Coffee shops serve coffees, teas, deserts and light lunches in bistro-like settings. Small, local coffee shops can establish a solid reputation in their communities, attracting large volumes of highly loyal, sometimes daily patrons. Marketing a coffee shop requires more subtlety than other local businesses, however, as these establishments provide a highly social experience greatly reliant on word-of-mouth advertising and personal invitations from existing customers.
Comprehensive marketing strategies begin with product and service development. Coffee shops can especially benefit from developing a wide, customer-friendly suite of services, since word-of-mouth advertising can be an effective way to turn large groups of people into loyal customers.
Be sure to offer free Wi-Fi in your shop, for example, and to install electrical outlets at each table for laptops. Book live entertainment in your shop on a regular basis, host poetry readings and other events with a community feel. If consumers have more than one coffee shop option in your area, make sure your shop offers something the others do not, so that patrons want to bring their friends to see the difference.
Loyalty programs are a must for coffee shops. Loyalty programs can be as simple as punch cards with the promise of receiving every Nth cup of coffee free, which can be attractive to daily coffee drinkers.
Consider taking your incentive programs to the next level to beat your competitors. Institute a more in-depth system that tracks the total dollar amount of purchases for each customer, for example, providing free products of some kind when customer spend certain amounts – possibly increasing the value of freebies over time.
Advertising on your premises is also a must for coffee shops. All coffee shops should have a facade that clearly distinguishes the establishment for what it is. This means large windows (if possible) revealing the inside sitting area, tables set up outside and coffee menus posted outside. Set up clear and visible store signage, choose a highly-visible location and place small, movable signs by the road, by the sidewalk or in your outside sitting area. Selecting the right name can be useful for on-premises advertising, as well. Select a name for your store that immediately brings up images of a coffee shop.
Use sales promotions and advertising together from time to time to give your shop a boost in new visits. Place coupons in local newspapers and magazines, for example. Leverage social media by posting printable coupons on Facebook and Twitter, or use a service like Groupon to distribute coupons to Internet-users in your local area.