Reinvent Your Promotions

Attract New Customers

Competition for pubs and liquor stores has never been fiercer, with hotel lounges, restaurants and pop-up nightclubs being challenged at every turn. If you want to attract customers, engage them, and convert them in to regulars, you may have to go beyond the usual tried and trusted methods of promotion. Showing inventiveness can unlock a whole new customer base.

Your business survives on its ability to keep customers returning, so any new promotions you run have to appeal to your core audience and win over newcomers. Pal Singh, manager of the Great Bear Pub in Burnaby, thinks that having the basics covered can set you on the path to innovative thinking. He states, “Reaching out to the right audience is important. We try to capture their attention by advertising price points and coupons, and expand upon this by using social media such as Facebook and Instagram.”

What are Your Goals?

A promotion should involve measurable objectives, so it pays to put a lot of thought into them. They may include:

·         Creating anticipation among your target groups

·         One-upping your competitors

·         Convincing customers to spend more on branded spirits

·         Introducing new products


With your goals defined, you can bring together your promotional ideas to achieve them in an innovative way.

Be Inspired by your Customers

Shea Fairbanks has enjoyed the whole of his four-year career at Kitsilano Liquor Store, located on West Broadway, Vancouver, and thinks that creating a meaningful relationship with customers can give you real insight into new ways to promote.


“We’re a small liquor store and the majority of our clientele live in the area,” explains Fairbanks. “We pride ourselves on having great customer service, and this means knowing what is going on in their lives. For example, we had a regular who happened to mention that her bike was stolen.”

“We decided to liven it up with a poker tournament, and all of a sudden it became one of our busiest times.”

The store has promotions that feature out of the ordinary prizes including slushy machines, ice cream makers, and grills. The store was inspired to run a promotion with a bike as first prize, and despite the quality of the entries, there could only be one winner. Shea muses, “I couldn’t think of a better customer who was loyal and who deserved the prize more than her.”

Shea has found that giving away prizes that are meaningful has had a positive impact on the amount of customers the store has seen, with new customers becoming regulars all the time. He adds, “There’s even a couple of people from Coquitlam who come here to shop three days a week.”

It shows that customers can be a great source of ideas; all you have to do is connect with them. Depending on your clientele, it may be a video game tournament or board game night, or contests for dancing, pool or poker. Events that allow them to get creative can be especially popular.

Good Business is the Best Art

Being in touch with the local artistic community can provide plenty of opportunities for thinking creatively. It’s common for bars to feature the work of local artists to add a touch of character to the surroundings and rotating artists provides an opportunity to promote it as a ‘gallery opening’ during your slowest weekday night, but you can go beyond this by inviting the artist in for an educational session. It could be a master class pitched at experienced painters, or a ‘Painting 101’ event aimed at beginners. Either way, it’s something that can bring in a lot of curious customers.


Interaction is a key concept here, and customers will always be willing to learn a new skill. Promoting mixology classes in your liquor store is a way for customers to have fun and make a connection with you, and is an ideal way to expand their tastes.

Target the Quieter Moments

Duane Henning, who has been the owner of the Westsyder Pub in Kamloops for 27 of his 35 years in the industry, was influenced by taking a close look at the times when his pub was less busy. He describes, “Saturday afternoons were typically quiet. We decided to liven it up with a poker tournament, and all of a sudden it became one of our busiest times.”


It was free to play, which made sure that the Westsyder adhered to gambling laws. The weekly tournament also saw an unexpected bonus. Henning states, “People began to stick around for dinner. We encouraged this by running specials on food like Alaskan king crab, where it started at a certain price and increased every hour. Before we knew it, they were staying at the bar for four or five hours at a time.”

Celebrate a Milestone

It makes sense to run promotions around important days of the year, but exploring your calendar can allow your imagination to run free. For example, March 14th is Pi Day. If you remember your math classes, Pi is roughly 3.14, and you could celebrate this auspicious date by offering $3.14 appetizers or apple “pi” shots.


A quick Internet search yields some interesting commemorative dates that can serve as a spark for your imagination. Did you know that May 6th is international No Diet Day? Or that July 7th is World Chocolate Day? Obscure celebrations can be fun, but putting a spin on something well known may be more suited to your customers.


According to Forbes magazine, a mere 8% of people stick to their New Year’s resolution. The end of January gives you the perfect excuse to have a ‘ruined resolution’ promotion, and target the remaining 92% with a deal on your most expensive drinks and appetizers.


Shopping hits fever pitch in November, so why not offer an oasis of calm with a Black Friday Bolthole? By offering s special on food like chicken wings, your customers would even forgive you if you called it a ‘Black Fry Day Special’.


Being inspired when it comes to your promotions may not come easy at first, but with practice, it will strike more often. Henning has a mantra when it comes to creating a popular promotion. He says, “Don’t play with your prices, and give customers a reason to come out and interact.”