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Loren Burgess
By
November 28, 2017

Bring in New Customers with These Four Simple Steps to Great Events in your Cafe

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When you’re running a coffee shop, getting more people through the door is always the goal. More customers means more sales, and more sales means more profits.

But how?

Think retail; think entertainment; think “retailtainment.” Putting on innovative, memorable events in your cafe, or using your shop as a space that others can hire out, is a great way to bring customers flocking to your store.

And, even more crucially, an event that goes well is one that guests will remember well.Icons animated-01.png

Here’s the upshot:

Ensuring that guests have great memories of your events is a surefire way to bring them back to your coffee shop time and time again. You want to build up a stock of goodwill with customers, both old and new.

Goodwill is what will make customers return to your coffee shop time and time again, and what distinguishes you in a busy marketplace. Guest goodwill is a valuable currency, and you need to build up as much of it as possible. 

This article will help you to make the most of guest goodwill, both on the day and later on, as guests turn into customers.

Putting on a Night to Remember

You don’t need a vast space or deep pockets to put on an event that will get people talking. There are plenty of ways to bring in guests on a shoe-string.

Here’s how:

You need to work with what you’ve got, and put your space to good use. Consider putting on events that have a low set-up cost. For instance, running a book club can be a good way of bringing in a set number of guests on a regular basis, but numbers are likely to be low.

Or, if you’ve got enough space to stash all your tables and chairs, you could hire your space out for a yoga class or something similar. Yogaville, in Toronto, is a hybrid Yoga studio-coffee shop, with both a dedicated space for classes, and a cafe for post-class mingling, but you don’t need to go that far:

Yoga Alliance Professionals runs accreditation programs for Yoga instructors, but more crucially, it has a directory of each and every Yoga teacher it accredits, with contact details and more.

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Think Yellow Pages, but more Flexible

On the other hand, an open mic night or gig can pull in the punters, but it may be harder to ensure that these events are a success time and time again.

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Findanopenmicnight.com does what it says on the tin -- it provides a directory of over 200 open mic nights across the UK, but it also has a plethora of handy tips for venues looking to host one. It offers advice from what kit to use to how to keep acts on-side.

Other coffee shops run tasting, or “cupping” sessions and coffee masterclasses in their stores -- this can be a great way to leverage your product, as well as getting people through the door.Icons animated-02.png

 The achingly trendy London-based chain, Workshop Coffee, run two different dedicated sessions on a regular basis, one that lets guests get behind the wheel of a professional espresso machine, and another that is focused on home brewing techniques such as Aeropress and V60 Pourovers.

 Even though these events might be cheap to run, they still have a set-up cost associated with them. This might be as simple as keeping a member of staff on hand to lock up afterwards, or printing off a few posters, but these are still costs, nonetheless.

Is there a way to get round this?

Yes, there is:

You could always outsource your events. Consider signing up to Sofar Sounds. Sofar Sounds is a platform that allows you to use your cafe or coffee shop as the venue for an intimate acoustic gig.

Sofar Sounds manages its own concerts, booking artists and selling tickets through its own website, so as a host, you don’t have to do very much at all.

Sofar Sounds operates in venues around the world, in spaces that vary wildly, from people’s living rooms to narrowboats to -- yes -- coffee shops.

They also have a pretty robust liability policy, meaning that if something untoward happens, they carry the can and pay for damages.

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Making the Most out of Your Events

So, you’ve got the ball rolling. You’re organising your first event. But it’s no good just putting these events on; you’ve got to make the most of each opportunity to sell, and to up-sell, that your event puts in your way.

Here’s the deal:

Every guest your event brings in is a potential customer. And if you’re not slinging coffee and cakes left, right and centre at these events, then you’re missing an open goal.

Also, consider the timing and the nature of your event.

You don’t have to stick to your normal menu, and expanding your offering can be a good way of offering value to your customers, who might be tempted by something novel.

Icons animated-04.pngIf you’re putting on a gig in the evening, for instance, then it might be worth applying to your local council for a Temporary Events Notice, a kind of one-night alcohol license. These are relatively simple to apply for, and don’t cost much, so it’s certainly worth the small outlay.

You also need to offer guests a reason to come back -- to become customers.

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Mailing Matters: Events to Expand your Email List

As well as keeping the tills ringing, events guests can provide you with a valuable source of information. Running ticketed events allows you to collect guests’ email addresses, meaning you can add to your mailing list.

If the aim of your event is to reach new people who wouldn’t otherwise frequent your coffee shop then this is vital, because this is your opportunity to convert one-time guests into repeat customers.

How to go about this?

Email marketing services such as Mailchimp, the market leader, and Mailerlite, a cheap and simple competitor aimed at email marketing newbies, can create smart mailing lists that allow you to target customers with precision.

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This means that you can tempt guests who came to your event back into your shop with targeted mail-shots.

Canny use of email marketing allows you to talk directly to your customers. But you need to be smart about it. The aim is to send tailored emails to interested readers. This is a great way to build up goodwill among your guests, and make sure that they come back time and time again.

How many times have you heard your phone ping, only to find that it’s an email beginning “Dear Customer,” from “marketing @ wherever.com”?

That’s how not to do it.

Emails like that are on the highway to the trash can -- if, that is, they’re not flagged as spam. 

Email marketing services can also provide analytics on who’s reading your emails and when, meaning that you can optimise your mail campaigns based on real-time statistics.

This lets you send personal emails that speak directly to your customers. For instance, you could email guests who gave their email address when they bought a ticket, thanking them for coming and offering them an enticing voucher or special offer to lure them back in.

Or, you can create a smart list that targets customers who haven’t opened an email in a while, say, in 90 days -- chances are, they haven’t been instore, either. Sending them a message saying “We miss you!” can be a powerful reminder.

Another powerful way to connect with customers is to collect their birth dates along with their email addresses and send them a birthday message. This is as simple as creating an email with an automated trigger that sets it to send on a milestone.

The upshot:

You can make sure the guests who come for events turn into loyal customers, while collecting valuable data that lets you engage more personally with your customers.

Now that’s a win-win.

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Use Events to Generate Social Media Buzz

 

Real, live, in-the-flesh events might seem like the antithesis of social media, but you can use one to complement the other.

Here’s how:

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Advertising your event via social media is an obvious step -- a Facebook event takes no time to set up, and you can use its responses to gauge levels of interest.

One benefit is that when someone says they’re going to an event or registers interest, their friends will see, and get linked to the event, meaning that the word will spread organically across the social network.

Events allow you to create a human bond between you and your customers, but it also allows you to piggyback on the bond between acts and their audience.

Here’s how:

Creating a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, and encouraging guests to post to it, can quickly see your social media following expand, as people who follow acts playing in your space or professionals using your coffee shop discover you.

Staying in close contact with the people putting on events in your space means that you can encourage them to promote your space as part of their social media push.

Live-streaming is another powerful social tool. Use apps like Facebook Live, or Twitter’s alternative, Periscope, to reach viewers around the world.

What can they do for you?

These can be a great way of raising awareness for your events. Live-streaming works particularly well if you are running a series of events. Viewers spend three times longer watching live video than they do video content that’s no longer live.

That’s three times as long to showcase your space and the exciting things going on there. And, if that’s not enough, Facebook’s News Feed puts live content front and centre. Live video posts are also shared 135% more than photos, giving them a far greater organic reach than any other type of post.

Dunkin’ Donuts, one of the biggest coffee chains in the world, used Facebook Live to give viewers a tour of its huge, industrial kitchens, but it’s a small jump to using it in your space.

Live video lets you invite viewers from around the world into your cafe, to view events, or to get an insight into how you work.

Periscope and Facebook Live also offer analytics, so you can track not just how many people view your videos, but also where your viewers are, how long they spend watching, and much more besides.

Running events in your cafe can be a great way to bring in customers who might otherwise pass you by, but it’s important to make sure that you’re making the most out of every opportunity.