Earlier last week we shared our March Menu Madness Bracket download to let restaurant and bar owners get in on the fun of the season by pitting menu items against each other in a head-to-head competition that let’s your customers choose their favorites. Gamification is a great way to learn about customer preferences, create excitement around your drink and menu offerings, and even uncover what could be your next great menu pairing. But these kinds of bar marketing events shouldn’t be reserved for a few weeks a year.

We didn’t want to leave you hanging, so even if you didn’t take us up on our free bracket download, we thought we’d follow up with some tips for taking your bar marketing and promotions to the next level and create wins for your bar or restaurant that you can take to the bank all year long.

Here are 3 effective bar marketing tips you can start using today:

beer and chips

  • Be strategic in menu specials on game day: If you had to choose between your hot wings or fish tacos, who would be your pick for a special on game night? What are you using to make those decisions? Popularity or price point shouldn’t be your only consideration. Understanding what items are great at bringing customers back will let you plan a more effective menu. If you don’t have a tool like Upserve that can tell you, start by doing a keyword search among your Yelp or OpenTable reviews to see which menu items get the most mentions, it might surprise you.
  • Encourage social sharing: remember those fun examples of creative brackets from our original post on March Madness? We found out about those because their creators were great at promoting them online with the help of their fans. Think of ways you can do the same for all of your special events – giving customers added incentive to share pics and reviews of their experiences by offering rewards, discounts and giveaways for fans who get in on the social action. Responding to social mentions and making your guest’s feel appreciated for posting is another easy way to generate more social activity around your promotions.
  • Everybody likes to win: Have fans coming back for an extended series of games or matches? Come up with an ongoing contest complete with prizes along the way that will keep them coming back game after game. Maybe it’s a game of bingo with your beers on tap, or who can clean the most plates of wings. Whatever you decide, make sure there is a grand prize that will motivate maximum participation; maybe offer a house tab at the final game, or reserve a VIP section for them and 3 of their guests to watch the game with a fully catered spread. Your choice, but a significant prize is a great way to make your customers feel like winners.

Whatever you decide to do, or not, the main takeaway here is keep it fun and interactive. There’s no reason your fans just have to watch games at your bar, give them a chance to play along and they’ll remember you for it.

It’s not too late to get in on the fun. Download your printable March Madness bracket template here and get your tournament started – bar/restaurant style.