Slow Nights? Ring the Register with These Promotions

So, you’ve got a couple of slow bar nights and you’re thinking about running some promotions to help "ring the register."

Here’s a list of promotions for your consideration.

  • Karaoke
  • Open Mic/Micro Music Festival®
  • Poker
  • Trivia/Bingo

Will you be running the promotion in-house or are you going to hire an outside firm? Who is going to handle the marketing?

Quite often, companies will offer to operate a turnkey event. However, where they often fall short is with the marketing of the event to the public. It’s the combination of great operations and effective marketing that makes a promotion successful.

Claudia Fritschi, Operations Director, Open Mic Entertainment, stated, “Providing a high-quality host and sound system for our, Micro Music Festivals®, is just part one of our service. Using email, social media, and the Web, we invite musicians and their friends to every event.” She continued, “Open Mic Pro is our open mic marketing system. We offer this to venues that have existing events. It’s all about, ‘butts in chairs.’”

Let’s take a closer look at each of the promotions on our list.


A DJ or “KJ” brings out the sound system and customers take turns singing to recorded backing tracks. Typical price range: $175-250.

  • Pros: Proven, off-night business builder. Good for a really dead night.
  • Cons: Quite often, the quality of the singers is poor. This may offend other customers.

Open Mic/Micro Music Festivals®

A professional musician acts as the host, performs, and sets up the equipment. Musician-hobbyists perform cover songs and originals. Typical price range: $150-225.

  • Pros: Compliments any other live music in the venue. Provides an audition platform for professional performers. Entertains the regulars with quality live music. Brings in new customers.
  • Cons: There will be a few performers that are less than great.


A host sets up the tables, provides chips and cards, and organizes the participants into games.  The venue usually provides prizes for the winners. Typical price range: $200-300.

  • Pros: It attracts new customers to your venue on an off-night.
  • Cons: Since the object of the game is to win, and in order to win people need to be sharp, quite often the players don’t consume alcohol. The event is at the exclusion of the other patrons and there’s no additional entertainment value.


A host brings a set of questions and a small PA system. People participate individually or as a team. The venue usually provides prizes for the winners. Typical price range: $100-150.

  • Pros: It’s an inclusive event. Your regulars may elect to join in. It attracts new customers on a slow night.
  • Cons: The host’s reading of the questions is rather intrusive to those who aren’t playing.

Whichever promotion you land on, give it at least four weeks. You can tweak the event along the way.

About the Author

David Craver is the President of the National Bartenders Association. He has worked extensively in the on-premise promotions business. If you’d like to explore which promotion will work best at your venue, feel free to drop David a note: [email protected]


Download the free presentation: Secrets To Running A Successful Open Mic