The Chequers Chipping Norton Artwork

5 Helpful Tips for the Best Pub Promotions & Advertising

The hospitality trade can be very competitive and the struggle to keep trading is very real. Whether you’re a proud gastro pub, a chic cocktail bar or an intimate restaurant, you need to be on top of promotions and advertising in order to set your establishment apart from competitors and keep customers coming back.

A recent sobering report from CAMRA stated that 18 pubs a week are shutting down, which calls for a strategic approach to keep trading, keep popular and ultimately survive.

HDK Marketing recently provided focused marketing assistance to two classic English pubs in the Cotswolds (and you can read full details on these projects on The Bell Inn and The Chequers case study pages). Therefore, we wanted to share with you 5 helpful tips for getting the most out of promotions and advertising, which can apply to any growing business in the hospitality sector:

The Chequers Chipping Norton Artwork

1. Who Are You?

First, you need to understand exactly what kind of pub or restaurant you are. For example, if you think about the pubs in your own area, you will find sports pubs where the football is always on, family-friendly sizzler-type pubs, live music pubs and the inevitable gastro pub serving lamb shanks with mint jus, Wagyu burgers and fried halloumi.

You need to find a niche and set about letting everybody know why they should visit and become a regular. Only once you’ve found your niche can you identify your brand, and therefore the promotions and advertising channels that will work best for your business.

A strong brand identity, brand values and consistency will resonate more with customers than a pub or restaurant that is trying to please everyone.

Think about a Chinese restaurant that serves a vast array of Asian dishes from all over the continent, plus classic English staples. Sometimes it works, but the restaurant probably won’t be known for the quality of the food. Customers are more likely to spend their money at an authentic Chinese restaurant with a small menu done well.

The Bell Pub Cotswolds

2. Consistency & Strengths

Now that you’ve figured out your place in the market and have an idea of your brand identity, now you can think about your promotions. As above, consider consistency; don’t be tempted to do a roast every Sunday, just because it’s what’s expected. Keep promotions in line with your brand.

Three Ideas for Pubs, Bars and Restaurants:

  • Do you have a chef who is passionate about Indian cuisine? Run a curry club every Tuesday, or consider organising a cookery class once a month.
  • Are your customers crazy about craft beer? Seize the opportunity with a tasting event and invite local brewers to talk about their beers with punters.
  • Do you have a cheeky barman who always has your customers laughing? Ask if he would like to organise a weekly quiz or host an auction event for a local charity for a cause that you’re passionate about.

Your promotions and advertising should be highlighting your strengths, so you must understand what those are first, in order to make the most of them.


3. Marketing Calendar

Your promotions should also take into account festivals, special events and the seasons. Take a look at the calendar at the start of the year and work out which holidays or events align with your brand values, and could therefore be great opportunities for promotions.

Three Ideas for Pubs, Bars and Restaurants:

  • Does your restaurant change its menu according to which vegetables are in season? Let your customers know with seasonal menu rotations. Think leaflets, posters and announcements of the new menus on social media. Customers might come back every few months just to see what’s new.
  • Is your pub the place to be for New Year’s? Make sure you are advertising your New Year’s event well in advance and with a strategic, organised marketing plan.
  • Does your clientele include a lot of families with young kids? Then think about special offers during the summer holidays or hold summer events with bouncy castles, face-painting or other activities that both children (and therefore their parents) will enjoy.

The key is to have everything planned out in advance in a marketing calendar, so that you can let your customers – both existing and potential – know well ahead of time about the special events or promotions you have coming up that will appeal to them.

The Chequers Pub at Night

4. Marketing Channels

OK, so you know which special promotions you want to run and you’re getting busy with organising some weekly, monthly or seasonal promotions based on what you do best. Next, you can start advertising. But how do you decide which channels will reach your customers?

As we’ve previously discussed in our 5 Simple Steps to Marketing Strategy You Need to Know, a great model for this is the 12 pillars of marketing communication. Any fewer and the roof of your marketing plan could fall, any more and you’ll be spreading the load too thinly and each of the 12 will become weaker.

To choose your 12, you need to think about both your budget and your customers. Here are a few tips to help you decide:

The 12 Pillars of Marketing Communications - HDK Marketing

Social Media

Social media is not going anywhere soon; it’s more than just a trend. and guaranteed that your target customers are interacting on a social network. However, consider which platforms to use before you go all in and sign up for a profile on every social media platform going (this is just one of the 9 Common Mistakes Businesses Make on Social Media that we cover in our printable PDF – sign up to our weekly marketing tips to get your copy).

Instead, consider your products (i.e. your food dishes and drinks) as well as your clientele.

Three Ideas for Pubs, Bars and Restaurants:

  • Are you a hipster cafe serving up impressive works of latte art? Then it’s guaranteed that your customers will be snapping photos of your creations on their phones to upload to Instagram. Encourage them to do so by promoting your Instagram handle and re-sharing their photos on the platform.
  • Are you a sports pub or bar, always showing the latest tournaments and matches on the big screen? Then you should be on Twitter, where there’s running commentary on live sports events. Retweet or share your opinion (with appropriate hashtags) to build a following and engage in local Twitter chats to raise awareness of your establishment in your local area.
  • Or are you a sophisticated wine bar; the new “in” place to be around town? Then perhaps you want to be on Facebook, where users can “check in” to your location to show off to their friends. Encourage customers to leave reviews on your Facebook page and share their pictures or comments to build your reputation on the platform.

The Chequers Re-Opening Launch Promotion

Local Marketing

As tempting as the promise of thousands of hits online is, don’t be solely sucked into the world of digital marketing. You may get Likes from all over the world, but what you need is footfall to your premises. This is where local marketing comes in.

Local promotions could include posters, a leaflet mail drop, local press (both online and offline), local directories, local radio, billboards, local groups or simply colourful signage outside your establishment. Remember to always come back to your brand identity and values to consider what works best for your business.

Three Ideas for Pubs, Bars and Restaurants:

  • Are you holding summer events for kids? Then let local parenting groups know, or ask local nurseries and playgroups if they could distribute leaflets, mention to potential customers, or put up a poster at their premises.
  • Are you celebrating a landmark, or going through a re-launch or re-brand? Then contact local magazines and newspapers, which might be interested in running a feature on your story.
  • What about sponsorships or joint ventures? If your restaurant includes a lot of professionals at lunchtime business meetings and after-work drinks, why not contact the local Chamber of Commerce to offer your premises as a space for networking events?

The Chequers Pub Chipping Norton Logo


From branded clothes to business cards, how do your customers identify you? Perhaps you’d consider livery on your car to promote your pub or restaurant out and about. If you are well established in the local area, perhaps you’d also consider producing and selling merchandise (especially for a special event).

Don’t be afraid to think creatively about ways to get your brand out there.

5. Ask for Help

Ask your staff and customers for their input on what they’d like to see more of. Do they love your cocktails and think that cocktail-making parties could be a great asset to your bar? Would they like to receive a regular e-newsletter from you, informing them of special events and special offers? Do they think your branding is on point?

Client meeting and exchanging business cards at the HDK Marketing office

Sometimes a second opinion, especially from those who spend a lot of time in or around your business, can provide some great ideas or advice on what you can do for your customers. So, be open to their suggestions.

And similarly, sometimes it’s great to get fresh eyes on your business and an outsider’s perspective. Working with a marketing company is a great way to get advice and help with advertising your business. After all, you don’t get into the hospitality industry to become a full-time marketer!

You can read more on the benefits of working with an independent marketing consultancy like ours in our previous blog, This is How a Marketing Agency Can Make Your Business Successful.



We hope this post has provided some helpful insights into promoting and marketing your pub, bar, restaurant, or similar establishment. If you have any questions about marketing, especially about advertising in the hospitality sector, don’t hesitate to contact us at HDK Marketing for marketing advice.

Helen Denby-Knight - Director - HDK Marketing - Sutton Coldfield - Email Signature