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50% of startups fail in five years, but 21.5% fail before reaching their first. Most startups, ranging from bars to breweries, won’t prosper because they market to every demographic at once or focus their products on a local market. Both strategies are either too broad or too niche.

It’s often said that a business boils down to marketing and bookkeeping, so you’ll need to use creative online advertising tactics that don’t cost an arm and a leg in order to succeed. 

How to Market Your Bar Before Opening Day

There are several steps to opening a brewery or bar, but of all of these steps, marketing your business is necessary if you want to attract enthusiastic customers from the start.

1. Focus on Your Bars “It” Thing

There are millions of bars in the United States, but the businesses that set themselves apart from their competition have the best chance of crossing the 5-year mark. Whether you’re a bar with an island theme or a craft brewery with 100 beers, your gimmick won’t be enough.

With that in mind, your advertising should focus on how your bar will disrupt the status quo. This will generate interest and get the market excited about your bar. To discover your own “it” thing, conduct customer research in the niche you’re selling to and improve on the competition.

2. Find the Right Influencers 

Influencer marketing is big business, with the vast majority of marketers considering it the most crucial channel for customer acquisition. Influencers have the ability to make a profound impact on your public perception, especially if you’re using the right social media platforms.

When you find the right influencers for your brand, invite them to the bar for a photoshoot. You can take photos of well-known foodies or dieticians who can write about your impressive menu. You could also send swag to influencers or affiliate codes that can be used for delivery.

3. Hold Contests and Giveaways

Contests and giveaways aren’t exactly new and exciting, but they’re marketing mainstays for a reason. If you provide some motivation to come to your bar on opening day, like half-off drinks or a free dinner for the lucky winner, you’ll definitely see more people lining up at your door.

A good way to drum up publicity is by making a game out of your bar and food items. For example, you could take close-up shots of your drinks and slowly pan out throughout the day. Whoever guesses the right item based on the picture gets a free drink when you open.

4. Create a Pre-Launch Webpage

Brands live and die based on consumer knowledge. If your customers don’t know you exist, how are they supposed to find you? More importantly, how will you keep your customers interested after you’ve opened your doors? Fortunately, a pre-launch webpage solves both problems.

Your website should link all of your social media platforms together, but they should also be another source to grab emails. Most of your posts, whether you’re talking about menu items or opening day, should be a vehicle to get emails, so you can keep your customers in the loop.

5. Don’t Kill the Suspense

Revealing too much too soon can kill anticipation, so you’ll want to keep your hand close to your chest until the last second. If you have 100 beers on your drink menu, only reveal 20. If you specialize in pasta, say you can choose from a selection of sauces, but not what they are.

There are many ways to hide your complete menu in photos, even if you’ve pictured multiple items in the same picture. For example, you could take natural images of photobombers, whose hands are perfectly placed over a drink or “spill” a drink over text on your menu.