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Outside the Box Marketing Ideas for Coffee Shops

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Standing out in a world full of constant marketing can be difficult. Especially when you’re a coffee shop in a world full of cafes, coffee carts, and Starbucks who are all competing for the same customers.

Marketing your coffee shop in a way which makes people pay attention isn’t always easy, but promoting your business just that little bit differently may be all you need to get those customers flowing through the door.

Here are some outside the box marketing ideas for coffee shops to get your creative marketing juices flowing…


Say it with a Video

With faster internet speeds and unlimited data allowances, people are happily watching video content these days. Take the visual nature of social media to the next level by posting clips of your coffee shop in action.

Whether it’s a quick pan of the room on a busy Saturday morning, punters enjoying a special event, or a behind-the-scenes of your kitchen at work, it’s a super effective way to give viewers a feel for your café. You can build your brand identity through videos by portraying the vibe, personality, and feel of your café.

Tailor your videos to the platform – short clips on Vine, food montages on Instagram, behind-the-scenes shenanigans on SnapChat, and social videos with patrons on Facebook.

Start a Referral Program

This is like Loyalty Card 2.0.

Instead of the classic “Buy nine coffees, get the 10th free”, offer rewards for referring a new customer to your café. This is a great way to build a client base and reward loyal customers.

Take it even further by running it online. Encourage a patron to post a picture at your café and tag five friends. If the tagged friends come in the original posters get a reward. This not only brings in new patrons, it leverages all the powerful marketing tools of social media.

Funny Sidewalk Signs

Chalkboards with funny statements are so hot right now. It only takes writing “funny café…” into the search bar before Google auto-fills “signs.” Everyone loves a humorous sidewalk sign.

It’s a great reminder that everything you do offline can end up online, and that’s a great thing. Entertaining or amusing your customers is a wonderful thing, especially if they find it great enough to post on social media. It’s the best kind of advertising you can get – it holds more sway with potential customers, and you didn’t have to put any effort into it!


Let Your Customers Pick the Daily Special

Now, this may not work for every coffee shop or café, and your chef might hate you for it, but if you can manage an online campaign where your customers pick the special of the day (even if it’s a couple of days in advance), you’re going to get some great marketing mileage out of it.

Set up a hashtag and let your customers vote for what they want the special to be. Give them some choices. Even if it’s not food items it could be “2 for 1 coffee”, a free muffin with every coffee, or half price coffee, then everyone can vote which promotion they’d prefer.

This works in multiple ways. Firstly, people love to feel like they’ve got some control and that they’re being listened to. Secondly, the awareness of your special offer will be huge, as every follower of each voter on social media will see it.

Personalize Cups, Wrappers, Receipts…

We all a love a little smiley face and “have a great day” on our receipts – adding a personal touch gives us warm fuzzies. It makes the customer feel good toward your business.

Getting this so on point that the customer feels compelled to take a picture and share it on social media is an art, but it’s worth giving it a shot. Even if it’s as simple as spelling a really difficult name correctly, this can be amazing PR for your business.

Starbucks nailed it with their White Cup Contest which got customers to draw on their white cup and upload it to social media. Find your own version of the white cup contest and your name (and your coffee) will be on people’s lips.

Alex Sizer

Alex Sizer is a red wine lover, content writer and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing her own travel blog, she's writing for The Social Savior's content team.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Laurie says:

    I love funny sidewalk signs and when people personalize receiptps -that is a great touch. Perfect suggestions, thanks for sharing!

  2. […] street vending van. The key to a great coffee shop isn’t so much in the coffee itself, but in the coffee shop marketing and the ambiance. The trick with a coffee shop is to remember that people aren’t really paying […]

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