Hey you! Yes, you – the one working in the coffee business! First of all, congratulations. What a wonderful feeling it is to make a living out of your passion! And coffee itself is a very enjoyable topic, isn’t it?
Secondly, perhaps you are a cafe owner or an employee. Maybe you’ve just started thinking about opening your own place? Anyway, one thing is certain: beside an extensive knowledge about coffee beans, processing methods, roasting and brewing, you also have to know a little bit of something from a different field. It’s time for marketing!
Take it easy
Relax, it is not as difficult as it seems. To begin with, ladies and gentlemen, I shall provide you with the simplest definition:
Marketing is a collection of all kinds of techniques supporting the sale of our product.
Let it be a TV commercial, newspaper ad, canvassing, PR, promotions, word-of-mouth… you name it.
However, we should remember that every trade has its own rules. The differences lie in the market size and its specifics, the customer characteristics or the production process. Our case is pretty simple. The marketing actions should be an answer to the question: “What should I do to make more people visit my cafe, have them make a purchase and gladly come back, as well as how not to go bankrupt while doing so?” So, let’s find out about that!
Let’s do it!
Let’s say that your task is to conduct a marketing campaign for a small cafe in the city centre, for example, in Lublin. The cafe has been opened for a few weeks and is located near the Old Town. You’re visited mostly by the regulars who are your friends, and some tourists. You serve standard espressos and alternatively brewed coffee, but you also have cakes – because you can’t really enjoy a coffee without a piece of cake, obviously. And, believe me or not – this set of info is enough to create a formula for cheap or even free marketing for your little cafe.
I won’t repeat any clichés about the power of the Internet and the importance of one’s presence in the social media. However, the presence itself is not enough; you should learn how to be there and not merely exist. In practice, it means managing your channels regularly, and I recommend starting with it.
Most of all, you need to build up your Google Business profile. Pictures, descriptions, price range, map – try to fill all those fields. You’ll be surprised how many people find and rate you through the browser. Don’t be passive! Reply to your customers’ reviews and stay in touch with them online as well. It doesn’t cost you anything, but your presence will surely be remembered.
As for the social media, you should remember not to do too many things at once. You are not (yet) a global brand and you don’t have to fill every available space on the Internet with your business. Being where your customer hangs out is enough! E.g., the most popular social media in Poland are still Facebook and Instagram: we will focus on those.
What should you post there? Well, you can do what everyone else does. Post coffee photos, employees’ photos, coffee brewing process, etc. You can also think of something totally awesome! Do you know Coffee Cups of the World?Or Caribou Coffee? Your posts should be outstanding, like theirs. Perhaps some beautiful photos or maybe just a single element that connects all your posts? Or you could focus on storytelling, and turn your every post into a story of a little bean travelling the world towards your cafe. Do your research, get inspired!
Also, don’t forget about growth hacking. Tag other channels in your posts. It could be an official fanpage of your city or a famous guest who visited your place. Post photos of your customers (with their consent, of course) – they will drop byfanpage to leave a like and a comment. Use popular coffee hashtags on Instagram. Organise contests. Give away coffee invitations. Shoot films, boomerangs, make collages, tell stories. Believe me – that’s so much fun. 🙂
Promotions and what not
Far and wide, this particular method works probably in every field. I’m talking about all kinds of promotion, which will attract customers to your cafe. There are hundreds of ideas: check the holiday calendar and create a promotion for every possible holiday! For the Coffee Day, add a free espresso to every order, give away stickers with your logo, and organise a contest for a free week in your cafe. Children’s Day? Balloons and sweets! April Fools’ Day? Two coffees for the price of three!
Take a step forward – take a look around. Perhaps a neighbouring business, a boutique with native brands, perfectly matches your value system! Have a chat, think of a joint venture. Let the boutique add an invitation for coffee to every purchase. You, in turn, give away discount coupons for their store.
Put up a stand at breakfast fairs and picnics. On a cold day, sell your first 50 coffees half priced. Stay in touch with the communities and cooperate: on exhibitions, concerts, debates, workshops and cuppings. Think outside the box.
The cheapest and the most valuable medium
Now we’re getting all romantic, beware. The customer. Hear, hear! The customer! Your guest is absolutely the most important element of this whole mess. It’s someone who is at the centre of all your endeavours. Think of them while designing the cafe interior and functionality. Think of them while creating the menu. Think of them every morning, every evening. A random person entering your cafe didn’t cost you a penny. But in a while, they will leave a lotyfiver in your cash register. Those few moments are your chance to convince them to come back tomorrow, and the day after, and every day on.
A loyal and well-taken-care-of customer is the best advertising medium. Winning them over doesn’t have to cost you a thing, and their subconscious working for you, can turn into tens of new, loyal customers. These are no empty promises: a recommendation is still one of the most effective methods of customer acquisition. You can, for example, support it with loyalty programs or free coffee coupons, but nothing is better than perfect service at every stage of contact with the customer. Trust me, when it comes to marketing catering industry, this is the absolute basis of all of your actions.
You don’t sell coffee only!
Nevertheless, remember that marketing doesn’t start where your product ends. You should welcome your guests’ opinions through all channels, and continuously improve your offer based on their suggestions. Build relationships – don’t be just a coffee provider.
Because this is the beauty of coffee. There’s something magical in it. Something that makes whole communities grow around it. You can have the same beans your competition has. You can use the same coffee machines, stuff your shelves with the same cold brews. You can order the same cakes from the same spot, and furnish you cafe at the same Swedish store.
However, if you put your heart and soul into the mixture, along with a little bit of yourself, and every possible way of caring for your customer, I guarantee that marketing will be taken care of all by itself. Good luck!