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11 Awesome Growth Hacks for Your Bar

11 Awesome Growth Hacks for Your Bar

Call it what you want, “Growth Hacking” is essentially the strategy of implementing smart, digitally-driven marketing techniques to grow your business. An as anyone who’s owned a bar or restaurant can tell you, this is an industry that’s as fast-paced as it is cutthroat; are you doing enough to grow your clientele?

bar coupleThe bar and nightclub industry is a 23 billion dollar juggernaut with about 65,000 U.S. locations employing around 360,000 people. Statistics show that bar patronage is slowly but steadily growing thanks to a resurgence in craft cocktails and food-pairings…is your bar keeping up?

Here are a handful of awesome, easy-to-implement growth hacks that can help launch your bar brand and keep customers coming in. After all, that’s the end goal.

  1. Develop an app.
    Sure it’ll cost money to set up and probably take a couple of months but people love apps. Maybe your app can display ‘flash’ Happy Hour specials for users or track a loyalty club for drinkers of your fine selection of craft beer. Whatever keeps people coming back is a worthwhile investment.
  2. Pay for Social Plan
    Particularly if your market is a young one, inviting customers to “Pay with a Tweet” (or a Facebook message, or a Google+ review…) is a good way to build your online brand. If you’re a new bar this “free” social marketing is an invaluable way to build your book of business and let’s face it, all your customers are glued to their phones anyway.
  3. Employ Digital Table Tents
    Bars are a crowded marketing landscape. Media Caddy’s digital bar caddies can not only help you get your owndaily marketing messages to customers at the point-of-purchase, they can help you offset the high cost of running your business. Choose digital content that’s a good mix of local, national, and in-house focused to keep customers’ attention… and improve dwell times.bar-caddy-118
  4. Partner with a Local Sports Team
    If your bar’s not located in a pro sports city you can still tie into the local Lacrosse league or women’s roller derby group. Offer specials in exchange for ticket redemption and utilize some of the team’s built-out marketing enterprises for your own efforts.
  5. Fix that Website
    If your business is a basic bar it shouldn’t be more than a couple pages, tops. Your homepage should boldly display your phone number, address, and daily special and for goodness sake, make sure the whole thing is MOBILE OPTIMIZED!
  6. Track Your Web Visitors
    Likewise, invest in a service like CrazyEgg or SessionCam that allows you to watch your customers’ behavior on your site. You’ll find out what your problem areas are (maybe everyone leaves when your site takes too long to load?) and figure out which elements deserve a fix.
  7. Incentivize Your Employees
    You own a bar. Your employees are probably already pretty young, good looking, and social savvy. Give them monetary or tip-based incentives to mention the joint on their personal social accounts, and get their permissions to use their images in company-sponsored posts, too. The average bar employees 5.6 people and they’re a great asset you don’t have to waste.Employees on phone
  8. Install Digital Pay Stations
    Whether it’s iPads at the table or digital caddies designed to accept credit cards, giving your customers an easy way to pay tableside will streamline the process and keep them coming back. Not only that, but allow them to email receipts to themselves and…instant email list for email marketing.
  9. Deal Sites
    Deal sites aren’t dead and they’re a great way to get people into your bar if you can offer something besides alcohol (most states prohibit alcohol “coupons.”) If you serve food or typically charge a cover work with a deal site to bring in new business in record time.
  10. Use a Conversation Injector
    Sites like Colibri let you monitor all relevant topical conversations online and reply when applicable. For example, if people are talking about local happy hour specials on Yelp or Quora, a platform that alerts you and gives you an easy reply option puts you one step ahead of the competition.
  11. Advertise with Driving Apps
    Your customers probably already use Uber, Lyft, and other transportation apps – look into local affiliate advertising programs with these companies. They’ve got huge networks already and they’re integrated heavily into your target market.


Don’t forget what growth hacking is all about: harnessing existing digital resources to easily grow your customer base in a highly-scalable way. Growth hacking for your bar isn’t all that different than growth hacking for your health club or restaurant – the customer bases are similar but you’ll need to reach them in different ways.

Got any good growth hacking tips for bar owners? Share them with us in the comments!