Harleys Pub and Perk: Updating Century Old Family Owned Establishment’s Marketing Strategy

lauragirdler    October 11, 2016

In 1872, long before the invention of social media, Mildmay’s Commercial Hotel began it’s first days of operation. It has since welcomed thousands of visitors to the small town located in Southwestern Ontario with its country charm and welcoming flare. In 1919 the the business was bought by the Schmalz family and has remained with them ever since. In 2006 the business was bought by Nicole Wise (Schmalz) and became Harleys Pub and Perk. Harleys Pub and Perk has proven that some things will just never get old with it’s almost century old charm, Grandma Schmalz’s Ribs and Kraut, and even with a few of the regulars; however, the functionality of the pub and it’s marketing tactics have had to be changed with their times.

“‘One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating,’” says owner, Nicole Wise, quoting Luciano Pavarotti, “When marketing in the restaurant industry it is so crucial to remember what brings people here in the first place. Each person has different outlooks, opinions and experiences regarding everything, but one thing we will all always have in common is food. So that is what we based our marketing strategy off of, the idea of bringing people into Harleys Pub and Perk for one common reason, our need to eat”. -Nicole Wise, Owner of Harleys Pub and Perk, Mildmay, Ontario

For many years the establishments best method of customer engagement was simply word of mouth, but; with face to face communication falling out of style and technological communication becoming a norm Harleys Pub and Perk had to come up with a new way of engaging customers. With traditional advertising becoming less effective, the business turned to the world of social media marketing in hopes to engage their customers. Harleys became active on Facebook (@HarleysPubAndPerk), Instagram (@Harleys_Pub) and Twitter (@Wise_HarleysPub) in order to figure out their best method of engagement. Through experimenting with each network the business found that their best resource would be Facebook and also concluded that Instagram would be useful. Currently, the business’ customers on social media can be broken down within three of the Social Media User categories:

– Critics (Few people)- These people write reviews and create ratings about their experience at the establishment

– Conversationalists (Many people)- These individuals share information from the social media pages, update their statuses, and check into Harleys as their location

-Spectators (Most people)- Spectators read the shared posts, read reviews and ratings but rarely react to the posts

The current goal of the business’ social media marketing is to encourage as many spectators as possible to become conversationalists who will hopefully become positive critics. This is being done through media posts. Every day the daily special is shared on the Facebook Page, these posts are seen by all individuals on their Newsfeed; however, usually only the conversationalist will react by sharing or liking the post. The spectators are reached through these posts by creating giveaways and holding contests. One of Harleys most popular contests was the giveaway of a $200 prize pack when the page reached 1000 likes. The goal of the contest was to reach 1000 likes within a week; however, in just 24 hours the goal was reached. This proved that when contests are posted that involve reaction but include a reward many individuals who are typically just spectators will act as a conversationalist creating an abundance of social media presence for the business. The business also shares events like their current All-You-Can-Eat chicken wing nights, live entertainment and other events being held in their building. These posts also typically create a great social media presence from individuals sharing, liking, and commenting on the event. A positive response from these types of posts are very exciting since they are bringing individuals into the establishment.

Lessons for Others

By accepting that not all things can stay the same forever, Harleys Pub and Perk has created a positive and striving online presence that is constantly engaging their customers in new and exciting ways.  If the walls of this almost century old building could speak, they would tell of nothing but the many memories that have been made by the decades of satisfied customers that have walked through the doors of this ever flourishing establishment. The transition to social media marketing has been created to ensure that Harleys Pub and Perk has many more decades of happy customers.

Organization: Harleys Pub and Perk
Industry: Restaurant
Name of Organization Contact: Nicole Wise, Owner

Authored by: Laura Girdler

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Harleys Pub and Perk