“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” These wise words from Benjamin Franklin still ring true today, and small businesses like coffee shops need to understand the importance of proper planning.
This is why we are looking at how to create a coffee shop marketing plan so your small business can bring in new customers and operate like a well-oiled marketing machine.
When it comes to developing a marketing strategy for a coffee shop, it can get overwhelming and frustrating since there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Your coffee shop and market are as unique as the people you serve, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what to do.
The good news is that with guidance and a basic outline, you can create an effective cafe marketing plan — and it’s probably not as hard as you might expect.
How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Coffee Shop
Do you want to create an effective marketing plan for your coffee shop? Follow these steps to have new customers walking through your door.
1. Establish Clearly Defined Goals for Marketing
Before you create any marketing plan, you have to know what your coffee shop and marketing goals are. Sure, you probably want to have the most successful cafe in town, but what is your coffee shop’s story? Have you established its mission?
Once you have these down, you can define your brand identity.
The next aspect of goal planning is to focus on marketing goals. Marketing is such a broad term, and it can do a multitude of things.
Before launching any plans, lay out your exact marketing goals and keep your brand identity at the top of your mind while you’re creating these goals. Your goals might include:
- Increasing overall sales
- Boosting brand awareness
- Improving profit in specific areas
- Creating higher engagement in social media
Once you have your brand identity and goals, you’ll have something to always circle back to when creating future marketing plans.
2. Get to Know Your Target Customer
It may feel counterintuitive to apply a blanket statement to the people who walk through your door. After all, each customer has different tastes.
But, in general, you need to have a deeper understanding of your customer base so you can develop more effective marketing strategies.
Information about your target customer might include:
- Zip code
- Age group (teenagers, middle-age, seniors)
Once your target audience is defined, then you can select the best advertising and promotional choices that will resonate with your potential customers. You can also use this information when designing your drink and food menus.
3. Understand Your Market Position
Knowing your position in the local market is a key part of your marketing strategy. We all know it’s impossible to be all things to all people, so what is it specifically your coffee shop is known for? What do you hope it will be the best at?
Part of this might be developing a slogan or a phrase you use with your marketing plans that represents your place in the market. For example, you might choose something that emphasizes how you get to know your customers on a personal level.
This could also trickle down to your menu choices, furniture placement, music, and overall ambience.
For example, if your market position is the best local coffee shop offering the largest selection of locally-made artisan breads, you would think about how your cafe supports this. You might also want your furniture to be arranged so people can grab their coffee and a bread loaf to go.
4. Articulate Your Marketing Strategy
The marketing strategy piece of the puzzle is a big one. This is where your goals, target audience, and how you want to be defined within the market all start to come together. It’s what drives your marketing decisions on a day-to-day basis.
Now it’s time to put real strategies on paper and then into action. Here are some strategies to implement.
Strategy #1: Create a Competitive Analysis
It’s important to know what your competition is doing. Are they introducing a special product each month or offering a subscription service? This may help with your own marketing ideas.
You might not need to copy everything they’re doing, but you should at least understand what is going on in your local market, including price points and drink selections.
Strategy #2: Launch a Company Website and Social Media
At the most basic level, your cafe needs a website and a strong social media presence. This will change over time, but you have to prioritize these items to keep up with the demand of today’s consumers.
If you feel like this is too hard to focus on, outsourcing it by hiring someone else or getting one of your employees to help is one way to tackle it.
Strategy #3: Get Online Reviews
Reviews are more important than ever, with locals and people who are traveling relying on ratings to make their drink decisions. Focusing — and even prioritizing — reviews on Yelp and Google can lead to people coming through your door.
Your website, in-store, and social media accounts are natural places to ask for reviews. You could even create fun contests and customer incentives for reviews.
Strategy #4: Develop Solid Advertising Campaign
It’s going to take more than word-of-mouth marketing, especially in the early stages of the business. You need to create a marketing budget to support your marketing efforts.
One suggestion I highly recommend is to consider adding Facebook ads to your cafe marketing plan. Here at Laptop Empires, Mike Yanda and I have built an entire community based on the effectiveness of Facebook ad campaigns.
Facebook has the ability to target local customers in a way that most other marketing strategies aren’t able to do. If you want to fast-track the idea of running ads the right way, we cover everything related to Facebook ads in our Facebook Side Hustle Course.
5. Create a Marketing Calendar
Your customers will want coffee almost 365 days of the year, which means you need to be ready to go with a calendar.
Taking time to plan and strategize months ahead (if possible) will keep you from scrambling at the last minute and help you avoid possibly spending money on marketing you don’t need or that doesn’t support your goals.
What kind of calendar do you need? Think about everything related to marketing to your customers that needs planning ahead of time.
This can include:
- Promotional activities, including menu specials, events, sales, and offers
- Social media planning
- Updates to the website, including blog posts, pictures, events calendar
- Advertising dates for the various marketing campaigns
While it may look like an overwhelming amount of information to keep track of, pre-planning on a regular basis will keep all the important details on track and in line with your overall marketing strategy.
6. Focus on Customer Retention
Once you obtain a new customer, part of your coffee shop marketing plan needs to focus on getting the customer to come back.
There are a number of ways to create customer loyalty. Of course, it starts with great customer service and a delicious cup of coffee. But how can you ensure your marketing plans support your focus on customer retention?
A few ideas might include:
- A rewards program. This could consist of a stamp or app where the customer builds up points to earn a reward.
- Offering online orders or through an app. Once someone has been to your coffee shop, they might be more comfortable ordering online or using an app. This makes it easier for them to stop by on a regular basis.
- Social sharing. Ask your customers to tag your coffee shop in a social media post and share on their account for a chance to win free coffee for a month.
The Final Word on Creating a Coffee Shop Marketing Plan
With all of the marketing strategies mentioned above, it’s a good idea to be flexible and willing to adapt as your own local market goes through changes.
Don’t be afraid to update your coffee shop marketing plan whenever you feel like your ideas are not gaining traction or might be getting stale. Your plan is as unique as your customers, which means you will constantly need to revisit it and strategize.