How to Promote a Bar or Restaurant

Running a successful bar or restaurant can be hugely rewarding and highly lucrative. But making your business successful can take time and much hard work.

Well targeted and effective marketing of your bar or restaurant can bring you success sooner, and help build a healthy business with loyal long term customers.

But first you need to decide what type of establishment you are running and who it will appeal to. To help decide this consider the following key factors:

  • Location: What type of area is your establishment in? If it’s a busy shopping high street then lay on afternoon coffees and snacks for busy shoppers, or fast light lunches. If you’re in a rural area you’ll need to give customers special reasons to come out to your establishment, such as a speciality menu or special events.
  • Market: Who are your local market? Trendy young adults, affluent middle aged couples, middle income families and older people all have different tastes and requirements. Find out who your local audience is then tailor your food and ambience accordingly.
  • Environment: What is the ambience and atmosphere at your establishment? Are you limited by your setting and interior or do you have the scope to be more flexible? Ambience is a major part of the dining out experience.

Once you’ve decided what you will offer and who to, you can plan a marketing campaign. Here are some ideas of promotional tools you can use to promote your bar or restaurant:

1. Direct Mail

A direct marketing tool like direct mail is a really good option for bars and restaurants because it’s more measurable than other marketing methods, and can be targeted more closely to those potential consumers most likely to visit.

Once you’ve identified your target market you can source mailing lists of more people of the same type from reputable sources. For example the Consumer Profiles list from Selectabase allows you to target potential customers by lifestyle.

Selectabase also offer specialist lists to reach specific market: their Silver Prospects list includes older people, whilst the Mobile Phone database is great for targeting the youth market for bars and clubs.

There’s even a Recently Moved database which provides a monthly list of people who’ve just moved into your local area, so you can introduce your establishment to them.

Mail your list with a good quality mailer and a letter personalised to each person, explaining clearly the benefits your establishment has to offer.

2. Events

Special events are a good way to give potential customers an extra incentive to come out and spend money with you, when they might not normally do so.

You can organise your own regular events, maybe on a quieter night of the week to boost sales. Look at ideas to match the interests of your market such as wine tasting or a gourmet evening, live music nights, stand up comedy, poetry readings or family fun days when you lay on a children’s entertainer.

Also, think about special events that your customers might like to celebrate at your venue, such as a birthday to celebrate. You can reach local consumers who are about to celebrate a birthday through the Birthday Mailings service from Selectabase.

3. PR

Build up good relationships with your local press and use these contacts to get regular coverage for your business. Let them know about special events and news stories such as the opening of a garden or launch of a new menu, and always accompany your press release with good quality photographs to improve the chances of it getting published.

If you find a particularly good publication, then ask if you can supply them with free regular recipe ideas in return for promotion of your establishment. And don’t forget local radio: there are lots of local stations now, who are generally very keen to feature local businesses with a story to tell.

4. Website

Make sure your venue has a good website, full of the information people want to find, such as menus, prices, how to book, parking, location, directions, opening times and so on. Think about including a guestbook for customers to add their comments, and use the website to get visitors to sign up for special offers and news sent by email.


In summary, it’s quite possible to boost customer numbers through a well planned and properly implemented marketing campaign. But you also need to make sure that people return and recommend your venue to their friends, so always make sure that your food and service are also up to the same standard as your marketing.

Selectabase provides of a range of direct marketing lists and services to bars and restaurants. These include Birthday Mailings, Recently Moved, Silver Prospects, Getting married and Prospect Download Consumer or call us on 01304 383838.