When numerous individuals hear the word "sports bar," they immediately think of three things: beer, wings, and sports. While every sports bar should have those things, don't you want your business to be known for more? Perhaps a sports bar with a lively atmosphere that brings casual and die-hard sports fans together every day is the upgrade your establishment needs.

Many sports bar owners find it challenging to bring large crowds year-round and to have a steady cash flow. They often hope that local teams have excellent seasons to help fill seats. To ensure your business is booming throughout the year, we're providing you with 10 sports bar marketing ideas.

1. Broadcast Local & National Games

When you open a sports bar, it's important to do research and determine which teams individuals in your area root for. You want to broadcast each of their games to help create a core customer base. These die-hard fans of local franchises are your primary target audience, making it essential to cater to their needs.

Unfortunately, the basketball or football teams in your area don't play every day. Rather than closing your bar on their days off, consider televising national games. There may be a playoff game that many sports fans in your area are looking for a place to watch. Televising local and national events for all major sports gives your customers a reason to visit your business.

2. Televise Pay-Per-View Events

The truth is, countless individuals want to watch pay-per-view events but don't want to pay full price for them. They would rather visit a sports bar broadcasting the highly-anticipated boxing or MMA event.

While you may be spending additional money on the subscription, this is an easy way to pack your bar. Numerous sports bars are unwilling to cough up the money for pay-per-view events, making your business one of the few locations televising the event. Advertise on your social media accounts or post flyers around your business to inform customers that you will be hosting a watch party for the big event. You can charge customers visiting your restaurant to watch the event a small cover fee to help make up for the subscription cost.

3. Organize Live Appearances

Many sports bars like to bring athletes to their business. Business owners understand that customers will be more inclined to visit their establishment because they want athletes to sign their memorabilia or interact with their favorite players for a few minutes. Hosting live appearances with athletes will expand your reach because you'll likely be attracting numerous first-time customers.

When organizing live appearances, consider the interests of your customers. Most of them would like to meet a current player on the local team, a Hall of Famer, or a retired player who impacted the local franchise. It's essential to coordinate appearances with well-known athletes in your area to ensure it generates buzz.

4. Host Private Parties

You should consider creating some space at your foodservice establishment for private parties. It's an easy way to generate additional revenue because many of your customers may want to host birthday parties or watch a particular game with their group in privacy. When the party area has no reservations, you can use the space as additional walk-in seating.

5. Feature Events

A popular sports bar marketing method is to host competitive events anyone can participate in. While everyone enjoys playing games, announcing that there will be prizes for winners will instantly increase the number of participants. You can offer event winners a gift card, free meal, or apparel. Below is a list of competitive events you can host at your sports bar:

  • Trivia nights: You can put your customers' sports knowledge to the test with trivia. Ask one of your employees to host the trivia game and set clear rules so patrons understand how to play.
  • Ping pong tournaments: If your operation has a few ping pong tables, feel free to host single-elimination tournaments. You can make matches best of 3 and each set up to 11 points. Doing so will allow all customers looking to play an opportunity to participate, and the contest will run smoothly.
  • Basketball competitions: If you have enough space, you can set up a basketball hoop at the front or back of your business. You can put together a free throw competition or have customers shoot for prizes, similar to carnival games.
  • Cornhole events: You will find that some traditional bars and breweries have cornhole boards throughout their business. It provides guests with a fun activity to participate in while enjoying a drink and hanging out with friends. On certain days of the week, you can host cornhole tournaments to draw a crowd.
  • Fantasy football draft parties: The majority of fantasy football commissioners host live drafts for their league. Providing them a space to have their drafts will draw large crowds to your business. Just be sure to have working Wi-Fi at your business as many leagues draft using laptops.

6. Advertise Your Sports Bar

Similar to any business, the most effective marketing strategy for sports bars is advertising.

It's an easy way to increase brand awareness and visibility so you can attract more customers. There are numerous ways you can advertise your sports bar to drive traffic to your business.

Social Media

Social media marketing is one of the most important marketing mediums of the digital age. New and more established sports bars that use social media have found success in this industry. Social media allows you to make your business more accessible to followers which helps them build a special connection with your brand. You can use social media to promote upcoming events and communicate with your followers.

Local Parks

Get in contact with park directors in your area to discover ways you can advertise your business. For instance, little league baseball fields have sponsorship banners on the outfield fence. Adding a banner on every field with your logo, address, and contact information will have athletes and parents remember your brand. It's an effective way to reinforce your sports bar to everyone who visits the park. You can also see if you can cater food on days the park is filled with events or upload a digital banner on the park's website.

On-Air Advertisements

Running a commercial on a popular local radio sports channel, sports podcast, or television channel your local team is playing on is an effective way to get your business out there. You will be specifically targeting sports lovers, which will likely lead to increased traffic at your business. To make your on-air advertisement memorable and effective, be sure to make it interesting, simple, and clear to understand.

7. Sponsor Local Teams

It's likely that you don't have the budget to sponsor a professional sports team. However, an affordable alternative is to sponsor a little league team or sports charity. Creating a sports bar marketing plan around the neighborhood allows your business to build personal relationships with locals. Supporting your community shows people what you value and may encourage them to visit your foodservice establishment.

8. Decorate Your Sports Bar

If you're operating a sports bar, it's only right for the atmosphere to feel like one. Decorate your sports bar with pictures, pennants, jerseys, sports movie posters, and other sports memorabilia. Get creative with your decorations, as sports lovers will appreciate the details and memorabilia your bar has. To separate your sports bar from others in the area, you can create a social media wall to take pictures at or set up a sports-themed photo booth. Social media users will post these photos and likely tag your business which provides you with free advertising.

9. Run Special Promotions

You should think about running special promotions during slow sports months like July and August or throughout the year. Feel free to get creative and offer specials such as birthday promotions, special discounts for specific employers in the community, half-priced wings, or buy one get one beer specials. Unique promotions will help bring sports fanatics and non-sports fans looking to enjoy affordable, high-quality food after work.

10. Market To Those Who Don't Watch Sports

Your target audience is sports fanatics. However, think about finding ways to attract non-sports fans. To draw those who aren't into sports, you can hire local bands or performers on slow sports days. Having performers at your bar gives everyone in town a reason to visit your establishment and allows you to bring in a new crowd. You can also set up game stations that feature activities like billiards, pinball, or darts. Find games that are popular in your town and incorporate them into your business.