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New ideas for Coffee Shop promotion #4

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 last blog of this series. Go to the first, second or third part If you miss them.

8. Create a snappy pavement sign for people in a hurry

If you’ve ever seen a street fundraiser at work, you know that most people don’t like to be stopped on the street.

So as well as (or instead of) someone handing out free samples, put out an A-board on the pavement in the best spot to get noticed by passers-by.

Just remember that you only have a few seconds to pique someone’s interest before they move on and forget all about your coffee shop. That means your sign needs to:

  • Get their attention – say something unexpected, or try out a light-hearted joke

  • Be brief and punchy – as few words as you can get away with, written in as large a font as you have space for

  • Be instantly understood – either a clear and simple offer or an attractive sentiment with mainstream appeal.

Some coffee shops will go for a blackboard-style sign written in chalk. It’s a great way to test out a few different ideas or to rotate your daily special offers. But once you’ve found a winning formula for your sign’s message or concept, you can step up to a more professional A2 or A1 printed poster.

With this higher resolution, you’ll be able to fit in some smaller details for people who have time to stop and look – like photos of your coffee shop’s interior, or a price list of a few of your products.

In the local community

9. Focus on high-traffic areas with low-cost flyers

Not every business is lucky enough to have a premise next to a train station or a shopping center.

But if your coffee shop is within walking distance of a busy area, you can redirect some of that traffic with a little persistence.

Print some flyers that show off your best special offers, along with some photos of the coffee shop and a clear map of your location. Then find out which parts of your local area have the highest foot traffic, and get one of your staff members down there for an hour or two each day.

And if you’re feeling clever, we can start to make things really efficient. You can tell the passers-by – or have it printed on your flyer – that handing in the flyer gets them a discount at your coffee shop. That could mean a free espresso, a buy-one-get-one-free coffee, or a free slice of cake when they buy a large coffee.

The important part is that they need to bring the flyer back to you to get the discount. So you’ve brought in a new customer, and you’ve got a flyer that you can use again the next day – which means you won’t have to spend as much money printing new ones.

10. Start a real relationship with your local businesses

If you want a coffee shop that’s built to last, you’ll need repeat business from regular customers. And one of the best ways to get that is by getting directly involved with the local community.

That could be as simple as dropping off a few complimentary coffees to the staff in the retail stores next to yours or volunteering to provide the refreshments at your town’s local societies, meetings or special events. Of course, you’ll be serving up your free coffee along with business cards and flyers. But the locals will still appreciate your business getting involved – even if they know it’s a marketing ploy.

You could even organize some raid-style visits to the local offices. Just phone up a few local businesses in advance to arrange a time, and then make a short trip to their place of work to hand out a few free samples and some menus. While you’re there handing out free coffee, it’s also the perfect time to offer the management a group discount if they hold their regular breakfast meetings in your shop.

Most businesses will gladly welcome some free festivities into their workplaces, and their employees will feel obliged to repay the favor by popping into your coffee shop to give you a try. And once you’ve got them in the door, they could start coming to you during every lunch break

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.

But in general, remember to:

  • Focus on repeat business – use loyalty cards, and target commuters and local shoppers

  • Capture people on your own doorstep – offer free samples, and test out a few snappy pavement signs

  • Bring the busiest areas to you – look for nearby train stations and supermarkets, hand out flyers with maps and directions, and keep at it every day

  • Get stuck in with the locals – volunteer for community events, and bring some freebies to businesses in your area.

Promoting your coffee shop doesn’t need a big budget, and there are plenty of old-schools, local methods you can try.

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