Café Marketing Ideas
Author: Bliss Coffee Roasters Date Posted:5 January 2021
We're sharing tips and guides to help grow your coffee business.
Café Marketing Ideas
Attracting new customers to your business is one of the hardest parts of business ownership. You can have exceptional service and products, but if people don’t know about you, it won’t matter.
You need to get people in the door, but like most business owners you don’t have a lot of time or money to spend advertising.
To help out, here is a collection of tried and true cafe marketing ideas & tactics that can help get your creative ideas flowing.
Share your ideas below in the comments.
1. BUSINESS OF THE DAY
For many cafes, your #1 target market could be right next door. Your business is probably located where there are nearby shops, offices or factories, and therefore employees. Those other businesses are packed with caffeine-deprived employees who have probably had enough of the instant coffee in the office kitchen and that makes them prime candidates to become your regular customers.
Here’s how a business of the day promotion could work for you:
- Pick a nearby business with up to 20 or so employees on site (for larger businesses, you can pick a department or team, like the accounts team or sales department)
- In the afternoon, walk over, introduce yourself and your business. Explain that they’ve been chosen as business of the day for the next day. That means, all their staff can come in for unlimited free coffee – for one day only.
- Present them with a flyer, which shows your location, trading hours & (ideally) your menu – so they can explain the offer to their colleagues. These don’t need to be tailored to the business, so you can professionally print a few hundred.
- The next day you wow them with exceptional coffee and super-efficient service. Grab a few photos for social media and be sure to tag your ‘business of the day/week’.
- Be sure to give the new customers loyalty cards (and give them some extra stamps so they are closer to their first free coffee).
- Repeat daily/weekly for another local business.
Extravagant? Over the top? Absolutely! That’s why it works.
This offer makes a strong impression to get people in the door, then your service and products ‘wow’ them and keep them coming back for more. The one-off cost of a program like this is low compared with the thousands a dollars per year in sales that a new regular customer is worth to your business.
2. IMPROVE YOUR GOOGLE RANK
When people are new to an area, how do they find where to go for coffee?
They go to Google.
Google is overwhelmingly the most popular way people find local businesses.
The problem is, if these potential customers type in “coffee near me” and your business doesn’t appear in the top 3 listings, they’re probably not coming your way.
Searching ‘Coffee’ + ‘Rutherford’ shows these 3 businesses
If you’re not ranking in the top 3, there is some simple things you can do to increase your ranking.
- Claim your google listing (free),
- If you don’t have one, create a website. You can even make a free website with google.
- Optimise your website with relevant keywords and content to help search engines know you are most relevant.
In many cases, a few minutes spent improving your google listing can pay off for years to come.
3. SPOTIFY ADS
Sure, everyone else is running ads on Instagram & Facebook, and you should too.
While social media ads can be very effective, the downside is the difficulty to control where you ads go, and they are super crowded with other businesses doing the same thing.
If you want to stand out, we think Spotify Ads are a real opportunity for cafes.
Traditional radio is effective, but very expensive. Unlike traditional radio you can target ads directly to your potential customers based on their specific location, time of day, their interests and a whole lot more.
Spotify Ads start from just $250, which includes a voiceover (you just need to provide a script).
We’re talking about old-school outdoor signage, like bus shelters, billboards, train stations or even branding buses and taxi’s.
It may not be the coolest medium out there, but outdoor can be a really effective & practical way to get your brand in front of a large, local audience in a way that digital marketing can’t do as effectively on its own.
It’s a trick fast food chains have been using for decades:
You keep it really simple, include your name, logo & one line to describe your business (like “specialty coffee” or “all day breakfast”) along with an arrow to show where to turn.
It’s not going to win you any creative advertising awards, but it is an effective way to win you more customers.
5. SPONSOR YOUR LOCAL SPORTING CLUB
A local sporting club community can be a great way to build your profile with a loyal, local audience.
Sometimes it can be as simple as donating the cost of their uniforms or less, and in return, you’ll be featured on the newsletters, on the uniforms and may even be able to promote special offers.
Aside from the obvious benefit of supporting your local community, it also puts your brand in front of a large group of parents who live right near you and need caffeine!
6. HAPPY HOUR
Got an hour in the day where you wish you had more customers?
For many cafes, it’s just after lunch – around 2 or 3pm. For others it’s in the morning once everyone gets to work, from 9 to 10 am.
If so, pick a day of the week, or maybe every day during a particular time and offer a ‘bring a friend’ incentive (like buy one, get one free) only available during that hour.
Get the word out by promoting the offer in store and online with an Instagram or Facebook post a couple of hours before to people in your immediate area.
It might be slow at first, but if you make it a regular offer, people will start to plan their coffee break to take advantage of the discount. This helps you even out the rushes and encourages customers to add a second (or third) visit to their day.
7. GO ABOVE & BEYOND FOR A SPECIFIC NICHE
Sometimes, it’s the details that really get people talking.
Our Operations Manager, Josh, loves to visit cafes on the weekend where he can take his beloved dog and enjoy the sunshine and coffee catch-up. Rather than just adding a water bowl for the dogs, why not go all out and offer dog treats? Maybe dog friendly meals? Or a even puppy playground.
Perhaps you’re targeting parents with toddlers. Free Babycinos cost very little but can literally make a tired parent’s day.
We have often seen initiatives like these inspire greater loyalty than any ‘buy X, get one free’ coffee programs.
Of course, as always, the trick is to find something that will delight & surprise a specific group of your customers in a unique way.
8. SOCIAL COMPETITION
We all love a competition.
It’s also a great way to get people sharing your business on social and turning your customers into advocates for your brand.
Here’s one example of how you can run a social media competition for your café or coffee shop:
- Find a prize – like a free lunch for two, a week of free coffee, or a gift hamper etc. .
- To enter, customers need to tag someone else they want to win the prize with (for example, their friend) and include a few words why.
- Include a closing date and explain how the winner will be announced.
- Share the post on social, and add a sign in store to promote the competition.
Here’s an example of a competition we ran earlier this year
Just be aware, Facebook & Instagram do have rules on what you can & can’t do with competitions like this – so be sure to check the details before posting.
WHAT ABOUT A MARKETING STRATEGY?
Hopefully, some of the ideas on this list have given you some inspiration for your business.
However, it’s worth pointing out that none of these tactics are a substitute for putting together a proper marketing strategy for your business.
An effective strategy starts by first understanding the specific customers you’re targeting, and then aligning what you offer & what you say (your message) with their needs.
Our advice is when you’re opening a café or building an existing business, take the tie to put together a well thought out business plan. This will help you identify who your target market is and explore how you will reach them.
Getting that right is the real secret to long-term, sustainable growth.