Bar Promotions Are Worthless

bar promotions

Bar Promotions are worthless.

One of the things I speak to not just bar owners but all business owners, is you need to be constantly promoting your business. To bars specifically, you need to have promotions ALL THE TIME. Typically bar promotions are worthless, but if you do it correctly they can be priceless. But to start let pretend you are doing bar promotions.

But are you doing them constantly, consistently, persistently without fail?

It goes to the old adage that “you always need to have something to invite people to.”

Whenever someone comes across your business, you should always have something going on that you can tell someone about and invite them too. Hey just so you know on Wednesday we are having Customer Appreciation day with free hamburgers and hot dogs from 5 to 7. Stop by if you can, I hope to see you there.

If you don’t have anything to invite people to, when they come by or are leaving you just say see you later, or come back soon, that’s an entirely different situation. If you tell someone on Wednesday there is an event and they are even slightly interested in it, that fact will float around in their subconscious mind, whether they like it or not.

Unfortunately, the way the mind works, it won’t remind them in time for the event, most likely they will remember it again long after the event has past, but make no mistake it is in there. So, the next time, they are looking for somewhere to stop after work, you will be more likely to pop up in their mind.

It will sit in their reticular activating system. Which means when they drive by your bar, they will notice it, instead of the car dealership across the street.

So, if this promotion thing is so powerful, why did I name this “promotions are worthless?”

Well, for one reason. If you don’t have anyone to promote your promotions to, they are worthless.

bar promotions

If we go back to the example of free hotdogs and hamburgers for customer appreciation night. Say you spend a few hundred bucks on food and condiments, and no one shows up? The promotion was not only a big waste of money but a big waste of time and effort which is costlier than money.

So, what can you do, spend a bunch of money on advertising, to tell people about a free promotion you are having? What the heck kind of sense does that make. Then, can you imagine you spend a couple thousand dollars on advertising and still no one shows up! Quadruple the wasted costs now.

So, here is why bar owners have given up on promotions. Here is the problem, promotions are worthless if you have no one to promote them to. But they are priceless when you do. That is why you need to build a block of customers that you can promote your promotions to. In the old days, it was collect their addresses you can send them something in the mail to remind them about the promotion you are having.

Now it’s so much easier (and free) to collect their email addresses and remind them for free! The number one thing any business should do, especially bars is to build a customer database of customers so you can market to them for free, forever.

There are other things that are important, like how to keep them from unsubscribing, which I can teach you later, but that is irrelevant when you aren’t even building a list anyway. Also, how to get people to subscribe to your list is another discussion altogether than I can teach you, but why teach you that if you aren’t building a list anyway?

Also, they are cumbersome to maintain these large email lists. Which I can teach you easily to do as well, but, don’t want to sound like a broken record but once again, why even get into it if you aren’t building a list. So, if you are building a list and its gets too cumbersome and difficult to manage, reach out to me and I will show you how to fix that.

bar promotions

If you are getting lots of people on your list, only to find them unsubscribing later, call me and I will tell you how to fix that. And, if you have an email list and are building one, but are having a hard time getting people to sign up, yes, reach out to me and I will show you how to take of that little problem as well.

So, the point is, forget promotions, forget advertising, forget marketing until you have begun building a customer database of some sort. Stop all other marketing and advertising related tasks until you have this ALL IMPORTANT task complete. Then get back into all the other things as they will only become more valuable if you combine them with a house list.

Now, one last thing. Do Facebook fans and twitter followers etc. count as people on your list. Not really, I mean they are highly valuable, but they are not the same. You do not own them. As you may have already heard, if you have Facebook fans, Facebook still charges you to get your posts in front of those people on a consistent basis and can change it anytime they want. They can charge you more or block you altogether and there is nothing you can do about it.

If you own your own list, and the method of contacting them, you are in control and that is a much better position to be in. Once you have a plan and start to build your list, the main thing you need is a name and email. Don’t start with anything else. Later on, you can add stuff like Birthday and Physical Address but for now just keep it simple, first name and email that’s it.

I hope you found this helpful, if any of this seems confusing or difficult please reach out to me, I would really like to help you get this most important step squared away once and for all. Thanks for reading.


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 –

Facebook – @barandtavern or

Twitter –

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.

Bar Marketing Idea 2

One bar marketing idea that many local bars have used to grow engagement with the community is to create a contest.

I recommend that you promote this contest for several months before completing the contest. The key to this contest is to get a lot of local customers to participate since they will be the main ones to promote the contest once its in place.

The best way to maximize the results from this bar marketing idea is to run the contest for 30 days, but promote the contest for several months before it starts. So, for example, I would begin promoting the contest on January 1st and promote the contest that Begins on April 1st or something like that.

Bar Marketing Idea #2 – Craft Cocktail Contest

How the contest works is to have a craft cocktail recipe contest. The winner receives a certain prize, whatever you deem to be a really good prize, because in fact the better the prize the more participation you will have in the contest.

However, in addition to the value prizes (I recommend 1st, 2nd and 3rd) you can have the winner receive an honorary place on your house cocktail menu. They get to name the cocktail and see their recipe on your cocktail menu for a year.

A way to really ratchet it up a bit is to offer five places on the cocktail menu, this works great for local bars who don’t necessarily have a craft cocktail menu. Then they can have the top 5 winners all get their drink on the menu for a year. Then whichever cocktail sells the most over the 365 days, that person wins another major prize.

In comparison to other bar marketing ideas, this one gets  5 local craft cocktail enthusiasts promoting your bar for you and the encouraging everyone they know to go to your bar, and buy their drink so they can win a prize. The business you receive from this promotion will far outweigh any costs associated with the prize. I don’t know another bar marketing idea that achieves this result better.

Getting More Mileage from the Contest

You see an average person knows 250 people they are connected with on social media. If that person shares something on social media the 250 people they know, and the 250 people those people know, means you have the chance to have your message in front of 62,500 people. However, if that person posts something and says,

craft cocktail contest
Bar Marketing Idea – Have a Contest

“Hey everyone, can you please re-post this and share with all your friends, I would really appreciate it, I am trying to win this trip to Hawaii, and I need to sell the most cocktails at XYZ Tavern. If you are looking for something to do this weekend, please go by and buy one a cocktail made from my own recipe. Etc etc. When someone posts a request like that, it gets shared fanatically, and you reach a much higher percentage of those 62,500 people.

There are a million ways you can get more mileage from this contest. You can require people to record a video of themselves and post it to YouTube or Facebook. Then whichever video gets the most comments or shares, wins a spot on the menu.

Then you can share those videos on your own channel and ask people to vote for their favorite. You can also set it up to where there are three types of winners. You can have Staff Choice where your staff votes for one, the owner can pick one, then the public can vote for one and you can also have one that the entrant who has the most likes, shares, comments etc.

The key to this program is not to run a contest and forget about it. You really have to milk it for all that it is worth. This is a great way to get PR as well, because you are involving the community and offering a prize that is worth talking about. It makes a great story and that is what local news channels are looking for.

If you want more information on how to profitably and cheaply promote this promotion through inexpensive Facebook ads, give me a call, I’d like to work with you.

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.”


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.