Build it, and they will come. But will they, really? In today's world, we have shops on every corner, big box stores in every city and thousands of e-commerce sites to choose from. You'll have to do more than just open your shop to attract customers. A sound marketing plan can save your coffee shop from financial ruin.
But how do you market a coffee shop?
Creating a Coffee Shop Marketing Plan
To successfully market and promote your coffee shop, you need to create a plan, or strategy. Most shops find success through multi-channel marketing, which includes both online and offline marketing tactics.
Conventional Coffee Shop Marketing Ideas
Contrary to what you may have heard, conventional marketing strategies still work. Yes, most people will find your business online, but for a well-rounded marketing plan, be sure to focus on the following:
Don't underestimate the power of signage, especially if your location is on a busy, walkable street. Along with a clear, visible sign on your storefront, put a sign outside your door. Sidewalk signs can entice customers to come in – especially if they have something witty written on them.
Whether it's a clever quote, a coffee pun or an advertisement for your latest specialty coffee drinks, sidewalk signs can bring more foot traffic through your doors.
Depending on your location, you may also want to have signs at intersections directing customers to your shop.
Stand out in the crowd of shops. Whether you're on busy Main Street or the corner of a major intersection, your shop should have an unmistakable storefront.
A simple coat of new paint can catch the eye of passers-by, but more elaborate or unique storefront designs are more likely to attract those walking down the street.
What's the best way to get local customers hooked on your coffee? Give them a free sample. If you have foot traffic outside of your store, offer free coffee to people passing by.
Some will head straight inside to buy a cup of coffee. Others will make a mental note of your shop and the quality of your brew, and return in the future.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth marketing has long been the backbone of the small business world. If you offer quality coffee drinks and food, people will tell their friends and loved ones about it. Those recommendations are powerful, and will lead to more customers walking through your door.
Many coffee shop owners simply let the quality of their products speak for themselves. Others take a more proactive approach to word of mouth. Offer free drinks and treats for those who recommend your shop to friends, or run a promotion where established customers get a free cup of coffee for bringing in a friend for their first time.
Word of mouth marketing can also extend to the online world. Reach out to local bloggers and influencers to help spread the word about your shop. Invite them to your shop and give them an exceptional experience.
Coffee Shop Digital Marketing
Offline marketing is important, but digital – or online – marketing is crucial in today's digital world.
SEO & PPC Advertising
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Paid Per Click) advertising can help bring traffic to your website to spread word about your business. SEO is the practice of improving your rankings in Google and other search engines to increase your organic traffic. PPC is the practice of paying for advertisements on Google and other search engines.
While you can handle both SEO and PPC strategies on your own, it's often more economical to hire someone else to do it for you.
The time commitment to learn SEO and the resources needed to succeed may outweigh the costs of paying an agency.
Google Maps and Google Business
Google Maps is a major source of brand discovery. Many people use Maps to find nearby shops and restaurants. Make sure that your business can be found on Maps by optimizing your listing.
Additionally, it's important to register your shop with Google Business to ensure that your listing is shown on the Maps results page.
Why are these two elements so important? Let's say that your shop is the first listing that comes up when people search for a coffee shop in your town. If your shop is registered with Google Business, searchers will see your shop's address, phone number, ratings, website link, directions and even photos of your shop.
Believe it or not, the photo section can be a very useful marketing tool. They show off your shop's design, your tasty treats (if you're offering food) and your delicious coffee drinks.
To foster customer loyalty and stay in touch with customers, you need to stay connected. Email marketing can help you do that. Make it easy for your website visitors to sign up for your newsletter through your website.
Once you have a list of customers who have signed up for your list, you can send them messages when you have upcoming events, sales, promotions and announcements. You can also offer special coupons and incentives exclusive to list members.
Successful Coffee Shop Facebook Marketing & Social Media
Coffee shops can benefit from social media marketing. Facebook is a great platform for marketing, as it allows customers to leave reviews and feedback. It also gives you a place to share events, promotion and information about your shop's offerings.
Additionally, you can pay for advertisements on Facebook, which are targeted towards your potential customers.
Because you'll likely be running your own social media accounts, it's important to use your time wisely and post on platforms that are most effective. Visual platforms tend to work best for coffee shops because your drinks and food will entice potential customers.
Instagram and Facebook are the two most popular platforms for coffee shops.
When building your social media accounts, it's important to:
- Post often
- Offer something useful to visitors (information or photos)
- Interact with followers
- Ask questions to engage followers
Promoting Through Special Events
One really effective coffee shop marketing strategy is to promote your shop through special events. With events – whether you host or attend – you have the opportunity to interact with local potential customers and share your passion.
Here are some ideas for promotional events:
Host Coffee Classes
Plan to host educational coffee classes before your shop opens. Explain how to make different coffee drinks, talk about how you source your coffee, and share your shop's best practices for brewing coffee.
Hosting the classes before the shop opens increases the chances that people will stick around to grab a cup of coffee and/or a bite to eat before they leave.
Have Live Music
Many local coffee shops are attracting customers by offering live music. Give local musicians a stage and local customers a reason to stick around.
Open Pop-Up Shops at Big Festivals
Is your town hosting a big festival? Open a pop-up shop. Offer free samples of drinks and food, and of course, offer up regular-priced food and drinks.
By offering free samples along with your regular offerings, you expand your reach to new customers who don't want to put out the cash to buy a full cup.
Coffee Shop Loyalty Programs
Coffee shop loyalty cards and programs give customers a reason to come back to your shop. Just look at the success of the loyalty program at Starbucks. It helped increase revenue to $2.65 billion.
A loyalty program can work wonders for your shop as well.
There are a few different types of programs:
A product-based system: A product-based system rewards customers for buying products. These systems usually use stamp cards. Customers may get a free cup of coffee after buying a certain number of cups.
A visits-based system: A visits-based system rewards customers for their visits. Customers may receive a free cup of coffee (or another reward) after visiting the shop a certain number of times.
A points-based system: With a points-based system, customers get a certain number of points for every dollar they spend. Those points are added to the customer's loyalty account, and once they reach a certain threshold, the customer can choose a reward from your shop.
While any one of these programs can work, most successful coffee shops go with a product-based system. But the reward must be enticing to your customers.
Attractive rewards may include:
- A BOGO (buy one, get one) offer
- A free coffee or treat
- A free mug or t-shirt
- A bag of coffee beans
- A discount on the customer's next purchase
Whether you choose a products-, visits- or points-based system, you'll need to design a loyalty card to give to your patrons. Third-party software is available to help you create and manage your loyalty program along with your cards.
Your coffee shop's loyalty cards should include:
- Your logo
- Colors that match your brand
- Contact information and store hours
- How many items/points the customer must accumulate before receiving a reward
A good loyalty program and a sound marketing strategy will help you spread word about your coffee shop and build a loyal customer base.
Learn more on how to open a coffee shop:
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 1: Choose Your Concept
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 2: Create A Business Plan And Find Insurance
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 3: Budget - Expenses Vs Profits
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 4: Find The Right Spot For Your Shop
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 5: Supplies And Equipment
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 6: Local Regulations And Licenses
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 7: Hire The Right Staff
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 8: The Menu And Food Safety Issues
- Starting A Coffee Shop. Step 10: Maximize The Revenue