Many coffee shops, big or small, are still experiencing the damaging effects brought about by the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 (thanks, coronavirus!) As an independent cafe owner, you might find yourself hovering over the thought if it’s really worth it to continue at this point.
What are your chances to go against the industry giants with their seemingly effortless and ever-present appeal, crazy marketing and promotional allocations and pockets deep enough to survive unforeseen circumstances?
First of all, it’s good to overthink this but don’t let yourself wallow in that pool of negativity for too long because we’re here to shed you some sunshine. The good news is, you can absolutely go head to head on a level field with these big boys and emerge stronger than ever from crises like this.
If there is one thing that has drastically shifted during the pandemic, that is consumer behavior. More and more consumers have now shifted to supporting local and independent businesses over the big boys in the industry. Mostly to save up on living expenses during the crisis, but also as a collective means to save a national economy that has been mangled by the pandemic.
What does coffee shop marketing look like in 2022?
Lucrative marketing strategies are rapidly becoming obsolete thanks to low-cost and budget-friendly marketing tactics, and brilliant outreach tools both small and big businesses can undertake without damaging budgets.
In this article, we will help you create a coffee shop marketing plan that will take your business ahead of the competition without having to break the bank. While it has been a tough past couple years for many coffee shops and cafe marketers, start implementing and mastering these tips and you will come out stronger than even your largest competitors.
1. Manage and Improve Online Ratings and Review
Did you know that 86% of coffee shop goers are willing to write a review for a business that they liked? And a good 70% of consumers look for at least four reviews before they decide to have anything to do with a business. A good review signifies a happy customer experience, and with than means trust. No trust means no business, and with the premise, it’s essential for you to focus on brand reviews.
Here are simple ways to do it:
- Amp up your social media and review site presence by responding to every single review that your coffee shop receives. Replying to these comments shows potential customers that you really care about your customers’ experience with you.
- Let your wait or counter staff ask customers to use the shop’s public wifi to leave a review on your business’ landing page or social media. You may also remind your customers to do this by placing notes in collateral to encourage them to leave reviews.
- For a more personalized feel, leave a notepad and a pen in an area in your coffee shop for satisfied customers to make a quick stop to jot about their experience with you. You can take photos of these handwritten reviews and use these for visually appealing user-generated content social media postings.
If you are worried about the time and effort you might use to consistently solicit online reviews from your walk-in customers, you can have a good loyalty program in your POS take care of it. Once you enter a loyal customer into your POS loyalty system, you can send automated emails to your guests and ask them to rate you in Google, Facebook, or whichever platform you choose as your main online marketing tool.
2. Make Delivery an Initiative
The pandemic lockdown and social distancing requirements gave the online food delivery industry a huge boost. Delivery has become a lifeline for coffee shops and restaurants that have been affected by the crisis, and we see this trend continuing in the dining landscape as we move forward. In fact, after the pandemic lock-downs were lifted, more consumers are using delivery than ever before.
At least 31% of consumers say they use these third-party delivery services at least twice a week. Adding a digital ordering and delivery service can be a huge step for you if you have been so used to the physical dining set up for years, but to make it easier for you, you can start offering delivery services by working with a third-party delivery service.
3. Consider Subscription or Loyalty Services
One rapidly flourishing marketing strategy is having a sustainable coffee subscription model, where suppliers send consumers fresh coffee straight to their door. While this concept has been around for a few years, Covid-19 lockdowns magnified the need for consumers to get their coffee fixed whilst being stuck at home.
This is your market: Among those who drink coffee in the US, the average coffee drinker enjoys 3.1 cups per day. Coffee drinkers are also willing to pay more for products from local coffee roasters. Consumers will spend up to $25 per pound, compared to a maximum of about $20 per pound from a non-local high-end roaster.
This strategy especially caters to customers who want authentic, high-quality blend. Therefore, making the model of hand-picking premium brews to be delivered to their door signifies a premium status, which later equates to more desirability.
Monthly or annual subscription offers better brand-customer relationships because you’ll have to engage with them more often. Not only do they introduce more up-sell opportunities but it also encourages recurring profitability. This is an excellent way to improve your customer loyalty and lifetime values.
Access to easy subscription integrations with e-commerce platforms can help you provide subscription plans for your customers.
4. Increase Outreach with Email and SMS Marketing
In 2020, the number of global e-mail users amounted to four billion and is set to grow to 4.6 billion users in 2025. According to Gourmet Marketing, 70% of customers want food service businesses to send them coupons and they are willing to use them in their next engagements.
During COVID-19, many coffee shop owners struggled to reach their customers from their homes. The coffee shops with a collection of email addresses, thanks to their loyalty program integrated in their POS, they were able to reach out to their loyal base. This definitely increased their sales during the pandemic.
Remember the golden rule, it costs you 7x more to acquire a new customer than to keep one.
A modern POS collects important contact information, such as email and phone number, so that when disaster strikes, you will have an easy and effective way to stay in touch with your guests.
5. Evaluate Core Demographics to Ensure Branding Success
In order to have a strong brand presence and stay above the competition, coffee shop managers and owners should at least know whether most of their guests are male or female. It’s important to know at least the core demographics of their target market, such as average age and location.
These answers will help you determine your branding strategy, your ambiance, aesthetics, even the music playing overall shop culture. At the end of the day, your brand should be about your consumers.
With a good POS, you’ll have a growing customer database with clear, verified data. You’ll not only know demographics, but you can also spot trends in guest behavior. This will allow you to improve your marketing and operations in the long run to create a more memorable guest experience.
6. Collect and Analyze Customer Data
Customer data is the lifeline of successful marketing. It is crucial to know who your guests are and how they behave at your locations.
With no real guest data, it becomes impossible to generate the right messaging and target specific messages to specific groups of guests. This is done using a coffee shop CRM database that can all be automated using marketing automation tools.
Your coffee shop CRM database is a collection of customer profiles that can include online and offline behavior, demographics, email, phone numbers, income, ZIP Codes, transactions, and even visit history.
Your coffee shop CRM database allows you to identify and organize your customers categorically. Then you can group them for personalized marketing, advertising, and other demand generation activities.
7. Take Advantage of Word of Mouth Referrals
What is the most unbeatable marketing strategy in the book? No matter what marketing automations you use or how big your online presence is, nothing is more powerful and influential than word of mouth referrals.
Why? Simply because customers talk. Happy customers will recommend your coffee shop to their friends and family, while unhappy customers will undoubtedly discourage them from even considering walking into your store.
This is why at the end of the day, your business’ main goal shouldn’t be profitability and increased revenues. Your ultimate goal should be keeping your customer happy with your quality service, friendly and accommodating staff and of course fresh and delicious coffee. With excellent customer experience comes overall business success.
It is a no-brainer that the coffee industry has one of the biggest and most sustainable markets. Even during the pandemic, demand has sky rocketed as it became an even more integral part of consumer's daily life. If you're in doubt, more than 49% of coffee consumers would rather skip a shower in the morning than skip their coffee.
Even with remarkable stats like this, as a coffee shop owner you must not let your guard down, and keep coming up with ways to bring coffee lovers right to your store. With new coffee shops and franchised brands popping up on each block, the competition to drive foot traffic and sales is fierce. We hope these marketing tips we have shared with you can help you grow your market and lead you to overall business success this year.
Edited by Chooli