Written by Lee Hammond on Aug 19th 2017
Right now, most licensees are experiencing major difficulties in consistently attracting new customers to their pubs.
Figures from the Campaign for Real Ale show that pubs are closing at a rate of 21 a week or if you prefer, 3 a day.

 There are TWO reasons for this………The reasons we all know and talk about Rent, Rates and a multitude of Taxes just keep on rising and……Off trade competition like Tesco and ASDA slashing prices on booze, and the rise of the British coffee-shop

Then there is the reason only the successful pubs talk about

 New customers are hard to find and even harder for most turn into regulars and changing lifestyle habits of the typical punter has created an environment where your usual means of advertising just get lost in the crowd.

 If you are like most pubs then you will have noticed this dramatic decrease in new customers. This is because previously trusted sources of advertising just don’t work anymore.

 In times gone by pubs could rely on the Yellow Pages, a few posters and a chalk sandwich board to self publicise.

 In recent years some have moved to the internet using trip-advisor and a dedicated Facebook page.

 But, we live in a world where we can listen to any song we want for free at the press of a button,

 We can fast forward the adverts on the TV and we get updates on everything or anybody we care about or are interested in straight to our phones 24/7.

 We see or hear over 5000 marketing messages A DAY and we ignore or avoid 99.5% of these.

This means that any money spent on traditional adverts has little or no contribution to your pubs profits.

But despite these challenges across the industry, some licensees are earning more profits than ever and spending less time behind the bar too.

 No matter where your pub is located and no matter what condition it’s in

You can attract new customers with cash to spend whenever you want.

 You can do this by implementing this new, little known and extremely effective 6 step process that I am about to explain to you.

 Imagine what your pub would look like if you had twice as many regulars or twice as many visitors day in, day out and they all had one more drink than usual.

If you can get each one of your customers back to your pub one extra time each month your business will grow 15% - 20%

Heres are my six steps that you can use to get there immediately……
Step 1. 
Do Nothing Until You Are ON your Numbers
There is a lot more to this than just reading your till receipt every day. Knowing your numbers will enable you to make decisions based on what’s working and what’s not, because our best guesses are usually wrong.

Because pubs are unlike any other business, in that, at any one time they are holding onto so much of other people’s money. Your till may be full of cash but you really have no idea how much is yours until you get to grips with your numbers. This goes for established businesses as well as the noobs in their first pub.

Getting to grips with your Profit and Loss will put you ahead of 70% of small business owners, just having an accountant (then blaming them for all your problems) isn't knowing your numbers.

Imagine how great it feels to really know whats going on?

If you are not an accountant and don't enjoy this part of running a business then you have two options…

Hire a bookkeeper to work in your business everyday or thereabouts and whenever you require a report on how a new promotion has performed or how a new product line is performing you just ask them for it.


Find a pub specialised accountancy partner who will do daily updates to your accounts and not just when the VAT and annual returns are due. They do exist and they won’t cost you any more than your local accountancy firm.

Step 2.
Work out your simple but laser focused business strategy
Whether your new to the pub game or stuck in a rut your business strategy should be simple and laser focused. The easiest way stay focused is choose one thing that nobody else is doing well…….then be the absolute Boss at it in your town. 

Burgers, boozy brunch, cocktails, chicken nuggets, gin and tonic, real ales, live music, parties, steak, vegan, rum, bubbles, pies, comedy, students………………….What ever it is you choose to be the best at, just be the best at it.

Be focused on the customers you want to attract, identify your Thirsty Customer and what makes them tick? How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do when they’re not in your pub?

Then work out what the local competition is like for that person.

If your thirsty customer is looking for the cheapest pint in town and your starving customer is looking for a cheap bite to eat and a national pub group has just renovated the old town cinema then I would suggest it’s time to think again, because by the time they walk into your bar they won’t be thirsty and they won’t be starving anymore.

Thirsty or Starving just means they would do anything to get in your pub and once in they are in they would be throwing money at you to feed and water them.

Once you identify your customer make an irresistible offer to them

You can break this down into weekdays, evenings or weekends or different areas of your pub like the beer garden or the traditional front bar.

Your strategy should also include your time and how you’re going to use it ?

Don’t make it complicated, keep it very specific and laser focused, meaning stick to it until you hit BOSS level…

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Step 3.
Map out your funnel & start using your facebook page to make sales
Facebook is always upping its game and is the most powerful tool for advertising any business. Ive just googled it and 78% of us in the UK are using it daily.

But, Facebook has changed again and its focus on user experience has meant it’s almost impossible as a business to get onto a customer’s news feed without paying for it. If you do manage it it’s only going to be a tiny, tiny percentage of your customers who have liked or engaged with your page.

Boosting your posts is a great way to get likes and be noticed by your customers on Facebook but being realistic it's a complete waste of money without a funnel running in the background.

Your funnel is how you will take people from just noticing you or your pub and term them into regulars who recommend you and your pub whenever the opportunity arises.

WTF are funnels? Dive deeper into mapping and building funnels by clicking the image below
Step 4.
Build lists of your customers and talk to them 
This isn’t just spreadsheet of local people that you email a newsletter when you have time with pictures of you pub and your products.

This list is a list of your customers that open every email, letter or even text message you send them, they open it because everything you send them is about how you can help them and its worth something to them.

Sending your menu, drinks list and a few pictures every week in a newsletter is only going to make you look like the rest of your competition.

Your funnel if designed correctly will grow your list without you trying, but if list building is new to you, then you can start today. Don't just ask for your customers contact details though because this makes you sound like SPAM. Next time a customer has a good experience in your pub and tells you about it, Ask them if they would like to receive your offers and promotions in future? If they they would then you just need to take their name and best way to notify them.

So....In "exchange" for their contact details you will now give them value, scarcity and rewards. 

Your list will be the most powerful and valuable part of your pub, so treat it like it is.........Nurture, Grow and Segment and Prune as you go.
Step 5.
Send offers, promotions and reward 
Everyone has heard of Groupon and knows how it works and thats why it has the title envious title of faster growing company on earth, so we know there strategy works and they are Bossing it.

But when it comes to your pub Its 14 times easier to get an existing customer back in your door with an offer or reward than it is a new one, so test all your new offers, rewards schemes and big promotions on your customers within your lists.

To attract new customers to your pub it’s not enough anymore to say “hey i’m a pub” or “we have cold beer” or even “ look how nice our food is in this picture…#nom” all though you should be doing all of those things on your Facebook, Instagram and twitter every day.

You need to bribe them to first jump on your list, bribe them to come and try your pub, bribe them to tell you what they thought and bribe them to come back…….

Managing all these different emails, text messages, promotions used to be a full time job but with the help of modern technology and some clear marketers to back it up you can now handle it all in a couple of hours an month.

Step 6.
Take everything thats working on your list and use it to get new customers online
Your working your way to Boss level and you know whats making you money because to have a real grasp of your numbers, You also know who your customer is and what makes them tick. You even know whats offers, rewards or big promotions work on you list.

The next step is to advertise to new customers who are just like your loyal ones on Facebook and Instagram.

Sending the time on steps 1-5 will give you all the information you require to be successful in attracting new customers who are similar to your loyal customers to your pub.

Take the information you have in your list and give it to facebook. Facebook will create a custom audience for you, these are all your customers in facebook. 

You can then ask facebook to find new customers for your pub who look like the customers you have just given to them. 

Its then as simple as creating an advert you know has worked really well with your customer on your list and asking facebook to show that advert to the potential new customers they have found for you.

You know the offer works on your customers so its a very high likely hood that it will work on the new customers face book are showing it to because they are digitally very similar. 

Your new customers will click on your advert which will take them to your funnel where they join your list in exchange for your amazing offer.

Now they are on your list you can access them for free whenever you have something they might want , like or is just bloody helpful.
Don't be like most pubs and continue to struggle to attract new customers to your pub. New customers are out there!

Complaining that times are tough is true, but its tough for everyone in every line of business. I will always see this excuse as fear of failing, because not trying to find new customers is not failing and its a big percentage of your competition doing exactly that.

So while everyone else is complaining take the opportunity to get ahead with the six steps.
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About Author: Lee Hammond

Lee has 12 years experience in business development roles, the last 9 of which have been spent working directly in supporting the pub industry.
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