Consumers spend $74.2 billion per year on coffee in the U.S., according to a 2015 study conducted by the National Coffee Association, making cafes a strong frontier for sky-rocketing revenue. However, in an increasingly competitive market, business owners must navigate the promotion of their cafés with more precision than ever.
Below, you’ll find out how to attract customers to your coffee shop and thrive in the billion-dollar café industry.
Get a Website
If your coffee shop isn’t online in 2018, it may cease to exist. However, to serve your restaurant effectively, your site should incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) so its among the first results on Google, Bing, etc. This goal can be reached by using ‘tags’ when working with do-it-yourself services like WordPress, Square Space, Wix, etc.
Effective tags would incorporate your location, type of establishment and other key offerings (like “Scranton café for artists,” “coffee in Scranton,” and “coffee Scranton open mic night”). However, website speed and other technical attributes can also impact SEO, making the choices of where to set up your site and other factors vital.
Optimize Your Listings
Your customers will primarily obtain information about you from sites like Facebook, Google and Yelp — the most popular sites for restaurant reviews. Keeping information accurate across these platforms, as well as dozens of others, is how to draw customers to your coffee shop. Use a tool like Yext for Food, which allows you to manage your data directly on more than 100+ global maps, apps, search engines, directories and social networks.
Support Local Artist
Draw in customers by creating community within your business with open mic nights, local music artist and local art displays. The key benefit of welcoming artists is that they will bring supporters of their own, who will in turn become supporters of your café.
Help Your Neighbors
Local business owners can help each other thrive, start by cultivating relationships by supporting them as much as you’d want them to support you. Promotional ideas for your café include cross-sharing coupons, asking if you can leave a flyer in their business, and if all goes well, suggest a referral program that could strengthen business for both sides.
Sponsor Local Groups
To promote your café, make your space meeting-friendly with a few big tables, and cozier spaces with couches and arm-chairs. Keep a bulletin board near your coffee pick-up counter, encourage customers to share flyers about their local events and welcome them to host their own at your coffee shop. Ideal groups to welcome include book clubs, church groups, and professionals.
Yes, coupons still work — and the bounce back model can do just as much for you as its done for Starbucks. Give morning café customers a deal for later in the day ($2 large ice teas from 2 to 4 p.m., a free pastry with eligible purchase, etc.) as one of your café promotional ideas. This model is proven to work by reaching new customers, compelling them to spend more per visit, and having them return more often.
Reach your key demographics within a 15 mile radius with a targeted direct marketing campaign. Your mailing lists can factor in estimated age, home value, family demographics and more into using your resources as effectively as possible in a direct mail campaign. Direct mail campaigns can be executed on a variety of budgets, and are one of the best ways to promote your café. Remember, all of your printed materials should also be properly branded.
Use Your Instagram
Reach new customers on this ever-growing platform by using #hashtags in your posts. For those new to social media, hashtags broaden the reach of your Instagram photos and translate into real visits to your café.
The 4 Types of Hashtags for success include:
- Subject — Examples include #coffee, #morningcoffee, #latteart, #matcha, #pumpkinspice, etc. that identify pictured items in a straightforward way
- Hyperlocal — These hashtags connect your posts quickly with your local market by including your city name. For example, if you own a café in Austin, Texas, hashtags could include: #austin, #austincoffee, and #shoplocalaustin
- Clever — These light-hearted hashtags will connect customers to your photos on a more emotional level. Examples include #caffeineaddict, #coffeeplease, #mondaymood and more
- Branded — Your customers will want to share their own photos from your café, making branded hashtags an easy way to outsource your marketing. The name of your business can often suffice (i.e. #pbkcafe), but feel free to be creative (#pbkvibes)
Use 2-3 hashtags from each group to have a good mix. Ex.( #morningcoffee #latte #Austin #ATX #caffeinaddict #coffelover #PBKlovescoffee). And don’t forget the coffee emoji. ☕️
Hold a Contest
When thinking about how to draw customers to your café, holding a contest every month can be an easy way. A few ideas include:
- The Business Card Raffle — Keep a jar that customers can slip their business cards into at your POS counter. You can draw a winner (or winners!) and the prize can be anything from a free coffee to a $10 coupon. A perk to this idea — you can use the information included on the cards to send out promotions.
- The Guesstimate — Put coffee beans, sugar packets, etc. into a jar and have customers guess how many of the item is in the container. The person closest to the real number wins the prize of your choice.
- The Social Media Challenge — The premise is simple: customers can post photos tagging your café on social media and the customer with the most ‘likes’ on that picture wins.
Cafe Event Ideas
One of the best ways to promote your café is to make your customers feel at home with festive celebrations of holidays and local events. National possibilities include:
- International Coffee Day, Sept. 29 — Ideas could include offering coffee flights for the ultimate taste-test, special promotions, or events like “Falling for Coffee” to launch autumn-themed drinks and pastries.
- Halloween, Oct. 31 — Give candy out to “trick-or-treaters” at your POS, offer drinks with themed names like “Witch’s Brew” or “Energy Potion,” and host a costume contest with the winner announced the next day or at an extravaganza that evening.
- Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, and Winter Holidays — Decorate your shop with twinkling lights, snowflakes, etc. for a festive feel. Keep the special drink names going and hold a holiday gift or food drive for a local charity.
For a bustling café that want to profit for the long-term, incorporate the tips above. Whether you’re running the corner store on Main Street or competing with corporate coffee in a downtown metropolis, you’ll have customers coming back daily for more than just their morning kick-start.