 Easy Ways to Turn Your Bar Staff Into a Full Time PR and Marketing Department.”

Don’t take this booklet lightly I charge bars and taverns $1000 to come in and train their staff on these techniques but I am giving it to you for free. You can find it on my website


So, there you have it, if you are looking to get out of the bar you own, and are looking for someone to take over and maybe give you some walking away money so you don’t have to leave with nothing, please give me a call I’d like to see if we can work something out. Either way I wish you success in whatever you do and I really want to thank you for reading my letter, I hope to hear from you soon.


Craig Osterhoudt

PS – I just wanted to mention one more thing, if you feel like your bar really has potential and could make good money but really just needs someone to take it over that has a zeal for running and owning a bar, then I would really like to talk to you. Maybe if what I am offering up front isn’t enough to make the deal we can work out a small payment plan.

Relevant Social Media Posts

Making relevant social media posts are the most important thing to remember when marketing your bar or tavern.

Social media posts
Relevant social media posts

The PITH method is an easy way to make sure your tweets and FB posts are the maximized to the most effective way of communicating with your prospective customers. Before I explain the PITH method, there are two things to remember. You are not posting to your customers only. You are posting to the average 250 people they know, and the average 250 people they know. Therefore the post/update/tweet has a reach of 62,500 people and that’s only if it’s somewhat useful. The number could rise exponentially if the social media post is more effective. The point is, just because you may not think it speaks to your followers, it may be of interest to someone they know. It is so easy to pass the information on these days, that if your social media post is effective, it will get forwarded on to someone who may be in need of your services.

Second, the main reason people join Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is not to be marketed to! Most business owners forget that people go on Facebook to check out their friends and what they are doing. So, if you are constantly bombarding your fans with sales pitches, they will just block you and that is the worst thing that can happen. If you have 300 friends but 250 of them block your posts (which you don’t and cannot know) then all of your efforts are for naught and you are spinning your wheels and not getting results. Use the PITH method to make sure you are providing the most effective posts to your friends and followers. Your posts should include one of the four categories listed below and the best ones will have two or more categories satisfied in the same post. Remember, very rarely any of your posts be a direct sales pitch to buy your products. Unless it’s a wildly great deal, for a very limited time, you should never post blatant sales pitches in your post. They should be subtle references that reminds your followers that “Here is what I do, if you ever need it, this is a reminder to remember me if you do, meanwhile I am going to provide you with posts that are P,I,T or H.”

P – Personal / Private – The fact of the matter is that people are interested in other peoples personal and private lives. That is why Facebook grew so fast and why it is what it is today. Same holds for Instagram. No other reason. Therefore you need to make your social media posts of a private/personal nature, for people to engage with you via Social Media. When you make a personal social media post, they see you as part of their Facebook community and allow you in to their circle. Most marketers fall into the trap of thinking, “Oh, I am using Facebook for business so I need to keep in professional.” That is the easiest way for you to get lumped in to the group of people that only get viewed if they are extremely bored. If you want to stay in their feed and have your posts show up on their page on a regular basis, you cannot come across as a business sales person. Of course, you don’t want to put pictures of you acting inappropriately or being crass and rude but your social media posts can be personal things that your followers will find interesting. There are a million examples but you need to let people into your life a little bit if you want them to follow your posts with interest. I follow Lebron James on Twitter and of the hundreds of posts he made since I started following him, the one I remember most, was the night before the season opener. He said he was getting those “First Day of School” jitters, and even laid out his clothes for the next day. It was a simple, yet still professional, insight into his personal life.

I – Interesting. – If you find something that is interesting, go ahead and pass it on. If you look at Twitter page @UberFacts, they only post interesting facts that you might have never known. They are very interesting. They have thousands of followers without having to follow back (which is the key to knowing if someone is truly providing customer perceived value through their Twitter account) and the people follow just to see the interesting tidbits that they share.

The trick is to post things that are of extreme interest to the masses, but have a slight correlation with your product or service. Do not reference articles that are boring and scream “Hey, here is a reference to my product.” I knew a security contractor who sold alarm systems. Anytime a news source reported on a crime, he re-posted it in his feed, because he thought it would entice his followers to do business with him. However, the articles were not interesting, and people see right through that. Eventually, his friend/followers just end up blocking him (I did) because he only posted articles about break in’s and stolen property. Who wants to see that on their Facebook home page every day?

He would have been more successful if he posted a personal tidbit and only posted articles that had maybe a smaller reference to his products, while being more interesting, such as a “5 million dollar painting goes missing from the local museum, police say it’s an inside job.” This would be more interesting to the general public and doesn’t scream, “Hey you’re not safe in your home, buy an alarm from me!” Yes these articles are fewer and farther between but it beats alienating your audience via, boring, sales intent loaded bait and switch articles.


T – Timely – Another way to make sure your posts are read and your feed isn’t blocked/unfollowed is to provide timely discussions. I like the example where the police re-opened the investigation of Natalie Wood’s accidental death 30 years after it happened. If at that time you were to make social media posts about Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner or Christopher Walken say a year or two before that, your posts would’ve gone unnoticed. However, the exact same post the day after the announcement would get 100 times the response that it would’ve gotten only a week earlier.

If you are going to make a social media post and it doesn’t meet one of the other three PITH criteria, make sure it related to a timely subject and watch your response rates sky rocket.


H – Helpful – Make your posts helpful to the everyday person in their everyday lives. You should be in the business of helping other people if you hope to be successful in business. Zig Ziglar says, “You can get anything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.” If you want to get followed and have your posts read with interest and passed along to others, go out of your way to find things to post in your feed that will help others make their lives easier and less stressful. If you come across an article, webpage or product that is truly helpful to others, by all means, share that with your followers whether it helps you or not.

If your fans/followers see you has someone who consistently provides help, value and assistance, they will associate that type of behavior with your business endeavors as well. They will think, “all of these photographers are the same, except, John Smith. He really goes out of his way to help people,” Now, when they need a photographer, or when they know someone who needs a photographer, they will be your best salesperson because you have provided them with consistent value over time.

So, remember blatant sales pitches should never be used on any social networking sites. You should have a nice rotation of PITH posts, updates, tweets. Also only 33% or less should even have a vague reference to your business via articles or products. If you are a photographer, sure post tips on how to be more photogenic, or how to take a great picture every time, but they should be 33% or less of your overall posts. The others should be of a personal nature or helpful in general. If you would like more help with social media posts and social media management, see my new article titled, 4 Social Media No-No’s: How Most Marketers Are Annoying Their Followers.


Social Media Etiquette

bar social media marketing

When it comes to posting to your social media accounts I get the same questions all the time. Questions such as how often should I post? When is the best time of the day to post? Should I link them all together? The answer to all of these questions is the same, it depends. I know how everyone loves to hear that answer so the following is a brief discussion on how to post to your social media feeds, whether it be Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the other social media websites you may be involved in.

To start off, I would make sure you are involved with those four at a minimum. These are the bare minimum for today’s current state of affairs. If you wish to do more, feel free based on how much time you have to dedicate to your social media campaign, however these are the only four that I feel have a broad enough reach to justify the time commitment required to do it right. Speaking of linking accounts I do not recommend linking your accounts. There is nothing worse than seeing someone’s twenty tweets a day clogging up my LinkedIn home page. I have to scroll through pages and pages of “tweets” to see what I am really trying to see when I am on LinkedIn which is the career updates of my colleagues. However, if you choose to use one of the social media platforms not a part of the ‘Big 4” (SnapChat/Pinterest), then feel free to link them to one of the big three so that your posts show up there too. It’s an easy way to add reach to your campaign, without having to do any additional work other than the initial set up.

The most important thing to remember about social media is that in essence it represents “permission based marketing.” These people have given you permission to “market” to them (and here’s the important part) “within the confines of the accepted practices” of the medium. With Twitter, it’s ok to post 10, 20 or 30 times a day. This is a huge no-no with LinkedIn. In Facebook, it’s ok to tell everyone you love Joe’s Coffee shop on 3rd Street but not so much with LinkedIn. You do not want to ruin the trust that your followers/friends/colleagues have given you when they granted you their permission to market to them with social media. Even if they don’t “unfriend” you they will still block your messages so that your messages do not appear in their feed anymore. That is the worst thing because you might think you have 300 Facebook friends but in reality only 20 or 30 are actually seeing your posts and that just ruins everything.

So here are the 3 No-No’s when it comes to social media posting. As long as you avoid these three common pitfalls your posts should be safe from being blocked by your followers.


Do not be an over poster. Nobody wants to hear every single thing you do all day unless it’s interesting. “Just ate lunch, it was tasty,” is not a good Facebook post. It’s fine every once in awhile but some people give an every hour on the hour update of what they are doing and it just annoys everyone so you end up getting blocked. There is only so much room on someone’s screen, and if it is all getting taken up by your meaningless, or repetitive boring marketing messages, you will get blocked. “Please like my new fan page” ten times a day is also a no-no.

When it comes to Twitter you can post much more often but the same rules apply. If you post the same tweet over and over with just one word changed, people will block you. It’s ok to promote and send meaningless tweets because they don’t last long, but if you exceed the generally accepted communication practices you will get blocked. Also if you post twenty tweets in a row all at the same time so someone’s entire feed only shows your tweets, you’re going to get blocked. Just make sure you are posting regularly and following the PITH method for content. (See article here)


People are followers, friends and contact’s because they want to interact with you, not so you can be a one way street when it comes to updates and messages. If you never comment on someone else’s posts, don’t expect them to comment on yours. You should spend more time focusing on other peoples messages than you do on your own. I estimate a split of 70/30. For every 3 posts you make on Facebook, you should make 7 comments on other people’s posts, Your Twitter ratio can probably be flipped 30/70 and LinkedIn would be more acceptable at around 50/50 but either way, you need to be commenting on other peoples updates and being involved in the conversation that is going on in the social media world.

You can’t be that guy at the party that interrupts a group of people talking about a movie they all just saw and ask someone what kind of dog they have. Nobody likes that guy. Don’t be that guy. You have to enter the conversation already going on, if you want to be involved. Remember it is called “Social” media. The same social etiquette rules apply in real life as in social media.

I recommend 2 practices when it comes to posting on other peoples comments. If you see a post that nobody has commented on, either like it or reply to it. You will make the recipient feel better if nothing else. It’s almost embarrassing to post a joke or interesting tidbit in your feed and then have everyone ignore it. So be the nice guy and respond to it. It will go a long way. The other extreme is to reply to posts that are getting a lot of action. This way your reply is seen by a greater number of people. If it is a PITH post, you may just get some more followers and friends as a result of posting to active posts.


If you are going to run a social media campaign, either do it or don’t. It’s not something you can kind of do every once in awhile. If you haven’t posted in months and then all of a sudden you add a post, asking something of your followers, not only will you not get any response, you will get a negative result. Can you imagine if you showed up to a long lost friends house after several years and asked to borrow their lawn mower? What, no hey, hello, how’s it going? I haven’t heard from you in years and the first thing you have to say to me is can you borrow my lawnmower?

That’s just not how it works, you have to be involved. You have to be a part of the community. You need to make consistent, relevant posts to the conversation that is going on already before you are allowed to start your own conversation. Lurking in the shadows waiting for a slow minute to ambush your followers just isn’t the way to go. If you are trying to get back into the swing of things, start with liking a few posts, or “retweeting” some other tweets, to raise your level of involvement. You could also start by “friending” a few new people and then starting a “Hey, long time no see” conversation with them. Then start to work your way into the conversation and being a part of the community. When you are a regular contributor to the community, your marketing messages are welcome and expected from your followers as long as they are relevant. People enjoy helping you succeed, and will go out of their way to help promote your services. But remember the golden rule when it comes to your social media campaign. (Yes, the rule Golden Rule, no clever variations here)

So there you have it, the 3 Social Media No-No’s. As long as you avoid these common pitfalls, you should get great success from your social media campaign. Now that I’ve told you “How” to post, if you feel like you need some guidance on “What” to post, take a look at “The PITH Method. The simple guide to making great posts.”


Bar Instagram Ideas

bar instagram idea

If you could put a meter on a TV show and show which part of a TV show people watch most closely that would be extremely valuable. If you watch shows like “Diner’s Drive In’s and Dives” or “Man vs. Food” you will see the hosts trying several different types of food. During those shows, what portion do you watch the most closely?

In these shows, I like to call this portion of the show the “Money Shot.”

Specifically, this is the part where the host takes a big huge bite of the food. Viewers literally make the mouth actions themselves as the host takes a bite of the massive juicy sandwich. You can use this to your benefit and makes for a great Bar Instagram idea.

Bar Instagram Ideas – Big Bite

If you have a menu item, that is hard to fit in your mouth as it comes from the kitchen; offer customers a free drink or side item if you let them video their first bite. If your social media feeds have several people taking a huge bite of your food, and it’s funny because they can’t get the entire item in their mouth and parts of the sandwich are falling all over the place, this makes for great bar instagram ideas and posting to social media.

It’s not a blatant sales pitch that people hate. It’s just a funny anecdote, “check out this guy trying to fit our triple decker burger in his mouth.” Or even better “Local lumberjack makes a mess with our Tallest Reuben in the city.”

At first you may get some reluctance from your customers and that’s fine, don’t pressure anybody and don’t take it personal if they don’t, some people just don’t like the spotlight. But some people love it. What I recommend doing is making your sales reps be the first ones. If one is pressuring you into making a purchase or changing suppliers for an item, tell him you’ll do it if you let your staff make a video of him taking a bite of the biggest item on your menu. You can also bring in friends or even your staff for the first few videos.

If you don’t have anything on your menu that works for this, either change a menu item slightly or add a new one. Also, tell your chef to make it extra tall, because you are making a video. Add height with a thick piece of lettuce and a thicker tomato slice, etc.

You can make a 5 second video and post it to Instagram, and also have it post directly to Twitter using IFTTT.com  – The really good ones you can later post to Facebook and even boost the posts to get more exposure, especially if something funny happens and you think people will share it. Always ask your customer if you can tag them in the Facebook post for extra reach.

You can post the video to your Instagram stories and your Snapchat. The key is to make one video and use it everywhere. Then when you have several videos in your library, you can make a greatest hits compilation, stringing the best videos together into one branded video and share it to your Facebook page and place it front and center on your website.

Going Further with your Bar Instagram Idea

As you can see, one little bar Instagram idea can become a huge content source for your bar or tavern and can end up being the face of your brand in the marketplace. People begin to follow your account because they like seeing the funny videos of people trying to take a bite of this huge menu item. As the videos get more popular you can write, “Tag a friend who could demolish this bite.”

I can go on and on with different ideas you can do with this one little bar Instagram idea. I hear bar owners complain that they don’t have enough ideas to do social media, that you constantly have to come up with new things and they just aren’t that creative.

In reality, you can have just one idea, (that you stole from a website/blog) but really run with that one idea and you will have plenty of success with your social media campaigns. Keep checking back for more bar Instagram ideas.


Using Social Media Can Put You Out of Business

using social media

In today’s social media environment where every person with a smart phone has a voice, good marketing can put you out of business faster than bad marketing. If the customer experience isn’t positive, good marketing will work against you, including using social media. People will find out how bad you suck much faster than if you have bad marketing especially when you are using social media. People will find out faster than ever before.

In years past, for the most part, unless someone was speaking to their neighbor over the fence or standing around the water cooler at work, if a customer of yours had a bad experience, you might be lucky to where no one may ever hear of that event.

However, today, one bad experience can go viral, and seriously affect the longevity of your business faster than ever before. Therefore, if you invest in marketing and build a great, effective marketing system, but do not perfect the customer experience before doing so, you may put yourself out of business faster than if you had no marketing program at all.

That’s why I tell my clients to make sure they have a great product first, then work on the marketing program and begin using social media. Or, even better, I tell them, “You work on the customer experience/product/meal/service and let me work on the marketing.

This is the reason why I am so picky about who I work with. If I don’t believe a client is providing a great product or service, they are just going to go out of business after I start helping them. The last thing I need is word getting out that once a company hires me to do effective marketing for them, they go out of business. How would that look for my portfolio.

The first thing you should do before marketing is take a look at your product and make sure it is world class. A potential client was telling me that he offers incentives to customers to post to social media but he can’t get anyone to share anything. I told him, “You don’t have anything here worth sharing!” Do you think someone wants to share a picture of your soggy chicken wings served on a plate they used in the 70’s?

You need to provide an experience that is worthy of sharing, then people will share it, without incentives. That’s the point. Before you try to do anything to get a new customer, make sure when they walk through the door, they are going to get a great experience every time they walk through the door, then start working on getting more new customers.