Can a “Bar Rescue” be Your Content Marketing Hero?

By Sue-Ann Bubacz, - In Marketing

Woman infront of her bar using the Bar Resure Content Marketing Formula

Photo Credit: stockphotosecrets

I’m not talking about slugging down something strong (or smooth) to make your content marketing blues go away but, I did brew something top shelf for you with this “Bar Rescue Formula,” sure to up your content marketing game.

Image of bar tender poring cocktails into two glasses

In my “Bar Rescue” outline, you’ll get an effective strategic overview to use to strengthen marketing, content marketing, and business outreach.

Use it to take a fresh look or:

  • to review
  • to evaluate
  • to improve

your content marketing operations, business, and projects too, on a regular basis.

I hope you’ll like, maybe even share it, but please feel free to add your take in comments.

Ready for some bar-hopping? Let’s go…

Help I’m Drowning but Not in a Champagne Bath

It all started one day when I admit; I was feeling a bit deflated with content marketing and freelance business overwhelm, (maybe you know this feeling?) and so I sank into a big fat comfy chair, hoping to melt deep into it and disappear.

I looked over and noticed my (busy-all-the-time) hubby glued to the couch, looking like he had no intention to do or be anything this day either. Oh good—a mindless day—time to cement our couch potato mission and flick on the TV.

It’s tricky, of course, with two people in the room, but we settled on the popular reality show with bar businessman Jon Taffer. Then away we drifted, lost in a Bar Rescue marathon, depicting troubled bar story after story, lulling us in a bar story rebirth trance.

Suddenly it Hit Me Like a Shot

Not a shot of hard liquor or anything but, it knocked me down just the same.

Right then and there, I had an actual “Bar Rescue” epiphany. Lucky for you!

My spin on Jon Taffer’s bar wisdom breaks down to 7 lessons every content marketer, or business in general, can work from to initiate improvements for how they work.

One of the most important takeaways I picked up watching Jon cure bar businesses over and over, is this:

Not only is improving how you work (strategize/organize/plan) a key to success but, how you look at how you work, occupies another mega impactful part.

Ready to figure this out?

7 Lessons for Upgrading Your Approach

Jon Taffer, the acclaimed bar industry expert, has an 80% success rate rescuing bars from failure.

These businesses are struggling and asked for help. Imagine the success rate you can achieve implementing these lessons from Jon’s playbook in your already succeeding business.

Lesson 1: Taking Responsibility

For some, this is like having a cold foaming beer thrown right on your face—a huge wake-up call—a surprise that honestly, isn’t a surprise at all.

Image of a chalk board with the words no and yes on. And a tick next to the word yes

I’ll say this straight out because you need to know, and sometimes it’s easy to forget:

it’s up to YOU.

You need to accept the position as the main driver for your business and your marketing efforts by taking a leadership role. Embrace that you are accountable to yourself, your organization, your customers, and ultimately, to your success or failure.

It comes down to YOU.

So, I say fight to do well, to do better, to improve, to change, to grow and to create the positive outcome you are striving to reach.

Sometimes, I know, it feels like you want to hide and may (like many of Jon’s bar owners) think you have no control, feel sorry for yourself, or rather give up but, that’s NOT the solution.

Instead, decide to look at responsibility as a serious matter and take a good hard look, starting with yourself. Then work for a strategy suitable to your situation and begin to build from there. You can. You have to.

Lesson 2: Structure for Your Business

If you’ve been brave enough to wipe the beer off your face and take a good look in the mirror, you’ve accepted that you’re in control and taking responsibility, so now what?

Time to take a microscope to your business structure and make sure you are clear on your purpose.

To do so, closely evaluate the following strategic components and adjust as appropriate to move forward and get results:

  • Plan
  • Theme
  • Brand
  • Science
  • Discovery

Businesses with a plan, preferably written, do better. That’s the data.

But the biggest advantage in producing, reviewing and documenting a thoughtful strategy—even as simple as an overview of your vision via a Mission Statement or a succinct description like a Statement of Purpose—stems from its use as a guideline.

Having this planned point of focus inspires a broader understanding, viability and consistency in your message while keeping everybody working in the same direction and for the same goals.

Without a unified objective, chaos happens. Different agendas make for less successful results and worse, causes an every-man-for-himself attitude, which often leads to failure.

Theme and plan go hand in hand and, in the bar business, the intricacy of themes are integral to the plan. Think of this for your business, physical (like the bar) or otherwise, as the angle, hook, or unique value prop, you want to be known for.

Using a theme works as a key piece of your overall business agenda or, can be broken into particular campaigns or projects. Either way, it’s essential you tie themes in with your larger business plan to maintain a cohesive representation, increasing brand recognition.

Sometimes theme is visible in branding; possibly it’s your tagline but, it’s a vital instrument in your business plan. It’s the “flavor” that’s particular only to you.

Carefully consider theme and how to best implement it for your organization’s needs by threading themes with fine precision, intricately interlocking your plan and brand with a theme’s uniqueness.

These first three components establish who you are, what you do, and who you do it for along with why/how it benefits them. Be specific and strong in doing these first steps.

Establish or reestablish exactly what you are all about. Then make sure it makes sense.

This is where you double check the premise of everything you think with actual research (data, market details, stats, etc.) combined with science (benchmarks, industry standards, best practices).

Cartoon mockup of a desk with a microscope and computer on

You want (need) to confirm there is congruency between your unique purpose (qualified in 1,2,3) and actual marketability to a specified audience or prospects.

Without taking a realistic look by using the scientific and discovery steps, you may be on your way to failure, even before you start.

Always confirm what you think you know!

Lesson 3: Systems in Place

Structuring your business begins with intent and intentions. Things like strategy and plans and research and target market, theme and branding, and USP’s. (Unique Selling Proposition)

Now it’s time to turn those intentions into operations, and that’s where systems come into play.

Without systems in place, (no matter your operation) you will be less effective and likely less productive.

Take careful inventory of assets and understand (by analyzing) your true capabilities as the first step in this process.

Assess your operational needs and prioritize the gaps by importance, then by other factors, such as budget, availability, etc. to assist in evaluating and planning how things will get done to work at optimal capacity.

This is about creating not only a well-oiled machine but a well-understood machine to lead your business or operational team to top results and a smoothly running company.

In a struggling business, a critical, realistic assessment at this stage is a key turning point.

Recognizing strengths and weaknesses, then applying proper changes in your operational systems— especially for those ingrained in a company culture—is difficult.

But only by demanding objectivity, consistency, and a unified effort to establish and continue to build a business, will new or updated systems in your operations be helpful.

In the end, putting systems in place and establishing results-oriented operations answers the questions of exactly what you will do, and how you will do it. The best way possible that is.

Lesson 4: Culture of Cohesion

Poor Jon Taffer is tested in most every single rescue encounter with a problem child when it comes to this lesson. Why do you ask? Easy. People.

It’s enough to drive you to drink!

Humans in the mix always add an interesting twist to untangle. Creating a cohesive culture, however, means getting your human assets organized and playing nice together, for all time.

Breaking down and analyzing human assets is just as important as evaluating tangible assets.

Objectivity is even harder when measuring human (intangible or intellectual) assets because things like personalities, emotions and other dynamics of human behavior, interaction, and communication are in play to muddy the waters.

Just like weighing assets to needs for refining and planning your optimal operating systems, the same is true for people. Ask yourself:

  • What are each person’s talents, skills, and abilities?
  • Where will they fit best to help in the business?
  • Where will they make the most positive impact?
  • Is anyone mismatched in their current position to where may they be more valuable?
  • Is anyone hurting rather than helping the business, or perhaps unable to do the job?
  • Are there any “bad apples” on the team?

Oops, I hate when the bar owner’s #1 and favorite employee is robbing them blind, or their prize bartender is drinking more than selling every day.

Picture of an employee with their hands in the till

Hands in the till

What I’ve learned over decades of hiring people and working with countless teams on hundreds of events, boils down to these few insights:

  • Your people ARE who you are, as a business. They are the face of your company and represent you with customers. (Even if they never meet with customers in person.) It only makes sense that you put on a positive face. In the early days of my boutique business, I used to say to my team, right before any and every event, “Remember to smile. We are the party.” Smiling makes you look more approachable, friendly. I smile over the phone. For one thing, it works. For another, anyone who can’t smile when they come to work—who hates coming to work that much—is someone I don’t want. If a person is that miserable to be there, will they ever be an asset? Can they be an asset?
  • I’ll take a person who cares over a person with skills, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Many people who know me or have worked for me over the years know my little theory on this which goes: “I’ll take 1 willing spirit over 10 talented jerks, anytime.” This is true.
  • Everyone has something to offer. Sometimes you have to make an effort to find out what secret talent someone holds. When I bring someone in, I try to discover, or maybe uncover, where their heart is—where that secret something lies, often hidden—and allow them a chance to show and use any special talent or interest, in their work. I’m not sure if this comes from my “never judge a book by its cover” mentality (or what), but I’ve coaxed out some perfectly sensational little gems that have helped my business over the years in any number of situations and ways. Just allowing people to bring something more by finding their individual talents, enhances your business possibilities.
  • Initiate and embrace an atmosphere where: “Questions are always okay.” Trust me when I say, I’d rather answer a million questions than have time or money or both wasted because someone didn’t want to ask a question. Bottom line, the biggest and worst problems, and losses over the years, often needn’t have happened, if only someone asked a simple question instead of guessing and guessing wrong. Try to keep an open door policy to management for questions or if help is needed. This is a huge step toward cohesion. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather answer any question than have to freak out later over a dumb mistake that’s avoidable.

It takes leadership, guts and more, to create a “Culture of Cohesion” for your business, but people guided by an understood purpose, working in an appropriate capacity, with a positive attitude and ability to contribute, will formidably impact business with results and growth.

Lesson 5: C, D & E

Command. Demand. Excellence.

Here’s where all your plans and ideas move into action. This is where the real work starts.

Because, without hard work to make a strategy turn into a reality, or a dream to a business, nothing will happen.

The real work that leads to success is not a one-day job, but a sustained effort done consistently over time, leading to the outcomes you want.

So command it.

While I don’t mean bark orders at people, adopting a commanding leadership style and positively directing things, is imperative.

I’m talking about a “walk the talk” mentality, where your demonstrated behavior illuminates the way for the entire organization.

Command by pointing out a singular direction, by leading the way, and by always maintaining proper systems for maximum operational capability.

Evaluate and upgrade working systems often, or as needed, so your command embraces a “best practices” approach.

Then demand it.

Demand that everyone understands their part, is willing to give their best, and is held accountable. Remember that one bad apple theory.

Maintaining a certain quality level, operational or product standard, and striving to continually improve is the job of each and every team member. And remember, every person on your team is as important as the other, no matter what their role.

This commanding and demanding in your business, even of yourself, is crucial to build and to maintain the quality and reputation of your name and brand. Seeking excellence for yourself, your team, and your business is the holy grail.

Say it, feel it, want it. Excellence.

Just don’t use it in your tag line! There, it’s a dime a dozen and becomes obsolete by watered down overuse and ambiguity. Still it’s a good business beacon and universal achievement.

Excellence as an operational objective works for every department, skill, or detail, from the smallest working cog to the biggest mechanism and all parts in between.

Measure yourself to that high-minded standard and seek continuous improvement, overall, and you can’t go wrong. Let’s go ahead and toast that. Bottoms up!

Quote image that says - Seeking excellence for yourself, your team, and your business is the holy grail

P.S. Get yourself a bouncer and do not let negativity in, or if you have to, bounce it on out.

Killing negativity promotes a healthy environment to grow your business. One of the main priorities in the previous “command, demand, excellence” lesson involves inventorying company systems and processes, including human assets, for good reason.

Lesson 6: The Intersect to Success

Now, it’s time to turn your quest for achieving positive outcomes, outward. What you’ll find:

Success is a sweet spot and finding it, a business treasure. ~Sue-Ann

Joe Pulizzi, of CMI, talks (writes and podcasts) a whole lot about finding the “sweet spot,” and defines that sweet, sticky place as the intersect where your offer fills a specific gap in the marketplace or an absolute need/want/desire of an audience.

Hit that spot and you’re in. Your audience doesn’t have to be huge to be viable, just interested and motivated for what you are bringing them. This discussion, as well as the research and planning to find your “sugar”,  is so BIG; Joe wrote a whole book developing the concept for you.

It’s a similar process to what Danny and the Mirasee team talk about in building e-courses by first finding and growing an audience and testing viability, before creating your product.

On the other hand, sometimes finding success occurs by osmosis because, for example, you do something unique to what anyone else in the same field can do, or does.

Often this stems from identifying your UVP (unique value proposition) and then a one-of-a-kind reputation ensues from your originality—you know, the “thing” that makes you a better choice than your competitors.

For a more specific example, looking way far back when I was starting out in business, I was busy. I mean overwhelming-intensely-over-my-head when I say busy. The point is, I was sooo busy—doing my thing, creating my business and elevating my work as best as I absolutely positively possibly could to build a new business—I never gave a thought as to what anyone else was doing! UVP??? Hey, all I was doing was working, as long and hard as possible.

I was trying, that’s it. Giving it my all. Because I was thrown into business and engrossed in working it, I had no time to plan or strategize or even think of, let alone work on, any competitor analysis. The result?

It turns out; we did things differently than anyone else in the industry.

My inexperience, creativity and simple ideas of how to do things as best as we were able, led to using and developing concepts and systems that none of our competition was doing.

We started to stand out and get noticed for these original touches.

Later, we created quite a few workable and saleable USP’s (unique selling position/points) because of that difference. Finding sweet spots in our operation gives us the competitive advantage we continue to capitalize on and elevate.

It’s as I’ve said before, good business and effective marketing happen “when you value your customer, and they value you” so there IS an intersect like CMI Joe conceptualizes, but I think there is any number of ways businesses find it.

For you, explore and treasure your sweet spot, one way or another, that’s all. Pay close attention to those you serve because if you can’t figure it out, they’ll tell you.

For me, it was customers who pointed out our differences because they were comparison shopping or had worked with some of our competitors before. This is how I learned we were different, but luckily, in a good way:)

Lesson 7:  Slackers Will Slide or Success is a Long Ride

Look, statistically speaking, more businesses fail than succeed. Yikes.

Lesson 7 is a tough one because just when you think all is well, it’s time to think again.

Business is hard and not everyone is cut out for it even if they think they are until they fail. Business is more than an idea or having the money to start one. It’s not a get rich quick scheme.

Business is marketing, and for the digitally inclined (most everyone), it’s content marketing as well.

But without a solid strategic guide, powerful foundations in place for a productive operational business environment or culture, proper mindset, and a systematic approach to selling your product or service, you’re setting yourself up for the fail pile.

Consistency is vital, and I find my dad is right because it is true, the harder I work, the luckier I get. Lol

Here’s what I tell myself to help maintain forward motion in business, “You’re only as good as your last project.” You can change the word “project” to event, job, article, sale, campaign, success, goal, book, etc. as a reminder to self not to be a slacker. (Remember Lesson 1?)

In the case of Jon Taffer and his bar rescues, it’s the owners who don’t or won’t embrace responsibility and new systems to initiate benchmark procedures Jon puts in place, who don’t (and often, will never) make it.

Don’t let that sad, failing guy be you. Instead, embrace your inner workaholic. I like mine. And, I rarely fall off a bar stool—too busy doing good business, I guess!


Business Content Creator & Small Business Owner. I'll write for your business as if it were my own!