Guv'nor

Top tips on pub marketing

By Mark Bridgen, owner of the Dog at Wingham, near Canterbury. Kent

- Last updated on GMT

Top tips: Marc Bridgen gives his advice on how best to market your pub
Top tips: Marc Bridgen gives his advice on how best to market your pub

Related tags: Marketing

Using his experience from his pre-pub days, Mark Bridgen from the Dog at Wingham shares his suggestions on how to use marketing to your advantage

I come from a sales and marketing background, so this is the biggest benefit I can bring to the business. You certainly don’t want me cooking your food or serving your table.

It is unquestionable that our success is based upon our exceptional product that is delivered by our incredible team, but I do believe that the speed of our success and the recognition we have received has been accelerated by our marketing. I am not a marketing expert for this industry, but I do hope/believe that any owner/GM should be able to use some of the following to raise their marketing game, which will increase sales.

We consistently use the following marketing mediums and here are some simple tips to follow:

Point of sale

Put event listings throughout the property and, particularly, in the toilets. Next event/menu/featured promotion must be placed on each table. Special drinks menus with partners (Chase Distillery most recently) on tables. Blackboards – outside for drivers (brief message) and inside on bars for drinks promotions. Our tills have customer-facing screens – great to promote things guests can’t see at the bar – food and rooms. Customer contact details cards and pencil on every table.

Paid print

We use county-wide glossies that represent our brand – try to build in a coupon so that you can monitor the impact; ours read “Present this voucher at dinner Monday to Thursday to receive a complimentary round of house drinks” – KentLife​.

PR

Speak to anyone that has a platform – local press, magazines, bloggers, vloggers, influencers, tourist boards and invite them to experience your product and share their views. We have been reviewed by international press and a dog-friendly calendar. We make a huge effort with our local community – sponsor sports, signs, dog poop bag dispensers and host a community litter pick day.
We also donate to any local charitable request we receive in writing via email.

Awards programmes

From local business awards to county initiatives like the Visit Kent awards to national competitions such as the Great British Pub Awards, it is all about the taking part. Awards give you something to talk about and a different way to engage your audience. Winning is just a bit of a bonus.

Word of mouth

I simply ask our guests to bring/tell their friends, and they do. The best form of marketing and only really achieved by ensuring your product and service are as good and as consistent as possible.

I am sure nothing here is ground-breaking. The secret is keeping it all up to date and trickling along throughout the year. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss any of the above, or have any questions – or stop by for a pint.

Social media (Google, Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, TripAdvisor)

Maintaining a constant stream to engage your clients is key – food photos, team fun, promotions, etc. Find your team members who are passionate about social media and unleash them on it with guidance on message. TripAdvisor is an incredibly powerful tool (I could write a whole article on our experience) and a great barometer for your business – engage with it and your guests.

Paid digital (Google, Facebook/Instagram)

Have a very generic message on Google – gastropub, restaurant with rooms, Kent B&B, etc. Tightly targeted on Facebook/Instagram – events, packages, offers etc.

Email marketing and communications

We use Mailchimp for our email newsletter, which is written by me every week. This is a very powerful marketing medium for us because a large part of our client base is aged 40-plus and they like receiving, reading and responding to my emails. We also use our booking systems to engage with every guest after a meal/stay to invite feedback/start a conversation.

Deal/gift vouchers

We started doing deals on Travelzoo to build customer base and we now use Vouchable and sell our own deal/gift vouchers. We can generate £1,000 to £10,000 a month in voucher sales. Getting the deals right to fill quiet times and to enable upselling is key.

Related topics: Other operators

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