Top 10 Ideas For Coffee Shops To Promote Themselves

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Coffee cup and beans

With the recent backlash against Starbucks by British consumers, there’s never been a better time to run an independent coffee shop in the UK. But what are the best ways to promote your business using print? Solopress have 10 tasty tips for all you budding baristas out there…

Coffee Shop flyers

Be Creative

The most expensive methods of marketing, like placing a print ad in your local newspaper, aren’t usually the best ways to spend your money. The smarter, and more inventive, marketing campaigns are the ones that people are more likely to notice and remember.

Flyers

Handing out flyers in the street is a very effective way of marketing your coffee shop. They’re cheap and quick to be made. These days, it’s possible to get your flyers professionally printed overnight and delivered the next day. You could also arrange a ‘contra deal’ with other local businesses, whereby you distribute flyers for one another at each of your own premises. Flyers are also particularly useful if you want to promote a special offer for a limited time only – or an upcoming event at your coffee shop like a poetry reading, hosting the work of a talented local artist, a comedy night or an evening class in cupcake making.

Vouchers

Whether it’s for a freebie, discount or meal deal, an eye-catching voucher with a great giveaway offer works equally well for both attracting new customers, and bringing previous patrons back, to your coffee shop.

Loyalty Cards

These are a great way to encourage your customers to keep coming back to your coffee shop on a regular basis. A loyalty card with an offer like ‘Buy 6 coffees and get the 7th one free’ is the simplest way to do it right. If you find business is slower on a certain day of the week, why not introduce a ‘Double Stamp Day’ to increase footfall, whereby customers who make a purchase during that day will receive two stamps on their loyalty card instead of just one. Talking of rewarding regular custom, why not offer to sell personalised mugs, printed with a person’s first name or favourite cartoon character? The mug can be hung behind the counter for this customer to use when they come back to your coffee house.

Coffee Shop loyalty cards

Feedback Cards

Learning from the honest feedback given by your paying customers is crucial to the success of any business. Simply place a feedback card on every table in your coffee shop. Why not ask them for their mailing address, e-mail or mobile number as well? That way you can add them to your mailing list to receive special offers and other news about your coffee shop via leaflets, e-mail newsletters or SMS text messages.

Business Cards

Always remember to include your full address, opening hours, telephone number and perhaps a mini-map with directions on your coffee shop’s business cards. Don’t forget to add any website and social media links too if you have them.

Pavement Signs

A promotional sign situated outside on the pavement, known as A-boards in the printing trade, will help attract customers to your coffee shop. As this is possibly the first thing that people will see about your business, make doubly sure that the advertisement uses a striking image or message that instantly grabs their attention.

Posters

The same design rules apply for posters as pavement signs – you must create something attention-grabbing and memorable. And if you’re not lucky enough to possess any cool graphic design skills yourself, please hire a professional designer to do the job for you. Take a look at their portfolio of work to see if they’ve previously made anything that catches your eye. If you’ve picked the right designer, you should instantly see why hiring a professional is such a wise decision when the design proofs come back to you!

Free Samples

If there’s one marketing trick that’s almost guaranteed to work every time, it’s giving away a free sample to prospective customers. If you do decide to give any coffee away outside your shop, we’d recommend you still keep the sugar and milk inside the premises. People will then have to pop inside to load up their coffee – thereby also getting a closer look at all the other lovely stuff you have to sell them. You never know, they might be hungry enough to buy a slice of cake, cookie, sandwich or panini once they’re inside your shop.

Coffee cup and beans

Menus

Finally, here’s another marketing ploy that’s worth trying: put your most expensive coffee drinks – maybe a cappuccino, espresso or latte – near the top of your menu. It’s a simple way to boost your coffee shop’s profits in a single move. Giving your drinks and food a funny or imaginative name in the menu will also help your business stand out from your competitors in the minds of any customers. Which nicely leads us back to tip #1. Be Creative!

26 COMMENTS

  1. If anyone was going to start up a coffee business then this is the article to read to get you movitated and guide you along the process of competing with “High Street” chains.

  2. It amazed me when the major backlash against Starbucks was taking place that more small coffee shops didn’t take advantage and hammer it home, yet I don’t think I saw any taking advantage, you’d think when a big play puts thier foot in it it would be the ideal time to nick their customers.

  3. I really appreciate the idea of FEEDBACK cards. As a costumer, it always feels nice to know that the shop regards and respect your opinions and suggestions. Thank u for sharing

  4. As a coffee lover, I crave coffee when I’m out. I love freebies and giveaways so i hold a loyalty card. Costa had a little van outside their premises with their new product advertising cold drinks. But they were also giving out samples of their mocha choc orange which was lovely. However, if I needed sugar for it (it was sweet enough anyway) and I was on my way to work or an appointment, i wouldn’t go into the shop for sugar or have time to queue. Nice idea though if people aren’t busy. Perhaps have a little table with these items on in front of you, perhaps at a reduced price. People then can buy them quickly and go on their rushed way to work or wherever. Debenhams also give you a free coffee and cake on your birthday, as well as a loyalty card for a hot drink purchase, which goes a long way, so I tend to use their cafe a lot. But at the moment, Waitrose free coffee with their free Waitrose card tops it all. (although sadly the coffee machine in their branch in Upminster wasn’t working when we went shopping there at the weekend, so I was a bit put out!). Southend Waitrose is better where you can sit down and relax in their cafe too and read the free papers before or after shopping and/or have some lunch. At the moment they get the gold star.

  5. Wow! These are just amazing tips! Will work well for cafe owners who are just starting out. Taking advantage of social media would be another useful tip. For a limited time, you can give out discounts or codes on your page (XYZ: free upgrade) that customers can use when they drop by your store. They can easily spread the word out to their friends by sharing/tweeting your post. It’s a great way to reward those who interacted with you on social media.

  6. Some great ideas. Local coffee shops should always be supported – not only do they care more about the product and service they provide, but they indirectly benefit the local economy too, providing local jobs to local people and putting more money back into the area, encouraging regeneration. Big corporate chains may be popular due to their size, but nothing beats the personal service offered by a friendly face at your local independant coffee shop!

  7. Some great ideas for smaller businesses to promote themselves. Not only are these relevant to coffee shops but they can be used for many a business.

  8. Thanks, an excellent post, and as Richard says, not just for coffee shops.

    Here’s another idea – a subscription service where you pay so much a week/month, but can vary what you want to have each time you visit. A bit like a vegetable box scheme for coffee.

    Could work best for business accounts?

    Perhaps offered with the free mug with your name on it to hang behind the bar.

    I like a blog that makes me think.

  9. When I see a chalkboard with a message that changes every day, I’m addicted, and need to see it every day. I’m conscious of where it is and kind of a wee bit excited to see what today’s message is. This is gold for a marketer and a top idea for your street A-board

  10. I don’t often spend a lot of time in coffee shops, however I think that being creative and giving away free samples are really good ways for coffee shops to promote their business. I mean who doesn’t like free stuff! It also let’s people experience new taste and situations which I am all for, to keep businesses thriving.

  11. I always prefer coffee shops with loyalty cards, I also like those where you can sign up for a mailing list and get a freebie on your birthday.

  12. What a fantastic blog. My father is manager of a Coffee Shop and during summer the it definitely does not have the ‘buzz’ it has in winter! I’ll be sure to give him all these ideas to bring everyone back in a little earlier this year. He’ll benefit, and so will the customers with these great deals. Thank you very much! Paige.

    • Summer slowdown eh? How about introducing your own version of the Starbucks’ Frappuccino or McDonald’s Frappé frozen coffee drinks? These babies have blissfully satisfied by caffeine cravings throughout the 2013 heatwave!

  13. I think a great idea is to offer freebies to children when the adult buys a drink, as a busy mum i don’t get a break often but if there was something there to distract my child like a colour in sheet and a free cookie I’d be more likely to stick around and buy more coffee 🙂

    • Both great ideas Gem, particularly the free colouring pages. Never underestimate the pester power of younglings who’ll want to continually visit places offering this kind of kids-friendly freebie!

  14. I love vouchers and money off deals. If I am given a loyalty card with rewards, I am far more likely to visit.

  15. 11th idea – Laminated cards, bearing the shops name of course, with conatct details for other local (non competing) services.

    • Fab idea, Sara. Thanks for sharing. Great thing about a coffee shop is that it’s the perfect place for local business owners to meet up and initiate this kind of joint-marketing campaign.

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