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New ideas for Coffee Shop promotion #3

When you’re running a coffee shop, competition can be fierce.

If you’re not fighting for first place on the high street, you’re fighting to become the go-to coffee shop in your local community. And if you’re not ready to really fight for it, you can’t expect to keep your seats full all week long.

You’re not selling a proprietary technology. You’re selling a commodity. And that means you need to try out every trick in the book if you want to stand out against the massive coffee corporations.

We’ve put together 10 ideas to get your marketing strategy off the ground: starting from your own premises and working outwards to the wider community.

Talking about all the ideas is a lengthy matter. So we have initiated a series of blogs to talk about some of them each time. This is the third blog of this series. Go to the first or second part If you miss them.

Inside the shop

5. Create a low-cost special offer with free refills

This one may sound counter-intuitive – giving away free coffee doesn’t seem like much of a business plan. But stick with us.

First, you can use cups that are half the size, while still charging the same price. Even when refills are free, most people won’t go past their second cup of coffee – and some won’t even have a second one at all.

That means you’ve got an enticing offer (unlimited coffee) to put on your flyers and displays, while providing a better product (coffee that stays fresh and hot in smaller servings) and making more money per customer (giving out an average of less than two half-cups, but always charging for one full cup).

Of course, you need some kind of reasonable limits in place. You could limit the free refills to the parts of the day when your shop is empty (like 2 pm to 4 pm), or just put a one-hour limit on the offer.

6. Capture their emails with prize-winning feedback cards

The most successful coffee shops are the ones that learn how to earn repeat business and sustain it. That means keeping the same regular customers happy, while drawing in new ones and learning how to keep them happy, too.

The easiest way to do this is to talk to your customers. Find out what they like and don’t like, and ask them about the changes they’d love to see.

In reality, though, most customers are far too polite to tell you to your face that you have rubbish coffee and rude baristas. Instead, encouraging feedback through cards can help you to gather honest and direct opinions.

Of course, we’re not going to pass up an opportunity to give our marketing a little extra boost at the same time.

With every submitted feedback card, you can enter that customer into a prize draw to win something fun – like free coffee for a week, or a big bag of your most exclusive beans.

And with every submitted feedback card, you’re also able to capture a customer’s email – which means you have a non-invasive way of promoting your coffee shop’s special offers, new products or upcoming events. Keep it simple, an A6 size card will do, so as not to make the customer feel overwhelmed with too many questions.

Outside your coffee shop

7. Reel them in with free samples

Choose your most confident and positive member of staff, load them up with a tray of espresso-sized paper cups, and place them outside the front of your shop where they can accost passers-by with free products.

Offer samples of your staple coffee products, but don’t forget to include a few samples of things that could set you apart from your competitors. Gluten-free cakes, frozen yogurts, exotic syrup flavors – anything that’s different enough to get you noticed.

Unless someone was already looking for a coffee shop, they’ll probably just keep walking after they’ve had a taste. So make sure you’ve armed your perky employee with business cards, loyalty cards or flyers so interested people can walk away with a hard copy of your address and your special offers.

So what’s next?

The best time to start promoting your coffee shop is now.

There are countless different ways to get customers through the doors, and you’ll need to try a few different methods before you find what works best with your market and your way of doing business.

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