Practical Advice for Buyers

Marketing Your Café / business

You’ve recently opened your café; your coffee machine is going and your food cooking. Everything you could need is in place – but how do you get customers through the door?

Marketing is an essential part of your business plan, and ignoring it means that you will struggle to attract customers to your café. You can’t just rely on passers-by and word of mouth to get your business off the ground. As a café owner, you’ll need a plan, a budget and a series of tactics to get your name out there.

If you don’t know a thing about marketing, you won’t need to outsource. Just continue reading our handy guide and check out some of the linked resources too. With the right investment of time and money, marketing your café is something you can certainly do yourself.

If there are topics you’d like to have covered, please drop us a line with your ideas, we’d be happy to look into your queries.

Start with a plan

Before you get stuck into trying different advertising and marketing methods, it’s worthwhile writing a marketing strategy. If you have no idea what a marketing strategy is, never fear; it’s just a simple summary to help you identify your customer and your business values and goals to help you figure out the best way to approach and attract potential customers.

It may look daunting, but the 33 page template you can download from the website is the perfect place to start when putting together your strategy.

It’s not just filling out the boxes though. You will need to do some research before and while you fill it out. Start by driving in the area around your new café. Take notes about the other cafés and businesses you see around, pop in for a coffee at some of them and note their décor, menus, customers and pros and cons of their café.

Pay attention to the type of customers in each café – are they business people having a work lunch or catching up for a meeting or are they mostly university students or mums with young children? Of course it won’t be clear-cut, and you might struggle to identify a demographic, but if you do, compare the café’s atmosphere against its customers to spot any trends in the area.

Next it’s a good idea to check out your competitor’s social media and web presence to see how active they are online and whether it works for their customers.

From here you can decide what kind of marketing activities might work for your new café, including whether you want to focus on social media, your visual presence (lots of signage and attention-seeking décor) or more community tactics such as sponsoring local sporting groups or handing out discount cards at the businesses around you.

Review, update and make reports against your strategy and the goals you set out every month. If you’re not on track after the first few months, you may need to reassess your goals to make them more realistic, or try some new tactics.

We’ll now briefly take you through a few tactics you can use to get your café heard about.

Social Media

Creating a Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter account is a straight-forward and cheap way to begin your marketing process, but make sure you’re using each platform correctly and engaging well with your audience.

For assistance in setting up and managing your Social Media we can highly recommend ‘Just Add You’ a small but affordable Social Media Management team particularly interested in assisting and promoting Local Business.  Contact Charmain here

The main benefits of creating a social media presence are they allow your business to be discovered online through ads and searches. They also let people talk about your business and share your content. Post regularly and update each of your pages at least once a day with new content. Some ideas for content could be sharing a photo of the day’s special menu item, introducing a new staff member or sharing something cool you found online that relates to your café.


Loyalty programs

One of the best ways to keep your customers coming back, except for offering awesome food, coffee and service, is to have a loyalty program to create regular customers.

The simplest way to do so is with coffee cards, where regular customers are awarded a free drink after reaching their nth coffee. You can create your own cards in Publisher or Adobe suite for free, but it will cost to print them.

For extra service, hold onto your customer’s loyalty cards by sticking them on the wall behind the counter and get your baristas and staff to try and remember the names of your customers, and pull the cards down when they walk in the café – personalised service always goes a long way!

Create a special Community

To attract new customers and show a sense of pride in your community, get your business involved with local organisations around you. Maybe you could provide sponsorships or help with fundraising at local schools and sporting clubs. Try hosting events such as a ‘mums and bubs’ morning tea.

If you want to expand your business beyond its four walls, invest in a coffee cart and offer to sell coffee and snacks at sporting events and fairs in the area – just remember you may need extra permits to do this (find out more here)!

Direct marketing campaigns

When you first open, direct marketing or a letter drop box can be a great way to get people through the doors. It’s a little old school, but creating flyers with a special offer such as two-for-one coffee to place in letter boxes around the area can draw people in.

Do the same for local businesses by offering a team discount or business brunch special. There’s nothing more impacting than face-to-face conversation – so pop in to the businesses or offices around you with a big smile, introduce yourself and briefly tell them about your café and your offer.

Make the flyers eye-catching so they don’t get discarded with the junk mail. Printing on a thicker card rather than paper can ensure that when people pull it from their letter box they’ll take a look. And remember, less is more, so don’t make it too text-heavy!

Your first few attempts at marketing may not always be successful, and there’s no quick fix to getting customers through the door and keeping them coming back. Regularly review your plans, and make sure you keep researching marketing trends in the café industry and analysing your customer base to keep your marketing moving.