It is tough out there in the hospitality sector, and especially tough in the café business. In some areas, you can walk a strip of shops and half of them are cafés – all on top of each other. In such a competitive sector, you have to carefully consider how to market your business so that you can win and retain customers over the long-term. You’ll need to think about every little element – from the coffee cups to how you communicate with your customers.
Some marketing strategies to consider
- Create a simple and easily recognised brand. You want a colour that stands out, and a logo that is clear and easily identified. Make sure you use it where you can – order custom coffee cups, use it as the banner on your social media pages, print it on your menu and business cards, and so on.
- Think about how to get the word out there about your coffee business. Those takeaway coffee cups travel, so as well as your logo, include the business phone number and address – just make sure it’s clear and easy to read. Someone other than the customer can then clearly see where the coffee came from.
- Get on top of your social media. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are interactive, so make sure you engage with your followers. Obviously, you can’t be sitting online in real time – you need to be in the café doing the work. So, use tools like Hootsuite to time posts and have a plan for what you will post each day. For instance, if you bake in-house, you could have a regular post each morning saying what type of muffin is on. Your social media accounts are a way of creating a community with your business at the hub.
- Get interest going around your coffee blends. Run surveys with your customers to see what they’d like. It could be that running specials of particular blends for a week once a month is something that is interesting to them. Or think about offering a range of blends – the ones you use for espressos and long blacks, and others that are more suited to milky styles. If the businesses around you are only offering a single blend, this would give you a massive point of difference and attract the connoisseur. Then push this activity on your social media as well as getting a blackboard out the front showing the specials and blends.
- Discuss possible joint ventures with some of your suppliers – where you promote their products and they promote you. It’s all about building relationships that drive your business long term.
You can do a lot of your marketing yourself, but if you think you do need to take it up a notch, consider hiring a professional. If money is tight, even a one-off consultation for a few ideas can be a great investment.