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The Dream for every person who opens a cafe is to be busy, serving lots of happy customers and making a healthy profit.
The Reality, unfortunately is often not the case, new cafe’s face a lot of competition from both high street chains and other independents who are often more established, not to mention the high start up costs.
It’s for this reason that it’s essential new owners don’t rely on hope marketing to get people to come into their premises. To be successful you need to have a plan. It doesn’t need to be 10 pages long, in fact the more simple you make it the better chance you will have of implementing.
In this post I look at how you’re going to take your business from an unknown, to something which has a developing reputation, with a strong presence on and offline.
Marketing is not easy, there’s no magic bullet, it takes a lot of focus, time and attention to work through the process. Get it right and you’ll have a business which is closer to the dream. We start with your pre launch marketing.
Plan your marketing well before you open so you have the right pieces in place to implement them once you do launch.
When you first get the keys to your premises, instead of just covering the whole shop in paper so no one has any idea what you’re doing, first put a sign in the window which people passing can see.
The sign should give a little introduction to let potential customers know what the premises will be and what you will be about. Also direct them to your web site for updates on the fit out process which people love to see. You can also offer the chance to win an exclusive invite to your opening event.
Once you have customers subscribed to your pre launch list, create interest by doing short video or photo blogs of the fit out process, as well as your menus, your story, and what your aim is in creating the cafe as well as how you want to make it different and better.
There is so much info and a lot of it can be pre written / recorded for a drip release to your audience. The aim is to get people to feel like you’re going to be THE place to go.
Claim your business name on each Social Media site, you may not want to have a presence on all of them however it’s good to have them under your management. At the very least, you need to register on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and list on trip advisor as well.
Create a Media Press Release for all local media outlets advising of your launch and your business overview. Also invite some of the local media even food bloggers to come along to your opening event. They will then be able to report on the opening which will give you a LOT of free publicity.
For your launch event you could also get in touch with the mayor or you local MP as well. Most of these people are interested in promoting local business and will try to make themselves available even if it’s only for a short time. One other benefit, is it’s a great way to meet them (even if they are not to your political leaning) who knows, maybe you could further develop a business relationship with them at some point in the future.
Flyer Drops are another powerful way to attract people into your business. You can organise to have staff do an hour on their way home at the end of the shift or at quiet times during the day. Draw up a grid of areas you want to target and work through them. This can make a big impact but, it need’s to be done professionally so look at other flyer designs and see what works best. Then try to incorporate some of these ideas into your own flyer. Another benefit of this is that it can be pre planed and printed before you open so that the flyers are ready to be posted once you are open.
As I have already touched on, A Launch Party is going to be very effective. I would do two pre launches, the first one with friends and family will be like a dress rehearsal to make sure your staff can handle the official launch. For the official launch invite potential regulars, and local dignitaries and media along to.
This is all about marketing and creating buzz as a desirable location for people to go and have lunch, coffee, meetings etc. This is also a great time to thank people who have contributed to the fit out and design as well. It’s a great way to have some fun, celebrate the opening and develop some goodwill.
In the first few weeks it’s a good idea to have a few events planned (they don’t need to be overly complex) that will attract people into the business. You can do daily food samples to passers by, this works very well at getting people into the premises. Just keep it simple as you will be incredibly busy with all the other aspects involved in running the cafe but it is important to delegate ongoing business development to your team and keep the momentum up.
Social Media, remember you do not need to do everything yourself. Give your staff access to three accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, give them guidelines and let them know of any marketing you’re planing on doing so people will know about these things. Also have your team take photos and comment on social media about events that go on in your town or city.
One of the fastest ways to develop a marketing plan that works for the longer term, is to use the events that go on locally, nationally and internationally every year. Work out one or two events you want to promote each month and pre plan with your team how you can get people into your business on the back of it. Some things like Valentines day and Mothers day you should be able to come up with very quickly but something like a big sports event may need a little more planning.
Marketing does not need to be difficult, it does take some time and planning but it’s often left until the end of the day or simply never done. I want to remind you to make sure you have also put in place the first two cornerstones as these will allow your customers to get a great experience and want to return.
Before you open, take a couple of days to train your staff on all your policies and procedures in your business. It will cost you in staff costs, but the loss in revenue due to poor service and staff who don’t know what to do will cost you a lot more in the long run.
I have a question for you, what one of these strategies would you implement into your cafe launch?
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Thanks for reading.