May 26, 2011
How Do I Market a Cafe? asks Anna from Rugby
She tells me that, "Cava is a mid-range place, with continental cafe as a theme. It's not expensive, anyone can come in. On the other hand it's very pretty and relaxing, just asking you to plunge in a soft chair and have a glass of sparkling wine or a cappuccino (real frothy). It's located 5 minutes from the Clock Tower, in a little green square, perfect to sit by the window and watch the world go by.
In the weekend evenings it's open for drinks till midnight – we play club music and light up candles. I think it's nicer than Costa and safer than Verve.
I've got some events scheduled: birthdays, christenings, gossip club, Spanish class (private), but it's still not enough. The customer base is just too small yet.
I need to let more people know about me, because once they do, they keep coming back. I can't count on the location alone, because it's tucked away by the photographer's."
She says she is trying to advertise using leaflets, Facebook, and an article in the local paper. She continued, "this doesn't seem to do the job just yet, so I'd welcome suggestions."
How to increase customer numbers at a coffee shop
Here are a few ideas.
If, once people visit once, people keep coming back it must be that you are getting lots of things right. So the real question is how do you get people to find you and visit just once when you are difficult to find.
Offer something of value to attract visitors. It might be a two for one offer, free cake or luxury biscuit with a coffee, or tapas with drinks. You decide what is most appropriate for the people you want to attract and what is affordable.
Produce some vouchers for your offer.
The trick is how to distribute these vouchers. It is pretty obvious that handing them out in the café is not ideal as it will only attract existing customers back and you want new people.
So think about the customer groups you want to attract, perhaps young mums or retired people during the day, office workers at lunchtime or after work, shoppers after a hard shopping session .. again you decide who. Now think about where they already congregate. Where do they shop or work?
Once you know where they shop you can approach those shops and offer them the chance to run a joint campaign with you.
Let’s say you find a dress shop that will work with you. They distribute your offer to their customers … perhaps the offer of a coffee after they’ve bought that fabulous party frock. In return you distribute a leaflet, about their sale or latest offer, when people visit you for a coffee. It could be a leaflet on the table or handed out at the till. If each time someone comes they get to see the offers in local shops they will conmen to you more often.
You can do the same with local florists, the photographer next door (someone must be finding him), the lingerie shop, local art gallery, …. virtually anyone can be a partner provided they aren’t a direct competitor.
Maybe you can also work with the dress shop to promote their range to your evening crowd. How about holding a mini fashion event at the café one evening? The shop invites all its regulars in to an event at your café. The first drink could be on he house but after that it is a pay bar as usual. Even if it is small, with no space for a catwalk, there are possibilities. You need to just think outside the box!
One bar I know runs a regular “Ladies, Leather and Handbags” event with a local shop that sells handbags, purses, etc … an evening where they can have a drink and buy a handbag. Another popular night is the Flamenco night – it might link well with your Spanish language nights – where you get a flamenco guitarist to play and theme the evening around this with tapas, Rioja and .. well you get the idea.
The thing is this type of event is also good as the topic of a media release … Rugby’s first Flamenco night. You can run any sort of theme that will attract attention and customers. Forget Burns Night as everyone else is doing it …. think about things like Berlin Wall Night where you celebrate the fall of the Berlin wall on November 9th each year. The theme could depend on the cultural mix of youir local area …. frame it around the cultures you have locally … Poles, Ukrainians, Portuguese .. you choose.
I mentioned thinking about where people work. Why not take some vouchers to local offices and get them distributed to staff. You might even consider the staff room at Rugby School.
The other thing to always consider is your existing customers. You say they come back frequently. But do they send their friends?
Why not ask them if they would like a voucher sent to a friend. It works like this. Give out comments cards to each customer. On them you want feedback on what they think about your place … all feedback is valuable. But you also want their email address to enable you to send them offers etc. One offer is “Introduce a friend”. If they send you the email address of a friend or colleague, you send the nominated person a voucher saying that they were nominated for the voucher by whoever provided their details.
Be careful with vouchers though. It can work very well and one of our customers recently ran a similar campaign and was inundated with people asking for his offer and couldn’t cope. So gather email addresses of customer all the time but only send out enough vouchers to test the concept to begin with. A few dozen people turning up is one thing … a thousand might stretch resources too much!
For more information on How to Market a Restaurant, Cafe or Coffee Shop click the link