The Power of Email Marketing For Your Bar/Restaurant

Strap yourself in, because I LOVE this subject. As with anything, if you want the super-powerful results from this technique, you’ll need to execute it. 

Now, you may have heard of this technique I’m going to discuss for other businesses, many of which reside online, and perhaps you never thought it would apply to the bar/restaurant business. You would be very, very wrong. Having an email list of customers is possibly the most powerful marketing tool alive in the marketing world today, no matter the industry.

The reason that list of people is so valuable is because they signed up for it because they showed interest in your place of business. They are not cold prospects. They are potential fans of your place, which means when you send them something of interest, they will not only read it, but they will become bigger fans. Pretty soon the bond is so strong, they’re customers for life.

Your email list should be ever-growing. At no point should you ever say, “There. I have a list. Done.”  You goal is to grow that list to a massive level. There is a phrase that says, “The money is in the list.” And it’s true. The bigger the list, the bigger the money. In fact, I have a formula you can memorize that will make it crystal-clear.

List = Money

Got it?  Good, don’t forget it.

So how do you grow that list? Thanks for asking. Let’s get into it.


You can add people to your email list in a variety of ways that is only limited to your vision and creativity. Here are some of the most common ways:

  • Give away a free appetizer or meal
  • If they are able to order online, require their email
  • If you take reservations, ask for their email for confirmation purposes
  • Have comment cards, with an option to add their email at the bottom for special offers
  • Set up a rewards program which requires their email to sign up (there are a few good companies out there that do rewards programs)
  • Have a printout at the bottom of the itemized receipt for them to enter their email for special coupons and offers

Use your brain here. Here’s the key: if you can offer them something of value for free—even informational value—you can ask for their email in return. You can get as creative as you want to discover ways to collect emails.


Now it’s time to build a relationship. It’s time to speak directly to them. It’s time to form a bond that will forge loyalty from the fire of your words. What you don’t want to do is just flood their email box with coupons and drink specials. You can send them once in awhile, but this is the mistake that many restaurants do.

They acquire your email and then all you get, basically, is junk mail. Cold, sterile, junk mail. After about three of these you hit “Unsubscribe” because it’s the same thing over and over. And they’re not even good specials half the time: “$0.50 Off All Draft Beers Between 3:45 – 4:00 p.m.” WOW! Really? I’ll be right down!

What I’m going to share with you is far more powerful than sending out discounts.  We aren’t interested in building a following of cheapskates who only come in when they’re saving a few pennies. We want an army of raving lunatic fans who love our place because they feel emotionally connected to us and our message. The purpose of these emails is to:

1) Connect

2) Persuade

3) Secure

That’s it. We want to Connect with them through stories, Persuade them by appealing to their emotions, and then Secure them as loyal, raving customers who share our bar/restaurant with everyone they know.

Emotional bonding is the strongest glue there is when turning people into lifers, not saving them five bucks.

So where do you begin? To put it simply, your emails need to be stories. That’s it. I mean, there’s more details than that, but anything you can create a story out of at your bar/restaurant will be an email.

Some can be quick and to the point, and others might be a little longer. Pretend you are a journalist sharing great stories with the public. When people connect with your establishment on a emotional level they will take a deeper interest in you.

Think about how we get obsessed with companies and people we don’t even know.

I have a musician friend who has zero interest in sports, and he asked me one day why idiots liked sports so much. “It’s just a bunch of millionaires throwing a ball through a hoop or across imaginary lines to score points that mean nothing.”

You know why people love sports? Because the athletes are like characters in a story. We learn where they came from. We learn their struggles and their triumphs. We connect with them because we too have struggles and triumphs, but the athletes have them on a much larger stage. We praise them, we criticize them.

We follow them religiously until we feel like we know them. Their lives become part of ours. It’s their story we are obsessed with. We know their stats, who they’re married to, how many times they’ve hit a buzzer-beater or choked in crunch time. The same thing happens with shows like The Bachelor.

You don’t know those people, but you feel like you do.

So our job is to make them identify with us. Make them love us. Make them love the people who work there.

“Alright, alright, I get it,” you say. “Just tell me what to do.”

So going back to telling stories. You need to decide how often you will send out an email: once per day, every other day, once per week. I would suggest at least a couple times per week so you can build that connection quicker. If three weeks goes by and you haven’t sent an email, the connection is weaker now because they have forgotten about you.

Here are things you can tell stories about and send to your email list. Like I said, some can be quick, some a little more in depth.


 This will be one of the most powerful emails you can send because your staff will become characters in the story that the people on your list will want to come visit.

Do an actual interview with each member before you write about them. You can have a series of questions you create one time so you can ask them all the same questions and not have to create a new interview each time. Ask them where they grew up, do they have pets, what are they’re interests, what are their goals and dreams, what is their favorite dish or drink on the menu, favorite sports team, etc, etc.

And don’t forget to attach a picture of them as well so your fans can see them. As I said, this is powerful shit. If you have 25 staff members, that’s 25 emails right there that you can sprinkle in between other emails. You’ll have plenty of material, believe me.


And don’t clench up like you’re afraid of giving away your secrets. Nobody is going to steal your recipe and put you out of business. The best thing in the world would be if someone shared it and it got passed around the web, which brings a whole truck-load of attention to your place.

If you’re really fancy, you can make a video of the bartender or chef making the dish/cocktail and post it on Facebook. Again, this puts the face of your employees out to the public and makes them connect with your bar/restaurant.


This is an easy one. Simply blast your list with a cool event or celebration you have coming up.


Yes, you can send specials or coupons once in awhile to get people to come in. It’s good filler to mix things up, but in my opinion it offers the lowest connection emotionally of anything that can be sent.


And when I say survey, I don’t mean ask them on a scale from 1 – 10 how much they enjoyed their last visit. I mean involve your tribe. Ask them what they would want to see on the cocktail or food menu, or ask them what type of events or theme nights they would en

joy. Not only does it involve them, it gives you valuable insight into what you should provide to make your guests happy. I’m talking gold-level value. No more guessing what the public wants. Your tribe will tell you to your face.

The list is endless here. You just have to be creative. Remember, imagine yourself as a journalist telling the story of your bar/restaurant to the public. What do you want them to know about? What’s interesting about your place? Tell them a story they can get addicted to and you will build a following of raving, lunatic fans for life.

That’s it for this lesson. Next time we talk about marketing, it will be the king of all marketing techniques when it comes to increasing traffic, and that’s Facebook marketing.

Cheers, until next time,


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