Restaurant Marketing

3 Sports Bar Marketing Essentials from a Sports Bar Owner

Every sports bar wants more new customers.

But few sports bar owners feel they have time to become professional marketers.

Let’s bridge that gap today. I’ve got something new for you.

One of the things I’ve always liked about my friend Nick Fosberg is that he’s not one who just theorizes about marketing his own sports bars. Click play below to hear the interview.

Nick owns two bars, both in Illinois. One he’s run for several years now called Casey’s Pub, the other just opened up this past summer (2014), Rural on Tap in Rockford. His story is a great one, having had a father who owned a bar for years, that Nick ultimately inherited. Those links send you to interesting articles about the bars, not the bars’ websites. Check them out.

So I interviewed Nick because he’s got that real-world approach to sports bar marketing. We’ve published several great ideas on what sports bars have done — including previous sports bar advice from Nick, but I want to highlight what Nick’s learned and how he now helps sports bars.

Click play above and you’ll get 17 minutes of straightforward, immediately useful advice on building a great list — the right way — so you can quickly build your sports bar business.

Real sports bar case studies
following this method

The 3 sports bar marketing essentials

While I want you to listen to the interview to get Nick’s story and more details than what I summarize below, here are three key takeaways from my interview with him:

1. Build an email list of fans and followers

An email list is different from a newsletter. A list is built by offering something so compelling that people are anxious to give you their contact information. Nick says that not enough sports bar owners think like internet marketers, and shares his ideas for building “lead magnets” to attract guests.

Read:  Sports Bars & Softball Sponsorships

2. Direct mail isn’t dead

Nick doesn’t just compile his email list, he builds a full-contact list, so he can send direct mail letters to his sports bar customers and fans. You don’t get much more old school than that, but it works, and here’s why: Nick doesn’t send easily-ignored flyers or coupons. He sends real letters, with a degree of personalization.

3. Automate your marketing back to that list

This is a huge failure point for many sports bars. Nick believes in marketing automation, where people who have joined your list via email receive automated, pre-written and pre-scheduled follow-up emails at specific intervals, each with visit enticements.

Sure you can send these subscribers one-off emails on a monthly basis, and you will want to do that, but it’s crucial for your own efficiency and marketing effectiveness to setup an automated system for reaching out to them after they’ve joined your list?

Marketing 101

For the bigger restaurant and sports bar chains, some of this is Marketing 101. Build your list, settle on an offer, and market to your list. But for independent sports bar owners who are time-crunched, part-time bartender, part-time Chief Marketing Officer, and full-time Vice President of Janitorial Works, it’s not a given.

You can follow Nick’s advice in this interview and do it yourself, or check out one of his recent case studies and have Nick guide you through it. I’d recommend the latter.

(Note: The links in this system are not affiliate, nor is this a paid article. I get no benefit from for forwarding you to learn more about Nick’s system.)

(Base header photo courtesy of Rhea C.)

About the author

Brandon Hull

Brandon is the original founder of He has helped thousands of restaurants implement innovative marketing strategies, campaigns, and tactics by incorporating new technology, in order to attract loyal guests.