After the almighty blow dealt by the pandemic, Euromonitor International predicts 10% average annual growth in the US coffee shop market leading up to 2025; in the UK, coffee chain Costa is also seeing a boom.
Covid has disrupted everyday life, and peoples routines with it. Maybe your coffee shop could become a part of a new routine, or weekly visit?
So it’s time to make sure you’re prepared. One thing is for certain: it doesn’t matter what stage your coffee shop is at – you need a marketing plan.
A clear idea of where you’re at and where you’re going is essential to either maintain your current success – or boost lacklustre sales. It also has numerous side-effects which can improve staff morale, clarify your shop’s branding and just make everything that little bit more professional.
There are multiple valid approaches to branding a coffee shop. Some people think more outside the box than others, but there are definitely some concrete steps that virtually every successful coffee house has taken.
We’ve distilled (or should that be cold-brewed?) them into a super-handy PDF which is free to download and will help you focus on something that is surprisingly straightforward, once you’re in the right frame of mind!
Here are some of the key elements of our digital marketing plan. If they start the cogs whirring, why not download the full version?
The Mission Statement
You’re not Procter & Gamble – yet – but even the smallest operation can benefit from a strong mission statement. It focuses you and your customers’ minds on what exactly is so special about your shop. The more clearly you see it, the easier it is to sell the brand to the public. And the stronger the brand, the easier it will be to attract and retain the right employees.
You can find tons of generic mission statements online and, sure, there may be a few good ideas or snazzy turns of phrase you could borrow, but the whole point of the mission statement is to demonstrate your uniqueness. So it’s time to take a long hard look at your coffee shop. Grab some paper and start brainstorming.
A good place to start is how you felt when you decided to open or take over the place. What excited you about it? What kind of future for the business did you daydream about? Then have a think about your competitors nearby: what do you do differently that makes people choose you? Is that something that you want to build on?
Keep that piece of paper and come back to it after you’ve thought about some other aspects of your marketing plan.
Who Are Your Customers?
Take another sheet of paper. Start thinking about your audience. The more information and better intuitions you have about this crucial, probably quite diverse, group of people, the more effectively you’ll communicate with them.
Some of the basics:
Describe the top three kinds of people you see – or would like to see – in your establishment. Have some fun. Give them a backstory each: Where do they work? What kind of shoes do they wear?
For each hypothetical customer, think what they’d normally buy and how much they’re likely to spend.
How would you likely find them, in a marketing sense? Are they heavy social media users? Where else, online and offline, would you be able to reach them?
What time do these guys and gals come through the door? Are they pre-work, post-gym or all-day-long customers?
Who Is Your Competition?
Your competitors may be those in the same postcode as you, somewhere else in the same town or city, or further afield but doing something similar. Their good bits and bad bits are all worth finding out about.
So, take a bit of time out and tour all the local coffee houses, cafés and café bars (it’s a tough job, etc.). Maybe you’re trying to achieve something that’s being done awesomely in the next village. Perhaps you find another shop that seems to be busier than yours but far less professional: do some detective work to find out why that place seems so lucky.
At home, too, take a good look at these other outlets’ online presences. Both on social media and their own websites. Examine their branding – how do they present themselves visually? What are they posting about? Is it compelling or is it just misspelt and samey? Does their website work (on phones, tablets and desktops)?
Knowing more about your competition allows you to position yourself more precisely and show off your brand, knowing that you’ve got something unique to offer. Also, all this research should set your creative juices flowing and result in some exciting new ideas to implement in your own coffee shop, in your own way.
How Do You Reach People?
It’s likely that you already have a Facebook account for your business, if not various others. Social media is, of course, essential nowadays.
Don’t post too erratically: get your staff to upload something interesting regularly, as part of the daily or weekly routine. It keeps things fresh. Also, make the extra effort to set up accounts on all the other main platforms. It doesn’t take long and you may get a couple of important customers – dare we say influencers? – from Instagram or maybe even Snapchat!
Oh, and please register your business with Google. There’s nothing sadder than seeing an ‘Is this your business?’ link when searching for a local company; it just makes you think no one really cares.
To take it to the next level, you’re going to need a website. A business that just advertises on social media can feel a bit cheap and Facebook, for one, isn’t very good at communicating brand identity or indeed displaying menus clearly.
There are all sorts of ways to create your own website nowadays, although sometimes it can seem like a mountain to climb.
Our advice? Pay someone a one-off fee to set you up with a simple but effective site – using WordPress or similar – that is clearly on-brand and works well on all platforms. It’s worth the extra expense.
Amid all this talk of online marketing, it’s easy to overlook how important offline relationships are. Having a beautiful coffee shop that looks after its customers is a good start; the more you chat with your clientele, the more you’ll be able to pinpoint what you need to do to get their friends and colleagues to come to your coffee shop.
From arranging events for customers’ gym buddies, knitting groups or workmates to sponsoring sports teams and finding ways to get in the local paper, there are so many avenues into your customers’ hearts, if you listen to them!
Few people can ignore a good offer! It’s wise to have a few tricks up your sleeve here, but maybe not bombard your visitors with flashy discounts all over the place. Maybe a mixture of the following:
- Regular price reductions or combo offers
- Discount – and maybe delivery – to local businesses
- Special deals advertised in the local press
- Collaborations with local boutique businesses or possibly bigger chains
- Working with influencers
‘Follow us on Facebook’ is everywhere for a reason: many people only know about the latest events or offers at a venue if they follow it.
This may be a reason not to overdo the posting as people who are bombarded with posts from your coffee shop may mute or unfollow you.
But if you can get people to review, check in and follow – maybe by offering them a free something? – your name recognition will go up within their circle.
Loyalty cards are coffee shop staple, too, so it’s always a good idea to have your own beautiful loyalty cards.
The number one way to build loyalty, though, is still that excellent relationship with your customers. Word of mouth is the holy grail. You can build on this rapport by making extra effort to accommodate those sports teams and knitters, ensuring regular repeat business.
It All Adds Up
Once you have a clear picture of your USP, it’s easier for both you and your staff to stay motivated at work. What do you and your customers love about your coffee shop?
Use the steps above to really get to the bottom of your brand. And the more you understand what makes your place unique, the better you’ll be able to sell it.
It’s time to get everyone talking about your business!