This is one of my favorite bar promotions of all-time, and not just because it’s so frickin’ sexy-cool, but because it isn’t a promotion that you run just once (like St. Patrick’s Day Cocktails) or even on a recurring basis (like trivia night).
The mug club is an identity. It’s more than a gimmick. When you start and grow a successful mug club, you are the “Mug Club Bar” and everyone remembers and talks about you to everyone else. In fact, you become a destination spot, in which people go out of their way to see what you’re all about.
In addition, the mug club is so much more than just the membership fees you’ll collect. It gets people coming into your bar over and over again and spending money beyond just beer. Not to mention the buzz it creates, which gets people talking about it, which in turn gets more people in your bar spending money.
So if you’re seeking out a new promotion, or you’re needing to increase your bar profits in BIG way, I would suggest you seriously look at starting a mug club because it can change your business drastically in the next few months.
So you know, this mug club formula and strategy comes straight from my good friend Roger Beaudoin from Restaurant Rockstars who started his mug club years ago and built it to over 900 mug club members. Quite impressive, Mr. Beaudoin. If you’re serious about starting this club for your bar and restaurant, you’ll want to make sure and check out the course Roger has on exactly how he did. You can find it here:
With that said, let’s get to those 6 steps to starting a mug club. You can also choose to watch the video below instead, which goes into a a lot more detail and has some cool visuals as well (no, I’m not talking about me, but thank you!).
THE 6 STEPS TO STARTING A SUPER-SUCCESSFUL, MEGA-PROFITABLE MUG CLUB
STEP 1: THE PLANNING PHASE
You could say that any one of the six steps is the most important, but really, those who fail to plan, plan to fail…said someone super famous, about a thousand years ago. And he was right. If you just run in with a canvas sack over your head, you’ll run into something hard and ouchy and failure will be imminent.
During the planning phase, you’ll need to determine things like: how many mugs should you order to start out? 50 or 500? You need a good amount of mugs to get it going, but not so many that you overstock/overspend. My recommendation here is about 150 mugs to start.
You’ll also want to determine how much to charge for your club. Demographics and local income is going to factor in, so I can’t give you an exact amount, but I do know that the higher the demand, the more you can charge. I would say start with $50 – $100 per year and test it out.
In addition, you’ll want to have sign-up sheets to gather their information, as well as getting sponsorships to pay for your club. You can put their logo on the mugs and t-shirts, and I guarantee they will be excited to be a part of something as cool as a mug club.
STEP 2: THE EXECUTION PHASE
Nothing complicated here. Step 2 is simply about checking off the list you made in the planning phase, but don’t take this phase lightly. Order the mugs, get sponsorships, get the buzz out and market your new mug club on Facebook and other social media. The execution phase is all about taking action and getting things done. If you need to delegate some tasks to people, do it. They’ll be excited to be involved in something as fun as this.
During this time, you also need to determine the discounts and value that your members will get when they join the club. This is something you can actually put in during Step 1, but it needs to get done. One of the fun things about the mug club is that each member will get a number on the bottom of their mug based on when they signed up. #1 will be the first person who signed up, which means the lower the number, the more prestigious the mug (and member).
STEP 3: BUILD YOUR MUG RACK
The mug rack is a one-man marketing monster. Just the site of it causes a buzz and gets people asking your staff about it, which gives them the perfect opportunity to talk about the mug club and sell them on it. I would even train your staff on exactly what they should say in these situations. Why miss out on an opportunity to have them say exactly what you want them to in order to sell more memberships?
It goes without saying that you’ll want to make sure your mug rack is strong, as having a few hundred mugs hanging on it will be heavy. I recommend putting the rack on your ceiling as it saves space, but if you have room on your wall, go for it.
There are a series of cables and buckles you’ll need to secure your mug rack that Roger talks about inside the Mug Club Course.
STEP 4: MARKET YOUR CLUB
Because the mug club is such a visual thing, one of the best ways to market it is simply through Facebook and other social media. People love to share unique and fun photos and videos, and what’s more unique than a mug club? Also encourage your guests to post photos and videos of themselves on their own Facebook pages.
Grab their phones and offer to take pictures and videos of them with their mugs, because one of things your members will be doing is decorating their mugs with stickers and pens, whatever they want, and they will definitely want to share their craftsmanship with the world.
Facebook is great for bait in marketing to new members (and existing), but to provide true value to your existing members and ensure they sign up year after year and keep coming in multiple times during the week, you’ll want to make sure to email them special offers and keep them updated on events. Share what’s going on with your staff or the new cocktail menu.
In other words, keep them involved in the loop so they feel like family.
STEP 5: HOLD AN ANNUAL MUG CLUB MEMBERS-ONLY PARTY
Not only does this make your members feel special, appreciated and important, but when you hold the party you’ll want to make sure to put a giant sign on the door that says, “Sorry, we’re closed for our annual mug club members-only party. If you would like to learn more about how you can join the mug club, visit us at yourbar-mug-club.com”, or whatever page you have your mug club on your website.
This will instantly cause people to go look up the mug club and wonder why in the hell they weren’t invited to be a part of this awesome club and party.
For your party, provide a bar-b-cue or free pizza and appetizers. Bring in a band if you really want to get the place rockin’ which will provide a longer lasting impression of their awesome annual party, and ensure that they will sign up again. In addition, allow a plus-one so they can bring a guest, because beyond the free pizza they will be getting, they will still be ordering other drinks and food at full price.
Best time to schedule your annual party? Right before the renewal period of course. The fond memories of the party will still be fresh in their minds and they will want to make sure they sign up again.
STEP 6: RENEWALS AND CREATING SCARCITY
Once your mug club gets rolling with some good buzz and you have over 100 members, the demand will go up, which means you can now increase your membership fees.
One of the best tactics in marketing is using scarcity. How many times have you seen this phrase: “For a limited time only.” It gets people moving to buy so they don’t miss out. Now, that phrase is certainly worn out and cliche and doesn’t hold as much influence as it used to because every business seems to be saying “For a limited time only” even if it’s not for a limited time, but what you’re going to do is have a limit on how many mugs you hand out and then start a wait list.
A wait list a fresher way to create scarcity and raise demand. This is also helpful for renewals when you email your existing members to tell them that it’s time to renew their memberships, and if they don’t want to renew, that’s fine, but they are going to lose their mug and their number on the bottom of their mug, AND there is a wait list so if they ever want to come back, they might not get in. But existing members do not have to wait. They’re in automatically.
Such an email message will have your existing members fumbling madly to make sure they sign up again.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t increase your mugs. You can add more mugs as you go, but do so in a trickle effect so there are always more people waiting than there are mugs. This keeps your club at an exclusive and prestige level.
And that will do it. There’s your overview and 6 steps to starting a kick-ass mug club. As I mention in the video above, I can’t possibly cover all the details of starting a mug club in this post, so if you’re serious about making this part of your bar’s identity, make sure to check out Roger’s Mug Club Course here.
He gives you the exact blueprint he used to create a 900+ mug club membership in his bar.
Thanks for being here. See you next time.