You’re no Starbucks. You’re a cute little coffee shop that offers a welcoming atmosphere to go with a delicious handmade cappuccino. And you’ve got a marketing budget to match.
So with limited funds to play with, you’ll need to outsmart those big multinationals by using promotions that are as unique and memorable as they are cheap. We’re not talking newspaper ads or sidewalk signage here – we’re talking the sort of promotion that no other coffee shop in your area is offering.
Here are six promotional ideas that fit the bill.
1. Reach out to local bloggers
A new sort of celebrity has come from the rise of the World Wide Web – one that you won’t recognise if you pass them in the street. Bloggers are movers, shakers and tastemakers, and can be incredibly influential in directing traffic to certain establishments.
Do a Google search of “coffee blog [your city]” or even “food blog [your city].” If there are a few results it’s certainly worth reaching out to them. Offer a free meal and coffee in return for a quick shout-out – the worst they can say is no. Be sure to check that they have a decent following (both active subscribers to their blogs and social media followers) before bothering to hit them up.
2. Introduce a friend for a free cup
Word of mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing there is, but it can be difficult to influence over and above offering great service and great coffee. One way to encourage your clientele to spread the good news about your coffee shop is to offer them an incentive to do so.
One of the most effective strategies is to offer a free cup of coffee for any regular customer who brings in a friend for the first time. This not only fosters more goodwill from the regular, but introduces a like-minded customer to your café who may well go on to become a regular too.
3. Run free coffee classes
Brewing the perfect coffee is an art form. Most people happily leave it to the professionals with the professional equipment; they stick to their Nescafe instant or their pod machines at home, and treat themselves to a nice cup when they leave the house. But if you bothered to ask, you’d soon find that many of your customers would jump at the chance to have a session with a professional barista.
Offering a 30 minute or hour long class with you most talented barista – for nothing more than the price of the coffee at the end – is a terrific way to get heads inside your café, as well as garner a little bit of goodwill within your community.
4. Support local artists
Aesthetic can be as important as quality coffee for the modern day café, so ensuring your interior decoration is on point should be near the top of your priority list. But interior decoration, particularly if you require professional help, doesn’t come cheap.
One way to both cut the costs and achieve an awesome look is to reach out to your favourite local artist. Offer to have your space double as a gallery for the artist, with hung works able to be purchased right off the wall. When one is sold you simply replace it with another, and everyone is happy!
5. Ask people to review via WiFi
Free WiFi is a non-negotiable for a modern day coffee shop, as it encourages people to settle in for multiple purchases. But your WiFi can do more for your business than getting keyboard warriors through the door – it can also encourage your adoring customers to leave a nice review!
By setting up your WiFi connection to direct users to your Facebook, Yelp or TripAdvisor profile upon connection, you’ll subtly encourage them to drop a nice review about your establishment, which can be invaluable for getting new business.
6. Discounts for posting on social
While on the subject of the World Wide Web, how about offering a tempting discount to anyone who posts a photo of your coffee shop on social media? If you serve up a beautiful cup quite a few Instagrammers will likely be posting pics anyway, but something as minor as a 20% discount could turn this trickle of social content into a flood! It’s a cheap, easy and fun way to reach new sets of eyes!
You’re no Starbucks, and you don’t have to be. You’re blazing your own unique coffee shop path, and with the help of the tips above you’ll be using some unique promotions to do so.