In 2019, it was revealed that the £10.1bn UK coffee shop sector achieved twenty years of sustained growth.
We’re in the midst of one of the greatest threats to the hospitality industry - the coronavirus pandemic.
As an independent cafe owner, this might make you wonder how you can compete against the big brands with their huge marketing budgets and high street locations.
The good news? You absolutely can compete on a level playing field with these big brands and come back stronger than ever from crises like Covid-19.
10 marketing ideas for cafes in 2021
So, what can your cafe do to stand out in 2021 and beat the economic impact of the coronavirus? Here’s ten tried-and-tested marketing ideas for cafes:
- Create a loyalty scheme
You don’t have to be a high street brand to have a loyalty scheme, but those coffee companies know just as well as anyone else that acquiring new customers is expensive. In fact, it could cost as much as 25 times more than retaining existing customers.
You don’t have to get too smart about this, either. You could have a simple stamped card where customers get their 10th coffee free.
- Join your local business networking group
Your cafe can be much more than a drinking venue, and by joining local networking events, you can be present within the business community and jump on any opportunity to offer your cafe as a networking venue.
- Update your Google My Business profile
Google My Business (GMB) received a big update during 2019, and it remains the most important directory on which to list your cafe.
You just need to spend plenty of time perfecting it, here’s some help to get started from Google https://support.google.com/business/?hl=en-GB#topic=4596754
- Use your own influencers
Influencer marketing is a brilliant way to offer social proof about your business and to hand the advertising reigns over to your customers.
Identify your loyal customers and ask if they’ll help spread the good word about your venue. Some will do so without encouragement, while others might want a reward for doing so. A guaranteed free cup of coffee each week in exchange for some Instagram love might be all that’s needed to further the reach of your brand considerably.
- Jump on the delivery bandwagon
Delivery is no longer purely for takeaways and big brand pizza businesses; every venue can now tap into the huge audience that wants food or drink delivered to homes and offices each week.
There are plenty of delivery apps and services to choose from, and the cost is surprisingly achievable for small operators.
- Email marketing
In 2021, email marketing is more important than ever if you want to reach a defined endpoint (the customer’s inbox) and build a layer of trust that’ll ensure they become a loyal customer.
Start by collecting email addresses from customers when they fill out feedback forms or sign-up for offers (making it clear you’ll be using their details for marketing purposes, of course).
- Behind-the-scenes videos and photo
Use your Instagram account to show a glimpse of what goes on behind-the-scenes in your cafe.
By showing morning preparations before service and interviews with staff, you’ll add personality to the business and provide something people love to see; what goes on ‘behind the curtain’.
- Ensure your website is mobile-ready
Ignore this marketing channel at your peril. Don’t spend a fortune on your website but do invest time in making sure if works on mobile devices.
- Make vegan, allergens and healthy eating a clear focus
Vegan cafes and restaurants are everywhere, and you’ll undoubtedly have seen an increase in venues that make their ability to cater for those with allergies abundantly clear.
You need to do the same, even if it means investing time and money in a new menu. Vegans, people with allergies and those who want healthy ‘eats’ will regularly walk through your doors; they shouldn’t have to ask if you can cater for them.
- Don’t ignore the local media
As an independent operator, you can still benefit significantly from coverage in local media. Your latest offer, next event or support of a local initiative (or charity) will be of interest to the local paper and radio - two marketing channels that are anything but dead.