March Madness at Your Bar: Conquering the First Weekend

march madness tips

In just one week, March Madness will descend on America and bars and restaurants must be on high alert. Buzzer beaters will be made, brackets will be busted and, as always, revenue will go through the roof. Last year, March Madness generated $1.13 billion in ad revenue and John Bogusz, an executive at CBS Sports, believes that that number will increase by double digits this year.

But that’s not all.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 20%  of consumers are likely to watch the tournament games and last year, over 125 million people went to a local bar or restaurant to take in March Madness.

March Madness is an annual cash cow for bars, and the opening weekend, which features game after game after game, is always very profitable. Even if your establishment doesn’t consider itself a true “sports bar,” it doesn’t matter; if you have TVs, people will come to watch the games. Another thing to consider is that March Madness transcends traditional sports viewing. Similar to the Super Bowl, March Madness is an event, meaning casual or even non-sports fans will tune in.

But of course, just having TVs isn’t enough. You need to sell your business and give basketball fans a real incentive to visit your bar over others.  This takes some small but crucial planning and organization, but if you get it right your bar can be the March Madness oasis basketball fans are looking for.

Here are some tips to help take advantage of the opening weekend of March Madness:

Promote a team: Priority number one for your bar should be to become the de facto viewing location for fans of a particular team. For instance, if you’re located in a city or state with a team playing in the Dance, make it apparent that no other place will be packed with more fans of the team than your bar.

Organize a bracket pool: Perhaps the biggest draw of March Madness is the chance to fill out a bracket and see how you stack up against the rest of the nation. Even those who could care less about college basketball find themselves filling several of them out in hopes of winning prizes. What your bar ought to do is organize a big bracket pool, complete with special offers or free meals/drinks for the participants who finish the highest.

Get the word out: It’s imperative to get the word out, otherwise how will customers know what’s going down at your bar? Make sure you are posting every day on your Facebook and Twitter pages so people know where and when they can come watch the games and take in the collective madness.

Drink and food specials: A surefire way to bring in extra customers even when there isn’t a massive basketball tournament going on is to offer deals on food and drinks. Everyone loves a bargain and offering specialty cocktails or a bucket of beers at a low rate is a proven method to get more sales and foot traffic to your bar.

Much like the games, anything can happen with March Madness at your bar. You just need to make sure you’re in position to sink the final shot.