Coffee shops need an effective marketing strategy to attract new customers and keep existing ones coming back for more.
The good news is that people love coffee, so you’re at an advantage when it comes to attracting people to your business. You just need effective coffee shop promotion ideas to point consumers in the right direction.
In this article we’ve listed ten coffee shop marketing ideas, along with plenty of examples of coffee shops that are successfully using these strategies.
Table of Contents
- 1 Build Your Social Media Following
- 2 Optimize Your Store Front
- 3 Introduce a Loyalty Scheme
- 4 Create a Google My Business Listing
- 5 Build Excitement with a Rotating Menu
- 6 Create Segment-Specific Offers
- 7 Be Active in the Community and Industry
- 8 Team Up with Other Businesses
- 9 Attract Press Attention
- 10 Take Advantage of Mobile Order-Ahead
Build Your Social Media Following
Social media is an excellent low-cost way for coffee shops to build an audience and promote their brand. Once you have a following, you can use it to boost your other marketing efforts.
The two leading platforms used by restaurants are Instagram and Facebook. Each has different uses.
The visual focus of Instagram makes it the perfect platform for coffee shops. There are several ways you can use Instagram, including:
- Showing off your menu by taking high-quality photos of your dishes and drinks and sharing them on the platform.
- Connecting with customers by replying to comments or direct messages.
- Sharing customer posts or stories taken at your business to help build relationships.
When posting, research the best hashtags to use in your content to increase the potential exposure of your post.
You can find hashtags by looking at coffee shops in your area and seeing which ones they use. For example, a coffee shop in London could look at the hashtags used by Coffee Addict in the post below. Just choose the ones most relevant to your business.
Facebook is the other important social platform for restaurants. People typically use Facebook to search for businesses and research where they want to go. A survey by Square discovered that more people found new businesses on Facebook than any other channel.
The ability to create business profiles is powerful. A good profile will tell the customer everything they need to know about your coffee shop.
Take a look at the profile for Prufrock Coffee, pictured below. It contains a map, link to the website, description of the business, phone number, menu, images, and business updates. It has all the information a customer needs to visit the shop.
Optimize Your Store Front
If your coffee shop is in a place with regular footfall, your exterior is a critical part of your advertising plan.
The easiest option is to put up posters advertising your offers and products in your windows. This will ensure everyone walking past knows what you sell.
Put your most enticing deals in these adverts, and be sure to get a professional to create high-quality images and writing. Consider showing offers, discounts, or exciting products.
The other way to use your exterior as a promotional tool is to decorate it in a way that stands out. The goal is to attract attention with your design.
Check out the way Coffee and Fandisha has brought its exterior to life with a mural painted on the front.
Of course, you don’t need to go that far. A well-designed, well-looked-after storefront can be just as effective.
Introduce a Loyalty Scheme
Loyal customers spend more in your coffee shop. Having a base of returning customers will take some of the pressure away from acquiring new ones. Loyal customers are also more likely to tell their friends about your business.
There’s no secret to building a loyal customer base. You’ll need to be a good relationship builder, have an excellent product, and provide a great all-round experience.
One way to further incentivize loyalty is through a rewards program.
Starbucks is one company that has a successful rewards program that is a core part of the coffee chain’s app.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson confirmed recently that when customers join the loyalty program, their spend with the business increases significantly. This demonstrates the power of a rewards program to increase customer loyalty and maximize profits.
The good news for independent coffee shops is that creating a loyalty scheme like the one offered by Starbucks is easy. At the most basic level, you could use a printable card and give customers a stamp every time they make a qualifying purchase.
Or you could go digital like Starbucks and create a branded app from which you run your program. Then when customers make a qualifying purchase at your store, you give them a digital stamp or points. When they reach a predefined total they can swap their points for a reward, such as a free coffee.
AppInstitute apps have rewards program functionality built in, which makes it easy for independent coffee shops to introduce one.
Coffee shop owners can customize every aspect of the program, from what counts as a qualifying purchase to how many points a customer needs to collect a reward.
You can even add multiple rewards for different points totals. For example, a customer could get an extra shot in a drink with three points, a brewed coffee with six points, and a specialty coffee with nine.
Create a Google My Business Listing
Creating your Google My Business Listing is amongst the easiest, cheapest, and most effective coffee shop advertising ideas. If you haven’t done so already, creating your profile should be a priority.
Your Google My Business Listing shows up on Google when people search for terms like “Coffee shops near me” or “Coffee shops in [your area].” It also appears on Google Maps when people search for a business via the app. You can see how it looks in the image below.
On your business listing you add your address, opening hours, contact details, website, menu, and images—everything people need when deciding where to go for coffee.
Your customers can also add reviews to the listing. Research by payments platform Square shows that online reviews are the second most influential factor after in-person recommendations in helping people decide where to eat, and that Google reviews are the most important. Be sure to make the most of this feature.
You can get started by heading to this link.
Build Excitement with a Rotating Menu
No matter how great your coffee is, people can get bored with your product. Having a rotating menu is an easy way to stop this from happening. People enjoy trying new things, and loyal customers are more likely to try new menu offerings.
Starbucks has long been famed for the way it keeps its menu fresh, always giving its customers a reason to keep visiting.
Some of the items are products they sell each year during a different season, some are introduced to keep up with new trends, and others are one-off specials.
There are plenty of ways independent stores can add variety to their menu. Consider adding new types of specialty coffee beans, fresh drinks, or food items. You could choose these based on the season, broader trends within the industry, or your relationships with businesses in the area.
The most important thing to consider is what your customer is most likely to want. A trendy coffee shop in a city center may focus on specialty beans, like Box Kite NYC does in the image below, while a quieter shop with an older clientele may offer a rotating selection of cakes.
Be sure to promote your new products. Add posts about them on social media and advertise them within your venue.
If you can build a reputation as a place that is always innovating, people will be more likely to keep checking in to see what you have on offer.
Create Segment-Specific Offers
Creating promotions specific to sectors of your customer base is a good way to increase sales and encourage specific kinds of people to visit your coffee shop. The offers can come in many forms and will depend on the wants and needs of your audience. Some ideas include:
- Creating packages for offices, such as discounts on bulk takeaway orders.
- Promoting afternoon tea sets for retired people.
- Using rewards schemes to give discounts to commuters who buy coffee at your business every day.
- Off-peak offers to attract students during the day.
- Providing space for remote workers to hold meetings.
Once you have your offer, you need to promote it in the right place. Do so via your social media channels, strategically placed posters or billboards, or through word of mouth.
Apps can also work well for this type of promotion. AppInstitute gives coffee shop owners the ability to segment their customer base. You can then send different groups different promotions and offers based on the deals they are most likely to respond to.
Be Active in the Community and Industry
Being active in the community is an excellent way to help spread the word about your brand and build awareness amongst the people you meet. If you make a good impression, these people may ultimately become customers.
You may also be able to attract press attention. We go into further detail about how you can increase the chances of that happening in point nine.
Here are some examples of coffee shops that are doing a great job in the community.
- Wigwam hosts “Leading Ladies in Business” events at its Liverpool coffee shop.
- Mostra Coffee entered and won Roast Magazine’s roaster of the year award.
- Café Edge in Queensland is heavily involved with a local homeless charity and serves food to the homeless every morning.
Team Up with Other Businesses
Teaming up with other relevant businesses can be an excellent way to increase exposure amongst your respective customer bases. The key is to choose a business with a similar audience to the one you are targeting.
These collaborations can come in a variety of shapes and forms. It could be working together on a product, holding events together, selling each other’s offering in your shop, or combining products for a discount.
Here are some real-life examples:
- Mom ‘N’ Em coffee shop teamed up with a mobile wood-fired pizza experience to offer wood-fired pizza in the coffee shop’s backyard.
- Birchwood Café and Minnesota Farmers Union combined to create dishes using locally farmed ingredients that are sold at the café.
- Lennox Coffee sells cookies from local bakery The Good Batch.
- La Colombe Coffee Roasters teamed up with craft ice-pop store Chloe’s Fruit to offer coffee-flavored ice pops. Each business shared the post with a tag on its Instagram account.
Attract Press Attention
You may have noticed that many of the ideas in this article are illustrated with examples featured in news stories.
This shows that publications are more than willing to write stories about coffee shops that do newsworthy things. Getting featured in the press is free publicity for your business.
The key to getting press attention is to build relationships with those in the industry and to send out quality press releases. You’ll also need to have an interesting story and an angle.
Here are seven simple steps you can use to create a press release.
- Think about what makes your story unique. While an article about new coffee beans isn’t particularly interesting, a story about a local independent coffee shop teaming up with a local roaster to sell a new type of bean with part of the profits going to charity could be.
- Write the story in the reverse pyramid style. This is when you include the most relevant information at the top and add more details further down. Most quality news websites write their stories in this way, so look at your favorite site if you want to see an example. This article about Zoom is a good example from the BBC.
- Include everything the publication needs to write a story, such as images, quotes, and statistics.
- Write an engaging headline that explains the most important part of the story.
- Add contact details so journalists can get in touch with you if they have questions.
- Make a list of all the publications that may be interested in publishing a story. This could include local news websites, lifestyle magazines, and bloggers.
- Look on their websites for where the best place to send a press release is. If you have an existing relationship with a journalist, this is likely to be your best bet.
For more information about writing a press release, check out this article from The Guardian.
Take Advantage of Mobile Order-Ahead
Building an online customer base is a good way to increase revenue and market your coffee shop. A branded mobile app gives you direct access to customers through communication tools and notifications.
An app also lets you stay ahead of the curve with features such as mobile order-ahead. This allows customers to make and pay for orders on their phone before they arrive at your business. You then prepare the order before they arrive.
This is a great marketing tactic for coffee shops in areas with a lot of workers who may want large orders for meetings. It’s also useful for those with many customers who buy coffee on their commute and don’t have time to wait.
This method of ordering is becoming increasingly common in the industry, and Starbucks says it now receives 17% of all its U.S. orders in this way.
AppInstitute makes it easy for coffee shops to offer mobile order-ahead functionality within an app. Customers can browse through your entire menu and then purchase what they want from wherever they are.
The apps support multiple payment options, including cards and pay on arrival. When an order goes through, your servers are notified and can begin to prepare the order.
You Don’t Need a Big Budget to Market Your Coffee Shop Effectively
As you’ll have seen from this list, many coffee shop marketing ideas can be done cheaply, or even for free. Setting up social media and Google pages cost nothing, while using an app to run a rewards program and mobile ordering is highly affordable.
for more information on how to build a coffee shop app quickly and cost effectively, get in touch here.