increase drink sales with a picture uncorkd

How to Increase Your Drink Sales without Saying a Word

A lot of my tips revolve around training your servers or bartenders to memorize information and repeat it back when needed, or to ask key questions at opportune moments. Sometimes though, words just get to be too much. Here’s a tip to increase your drink sales without having to say a single word.

Are you ignoring your drink marketing?

Drinks are a huge moneymaker. I’m sure you know this by now, or else you wouldn’t have gone through the hassle of getting a liquor license and dealing with those always-untimely liquor license inspections. Even though smart restaurateurs are savvy to the fact that it takes a lot less time to mix a drink than it does to prep, cook, and plate a steak, I still see restaurants marketing their food well–yet ignoring their drink marketing entirely.

Here’s what you need to do.

I’ll cut to the chase here. Use awesome pictures. Really. Pictures are worth a thousand words (or so they say), so hardworking pictures can do more than 1,000 words from 1,000 servers in 1,000 nights.


I can see the idea light bulbs above restaurateurs’ heads that just lit up the nation…but why was this idea so groundbreaking?

Don’t worry, it’s not just you that missed this simple trick, almost everyone else did too. Even the big chains with their massive amounts of money to throw at marketing aren’t really utilizing this tip properly. Everyone markets their food with pictures (or at least, they should be), but I rarely see any drinks pictures on menus. If you add them in, your drink sales will increase.

Blame it on Pinterest

These days, people are spoiled by the Internet. We all get online to do businesslike things (such as learn how to increase drink sales), but then we get distracted. And what distracts us? The absolutely gorgeous, HD-quality photos that are literally littering every single page we go to. And Pinterest? It’s nothing but pictures.

Well, okay, there’s some writing there too, but no one reads it. In fact, statistics show that people may be consuming more content these days due to smart phones and tablets, but those people don’t necessarily read more than they used to. Usually, they read less.

So, in an unreading world, why are you trusting that your customers are actually going to read through that dull laundry list of your cocktails, or pick through the terms they are unlikely to know, just to find a drink they like?

They won’t.

Instead, they’ll order what they always order (“Cosmo!” “Long Island Iced Tea!” “Fat Tire!”) because they don’t want to have to read, they want to drink.

Okay, how do I get images onto my menu?

This is easy enough to do if you have your own camera and you’re a decent photographer. If you’re like me, and you’re terrible with a camera, you can also find free stock images online. Just make sure that you only use images that are licensed for commercial use, and make sure that you put the photographer’s copyright information just below each photo you’re using. Then you won’t get into any sticky legal issues.

Here’s the catch to marketing without words: Printing full-color menus does cost more. If you want to save the costs of reprinting an image-heavy seasonal menu, you can instead use a tablet wine menu app such as Uncorkd (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).  With Uncorkd you can add pictures for your cocktails (and food) and use our beverage database for wine, beer and spirit images as well.

As I see it, you have two options. One is to keep doing what you’ve been doing, and to maintain the same drink sales that you’ve been achieving. Perhaps your beverage revenue is high enough for you. Perhaps it’s not. The other option is to add some pictures to your menu. I know that it’s a gamble to get those menus reprinted, but try it on a few menus, and see what happens. It’s worth it to check it out.

Photo licensed by Shawn Carpenter