Why publican’s MUST get their customer’s contact details. (And how.)

The_North_Wind_and_the_Sun_-_Sun_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19994Any successful publican will tell you that getting customers to return is far easier than attracting new clientele.

Think about it. If your pub offers a great service to your customers, then it’s fairly likely they’ll return.

However, they’re even more likely to return if you persuade them to.

So, apart from offering great customer service, how do you secure the loyalty of your patrons?

You must persuade and remind them to visit your pub when they are away. To do this you must capture their contact details

Because here’s the thing: running a pub is a very competitive business. Even if yours is the only pub in a small secluded village, you still need to compete for your customer’s leisure time.

You don’t need to twist their arm or throw down the hard sell. Instead, you need to give them a good reason to leave their details with you.

It’s like the classic Greek fable of the North wind and the Sun. Gentle persuasion works better than force.

So, here’s what we’re about to share with you:

  1. How to persuade customers to give you their contact details.
  2. How to use their details to increase custom and spend per visit.
  3. A brief summary of your options for managing your customer database.

3 simple methods for capturing your customer’s contact details

banner-1023856_640There are a number of simple and effective methods for gathering the contact details of your customers. They include:

  1. A customer loyalty programme: This can be advertised in your pub, on your website and across your social media channels. The idea is to reward your loyal customers with special offers or discounts in return for leaving their details.

  2. Clubs: Some pubs run special clubs and groups. For example, you might choose to launch an ale club, a wine club or whisky club – if your pub has a special niche then why not form a group for it? Get their contact details so you can update them with the latest drinks offerings and tasting notes as they arrive in your pub.

  3. Competitions: Create a one-off competition where customers must leave their contact details in order to have a chance of winning.

The customer details you need to capture

note-34686_640There are some vital details you need to capture from your customers. You need to get their:

  • First name and surname
  • Email address
  • Date of birth
  • Sign-up date
  • Mobile number

And finally…

  • Permission

On the subject of getting your customer’s permission… You must use either an opt-in or opt-out tick-box for gaining a customer’s consent to contact them. For example, it might read:

 ‘Tick this box to opt out of future discounts, special offers and updates.’

Esme Fallows at Xposure has written a guide to email marketing regulations should you need to know more.

How to run a pub loyalty programme

beer-932943_640Before you start your loyalty programme, take a look at what your competitors are doing. You need to find out what kind of loyalty benefits they offer to ensure you can match them.

Because there’s little point offering a loyalty scheme which is less generous than your rivals!

There are a number of options available for running a pub customer loyalty programme. The key is to keep it simple.

If you’re going to offer a points system, like you get in Costa coffee or Holland & Barrett, then the key is in making sure it’s easy to understand. There are a number of loyalty apps and swipe card systems which make this possible.

However, I’d also like you to consider the simplicity provided by stamp cards. The Bodega in Newcastle runs a generous Budvar loyalty card scheme, so that for every pint purchased you get a stamp and then the sixth pint is free.

If you run this kind of loyalty card scheme, then make sure that the back of the card features a contact form. In order for the customer to claim their free beverage, they need to fill this in and hand it over.

Just make sure your staff inform customers about how this works from the outset.

Pub loyalty scheme

A number of printing services are available for creating stamp loyalty cards but CustomerLoyaltyCards.co.uk has pub-specific templates and provides ink stamps to go with them.

How to run a pub competition

award-155595_640Another effective way of getting your customer’s contact details is to create a competition. This could be something as simple as a free draw where the prize is a free meal and a pint. Or, one free pint every Tuesday for a month.

This is your chance to get creative and come up with an enticing offer in return for customers giving you their contact details.

Customers can enter your competition by filling in a slip of paper in your bar; on your website, or via Facebook, Twitter and any other social network you may be on.

After the competition has finished and the winner has been selected, you can email all the unsuccessful entrants and instead offer them a runner-up prize, such as a half price meal redeemable at a specific time or date.

Let’s look at a real life example…

The Berkeley pub in Worcester has used this Twitter update…

Berkeley Pub Twitter

To link (via the shortened URL at the bottom) to this website page…

The Berkeley pub marketing

The customer gets a reward; The Berkeley collects the customer’s contact details. It’s a win-win.

How to run a pub club

You can add variation to the loyalty scheme by starting a club at your pub. The type of club would depend on the pub and the clientele your pub attracts.

If your pub is known for its ale selection – and attracts many ale drinkers – then you could set up a real ale club, for example.

This would encourage people to offer their details in return for the latest updates and special offers on new beers coming into your pub. Special tasting sessions could be run at a discounted price.

Take a look at how The Anchor Bar in Newcastle advertises its beer club on Twitter:

Anchor pub marketing

The only thing I would suggest is adding an image of one of these new beers to further entice joinees.

Offer persuasive sign-up opportunities online and offline

business-man-1002781_640We’ve mentioned this already but it’s worth reiterating…

You need to offer persuasive opportunities for your customers to enter competitions, sign-up to clubs or become part of a rewards programme; both inside your pub and online.

At times, you may even want to run competitions or special offers exclusive to people in your pub, or to those on a particular social media site.

For example, how about running a pub discount only on Twitter or Facebook? By throwing in these occasional exclusive offers on your social media accounts, it gives people a good reason to ‘follow’ or ‘like’ you on these channels.

(For the uninitiated: ‘follows’ on Twitter or ‘likes’ on Facebook are the equivalent to email or newsletter subscriptions. Click a link to read our expert guides on running a pub Twitter or Facebook page)

Again, make the competition as simple as possible to enter and make sure the reward is an attractive one.

So, you’ve got a large number of contacts now you need a database..!

This can be the tricky part. You’ve successfully got people’s contact details, and now you need to organise them and communicate to them effectively.

There are a number of tools which can help with organising your contacts and messaging them efficiently. For a good independent review (often very hard to find!) of some of the services available, read Marcus Taylor’s very useful article for Venture Harbour.

Alternatively, pub industry marketing specialist – and real life pub landlord – Phil Davison, has created a customisable and simple ‘done for you’ customer communication system especially aimed at people who own pubs.

Phil’s system is the only one of its kind which makes it well worth considering.

Whichever system you choose for communicating with your customers, don’t bombard them with updates…

Send no more than two or three messages a month. There are three main reasons for this.

1) It means you’re not pestering your customers.

2) You’re a busy publican, so you need to use your time efficiently.

3) Two or three messages a month means that you have to make it each one count, pushing quality over quantity.

We hope you’re now inspired you to increase the turnover of your business by increasing repeat custom in your pub.

The sweet irony – as we’ve already mentioned – is that by increasing customer loyalty, these same customers will be promoting your pub to their friends and family.

So, not only are you creating higher spend customers, you’re cultivating new ones.

Don’t delay… Now’s the time to reach out to your customers!

Image: North wind and the Sun – Project Gutenberg – licensed under cc.