Your marketing checklist for opening your new pub

Signed an agreement to run a pub, set up your business and now ready to open? Think again – have you done any marketing? All too frequently the need for marketing is overlooked amid the pressure of dealing with finances, obtaining legislative qualifications and setting up a business.

Marketing is extremely important. Without a marketing strategy in place, it can be very hard to attract customers and increase trade. Not least you need to tell people your pub is open! Whether it’s been closed for a while or just to let customers know that it’s under new management, this is a great opportunity to give the pub a boost and get new and old customers through the door.

To get you started here’s a list of what marketing activities you should be thinking about in the run up to your grand opening:

#1: Banners and Signage

The great thing about having a pub business is that you can expect a certain amount of passing trade – people either walking or driving past your pub on their way to work, the shops or during their free time.

Here’s an opportunity to build excitement about your business before you’ve opened or during the first few weeks and months, by encouraging customers to come and see what’s new. Typically you might see signage promoting the launch day or announcing that the pub is under new management. If the pub is closed for a refit you might have a countdown to open day, ensuring that people have lots of opportunity to put that date in their diary.

‘Under new management’ is not the most exciting of things to say about your pub, even if it’s true, so try to come up with short sentences or phrases that really make people pay attention and get them queuing up to visit your pub.

#2: Marketing Your Pub Digitally

Even though your pub is in the real world, your existing customers and many of the people you will want to attract also live in a digital world. During the run up to launch day there is lots of opportunity to build a following of customers online and really get them excited about your pub.

A website is a great idea, particularly if your pub is a bit of a destination where people might search for somewhere to visit.

Potential customers often look up details of pubs online, especially if food is being offered. They want to know what the pub looks like, the type of menus and booking facilities. If these are not kept up to date, then you may lose customers.

Setting up a website, or taking over an existing one from previous tenants, is therefore crucial. If you are setting up a new website, Greene King has help at hand, click here.

Even if you are taking over an existing website, you can give it a new look by using new photographs.  Introduce yourself as the new landlord, with your own personal image and talk about your aims and hopes for the future. 

Your social media pages – Facebook is a must for any pub, but also consider having Instagram and Twitter accounts too – are perfect for giving customers little teasers about your plans for the pub. If you’re having a refit, behind-the-scenes photos will spark some interest, you can also talk about new menus, events and other activities you have planned.

There’s also a chance to incentivise people to come and see what you’re doing, perhaps by running a special offer for people on Facebook if they like your page and share your post.

#3: Get The Local Press Onside

Newspapers, local magazines and radio stations will often do special promotions or run stories about your new venture. A pub is, after all, a place for the community and the arrival of a new landlord is a newsworthy story; don’t miss this opportunity for some free publicity! It’s worth drafting a press release talking about who you are, your background, why you’ve taken on the pub, what your plans are for the future and promoting any special events like a launch party.

Include some high res photos, preferably showing the licensees either outside the pub or behind the bar, and the local newspaper will have everything they need to publish a short story about you and your pub.

Invite the local press along to your launch party too and then keep them informed of any other newsworthy events or activities that take place at your pub. If you’re holding a charity fundraiser, opened the doors to a local group to have their meetings, sponsored a local sports team, or recruited a new chef tell the press about it! They won’t necessarily use every press release you send them, but every time they do you raise the profile of your pub.

#4: Point of Sale (POS)

Next on the list should be the creation of point of sale and marketing materials.  These are eye catching promotional items that will attract attention of both existing and potential customers to special offers and activities.  Your pub company will provide Point of Sale materials, as well as specific marketing materials that can be used for major sporting events and activities such as Pie and a Pint or our Beer Festival kit.

If you take on a pub with Greene King, many of these come complete with stock, food, images, margin calculators and full roll out plans to make it easy for landlords to participate in a wide range of promotional activities.  To make it even easier, there are free social media images for football and rugby, plus full information on key seasonal dates throughout the year and a range of suitable guest ales.  All you have to do is post the details online!

GoCreate – Greene King’s online design studio – has countless images and promotional ideas onsite which just need downloading. Posters, menus, banners and posters can be easily created using GoCreate’s services.

#5: Start Planning For The Future

It’s easy to plough all your energy into just one big event, launch day, and lose sight of all the days that will follow. While getting the pub ready for you to open the doors for the first time might involve a big push, you also need to think about how you’ll get people back afterwards.

As part of your preparations to take over the pub, you should devise a list of possible promotions for the forthcoming months. Are you planning to screen sports events in your pub? If so, make sure you’re promoting the next match so customers know where to see it. Seasonal events such as Mother’s Day, Bank Holidays, Halloween etc., can provide a focus to get people to book a table or just turn up.

Bingo, Quiz and Live Music nights often attract large numbers, but only if you tell people about them! During the summer months you might also think about putting on a beer festival in the pub garden, or what about wine tasting evenings or cocktail mixology classes?

Make sure you have marketing materials available to promote your next events during your launch party and thereafter.

Pub Licensee Marketing Training

Greene King’s Level 4 training includes a marketing module enabling you and your team to understand demographics and positioning, as well as ways to promote your pub business.  We also have a social media course for licensees who want to step up their marketing a notch and use social media more effectively.

Details of our training courses are available here.

Always remember that marketing is an on-going process. It never stops. Even when you don’t have anything specific to promote you should still be looking for opportunities to raise awareness of your pub business and keep customers coming back.

Adopting a proactive marketing strategy will benefit your new business – Greene King can help every step of the way. It is not hard, and is great fun, opening up new opportunities that will bring in trade.