The Importance of Marketing
Given the specialty coffee industry’s rapid growth in recent years, many areas — especially large cities — now face market saturation. That makes differentiating your coffee shop from the competition more important than ever for the sustainability of your business.
Branding is the crucial first step in this process. Beyond simply designing a logo, you also must develop a distinct personality for your business that you can convey to customers. Think about your current favorite coffee shop or cafe. Does it have a minimalist, modern atmosphere or a cozy environment that feels like home? Either way, that cafe’s personality is a key reason you return again and again. To create the right branding for your business, you need to identify a brand personality authentic to you and your business style. You then need to convey that authentic personality consistently across both in-person and online platforms.
Recommended: Read our Developing a Coffee Shop Business guide for more information about developing a target market and all types of branding decisions.
How to Get Started
Effectively marketing your business involves several key steps as outlined below. If you’re new to this aspect of business ownership, consider hiring a marketing or social media professional to help you develop and/or execute your marketing plan.
1. Build a Sense of Community
Building a strong community around your business is a great way to interact with your existing customers and attract potential new customers. Here are a few examples of how you can engage your local community to help you reach a larger customer base:
- Host a pop-up booth at other local businesses or events to insert your product into a new space. This is an easy way to introduce your business to a new set of customers.
- Collaborate with other local businesses, such as chocolate or tea companies, to help drive additional revenue and expand your brand into another market.
- Make donations to — or sponsor — local non-profit organizations or community events to extend the visibility of your business.
- Host your own event, such as a latte art competition, to raise awareness of your business within the local coffee community and solidify bonds with participants from other local coffee shops.
2. Develop a Business Website
Websites not only help customers navigate all of the information associated with your business but also serve as a space for ongoing communication. That makes your business website a crucial element to your success. Here are a few ways to ensure your website provides an effective tool for engaging with customers:
- Usability is very important for user navigation so keep the design simple. Make it easy for customers to find specific information and eliminate unnecessary details or pages that can distract from the information they seek.
- Prominently display key information, such as your business hours, location, and phone number.
- Feature a contact page that allows customers to communicate with you about questions or concerns your baristas may be unable to answer. List an email address or include built-in contact form fields to streamline this process.
- Update your site regularly with details on special events, holiday hours, and changes to your offerings.
3. Boost Your On-Street Visibility
Drawing people in from the street depends on their ability to see your business and know what you have to offer. While some people may drop in from curiosity alone, you’re more likely to drive foot traffic if passersby know what to expect inside. Here are a few ways you can increase your on-street visibility:
- Start by displaying signage that clearly states your business name.
- Place A-frame, sidewalk signs outside your shop to help entice both pedestrians and passing drivers. Keep these signs simple, such as by listing your business name, a keyword like “coffee,” and an arrow pointing to your business.
- Keep your windows clear so passersby can see the type of atmosphere and seating your shop offers.
PRO TIP: Learn how to find the perfect location for your coffee shop.
4. Leverage Social Media
Social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, continue to play a major role in the success of the specialty coffee world. Mastering this method of online marketing can not only help you bring more people into your cafe from all over the world but also solidify relationships with other businesses. Here are some key tips to help you develop a strong social media presence:
- Post regularly to each of your online channels to maintain ongoing customer awareness of your business. Posting three days a week during peak times, for example, can help draw more people into your shop
- Use social media to share updates about menu changes or special events happening at your cafe. This direct line of communication with your customers encourages them to follow your business on social media platforms in order to receive updates they may otherwise miss
- Conduct giveaways to engage with and grow your online audience. For example, offering a free bag of coffee to anyone who posts about your business and tags two friends in that post can potentially bring thousands of new people to your social profile depending on the reach of your customers’ social networks
- Include relevant hashtags in each of your business posts because they allow you to interact with other user accounts and businesses similar to your own
- Invite some local influencers to experience your business first and help generate buzz on social media before you open your doors.
Effective marketing is vital to the success of your business because it promotes your coffee shop brand to a larger audience. By following these key steps, you can extend the reach of your coffee shop across in-person and online platforms to help grow your customer base.