A new twist on sports marketing

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Source: Tavern on Third
Source: Tavern on Third

New York is a big sports town, but not just for fans of the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets, and Rangers. The Big Apple is home to professionals who've relocated from across the country--and when they get there, they don't stop wanting to go to bars to root for their favorite teams. As a result, developing and courting the fan bases of specific professional and college teams has been a popular tactic for many of New York's pubs. Today, however, social engagement strategies and tools are improving the results of that approach for some bars.

Tavern on Third is one pub seeing the benefits of putting a new twist on "sports marketing." One day last March, before it had even opened for business, Tavern on Third was putting the finishing touches on its location at 27th St. and Third Avenue when a delegation from the local Auburn University alumni association chapter walked in. “They were in the market for a new bar to watch their football games, and they liked our set-up and location,” says general manager Gina Groh. Voila, Tavern on Third became the official bar of Auburn football. Groh herself is a Bears fan from Chicago, so she successfully drew a large contingency of Windy City football fans on Sundays. Another bar manager there attended the University of Louisville and fans of that team's basketball team warranted their own room in the back of the bar for games. When the Cardinals played in the Final Four during March Madness, Tavern on Third had a huge day for bar receipts.

Groh tries to sign up new customers to an email list for regular promotional alerts. Tavern on Third, which is owned by East Coast Saloons, is also very active in social media. The bar's site this week featured a pop-up promotion, for instance, offering an open bar this Saturday if its Facebook page gets 1,000 likes. Keeping up with all the posting can be time-consuming and challenging to get done, but Groh recently signed on to a free service called UPlanMe that aggregates all her social media activity on one dashboard.

“It helps us reach a new customer base, which is important for new bar like us. [Using the tool,] you can update all of your social media at once,” Groh says. “If have a regular event and we change the day, we note it in one spot and it changes [it everywhere it's listed].” The service also provides establishments an events calendar to embed on their website homepages.

UPlanMe cofounder Sean Barkulis says that the startup is cultivating a network of publishers that pushes content from establishments like Tavern on Third to targeted audiences such as Bears and Louisville fans. “We're reaching some 500,000 people this way and have verbal commitment to raise that to four million soon,” Barkulis says.

UPlanMe works on a freemium model, charging business users $15 a month for expanded services such as having content placed in the calendars of targeted users, tracking of RSVPs and guest lists, and access to customer analytics.

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