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The Art of SMS Marketing for Bars, Pubs and Clubs

sms marketing for bars, pubs and clubs

When it comes to SMS marketing, you really need to pick your moments. If you don’t use it enough, you might as well not bother with the service; use it too much, though, and you run this risk of annoying your user base to the point of unsubscribing. Getting email spam is bad enough, but the lack of subtlety with SMS spam is a big problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re operating a casino or the corner pub, ensuring you strike the balance is imperative to the success of your SMS marketing campaign.

So, if you are a club or pub promoter, you’re probably wondering what the ideal balance would be. Well… let’s just say that if you’re sending out a message more than once a week, you’ve probably exceeded the volume of texts you should be sending. Just because it might be extremely cheap to send batch messages to your loyal patrons, doesn’t make it a sound business decision.

Now, you might be thinking: “Yeah, but we get big bumps of numbers when we do it.”

Here’s the thing, though: just because something is initially successful, doesn’t mean it is the optimal strategy for long-term growth; if that were the case, then the same logic could be applied to say that pyramid schemes are great. The real key to creating an effective SMS campaign as a pub or club is to post infrequently enough that most of your user base won’t even remember the last time you sent them a message. The ideal reaction of your SMS recipients should be one of pleasant surprise or, at the very least, intrigue.

Now that you have a thorough understanding of what makes for proper frequency, let’s take a look at content.

Depending on your pub or club, your audience may vary significantly; however, there are still some underlying concepts that you can utilise to encourage healthy crowds.

1. Pick a typically quiet day to run your next SMS campaign

This might sound counterintuitive, but allow us to clarify and elaborate…

In the interest of resolving ambiguity, SMS campaigns should be both sent on typically quiet days and be about typically quiet days. It is worth noting, however, that this advice best applies to pubs and clubs that already have a full house on a busy night. And therein lies the rationale behind focusing your efforts on quieter days. Your SMS campaigns may be wasted on days that are already seeing huge numbers, and that’s not even mentioning the aforementioned problem of oversaturating your regular patrons’ phones by bombarding them with SMS messages on a Saturday night.

Another reason for not just sending it the day of (or especially the evening of) is that people make plans; that is just how most people work. You might be an impulsive socialite promoter, but many of your patrons have already made their plans for the evening before the message is ever received. Unless your promotion is to say that you managed to get Sir Paul McCartney on the setlist, it’s not usually a great idea to throw in last-minute promos. It can also come across as desperate in the same way that your drunken ex texts you at 3:30 am.

2. Speaking of promos, these are really effective

A well-timed promo – including discounted entry or drink specials – is a great way of casually getting back in touch with your SMS subscribers without annoying them. A message on Tuesday for, say, an event on Thursday, gives your subscribers some breathing space, and it also makes them think about going out on a night that they typically might spend at home. Thursday nights, often called ‘Uni Night’ in some circles, usually have room for more patrons, and students with lopsided class schedules might find the idea of cheaper drinks and entry prices more palatable than the free-for-alls of Friday and Saturday night.

This leads us to another point: the initial collection of phone numbers. When you collect your number, getting a little more information as to their university enrollment status is useful for one key reason: it means that you can have a sublist that is only dispatched to university students, without bothering your subscribers who aren’t uni students; your core demographic for these nights can be hit with laser-like focus.

3. Learn from your competition

Subscribe to all of the local pub and club SMS services. Take note of the different strategies that these venues employ in their SMS marketing strategy. But more than this, make sure you actually make some intermittent reconnaissance missions to check on the success of these campaigns. Make sure, though, that you are comparing SMS campaigns against ‘control’ nights. You also want to chart your competitors’ social media use, such as Facebook and Twitter, to ensure that other forms of digital marketing aren’t skewing results.

If you’re ahead of the competition (good for you!) and there’s nothing to be learned that way, just speak to your fastsms account manager who will be able to give you some great advice.

If you think SMS campaigns aren’t worth the effort, think again. There is a good reason why thousands of pubs and clubs all over the world use SMS marketing to attract punters. Just one well-timed SMS campaign can generate hundreds, if not thousands, of more pounds into your establishment’s coffers. Extrapolate these figures out over the course of a year, and now you are looking at a very significant increase in revenue, which can then be put towards enhancing future campaigns and generating business growth in a natural and financially sustainable way.


SMS marketing can be a double-edged sword, which is why it’s crucial to ensure that each one of your campaigns is well thought out, immaculately spelt, financially accurate (i.e., the prices listed are correct), and, perhaps most importantly, the time and date is 100% accurate. Only once you have triple-checked each one of the components should you then consider sending out a batch. One suggestion is to send a test message to yourself beforehand because fresh eyes and a new perspective might allow you to notice something you didn’t notice before. Additionally, sending it or showing it to a couple of your colleagues to check for errors is a good contingency plan.

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