Knowing your customers key to toasting pub success
Q: Can you give me any advice on how best to drive stagnated sales in a city-based pub?
A: Many of the publicans I talk with make it very clear that in order to survive in today's environment, you have to be really active in driving the different elements of the business.
First and foremost, you need to decide what type of pub you want to be - some pubs are very much drink houses, while others are more about food, music, etc. Getting this positioning right will depend a lot on the demographics of those living and working around your business.
Start at that point, and have a good hard look at the potential customers in the area where you are located. Also conduct a gap analysis on all of the other pubs in that region and see what they are offering, and identify where the potential gaps are.
It would be easy for me to say to you "Strengthen your food offering and start marketing this heavily", but a lot depends on who your customer is. Most importantly, you need to have the appropriate skill sets to run a successful food business.
I see a lot of the pubs also specialising in either craft beers, or whiskey, gin, etc. They have created broad ranges and have upskilled their staff, who are then confident at selling the product to the consumer. I met a publican last year who had done a very successful job at establishing his pub as a music and comedy venue, but he did emphasise that it took him almost a decade.
It would be also a great idea to get involved in one of the trade organisations. Many of the other members within that will be more than happy to share their own experiences and what has helped them. The important thing is that you do have lots of research and don't just work to assumptions that one thing or another will work. The more structured you are in identifying the opportunity, the more likely you are of being successful.
Q: Do you agree that the use of social media for promoting a business is now becoming boring and has lost its appeal?
A: I have no doubt that there are some examples of businesses that have overplayed their digital media activity, and fatigued customers to the point where people no longer pay attention to what the businesses are saying.
I would, however, caution against underestimating the power of digital media if used correctly. I get case study after case study examples on a weekly basis where businesses show me really strong evidence of where their digital media strategy has generated significant revenue.
You will have heard me many times talking about the critical nature of any business building a brand. This has to be your primary focus, in order to get the consumer to understand your business. While there are many elements to this - like generating free PR, entering awards, etc - digital media is now probably the largest element and can potentially give you the biggest return for your money spent.
I take it from what you're saying that it is not a big part of focus for your business. I would challenge you to either upskill yourself, or one of your team (your Local Enterprise Office will have some really good digital training courses), and review progress after six months.
I would also caution that there is a misconception that digital media for businesses is free. It is no longer free and you do have to invest modest amounts of money each week in order to make it successful.
I would be keen to hear the results, so do feel free to contact me in future.
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