Coffee Shop Promotional Ideas: Good, Better and Best
Your coffee shop has a great selection of delicious coffee drinks and a wide variety of tasty snacks. But we all know how competitive the coffee business is. You have advertised, run specials, and sent coupons. Now it’s time to go a step further. What are some creative ideas that will promote your café even more?
To effectively promote your coffee shop and get noticed, you need to stand out and keep people talking about you. Serving quality products in a clean and inviting café will give you a solid foundation. Add a strong social media presence and some community outreach along with your unique specialties to bring new, soon-to-be loyal customers through your door.
How do you ensure that your name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue? You need a promotion that packs a punch—one that is memorable and effective. The longer you stay at the front of people’s minds, the sooner they’ll be heading to your coffee shop for their morning energy jolt and their afternoon pick-me-up.
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Some Good Coffee Shop Promotional Ideas
There are so many good promotions for your coffee shop. You can offer an early bird discount, for example. Or you could give a free cookie to children with the purchase of an adult coffee. And, we can’t forget about that “Buy nine, get the tenth cup free” scratch-off card for regular customers.
It’s also fun—and effective— to get a little creative with your specials. You could try some promotions like these:
A seasonal or holiday special: One popular idea is to offer a discounted pastry with the purchase of a regular-sized drink. Or you could market a “feeling festive” buy one get one free (or half-price) promo. And use the change of seasons or holidays to introduce a new flavor or other specialty drink.
Advertise a discount code on your social media page: Social media mentions are the new word of mouth and a coupon that gets liked and shared will multiply your marketing efforts at no additional cost to you. It has been shown that consumers trust the opinions of family and friends over any other form of advertising. So, a social media mention is too valuable a recommendation to pass up.
A discount code printed on the receipt that is valid for their next visit: A new customer is great but returning customers are even better. An incentive to bring them back sooner is never a bad thing.
A “guess the number of coffee beans in the jar” contest: A fun promotion that engages your visitors beyond just satisfying their need for a hot beverage is very effective. And, you could allow one guess every time they visit to keep bringing them back in.
An eye-catching storefront display: As we have said, competition is fierce. The first step in attracting customers is to get their attention and a nice, colorful display out front can do the trick. You’ll gain many a new, drive-by customer simply by being easy to see.
These are definitely some good and effective ideas. But they are all fairly common. What can we do to make them better?
Coupons and discounts bring customers in. But what happens when the shop down the road offers a bigger or more exciting discount? You can only reduce your prices so much. A good promotion will bring you good results. But a better promotion will be a bigger draw that will get your café noticed and visited.
What if you took your good promotion ideas and went a step further to build upon those results?
Guest Loyalty Cards: To improve upon this promo, you could offer a double scratch-off period during your non-peak times. Or, you can change the concept of the loyalty card altogether and offer routine discounts on regular items. And there is always the option to reward loyal customers with a free upsize on their drinks.
Holiday Specials: If you make your promotions interactive, customers will become more engaged. Engaged customers stay longer. And, customers who stay longer drink more coffee and eat more snacks. So, rather than a standard holiday discount, try to involve your guests. You could reward those wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, for example. Or, maybe pull at their heartstrings and make an emotional connection. We know how much people love their pets. So, a photo contest of the best-costumed pet at Halloween would bring customers in and keep them emotionally invested.
Social Media Promotions: As we have said, social media gives you valuable free publicity. Instead of just offering a promo code on your business page, try something like a contest to name your newest seasonal drink. Or, you can offer a random gift to one of the first 10, 25, 100—or whatever significant number you choose—of those who comment on your post.
“Good on Your Next Visit” Coupon: We are quickly moving toward a paperless society. And people often throw receipts in the trash. Your “next visit” coupon could be not a coupon at all, but instead one of the reusable mugs you currently have for sale. Or, you can offer half-price refills on any thermos purchased from your coffee shop.
A “Solve the Mystery” Contest: To expand on the good “guess the number of beans” contest and make it better, have a contest that is a little more involved and maybe a little more difficult. It can be anything from a coffee trivia challenge to a local history question with a new clue released every week. It is only limited by your imagination.
An Interactive Storefront Display: You want your storefront to first be eye-catching. But ultimately, you need to draw customers in. And it’s even better if you can encourage your guests to spend a little time at your café. What if you hosted a specialty coffee tasting one Saturday a month? Or maybe your talented baristas could showcase their latte art skills and demonstrate to your visitors how it is done.
So, yes, it is very good to draw customers into your shop. And a better promotion will keep them engaged for a longer period of time, get them emotionally involved, and, best yet, bring them back again and again.
According to Merriam-Webster, best means “offering or producing the greatest advantage.” The meaning of best is clear. But, beyond that, the definition offers a pretty general concept.
The best idea for a coffee shop in a small, rural community might be a complete flop in a large city. And a coffee-tasting event at a café in a business park may have little draw among those hurrying off to work. What then is the best promotion?
The best coffee shop promotion is any promotion that gets the job done well. It comes from understanding your market and anticipating the wishes of your customers.
The best coffee shop promotion will attract not only your regular patrons but your target consumers as well. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Your café is unique, and so are your customers. The best coffee shop promotion, then, is the one that fits your niche and reaches the people you want to connect with.
Studies have shown that, for the biggest impact, a promotion should last about five weeks. Not only that, but certain times of the year—like the holiday season—are more effective than others. And, it’s important to not run promotions continuously. Have some breaks in between so your new deals really get noticed.
What are some good coffee shop event ideas?
The possibilities for an event at your coffee shop are endless. Depending on your niche, you might host a family event like a board game night, a couple’s paint night, or even an open mic event. You could go the traditional route with a coffee tasting. Or, think outside the box and host a speed-date night.
Should I offer a coffee shop happy hour?
A coffee hour is a great way to bring clients into your shop during non-peak hours. It allows you time to connect with them and build relationships in a way that isn’t possible during busy times. Happy hours are valuable opportunities to introduce new specials and seasonal items. With the lower prices, your profit margins won’t be as high. But the increase in loyal customers will make these events well worth it.
The decision to partner with a third-party delivery service depends largely on your location. And, it is not without risk—although a third-party service may have high standards for quality control, they may not match your standards. But the benefits can definitely outweigh the risks, especially if you are in an urban area or a large suburb. A café located in a small town or rural area, however, might not have enough demand to profit from working with a separate delivery service.
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!