If you could afford to eat out every day would you do so? I know that I would. I go out of my way every morning to pick up a coffee on my walk to work even though I would save at least 100 minutes and $25 a week if I made coffee at home. That special feeling of going to my favourite local coffee shop and starting my day off with a special treat is what makes me spend the extra time and money, and I know I'm not alone. According to an analysis of historical data on food-spending habits by the University of Arkansas, eating out has increased from 25.9% of consumers in 1970 to a current record of 43.5%.
Along with going out to eat, consumers love supporting local. The Yodle Consumer Insight Report states that consumers look for quality over price. While 77% believe that national chains offer more competitive prices 72% are willing to pay more to a local business for better quality. With all this information, we know that as a local coffee shop or restaurant you are at an advantage to being a leading choice for your community. Now the question stands, how can you position your business to stand out amongst other local options? How can you market yourself so that customers will think of you business first when deciding where to go for dinner or coffee? Creating a budget and marketing plan to keep your customers engaged and making your customers think of your restaurant as their #1 choice is what will make you stand out above the rest.
The marketing rule of 7 says that a customer needs to see or hear about your brand at least 7 times before they trust it. Almost everyone is on social media every day, posting on Instagram once a day makes it possible for you to gain trust with your audience in just 1-2 weeks. That being said, people are also bombarded with post and advertising so you want to make sure that your content is high quality and will stand out.
Set aside time to take high quality photos and plan thought out captions. If you don’t have a knack for taking photos, reach out to someone on your staff that loves social media and is creative and cut out time on their calendar to take some photos for you. There are also apps that will automate posts for you so you can set it and forget it.
Having a loyalty program can cost as little as $49 a month with more advanced packages costing between $99 - $189 a month. Loyalty programs get your customers excited about your business and creates a way for them to join your fan club. Loyalty programs can help make a new or semi-regular customer a loyal customer.
Most loyalty platforms also provide marketing tools where you can communicate to your audience via text, push notifications, and email. These marketing tools are an important way to personally connect with your audience and prompt them to come in for special promotions and events. Having a loyalty program is a very affordable and diverse way to market and invite your customers to come in more often.
Taking time to make a strong brand is so important in today’s culture. Branding your togo and disposable products tell your story is a way to have a walking advertisement. Having sleeves and to go cups that have your logo on it is the most basic step.
Brand recognition is an affordable way to spread your business' message and brand. Having to go lids that are a unique colour so that when customers see it they think of your coffee shop or restaurant. Having your phone number, catering information, or logo on your napkins are an amazing marketing tactic as well. Your customers might not take time to read a sign on your window, but they will most likely be intrigued to read a message that you put on a napkin as almost everyone will use a napkin. You’re already purchasing these products, so spending a little bit more on your togo or throw away items and having them personalized and branded can be an affordable way to market your company, product, and services.
Word of Mouth
According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than they do advertising. In order for your customers to be spreading a positive word of mouth, your staff needs to be creating an amazing experience from start to finish
Making sure that your store is kept clean and up-to-date, having a positive vibe, and insuring that the product that your customers are purchasing is high quality and consistency are just a few ways to build a strong atmosphere and experience that will get your customers sharing their favourite coffee shop with their friends.
Connecting with a local blogger to market your coffee shop or restaurant can be an affordable way to market. Most Bloggers or Instagrammers are excited to work with local businesses. Reaching out to a local blogger and proposing a collaboration where they post about your business in exchange for a free gift card can be an affordable way to market. You can even partner with them to do a giveaway where customers that follow their Instagram and your business’ Instagram will enter to win a free gift card.
Almost 90% of marketers say their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75% say they’ve increased traffic, that stat alone is an example that spending time on building your brand and marketing is the key to growing your sales. In the age of technology where word of mouth can spread as fast as it takes to post a tweet or send a text message, investing in marketing is no longer an option but is now the main avenue to growing sales.