Managing a specialty coffee shop takes a lot of work. You need a good location, attractive interior design, great baristas, and even better coffee. But what a waste it would it be to have all of these things figured out and then not market your coffee shop.
If no-one knows about your coffee shop, it won’t succeed. Let’s take a look at how you can successfully market your café in the digital age.
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A barista at work at De Koffieschenkerij, Amsterdam. Credit: Caroline Claassen
Know Your Brand
Before starting any marketing efforts, make sure you know your brand. Think about what image you want to present to the world. How would you summarize your coffee shop? If you can’t explain it in a few simple words, it may be too complicated and need revising.
And who is your audience? This goes hand-in-hand with the brand. Identify which customers you want to attract. Is this crowd realistic for your environment and location?
For example, if you’re close to a university and have enough room, you may want to target students looking for a spot to study. If you have a smaller space or are in a more remote location, this isn’t the best fit. The more clearly you can identify your audience, the better you can market your coffee shop to them.
Brunch at Mad&Kaffe, Copenhagen. Credit: Caroline Claassen
Use Great Photographs
Online content is a key marketing strategy, so photography is more important than ever. Your desired customers likely spend hours on visual platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. To get them engaged with your brand, you need attention-grabbing content.
A witty caption and engaging written content have value, but the first thing customers see is a photo. And with influencers and uncountable aspiring professional photographers out there, the standard is high. So you need to get your photography skills on point.
But don’t panic. There are some easy and affordable ways to improve your photography. Check out YouTube tutorials and consider online or in-person courses.
Pinterest and other platforms allow you to collect photos you like. Pin the ones that grab your attention and then analyze them. What’s good about these photos? Can you recreate the elements you like in your coffee shop?
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A woman drinks coffee at Sobremesa, San José, Costa Rica. Credit: Caroline Claassen
Make Your Content Varied But Cohesive
Think of your brand as a magazine. No-one wants to read the same article over and over, so variety is key. But having a familiar format can help reinforce a brand and keep loyal followers. What kind of recurring content would be in your brand’s monthly magazine?
Consider including a coffee fact of the day or a regular feature on industry news. Can you offer helpful tips? How about behind-the-scenes content?
If you’re stuck for ideas, pick up a couple of magazines that are similar to your brand. Or look at their social media accounts. Are there categories or ideas you could use in your own “magazine”?
Make sure to consider the best platform. A purely visual feature might be best on Instagram. You could link to interesting articles from your café’s Facebook page. And do a bit of research into which demographics use which social media platform. For example, the average Instagram user is younger than the typical Facebook one, so if you’re aiming for young customers you should be on Instagram.
Coffees in the garden of De Koffieschenkerij, Amsterdam. Credit: Caroline Claassen
Work With Influencers
The word “influencer” might make you gag, but they really can be an effective marketing tool.
And you don’t have to reach out to celebrities. The well-connected guy or ultra-popular mommy blogger in your town could be a micro-influencer who can bring new customers to your coffee shop.
The trick is to take a good look at your target audience and your buyer personas. A buyer persona is your ideal customer based on market research and existing customers. When creating a buyer persona, consider customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are about your ideal customer, the better for targeted marketing.
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Latte art at De Koffieschenkerij, Amsterdam. Credit: Caroline Claassen
Who does your buyer persona follow on social media and who could influence their opinion? Maybe it’s a food blogger or an Instagrammer who visits the best coffee shops in the country. Does your town attract a lot of tourists? Which travel accounts are influential?
Perhaps you want to market your coffee shop as a great place to work from. Consider which digital nomads publish popular content. Maybe you have a room for workshops and meetings. Are there influencers in your area who host meet-ups or book clubs?
A customer holds a coffee at Sobremesa, San José, Costa Rica. Credit: Caroline Claassen
Use the answers to these questions to decide who would make a good influencer for your business. And then invite them over for a cup of coffee or lunch. Have a conversation about your coffee shop and what kind of personality you are trying to establish online. Can you work together? Be clear about what works for both of you and how your brands can complement one another.
Influencers are trying to promote their own brand, so you can’t tell them what to write or post. But if you present your coffee shop clearly and have a strong brand, it will come through in the content.
Coffees with latte art in Budapest. Credit: Caroline Claassen
A Strong Digital Presence Opens Doors
There are many ways to market your coffee shop. But perhaps you don’t need paid ads and discount coupons. Strengthening your digital presence is an achievable and affordable way to market your café.
By using social media, you’re opening the door to better engagement with your customers. If they’re interacting with you on Instagram or Facebook, customers may be more likely to make you their regular coffee spot or approach you for a collaborative project of their own.
So identify your brand, start honing your photography skills, and consider reaching out to influencers. It will likely pay off.
Enjoyed this? Check out Café Owners, How to Diversify Your Offerings & Increase Profits
Written by Caroline Claassen of Tremento, author of Create Buyer Personas For Your Restaurant and 10 Essential Photography Tips For Hospitality Brands.
Feature photo: Shoreditch Grind, London. Feature photo credit: Caroline Claassen
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