Making your coffee shop stand out from the crowd
The number of places to buy a coffee in the UK has more than doubled over the last decade, with the big chains leading this surge in growth. By 2021 it’s forecast that we’ll have around 9,400 branded coffee shops in the UK, with a turnover of £6 billion annually (Project Café2017 UK Report, Allegra)
With this much competition, how can you make your coffee shop stand out?
Remember your brand is the face and personality of your business. Decide who your target customers are and the brand values you want to communicate. Getting this bit right at the beginning will help create your competitive advantage.
The most important thing is to be unique and offer that ‘special something’ that will attract a loyal customer base and keep bringing new customers in.
Your brand should be eye-catching, recognisable, memorable and should be adopted across all marketing materials
How might this be achieved?
Well it’s rare to have truly unique selling points in a commodity market, but think about a number of traits that can set your business apart from the competition.
Consider your location. Is there anything around that you can use to your advantage? Any specific landmarks, or places where certain businesses are clustered? For example, if your coffee shop is close to a number of law firms or the court, it might be the ideal place for busy legal eagles to take time out from the office. Establishing a connection with these businesses can help build a specific clientele or community.
With your target customer in mind, create a venue that they’ll want to walk into. The décor and layout is important when attracting new customers but it’s the ambience that makes them want to revisit. Don’t play loud music if your customers come in to have a chat; make sure that there’s a good Wi-Fi connection and plenty of accessible power sockets if your customers are busy professionals taking a working lunch, and if you want to create a space where customers can unwind, make sure you’ve a draught-free cosy corner with sofas and plenty of magazines and books. Think about the style of the crockery and cutlery you use too.
Develop your coffee offering. Why is your coffee different? Is it from a local roaster? Do you offer speciality flavours, organic, or use more sophisticated equipment to brew your drinks? Let your customers know about it through point of sale material and social media.
What about the menu? Could you cater for special diets? Gluten-free? Vegan? Don’t just think about the items on the menu, but the menu’s style – its layout, colour and even the font you use. Be creative with names. If you’re near an art gallery why not give your cakes names such as Picasso, Turner, Hockney and Renoir? And remember, a menu isn’t for ever. Keep ringing the changes to keep customers interested and coming back for more.
Getting and keeping customers
Now your brand is set, you’ll want to let people know about it. Build awareness and repeat business through a marketing campaign. It needn’t cost a fortune.
- Get some flyers and posters printed. Bright bold posters can be displayed in your own shop window, the flyers distributed round local businesses. Include a map on the flyer so customers can find you. Have an introductory offer.
- Offer free samples to passers-by to draw attention to your shop
- Make a quirky, eye-catching A-board for outside your shop
- Have good, durable loyalty cards with your logo on them
- Capture email addresses with feedback cards – and learn what your customers like or don’t like
- Use social media to keep your brand in the public’s eye. Engage with your followers. Tweet your offers and promotions, share your delicious dishes on Instagram. Post photos of customers having a great time.
Just remember, competition can be fierce when you’re running a coffee shop. You’ll need to work hard to keep your brand visible, make sure yours is the go-to coffee shop, and keep your seats full all week long. It’ll be worth it though!