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A winning strategy that’s as strong as the coffee you brew will turn customers into loyal fans.
Coffee shops are often the heart and soul of their communities. But to create brand awareness and attract new customers, you’ll need a smart coffee shop marketing strategy.
Hound & Mare is a popular cafe opened by sisters Tam and Christine Lam in Ithaca, New York. Their concept infuses their Vietnamese roots with their American culture, and they feature items like NY Maple Lattes and Vietnamese Coffee Donuts.
Besides being original—which helps them stand out from the competition—their brand strategy makes smart use of digital campaigns and creative promotions.
What is a coffee shop marketing strategy?
This includes all the ways you promote your business, from social media to signage to advertising. Restaurant marketing helps to establish the story behind your brand, including your restaurant’s mission and purpose, and identifies how you’re going to connect with your target customer.
Marketing a coffee shop can include everything from digital advertising campaigns to direct mailers. But effective coffee shop marketing takes time, and as your business grows, you’ll continually need to set new goals.
Goals for marketing a coffee shop may include:
Attracting new customers
Increasing social media followers or shares
Adding new email subscribers
Growing monthly or yearly revenue
Building Google Business or Yelp reviews
Bolstering social media or email engagement
Garnering press mentions or articles
What should my marketing budget for a coffee shop be?
There’s no cookie-cutter approach when it comes to building a marketing budget. It may depend on the size of your business and how much time and effort you care to spend, as well as the tactics you use. According to Barista Magazine, around 70% of coffee shops spend less than $100 each month on marketing. If you have a tight budget, it’s possible to create a low cost coffee shop marketing plan.
Using social media to promote your cafe is essentially free—it only requires time to publish posts, images, and videos. Or for $25, you can purchase a boosted post on Instagram or Facebook. Basic websites can be relatively cheap, factoring in the purchase of a domain and hosting costs.
Free marketing methods can work, but investing in an attractive and easy-to-navigate website, creating paid digital content, and publishing advertising campaigns will grow brand awareness more quickly.
Here are a few general cost areas for restaurant marketing activities.
Social media marketing: Costs include paying a social media manager or sponsoring/boosting posts for greater visibility and reach.
Google and search engine ads: The more you spend, the larger your audience will be.
Email marketing: Most email marketing platforms have a free plan, but have associated costs based on audience size, branding, customization, and certain features.
Community events and sponsorships: These can range from a $250 donation to a local sports team to a million dollar national charity event.
Video marketing: Costs include production, editing, and promotion, and these tend to perform well on social media and in email.
Direct mailers and print ads: Printing costs range from cents to dollars for an individual asset, and advertisements vary based on the publication.
Your budget for each campaign will differ depending on overall set-up costs, personal preferences and resources, as well as what competitors are doing and your financial goals.
Coffee Shop Marketing Ideas and Examples
By simply establishing a presence online, you can tap into the 1+ million people who look for “coffee shop near me” every month, according to Ahrefs.
Digital marketing, in-store promotions, brand partnerships etc. can help you to attract new customers, grow your brand presence, and improve your reach.
Host a Giveaway
Giveaways can boost your customers by an average of 34%. They’re also great for enhancing your online visibility and improving overall brand awareness. Toast customer Brevity Coffee Co runs regular giveaways on their Instagram account by encouraging users to tag a friend. This method helps increase social followers, driving new users to check out their brand page.
Are you imagining a cozy, busy coffee shop or a minimal, elegant ambiance? Define your coffee shop visions and help make them come true with this business plan template.
Share User Generated Content
User generated content (UGC) is content created by customers, not your marketing team. This can be shared on your website and social channels, helping to fill your social media calendar and show authentic testimonials as to why your shop is so great.
90% of consumers state that user generated content is more influential on their purchasing decisions than email, or even results from search engines. You can implement UGC by sharing customer images or videos of your coffee shop, and encourage customers to share their photos and videos as well. Creating a bespoke brand hashtag is a good way to track content on your business.
Give Away Free Samples
Samples are effective, as they allow people to actually taste how good your coffee is. And 25-30% of people who try a sample will make a purchase. You can offer free food or drink samples in-store and around your local area, capitalizing on foot traffic. Don’t forget to shout out any promotion you run on social media and your website.
Host an Event
Special events allow you to reach a wider audience. For example, Rosella Coffee in San Antonio, Texas runs after-hour events featuring singer-songwriters, DJs, and wine-tastings.
Use Google My Business
Google My Business is a feature many businesses aren’t aware of. This free to use platform enables you to set up a business profile online, giving you visibility and a place to host customer reviews. You can even set up a free website via a Google Business account, so if you’re aiming to stretch your marketing budget, this can be a great way to cut costs.
Pro tip: Keep your business hours updated on Google. Remember the more than one million people searching online for local coffee shops? They’re also looking up hours on Google. Choose a restaurant POS that integrates with Google My Business to help keep your profile updated.
How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Marketing Strategy
To meet your financial business goals, you need to ensure that your marketing methods aren’t costing you more than they’re worth in the long term.
Take a look at the ROI, or return on investment. To calculate the ROI from a marketing campaign, take the marketing cost away from your net profit. Divide that number by the cost of your specific marketing campaign. Alternatively, if you sell online, you can correlate specific campaigns or efforts with direct sales.
If you’re losing money, it’s time to make adjustments. Determine which methods are the most expensive, and which are the most effective. Then tailor campaigns by scaling back or scaling up (based on performance), or targeting a different audience.
For each marketing campaign, it’s important to set out your goals and key performance indicators, or KPIs. These are the metrics that determine the overall success of your marketing. Some KPIs could include:
Increase in sales
Loyalty card sign-ups
Number of social media followers
Number of online reviews
When setting out your marketing goals, consider the type of strategy you’re going to use, the duration of the campaign, your budget, and the target market of your coffee shop. Then track your KPIs and adjust your campaigns accordingly.
What are the most common coffee shop marketing strategies?
Marketing a coffee shop business often involves the following common marketing strategies, paired with your own creative twists and ideas.
Email marketing, including email promotions and newsletters, is an inexpensive method of connecting with customers. Using it effectively enables you to advertise your latest menu items, let people know about any current promos, and encourage customers to come in for a visit. Collect email subscribers on your website, in-person at the coffee shop, or on social media, and use your loyalty club or other benefits to add value to signing up.
Optimizing Your Website for SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for any restaurant website. It helps people find your business via search engines like Google, and increases your brand awareness. Keeping your website current is a good place to start. You can also add regular blog posts to attract new customers.
Introducing Yourself to Other Local Businesses
Networking with businesses in your area is valuable in raising brand awareness, especially as many of those workers are likely in your target market. You could offer a free first coffee to staff at local establishments. Many coffee shops also partner with local bakeries or pastry shops to sell each other’s goods, or set up pop-up locations at farmers markets together.
Using Video Marketing
YouTube video marketing is often overlooked. But it’s free to set-up, and makes real impact in driving new customers to your business. Try sharing recipe videos, a behind-the-scenes look at your coffee bean selection process, or posting informational videos about coffee. Be sure to include your branding and logo, along with a call to action to sign up for email or follow you on social.
If you’ve got space in your budget for social media advertising, ads will get you directly in front of your target market, increasing your overall reach and awareness. You can also gather data to inform your next campaign. Try showing images or videos of your coffee drinks or folks enjoying your store’s sweets. UGC can make a great addition to social ads.
Get inspired by these restaurant social media marketing examples.
What are effective marketing strategies for new coffee shop businesses?
The name of the game is brand awareness, and getting your community to try a taste of your java. Social media is a great starting point, and doing anything is better than doing nothing, so go ahead and publish that first post!
Search Engine Ads
Search engine ads help people find your business. Google Ads enables your business’ ad to appear when people are looking for specific keywords.
Good feedback builds your brand reputation. You can encourage customers to leave reviews, but make sure you handle any criticism professionally. Start by creating profiles for your shop on Yelp, Google, and other restaurant review sites like Coffeereview.com.
Sponsoring or Attending Local Events
Sponsoring or attending local events helps to promote your coffee shop. Plus, it enhances your reputation in your local community.
Even in a digital world, direct mail is still an effective marketing strategy. More than 42% of recipients read or scan their direct mail. Include coupons in a direct mail campaign or pass out flyers to local small businesses to persuade customers to visit your shop.
Advertising in Local Media
Advertising in local newspapers and magazines expands your local reach. Research readership statistics before committing to a slot, in order to make sure that you’re reaching your target market and an engaged group.
The influencer marketing industry is worth 13.8 billion dollars. Use local influencers to promote your coffee shop via social media, blog posts and YouTube to increase your reach and revenue.
Delivery and Online Ordering Platforms
Offering delivery is a major competitive advantage for today’s consumers, as well as being able to order ahead online. Toast TakeOut is a mobile ordering and delivery app for restaurants that doesn’t take a commission from restaurant owners, and integrates with your coffee shop’s rewards program to improve the customer experience. They just have to one-click order their favorite drink, to automatically collect rewards points.
What are effective marketing strategies to increase revenue?
Create A Loyalty Program
The Blackbird Baking Company Rewards program (powered by Toast’s Restaurant Loyalty App software) gives customers a $5 discount for every $50 they spend, and offers a $5 reward during a member’s birthday month.
Free Gift with Purchase
People love getting something for free. If you’ve got a new item on your menu, this is an effective way to encourage customers to try it. You can upsell it at checkout and promote it throughout your store and online.
Understand Customer Pain Points
It’s important to understand your target customers’ needs. If they tend to work from home, then offering free Wi-Fi, comfortable seating and chargers can encourage them to work in your coffee shop instead, and maybe even take business meetings there (hello, new customers)! If you’re catering to people who have dogs, hanging a pet-friendly sign in your window and having water bowls available is sure to appeal.
Ready to start grinding away at your marketing strategy?
No beans about it — it’ll take time. But once you start seeing engagement, run with whatever works. Remember that the top coffee brands—like Starbucks, El Colombe, and Dunkin’ Donuts—started as local haunts, but have grown into favorites for millions of people worldwide.
Related Coffee Shop Resources
- Opening a Coffee Shop
- How to Write a Coffee Shop Business Plan
- Coffee Shop Business Plan Template
- Best Coffee Shop POS System
- Cost to Open a Coffee Shop
- Coffee Shop Name Ideas
- Coffee Shop Design Ideas
- Coffee Shop Branding
- Best Coffee Shop Websites
- How Much Do Coffee Shops Make
- Coffee Shop Ideas and Concepts
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- Coffee Shop Floor Plans
- Coffee Shop Equipment List
- Coffee Shop Licenses and Permits
- Best Coffee Shop POS Systems