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Will 2019 finally be the year pubs get social?

Marketing guru Mark McCulloch, Founder & CEO at WE ARE Spectacular, has taken a look at what next year could bring for digital and offers his top tips for making sure your pub is riding the digital wave…


Pubs have long known of the opportunity digital marketing presents, but are you really making the most of it? Do you understand how best to spend your money on digital and what the new opportunities are?

Will 2019 finally be the year pubs get social?

I have just interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk (Chairman and CEO of VaynerX) for The Spectacular Marketing podcast. He is the world’s leading digital marketing specialist and owner of a $200m digital agency looking after incredible clients like Chase Bank, RBS, Budweiser and many more. Big thinking and big budgets, but look to what the bigger companies are doing and you can take some hints and tips for what you should be doing and what great looks like.

Gary said that he has no interest in persuading people to do digital marketing. Unfortunately for me, that is my entire job and such a small percentage of people in food and drink truly understand the power of digital, social and influencers. They are not willing to learn something new or take the risk on digital when they will either do no marketing or spend their budgets in the places where they feel safe but where the customer’s eyes and attention are not. Pubs are in danger, and constant contact and relevancy in the places where people are looking on average 220 minutes per day (their phone screen) is where you need to market, build your brand and get your stories across. My tip is to sit down and look at your total sales/marketing spend (everything and I mean everything) and work with someone to plan the budget with digital being 80% to 90%.


Here are 8 reasons why you need to shift focus, mindset, skillset and budget to digital marketing. Hot opportunities for pubs in 2019:

  • Creating constant content – Would it not be amazing to see the moment where Fuller’s perfected London Pride or Jeff Bezos at Amazon’s first year working all of the hours, packing books and shaping what became Amazon? Hire a videographer and start documenting everything. Make TV style shows and put them out daily.
  • Facebook advertising – The backend of Facebook is still largely untapped by hospitality. Get to know it well and sell more events by targeting friends of friends who have big birthdays and constantly target your competitors’ customers to get their business over to you.
  • Being ‘grammable’ – Horrible word, but it is true. How can your venue create a stage for people to perform on (i.e. take photos to share on their channels as part of their own personal brand – sadly everyone is a brand these days).
  • Having food that is good enough to tweet – Is your food really fit for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? Look at your presentation, plates, cutlery. Small changes mean that you could be shared to millions, not just two diners.
  • Having a voice strategy – Speech is taking over touch. What are you going to do to change ordering, booking and how you are found online, in line with the world’s move to speech via Siri, Alexa and more?
  • Making delivery work for you – work with Deliveroo and Just Eat to get a slice of that delivery market and make it work for you. Limited menus and strong packaging will work well. If Toby Carvery can do it, you can too.
  • Facebook groups – Find, at a local level, the main Facebook groups/communities where people share information. Give them special offers and insider info to bring them to your pub and make you feel like part of the community.
  • What’s App and Facebook Messenger groups for VIPs. If you add these two messaging platforms together, they have more monthly active users than Facebook itself. There is a huge opportunity for you to make this a loyalty platform where you create groups and market to them as VIPs and giving them reasons to constantly come back and see you. Forget plastic, stamp cards and points, this is a new age way of making your audience feel valued and special.


Please do at least one of these things by the start of 2019 and ask for professional help to do so. It will work if you put the effort in and learn all about the possibilities of social. There are so many videos on YOU TUBE on this for a start and great help sections on all social channels.


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