Slow day at your coffee shop? Just the espresso machine for company? We’ve all been there. When your cafe is buzzing and the till keeps ringing, it’s great. But when business is slow and footfall is low, the days just drag, don’t they?
Running a coffee shop can be a tricky business sometimes. You can have the finest coffee beans in the world and make latte art worthy of Picasso, but that’s no good if there’s no-one about to drink it. Well, what if you could have customers queueing out the door?
These five simple tips will send your footfall sky-high, keep your coffee shop full through the slowest days, and ensure that your seats stay full and the tills keep ringing:
So, here’s the deal:
At a time when high streets are packed full of identikit chain shops, your storefront is an increasingly valuable marketing tool.
So it’s important to take a look outside and think about what potential customers see when they see your cafe.
What do they see?
Do they see somewhere welcoming? Somewhere inviting? Somewhere they’d like to spend their time and money?
Making sure you have a welcoming shopfront is vital in converting pedestrians into customers.
Think about how your products are displayed. Are you making the most of your high-value items, like sandwiches and cakes? If you sell cakes, spending some time making them look irresistible could mean the difference between potential customers walking by and walking in.
What do I need to do?
Think about how you are perceived.
Why do customers choose your coffee shop, and what do they want out of it?
Do your customers curl up in a sofa with a book and a latte for hours on end, or do you attract busy commuters caffeinating on their way to the station?
You need to work out how best to maximise your potential, whether through investing in attractive signage, displays, and furnishings to lure in thirsty customers, or paring down to get your coffee into the customers’ hands as quickly as possible.
Here’s the thing:
Curb appeal matters.
Managing to convert pavement traffic to footfall is vital for businesses like coffee shops and cafes, so you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to make your storefront as inviting as possible — your storefront is your best advertising tool, after all. For those in need of some inspiration, Pinterest has countless examples to fit every space and every budget.
At the very least, make sure that your shopfront is sparkling clean and well-maintained.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it count.
Now that your coffee shop looks welcoming and inviting, you need to get your name out there. And it makes sense to start with those closest to you.
Statistically speaking 85% of your customers will live within five miles of your business.
If you’re not advertising to these people, you’re missing an open goal.
And in marketing, sometimes the old ways are the best. Try handing out leaflets or postcards to passers-by — make sure you get people's’ attention.
Or, try sending leaflets to houses and offices within a few miles of your cafe. And it’s worth taking the time to make these stand out from the crowd, to convert pavement traffic into footfall.
But doesn’t this entail a huge outlay?
Don’t you need to hire a designer and find a printing service?
Making noticeable leaflets and flyers is simple now — there are a whole host of online design services that take the pain out of design and printing, with easy online tools and same-day printing.
A relative newcomer to the on-demand printing market, moo.com is known for its striking designs and luxe paper options, while perennial favourite vistaprint.co.uk offers everything from 7x5 flyers and leaflets to tote bags and high-quality, insulated keep cups which you can brand with your logo — the perfect thing to sell on the side, while getting your name out there.
Not only is this a good way of getting people carrying around your logo everywhere, it’s great for the environment: the University of Edinburgh started selling keep cups in 2011, and since then, has managed to sell 18,900, saving five million disposable cups from landfill.
Here’s the bottom line:
Direct marketing might seem old-hat, but it is hard to ignore, especially when it’s done well.
Direct marketing is a powerful tool, but it’s important to cultivate a social media following.
A lot of independent cafes and coffee shops don’t do this, because they feel it takes up too much time. But with a little forward-thinking, and a solid social media plan, it is quick and simple to build a dedicated group of followers who will come back time and time again.
No matter what platform (or platforms) you go for, it is important to think about who your customers are. What do they value, and how do they choose to spend their time?
And, of course, it should create value for you, too — when that photo of a perfectly-made latte or an inviting sofa has your name attached, it reminds customers of you, and nudges them towards your door.
Choosing the right platform for your business is important. Facebook is far and away the most popular social platform with nearly 1.6 billion users to date, and it is invaluable for anyone looking to organise events, but it may not be the best way to reach your audience.
Twitter provides an easy way to reach an audience of thousands and cultivate a distinctive voice, but the 280-character snippets of text are low-value on their own. By contrast, creating the perfect Instagram post takes a lot of effort, but a snap of the perfect #flatwhite with your name attached can really entice customers.
Once you’ve identified this, you can put it to good use, and tailor your social media offering to fit your customers’ needs. Good social media should create value for your followers, no matter whether it’s a 500-word blog post, a 50-character Tweet, or an Instagram that says a thousand words.
Just because Twitter and Facebook never stop, that doesn’t mean you always have to be logged on. Lining up a week’s worth of Tweets and Facebook posts is simple with tools like Buffer, and Hootsuite. Instagram is a little more fiddly, because you can’t upload from their desktop client, but there are still useful tools such as ScheduGram and Later that allow you to schedule posts -- you just have to hit the ‘upload’ button at the right time.
These tools allow you to schedule posts, making it easy to maintain a constant and consistent social presence, and have powerful analytics tools so that you can see what works and what doesn’t, who views your posts, and where and when they do so. But they are tailored to different audiences.
Buffer links up with virtually every social media website around, allowing you to post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. This makes it easy for you to keep a consistent identity across all forms of media.
Meanwhile, Hootsuite is a powerful tool for Twitter users, especially those wanting to make the most out of Twitter’s sometimes-complex paid adverts.
No matter how you decide to manage your social media, it’s important to consider when you post. How much you post is less important than making sure that your reach is as large as possible. You need to take into account when your followers are online, and how you interact with them.
What’s the take-home from this?
A good social media marketing strategy is very different from a good direct marketing strategy, but you can’t afford to neglect either.
So, you’ve got customers flooding in. Great!
But what is the best way to ensure repeat customers?
Everyone wants something for nothing -- or at least for very little.
This drive is something that you can leverage:
Giving away freebies can be an excellent way to keep footfall consistent, especially if you’re smart about it.
Rather than just giving out little samples of cake, consider giving away slices. Sounds crazy, right? Not if you ask something in return — like an email address.
Offering customers a voucher for a free coffee or cake in exchange for their email is a sneaky way of doing three things:
More on this last point:
These apps allow you to send professional-looking emails easily, and create smart mailing lists that target customers with pin-point precision. For instance, you can set up a welcome email which is sent to each new customer who signs up.
Everyone appreciates the personal touch, and spending some time collecting emails and setting up a mail list is a way to ensure that they return again and again.
One surefire way to keep footfall high and ensure repeat customers is to reward their loyalty. You can do this the old-fashioned way, with a little stamp card — this might seem like the simplest way of doing things.
But what if there were a smarter way to reward loyalty?
All those free coffees can add up, and traditionally there’s no way of knowing how many of those little stamp cards are floating around, how many people are completing them, and how many are just sitting in peoples’ wallets.
This creates waste.
But what’s the alternative?
Starbucks has been credited with revolutionising the loyalty card system, introducing an app that helped to increase its revenue to $2.65 billion back in 2008, piggybacking on the success of the first ever iPhone. But you don’t have to be a multinational Frappuccino juggernaut to implement loyalty services.
There are powerful, data-driven loyalty tools that make it quick and easy to track precisely what your customers are buying, and who’s buying what, and when.
This lets you tailor your offerings customer-by-customer, and track how successful your loyalty campaigns are.
This means you can track repeat customers and reward their loyalty, giving them a powerful incentive to keep coming back again and again.
There are a number of ways to expand your footfall, from minor tweaks to major overhauls, but what they all involve is trying to understand what value your business offer its customers, and how to increase this. If you have this down then you’re well on your way to customers queueing out the door.