How to market your coffee shop online: Strategy
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How to market your coffee shop online: Strategy

1. Customer(s) first!

To understand your customer might sound obvious. But if you’re honest to yourself – when you’re busy doing other things it’s easy to ignore the changing preferences of your core customers. “They’re like me, I don’t need to do research!”

One way to better understand the groups of people you’re selling to – create personas. Give them a name, a face, jobs, interests and priorities. Why not even life goals? Then you can continuously weigh your marketing tactics against you personas.

“Does Anna, 54 (a nurse who loves English literature and has a caffeine-addictive personality) spend time on Instagram – and if not – should I really invest my last pounds on targeting her through Instagram’s ad manager? Probably it’s more effective spending some time on offering free coffee to her outside Sainsbury’s when she’s done shopping?”

Personas help you being relevant. Like serving the popular skinny vanilla latte – you personally hate.

To dos:

  • Speak to your customers – ask them questions! Prioritise friendly chats with new and old customers, throw out questions. Ask them how their dream coffee shop looks, where they search for information on cafes – and of course how they found you. It’s a win-win:
    1. you show that you care about them,
    2. you get invaluable information about what they’re looking for,
    3. you create relationships that’ll lead to loyal customers over time,
    4. do it well and you create ambassadors who’ll spread the word about your amazing coffee shop experience!
  • Create physical personas and put up on a wall. Based on the convos you had, create 3-4 personas – representative customers who differ from each other in terms of age, interests and preferences when it comes to coffee and light food. Select portrait photos for each persona and put them up on a wall. Glimpse at your new personas every other day (especially when you feel stressed out or overwhelmed).
  • Choose platforms where you should focus. From your previous customer conversations – connect each persona to its most relevant social channel. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat – or maybe some of them are more active in offline channels? Don’t forget that some groups still highly value the local newspaper or pinboard downtown.

Don’t forget to…

  • Ask open questions. Don’t start off by asking how much time they spend on Facebook. Rather throw out a question how – and if – they use any types of social media. Then move on to ask about favourite platforms. Open questions will lead to honest answers.
  • Understand what you actually sell. Be smart when you’re interviewing your customers. There are a dozen of coffee vendors out there – maybe it’s not the need for caffeine you’re satisfying. Are your customers looking for a good deal? To be seen as trendy?
  • Print out customer reviews. Why not pairing your personas (that you’ve put up on a wall) with good and bad reviews you’ve received on Facebook?

2. How to stand out

With 7 billion people populating the world, it’s not exactly getting easier to come up with new ideas. Something smart and different. Something unique. How do YOU stand out?

Let’s rephrase the questions and ask yourself – why they should go to you instead of someone else? Are you competing on price, like offering the cheapest cappuccino in the neighbourhood? Do you spend more time than anyone else on teaching your staff about – so you guarantee a new level of customer service?

To dos:

  • List all the advantages of your own shop. What are you most proud of? Your Italian espresso machine or your talented barista who makes everyone feel special? Maybe both?
  • List all good and bad things about your top 3 competitors. Visit them, spend time, absorb everything. What’s the atmosphere? Lightning? Cleanliness?
  • Map out the differences! What are you offering that’s significantly – or at least in some way – different than the options nearby? Review your compiled list of competitor features. Your conclusion will make up a good description of your business – and how it is in fact (somehow) different.

Don’t forget to …

  • Think outside the box. Maybe you’re not that different when it comes to the coffee you’re selling – but you can communicate in a totally different way? Evaluate social media posts and ads from competitors from competitors and think of better ways to convey the same message.
  • Consider doing the opposite. Doing like everyone else is normally not a successful strategy. So called thought-leaders act differently, but yet fully understand their customers. Well, be unique yet humble. Did you read our story about The Disloyal 7 group in Edinburgh? An excellent example of a different approach to competition!

To attract 30% more customer to my coffee shop by the end of the year through four contests on Instagram and monthly discounted offer codes on Facebook.

3. Goals and how to reach them

May we guess what your goal is? To stay profitable and grow your business! But how? Do you want to attract new customers? Sell more to existing customers? Let’s keep things straight and use an example goal:

To test if you’ve come up with an effective goal, test it against the S-M-A-R-T philosophy.

Is it Specific? 
Break it down, please. What do you want to accomplish? 30% more customers! Why would it make sense to my coffee shop? ‘Cause 30% more customers mean more money! How will you make this happen? Well, my creative friend John and I will come up with some new engaging contest ideas for Instagram.

Is it Measurable? Yes, you don’t want to attract “more” customers, you want to attract 30% more customers!

Is it Attainable? Is it realistic to achieve a 30% increase? Based on the fact that you doubled your revenues last year, yes!

Is it Relevant? Based on your customer interviews, you know that your target audience spends a lot of time on both Instagram and Facebook, check!

Is it Time-bound? I said by the end of the year, boss!

But only through your KPIs – so called numbered measures of success – you’ll know if you’re actually going in the right direction. Simply if your postings on Facebook in the end lead to more pounds into your pocket. For example, by customising discounts for specific items in your product library (in your Point-of-Sale) – for beverages you run on promotions – you can easily measure the success and see the percentage of returning customers in your sales data.

Are you giving 20% discount to every customer who likes you on Facebook? Create a customised Facebook campaign-item in your product library. Follow up after some weeks to measure the success! 

Examples of social media KPIs for your coffee shop:

  • Followers and fans
  • Shares on Facebook
  • Comments
  • Post reach
  • Video views

Some additional useful KPIs for your website and email marketing:

  • Backlinks
  • Website traffic
  • Subscribers to newsletters 

To dos:

  • Write down all your goals. Make sure you can connect all goals (estimated likes, followers etc.) to somehow increased revenues, cost savings or increased brand awareness. Remember that you’re not running a non-for profit organization – at the end of the day money matters. More hacks on how to connect your marketing activities to business goals in future guides!
  • Create a process for each goal. For example, let’s assume you’d like to increase your followers on Facebook from 500 to 1000 followers. Publish 2-3 posts / week → respond to all comments on your posts → spend £150 on Facebook ads per week → replace cover photo every Sunday with new product photos→ review and follow-up on a regular basis to track follower increase.
  • Set a budget – and distribute among your channels. Nope, it doesn’t have to rocket science. Figure out how much you can spend on marketing based on your anticipated annual revenue. That way you can much easier figure out how to distribute it over the year and identify how much you’re spending on different marketing channels.
  • Pick out your most profitable persona. Prioritise among your target audiences wisely. Which one will spend most quids in your coffee shop? Probably it’s a good idea to focus on marketing yourself more in channels where the ‘big spenders’ hang out.

Don’t forget to …

  • Set a reminder. Make sure to follow up your goals – put reminders in your calendar of when to check in followers, openings rates in newsletters etc. If you spent time to create goals, it doesn’t make any sense to just carry on and forget about them.
  •  See if there’s a useful template for you. Use one of all goal templates out there! We love the template provided by Hubspot – a great resource for multiple fields of digital marketing. It’s a 100% SMART idea!
  • Party hard. To realize when you’ve accomplished goals – what is your reward? And what is the reward for the team?