British pubs have faced many challenges over the years, such as beer price inflation and high rates, but publicans continue to tackle whatever is thrown our way. As we keep striving to drive footfall, improve our offering, and boost profits, we often find ourselves asking the same question; in a highly competitive leisure market, how do we stand out?
While positive recommendations through word of mouth remain extremely valuable, we cannot survive on that alone. In summer 2018, the Kings Arms Collective, made up of local customers and the Kings Arms team, created a song and music video entitled When the Lions Roar to celebrate the football World Cup, which ended up receiving so much attention that the England squad themselves even recognised it – and it led to us winning an award for Best Marketing Initiative at the Ei Group Awards for Excellence.
Our success was highly dependent on three key elements; social media, content and, of course, our customers. Social media is key because it allows you to reach into communities, which have always had a huge positive affiliation with pubs. But social media is only effective with engaging and shareable content, so that’s why you must be creative and demonstrate individuality. In addition to the song, we produced a video to show how it was made, giving a behind-the-scenes view – this gained fantastic traction. Using video in your marketing efforts gives you the power to increase ‘brand’ awareness while connecting with customers personally.
Our success would not have been possible without our loyal customers and community members who were so enthusiastic in supporting us – they are the beating heart of the pub.
So, don’t be afraid to experiment. Why not ask your regulars if they have any hidden talents? You might find an incredible painter, musician or baker who you could enlist for the next marketing campaign. Is there an upcoming national event, milestone or local activity you can capitalise on? A pub in Warrington recently caught my attention after giving away free cake to mark the final of The Great British Bake Off and appeared in the local press.
Or you could do something bold to gain attention like a PR stunt. A stellar example of this is the licensee in Worcestershire who gathered 400 people called Nigel to celebrate ‘Nigelness’ after finding out that no babies were named Nigel last year. This generated extensive media coverage on a national scale. Good luck in your creative marketing efforts in 2020.