2 Perspectives: Why SWIG406 is so Important to
MTA and Bar Owners
By Dax Cetraro, MTA President
I walk a fine line at MTA: that as the president of our trade association and my daily gig as a bar owner. Sometimes the two areas get a little gray as I state my position on an issue. But on SWIG406, the mobile phone app MTA developed, my position is the same—I’m 100% in! Let me explain what I mean.
As president of the MTA—Why you should support SWIG406
Wearing my president’s hat, I’m going to tell you we NEED our members to support SWIG406 by being a part of the app. It’s easy to do and it’s good for your business. But we’ve heard a lot of members say they are going to “wait and see” how the app does. My friends, if we all do that, I can guarantee you the app will fail.
MTA has a lot invested in SWIG406. In fact, we have your very future invested in it. I’m not talking just money, but I mean what MTA can or cannot do for you as a member. SWIG406 is our main fundraiser. The more bars who participate in the app the more paying subscribers SWIG406 will get and that’s what will keep our dues low.
You might remember that earlier in 2018 we raised our dues . . . FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 34 YEARS! MTA didn’t raise them anything crazy, just $25 for regular members. If we had raised dues to keep up with inflation since 1984, dues wouldn’t be $125, they would be more than $242. None of us want that!
We also don’t want to have to cut back on our advocacy efforts at a time when our businesses are being threatened more than ever. We want to expand our services to members, not reduce them. How do we do this? With your support of SWIG406!
This app has the capacity to do great things for your bar and your trade association, but the only way that will happen is if we get more bars who participate! More bars equal more subscribers and that’s what SWIG406 needs to be successful.
As a bar owner—why you should support SWIG406 I’ve heard the arguments, some of you are afraid you will be giving away hundreds, thousands of free drinks. I’m going to tell you that’s just not the case! I manage the Rialto here in Helena and as of 12/18/18, I’ve given away 20 free drinks. That’s 20 free drinks since May! According to the MTA office, that’s the most any bar in Montana has had to redeem. And I give away one drink per month!
You are in control of how often you give away a free drink in the app; you can set the app for one free drink per subscriber a month, one a year, one every three months . . . it’s up to you. You are in control. And if you ever find yourself not wanting to give away any more free drinks, MTA (or you) can shut off your profile on the app, just like that; no coupons floating around for a year.
SWIG406 is good for MY business. I use it a couple of different ways:
First: I use it to promote events at my joints. New Year’s Eve is a great example. If you have something awesome going on add it to your events! SWIG406 users are looking at it to know what’s happening. MTA Treasurer Bruce McCullough owns Miller’s Crossing and his joint is known for live music. He puts all his live music events on SWIG406. Our newest member, Lambkins in Lincoln, is using the app to highlight their daily menu specials. And if you have encouraged people to make your profile a favorite, they get a notification each time you add a new event so it’s like sending them a text letting them know what’s happening.
Second: I give away SWIG406 subscriptions in my casino and my bar. I can buy redemption codes from the MTA office for $5/each for a one-month subscription. Margaret sends me this awesome little card I can hand to my customer with the code, instructions how to redeem the gift and even a QR code to help them download the app. I plan to give them away over the holidays and I use them in my player’s club for prizes.
MTA provides me with posters for SWIG406 I can hang in my bar, Montana-shaped stickers I can give my customers, information cards I can clip on to receipts and more. They run social media and internet campaigns that promote SWIG406 and drive business my way. Once a week Margaret sends all participating bars social media messages we can use and incorporate into our own marketing. MTA runs a SWIG406 social media page the promotes subscriptions AND encourages subscribers to visit each of our bars.
How do I know it’s working? A couple of friends who use SWIG406 sent me a text telling me, “Because of the SWIG406 app we are falling love with bars we normally wouldn’t even go in. We love SWIG406.”
I hired a gal I have doing my social media. She adds my events to SWIG406 the same time she’s adding to my Facebook page. The admin side of SWIG406 is easy for bars to learn and MTA even created three short (3 minutes) videos we can watch to make it even easier. Plus, Margaret in the MTA office always offers to help if I have a question. She knows this app inside and out.
SWIG406 has been a big investment for MTA but we did it as an investment for our members in addition to the association itself. As it grows, it will become the go-to app for people looking for fun things to do and to explore bars—OUR BARS! The app knows where you, as a customer are, and it shows you the closest bars to you. It even maps it to help you find them!
Apps are how people do business now, even if you as a bar owner are not using a smart phone, I will guarantee you that your customers are. Join SWIG406 by contacting MTA’s Executive Director Margaret Herriges (406.442.5040). SWIG406 will be wildly successful with your participation. Don’t sit back and wait for it to become popular, participate in the app and MAKE it popular today.