If you’re looking for cafe marketing strategies, chances are you saw how lucrative opening a coffee shop can be. Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world (the first is water, of course). So, it’s a common assumption that going into the cafe business is always a safe bet.
In reality, many people have this same train of thought, which makes it an extremely competitive market. You can easily find a coffee shop on almost every block. That means you need innovative marketing strategies to stay afloat in the local business market.
From diversified beverage offerings to traditional advertising techniques, here are 16 marketing ideas to power up your cafe business.
Are Coffee Shop Marketing Ideas Different From Restaurant Marketing Ideas?
Yes, coffee shop marketing strategies are different from restaurant marketing strategies. That’s because while they’re both part of the food and beverage industry, cafes occupy a specific niche.
Does that mean that the two approaches are totally unrelated? No. You still share the same goal as any business: attract new customers and retain returning customers. You both thrive from foot traffic, reviews, and word of mouth. And, of course, you both offer beverages and (sometimes) food.
However, the type of customers you attract (and need to keep) differ. For example, restaurant owners don’t prefer people to camp on a couch on their computer for hours with only coffee. But coffee shops know that comes with the territory. If your audience is different, your branding is different, so your marketing approach should also differ.
How Much Is Cafe Marketing?
There’s no one standard for how much marketing for a cafe costs. However, some sources recommend allotting anywhere from $300 to $3,000 in your budget. The range is so expansive because every coffee business is different.
How much you spend on advertising and reputation management depends on many factors. These include your location, customer base, budget, average restaurant profit margin, etc.
Nevertheless, keeping costs low is always a wise business decision, especially as a startup. You don’t have to spend on high-priced ads or a top-of-the-line marketing strategist to make a splash in your sector. Keep reading to find out how.
16 Cafe Marketing Plans Powered by Caffeine
It’s safe to say that you’ll always find that familiar comfort in a cup of coffee wherever you in the world you may go. Most countries have their own coffee culture, especially if they’re home to the biggest coffee franchises in the world. If so, there’s also a thriving market for homegrown coffee shops. If you need to level up your coffee game, you need a cafe marketing plan you can implement ASAP.
Here are 16 ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Use Eye-Catching Coffee Cup Sleeves
Using branded, unique coffee cup sleeves is one of the most tried-and-tested, simple, and cost-effective ways to advertise your brand. You can opt for the traditional carton sleeves or the reusable fabric sleeves. If you do the latter, sell those as an extra. Then, consider offering rewards to customers who use their sleeves each visit.
Use cool or relatable designs incorporating your business name or logo, especially for the fabric coffee cup sleeves. Your customers appreciate having a coffee cup sleeve they can reuse anytime and anywhere. Plus, they’ll also be “promoting” your brand every time they use it.
Picture a customer going to work with one of these cup sleeves. Their co-workers will see the design, get curious, and ask where they got it.
Suddenly, that customer just became a brand ambassador for your business.
You can create several designs for your customers to choose from (people love options). You can also hand these out at other local businesses, events, gyms, or supermarkets. Wherever you picture your audience going, find them and introduce your brand via these simple, practical, and fun merchandise items.
2. Know Your Audience
An excellent cafe marketing strategy is to know and cater to your audience. Cafes and coffee shops are trendy amongst millennials and Gen Z. These younger demographics gravitate towards catchy, photographable, and unique businesses and brands. They’d go to a chain if they just wanted a quick cup of coffee. But if they’re looking for something local, they want an experience.
They want to go somewhere that looks great on their social media grid or story. They want to feel like they’ve discovered something special and off-the-beaten path. Embrace that thinking and find what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Is it your location in a historic, rustic building or a fresh, trendy loft? Perhaps it’s an international twist you bring to your roast styles or snacks. Whatever it is, cultivate it and put it at the forefront of your brand.
3. Online Reviews
Reviews are critical to hospitality businesses. For one, they’re where you get real-time customer feedback. For another, good reviews encourage people to trust and visit your establishment. Bad reviews drive customers away. Ensuring a high volume of positive reviews is essential to your cafe advertising playbook. You can do the latter by providing excellent customer service and goods. But what about driving coffee drinkers to your review page?
Get more Google reviews by keeping your Google business profile up to date with fresh photos and relevant information. Post your hours and add a link to your website and online ordering options. This shows Google that you’re an active business and lets potential customers know what you’re up to.
One of the ways to get more Yelp reviews is by incentivizing your customers to do so. Offer a discount on their order if they submit an honest review. Just be sure not to solicit positive reviews as part of cafe marketing. This goes against guidelines for all review sites.
“You eat with your eyes first” — remember this when conceptualizing an enticing storefront design. This is another traditional but reliable cafe advertising idea. However, you have the creative freedom to make your storefront unique and appealing.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best vegan coffee or the highest quality coffee beans in town. If your storefront looks “basic,”—is lacking in aesthetic appeal—or, worse, dirty, potential customers are not flocking to your shop. When decorating your storefront, ensure it instantly grabs passersby’s attention.
For example, if you have an al fresco dining area, buy fresh flowers for each table and keep it tidy. Invest in string lights if you’re open after dark, or add a fire pit or heating lamps for the winter.
If you don’t know where to start, the internet and competitors have many suggestions. Look up storefront inspiration on Pinterest, or walk around your town to see what other stores look like. Browse Instagram and find fun new font ideas for your sign or trendy color palettes. You’re sure to find something to match your brand.
5. Offer a Bottomless Mug
This cafe marketing idea is a twist on the bottomless mug promo. Customers who want a refill of a particular drink will only have to pay half the price each time. You can use this idea to promote specific coffee drinks on your menu. Again, you can have this as a time-limited offering or as part of an event or celebration.
Or, take a page out of Panera’s marketing book and offer a subscription-based drink offering. Their Unlimited Sip Club offers subscribers unlimited drinks for a low monthly cost. Customers can pay upfront for a year at a discounted rate.
This tactic gives your customers the feeling that they’re saving money and you’re giving them an excellent advantage. It’s a way to get new customers and encourage them to return or boost the sales of specific menu items.
6. Offer a Free Drink Sample
Everyone loves a freebie. But if you don’t have the budget for free drinks, there’s another way to try this marketing strategy: samples. Offer free samples of new or test menu items. You can set up a plate with bites of a new baked good or offer fresh, taste-sized pours of beverages.
The beauty of this is that it not only takes advantage of the free coffee appeal, it’s also market research. You’re hearing what your target market likes and wants to see from you.
7. Take Full Advantage of a Convenient and Rewarding Loyalty Program
This cafe marketing idea employs game-playing elements to encourage customer engagement. For a coffee shop, a basic loyalty program typically involves “stages” that customers must complete to get a reward. For example, purchasing a certain number of drinks or spending a certain amount of money.
Instead of the old-fashioned loyalty cards, use an app to make your program digital and more enticing and convenient. Save customers from the hassle of carrying their loyalty cards and rummaging in their bags or wallets to find them.
With everyone attached to their smartphones, going digital with your loyalty program makes good business sense.
8. Create Seasonal Drink Specials
Let’s be honest here. Everyone enjoys holiday specials, even those that say “Christmas is just another day” or “Valentine’s is just a commercial scheme.” Yes, many customers online may recognize seasonal drinks as just another marketing ploy.
However, they still love the exciting variety, novelty, and spirit of celebration that comes with limited-time run drinks. Seasonal drinks enhance the experience of whatever season you’re in. For many, these drinks also become essential to their tradition and nostalgia.
Because these are limited-edition offerings, customers want to have these drinks as often as possible while they’re available. This makes your seasonal coffee the highlight of your customers’ day and your establishment a significant component of their routine. Small businesses thrive off of building connections with locals, and this is a great way to do it.
Create new drinks for every holiday. Take a page from Starbucks’ book, but make your seasonal drinks uniquely your own. When you get this right, you’ll have something special that your loyal customers will always look forward to.
9. Launch a Hashtag Campaign
This cafe marketing idea is especially effective in strengthening online presence and digital marketing, particularly on social media. A hashtag campaign will not only increase brand awareness but will also give you valuable user-generated content. Here are some tips to remember when using hashtags for coffee shops.
- Create a hashtag that’s related and specific to your business. It must also be concise and easy to remember — a hashtag with three words or fewer is ideal. For example, if you serve vegan coffee in coffee cups with unique and beautiful artwork, you can use #[yourvenue]artvegancoffee.
- Encourage your customers to participate. Run a contest or offer discounts to qualified participants. For example, they must follow your page, post a selfie with your product, and use the hashtag in their caption. You can offer gift cards, a coffee brew kit, or roasted beans from your brand as contest prizes. Don’t forget to ask your customers to tag your social media page in their posts to widen your audience reach.
- Promote your hashtag campaign. When you make posts on your social media pages, make sure you use other related hashtags. Try general ones like #coffeeshop and those specific to your local area and niche. Research local keywords to slot in terms that fit best for you.
10. Establish Local Partnerships
Starting your own business doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. One of the best ways to attract new customers is through networking and connections. If you have friends in your local community, that’s your biggest asset. They can sing your praises to other locals via word of mouth, which is cafe marketing for free.
For another, if you befriend other local businesses, you can look into fostering and creating local partnerships. You could collaborate with a nearby bakery for a coffee and donut special. Or you could ask other businesses to display your products and do the same for them.
Find your network by joining local groups or connecting with the local Chamber of Business and Tourism. Introduce yourself to your neighbors, and check out social media for any associations you can join.
11. Host Local Events
Another way to increase foot traffic, word of mouth, and become a beloved local business is by hosting local events. Again, people love experiences. If you create something unique or new for them to check out, it’ll get people talking.
Attract new customers with coffee-related events like a coffee competition. Or host a “pour and paint” night at your shop. You don’t have to just stick to coffee, however. You can find something to entertain your guests while at your cafe. Such as an open mic night or a music jam. Events are sure to turn your establishment into a hot spot.
12. Spruce Up Your Look
Having the appropriate dining room layout, cozy chairs and couches, and a clean venue is not enough. At least, not if you want your coffee shop to stand out in every way possible. Making your interiors unique, appealing, and worthy of being photographed is a cafe marketing strategy worth adopting. Especially if you want to generate tons of user-generated content online.
Cover your venue with artwork, for example. The walls outside your store are a good place to start. Paint coffee beans, people, or your cafe’s logo. Work with a local muralist if you have the budget. Develop a brand style that evokes a particular feeling or sparks instant association with your brand when people walk by.
Do you want to position yourself as a modern café for tech-savvy customers? A traditional brewery for authentic, local coffee shops and brew lovers? Or an eco-friendly café with cups made from recyclable paper? You can communicate your brand’s vision and messaging through visual/graphic design.
Competition between local businesses is fierce, so make your venue appeal to a large market. Verve Coffee is a great example. It has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere with arrows that point customers to their venue and a clean, sleek look.
13. Host Tempting Giveaways
This cafe marketing idea is easy and exciting. You combine the freebie fun of loyalty programs with creating an experience and spotlighting your social media platforms. (You can integrate your hashtag campaign into the giveaway to hit two birds with one coffee bean, er stone.)
Offer free coffee or merchandise to the winner of your competition. Host your giveaway on Instagram to get more customer engagement — both for your contest and your social media account/s. The “Follow, like, and tag a friend” social media contest formula will bring new customers and followers.
While we’re on the subject, let’s dive deeper into social media marketing.
Hashtags and an excellent feed aren’t the only ways to drive business. Many cafes also invest in social media ads as a marketing strategy. Or, collaborate with a local brand ambassador to create coffee shop social media ideas.
If your budget allows and you’ve already solidified your other advertising strategies, look into running Instagram or TikTok ads. We recommend focusing on these two apps as they’re the most popular with Millenials and Zoomers (your key demographic).
That said, don’t spend too much money at the beginning. Start with a low-cost short-run campaign to test the waters. Depending on your results, adjust your strategy and shop budget.
15. Email Marketing
A good cafe marketing strategy won’t be complete without this one. Coffee shops looking for more customers should invest in email marketing strategies for restaurants. Why? Because they’re a low-cost, time-tested direct line to your customers and target demographic. You can share special promotions via emails or keep your customers in the loop about events and new products.
The real question is how to get coffee drinkers to sign up for your email list? One way is to have a sign-up sheet at your counter. Or, offer to send their order receipts via email and have them opt into messages there. You could also launch email marketing by collecting their email when they use your WiFi via a captive portal login.
16. Enhance Your Customer’s WiFi Experience
WiFi for a coffee shop is no longer just a perk but a necessity for most customers. And you have to go the extra mile to provide an enhanced guest WiFi experience.
These days, many customers are picky about the speed of their free WiFi or the service they experience. They should want to choose you over other businesses and coffee shops because of your reliable and fast WiFi connection.
Coffee shops, in particular, benefit from having guests stay longer because it usually means they’ll order more coffee and food. If your customers know they can enjoy good connectivity in your establishment and great coffee, they’ll love your business.
This is especially true if your target demographic includes university students, office workers, work-from-home employees, or business executives. An excellent WiFi connection will definitely set you apart from the rest.
Brew Product Offerings Based on the Latest Market Trends
In addition to being a unique brand offering a new coffee experience, keep your eye on the future. Look out for trends in the industry to help you brew cafe marketing ideas that are timely and universally appealing. Here are some of the latest coffee industry trends to watch out for.
- Oleato coffee - Coffee with olive oil.
- Nitro cold brew coffee - Extra strong bean water at a chill temperature.
- New Blends - Create a mixture of flavor aromas by combining different single-origin beans.
- Non-dairy alternatives - Oat, coconut cream, and almond milk should join the ranks of your traditional cow’s milk offerings.
- Koji fermented coffee - A Japanese fermentation process for a bolder, healthier cup of joe.
- Fair-trade coffee - It costs more, but your customers appreciate knowing their coffee came to them via fair wages.
- Ube coffee - Add the mild sweetness and fun purple hue of Ube to your latte lineup.
- Matcha lattes - A green, herbaceous alternative to coffee for caffeine lovers.
Nurture Good Customer Connections With Good Coffee, Good WiFi and a Solid Cafe Marketing Strategy
Excellent coffee beans and a wide selection of delicious concoctions are not enough to stimulate your coffee shop business. You need creative and engaging cafe marketing ideas to drive people to your venue. Serving good coffee and WiFi guarantees they’ll stay for a while and keep coming back.
Choose the right WiFi system for your coffee shop to meet your customers’ connectivity needs and your business needs. A fully customizable WiFi system, like Beambox, can help you build and nurture customer connections in more ways than one.
Create your restaurant email or SMS subscriber list, promote new products, drive customers to your social media pages, and manage your online reputation. All via your WiFi marketing automation platform.
Beambox is an all-in-one WiFi solution that accomplishes all of the above and more. We have an existing client base of over 3,000 venues. They’ve used our customizable WiFi marketing solutions in remarkable and rewarding ways.
You can drive sales with time-sensitive deals and promos for your restaurant. Or boost social engagement through Instagram or your Facebook page with contests. You can even climb up online ranking platforms through real-time customer reviews. Accelerate your cafe marketing growth — start your Beambox free trial today!
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