How to Advertise a Cafe

How to Advertise a Cafe

Opening a cafe is exciting, but it’s no easy task. While getting customers to stop by can seem daunting at first, there are tons of marketing tools you can use—from old school methods to modern forms of advertising—to help you reach out to potential customers and keep them coming back. It’s best to use a mixture of traditional and modern marketing methods to reach as many people as you can. That way, you can expand your customer base and turn your cafe into a hot spot!

Method 1 of 2:
Marketing the Traditional Way

1
Make sure your cafe’s sign is clear and visible. Spend money getting a professional sign for your store—it's worth the expense so people know you're there and open for business! Make sure the lettering is clear and easy to read from a distance. [1] X Research source After getting your sign installed, drive around the block or go across the street to make sure you can read it clearly from different viewpoints. Pick a font and style that complements the feel of your cafe. For instance, if the interior is ultra-modern, blocky lettering might be more fitting than signature-style cursive.
2
Run advertisements in local newspapers. Contact locally published small presses and magazines to ask about how you can buy ad space. Be sure to pick a paper or magazine that your ideal customer base is likely to pick up. That way, the ad will be more effective. [2] X Research source Consider offering a coupon along with the ad. For instance, you might give customers a 2-for-1 coffee for bringing in the advertisement. This is a good way to know that your ad is working! The cost to run an ad depends on your location and the circulation size of the paper or magazine. The size and whether it’s in black and white or color also make a difference. For instance, a small local newspaper that’s free to pick up might charge around $12 for a 1–2 in (2.5–5.1 cm) advertisement.
3
Host a media event to get exposure and build up hype. Invite local photographers and as many people as you can to come to your cafe for an event (like your grand opening!). Reach out to all of the contacts and customers you've made so far as well as friends, family members, and acquaintances. [3] X Research source If you plan to display local artists’ work on the walls, you might host an art opening for a night to get the buzz going about your cafe. Consider teaming up with a charity that you support to encourage more people to come out for a worthy cause.
4
Print flyers or small menus to post in public places or distribute by hand. Create attractive-looking flyers or miniature menus and post them up around your local neighborhood. High-traffic areas like public parks, community bulletin boards, and utility posts are good spots. You can even hand them out to passersby with a friendly smile if you like the idea of face-to-face marketing—just don't be too aggressive or get in their way. [4] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Small Business Administration U.S. government agency focused on supporting small businesses Go to source Make sure to only post flyers on public message boards or other places where it's legal to post. Grocery stores, malls, doctor's waiting rooms, and laundromats are good places to start. Ask an events venue if you can hand out flyers while people stand in line. While many business owners stick flyers or menus under the front windshield wiper on people's cars, this isn't a great marketing method. Some people can find it invasive and off-putting. If you have friends in the service industry, ask them if you can put some of your flyers in their establishment. Don’t try to post your flyers in someone else’s restaurant (or on their private property) without asking.
5
Personalize the customers’ experience with branded cups and dishware. If it’s feasible for your budget, consider getting customized mugs, cups, plates, and dishware that bear the name of your cafe or your logo. If you offer to-go cups for coffee and drinks, a custom-made stamp or sticker is a cost-effective way to give your customers that little extra touch. [5] X Research source You can order a customized rubber stamp for to-go cups and containers online for as little as $5.
6
Talk about your cafe to as many people as you can. Be your own best marketing tool! Whether you're speaking with acquaintances, family members, or strangers, let them know what you're doing and why it's so great. Carry business cards with you so they know where the cafe is and how to get in touch. [6] X Research source However, don't talk someone's ear off about how great your cafe is because that can be a huge buzzkill and make you come off as disingenuine.
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Method 2 of 2:
Using Technology

1
Build a website with a personal message and all the necessary details. Purchase a domain name and choose a host for your website. Be sure to post your full menu, location, and contact information under different tabs on the homepage so it’s easy to navigate. You can even include your story to let customers know why you founded the cafe and why you're so passionate about serving them. [7] X Research source You'll probably end up paying anywhere from $10 to $15 a year to keep your website up and running. Update your site regularly, especially if you have rotating menu specials or weekly deals. Include lots of enticing photos that will draw your customers in (e.g., a high-quality photo of a cozy cup of joe and a pastry on a quaint little table). If you want to take online orders, set up a special tab and platform for that. Don't forget to test it out so it works as smoothly as possible. Make sure to add a mobile plugin so your site is just as easy to navigate from a phone or tablet.

Tip : Here's an example of something you might write for a personal “My Story” message: "Growing up in rural Italia got me hooked on the aroma of freshly baked sfogliatelle commingling with the fresh scent of grape vineyards wafting in from the casement windows. I have specially curated my menu to capture this feeling of old Italia and to pay homage to my Mother (and the greatest pastry chef I've ever known), Elena. I am honored to share a piece of my home with you."

2
Create social media profiles for your business. Start accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to market your cafe and engage with potential customers. Post lots of enticing photos as well as any special deals you have going on to keep people in the loop. You can even share short videos showing your customers what goes on behind-the-scenes in your cafe. [8] X Research source Giving behind-the-scenes shots can be charming and funny—both things that will make customers want to support you and your business. If you dread the thought of using social media (or have little knowledge of how to use the various platforms), have a trusted employee manage the profiles for you—just be sure to pay them extra for their time. A huge benefit of having a social media site is that you can encourage your customers to take and post photos—free advertising! You can even offer your customers a special perk (like 20% or a free pastry) for uploading a quality photo. If you have a cushy budget, consider putting ads on Facebook or connecting with influencers to market your cafe goods.
3
Make sure your cafe's site shows up in browser search results. Register your site on Google My Business to make your cafe's site show up in geographic search results. Use relevant keywords in your site headings and titles so your site will pop up when someone googles something like "Denver cafe" or "Denver cafe in LODO neighborhood." [9] X Research source This is also referred to as SEO (search engine optimization). If you’ve hired a web developer to build your site, they’ll know all the ins and outs about boosting your site’s SEO. If you’ve built it yourself, your chosen host likely has a blog or “Help” feature to show you exactly how to do it on the page builder.
4
Personalize your owner profile on various review sites. Manage your cafe's online presence on various different platforms like Yelp, Facebook, OpenTable, Zomato, TripAdvisor, or Google My Business. Make sure your cafe's opening hours, location, and contact information are correct. Upload a professional photo of yourself or the cafe’s logo or sign so you can interact with customers who leave reviews. [10] X Research source If the review site allows you to add a menu, upload it! The more information people have about what you're offering, the more likely they are to come in. To encourage people to leave (hopefully good) reviews, post little placards on each table or add a line about reviewing the cafe on the bottom of the receipt. You can even offer them a freebie or small discount for posting a review or for "checking in" on one of the platforms. Respond to as many reviews as you can and be extra cordial and generous in replying to any not-so-great reviews.

Fun Fact : Increasing your engagement on review websites (in a friendly manner) can help boost your cafe's star rating. A researcher at Harvard Business School found that even a 1-star improvement on Yelp increased revenue by 5% to 9%!

5
Use text and email marketing to spread the word about special deals. Put a newsletter signup list on your checkout counter or have people text a certain code to a number for special deals. This will allow you to reach out to customers with special deals in the future. However, be frugal with how many messages you send out because you don't want them to get annoyed or block the number. [11] X Research source Always give your customers the option to back out of receiving the texts—they'll appreciate it! For instance, the small plaque or ad might read: "Text 'CROISSANTPARTY' to 9494 to enjoy a free pastry! Reply 'stop' to stop receiving special deals via text." Sending 1 special deal or message a month is a good frequency. If you choose the texting route, you'll need to start an SMS campaign with a particular SMS marketing service like Textedly, SimpleTexting, EZ Texting. It usually costs around $25 a month to create a text campaign.
6
Incorporate a loyalty program to keep people coming back. Give your customers a punch card that they can use each time they come in. You can also use a loyalty customer app like Belly, LevelUp, Swipely, or Punchcard so they don't have to keep track of a physical card. [12] X Research source Keep in mind that loyalty customer apps can add $125 or more to your monthly expenses. Some customers may also be wary of entering their phone number or email into the app’s system. Physical punch cards are cheap to make and easy to distribute, so they might be a better choice if you’re tight on money or just starting out.
Advertisement

Method 1 of 2:
Marketing the Traditional Way

1
Make sure your cafe’s sign is clear and visible. Spend money getting a professional sign for your store—it's worth the expense so people know you're there and open for business! Make sure the lettering is clear and easy to read from a distance. [1] X Research source After getting your sign installed, drive around the block or go across the street to make sure you can read it clearly from different viewpoints. Pick a font and style that complements the feel of your cafe. For instance, if the interior is ultra-modern, blocky lettering might be more fitting than signature-style cursive.
2
Run advertisements in local newspapers. Contact locally published small presses and magazines to ask about how you can buy ad space. Be sure to pick a paper or magazine that your ideal customer base is likely to pick up. That way, the ad will be more effective. [2] X Research source Consider offering a coupon along with the ad. For instance, you might give customers a 2-for-1 coffee for bringing in the advertisement. This is a good way to know that your ad is working! The cost to run an ad depends on your location and the circulation size of the paper or magazine. The size and whether it’s in black and white or color also make a difference. For instance, a small local newspaper that’s free to pick up might charge around $12 for a 1–2 in (2.5–5.1 cm) advertisement.
3
Host a media event to get exposure and build up hype. Invite local photographers and as many people as you can to come to your cafe for an event (like your grand opening!). Reach out to all of the contacts and customers you've made so far as well as friends, family members, and acquaintances. [3] X Research source If you plan to display local artists’ work on the walls, you might host an art opening for a night to get the buzz going about your cafe. Consider teaming up with a charity that you support to encourage more people to come out for a worthy cause.
4
Print flyers or small menus to post in public places or distribute by hand. Create attractive-looking flyers or miniature menus and post them up around your local neighborhood. High-traffic areas like public parks, community bulletin boards, and utility posts are good spots. You can even hand them out to passersby with a friendly smile if you like the idea of face-to-face marketing—just don't be too aggressive or get in their way. [4] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Small Business Administration U.S. government agency focused on supporting small businesses Go to source Make sure to only post flyers on public message boards or other places where it's legal to post. Grocery stores, malls, doctor's waiting rooms, and laundromats are good places to start. Ask an events venue if you can hand out flyers while people stand in line. While many business owners stick flyers or menus under the front windshield wiper on people's cars, this isn't a great marketing method. Some people can find it invasive and off-putting. If you have friends in the service industry, ask them if you can put some of your flyers in their establishment. Don’t try to post your flyers in someone else’s restaurant (or on their private property) without asking.
5
Personalize the customers’ experience with branded cups and dishware. If it’s feasible for your budget, consider getting customized mugs, cups, plates, and dishware that bear the name of your cafe or your logo. If you offer to-go cups for coffee and drinks, a custom-made stamp or sticker is a cost-effective way to give your customers that little extra touch. [5] X Research source You can order a customized rubber stamp for to-go cups and containers online for as little as $5.
6
Talk about your cafe to as many people as you can. Be your own best marketing tool! Whether you're speaking with acquaintances, family members, or strangers, let them know what you're doing and why it's so great. Carry business cards with you so they know where the cafe is and how to get in touch. [6] X Research source However, don't talk someone's ear off about how great your cafe is because that can be a huge buzzkill and make you come off as disingenuine.
Advertisement

Method 2 of 2:
Using Technology

1
Build a website with a personal message and all the necessary details. Purchase a domain name and choose a host for your website. Be sure to post your full menu, location, and contact information under different tabs on the homepage so it’s easy to navigate. You can even include your story to let customers know why you founded the cafe and why you're so passionate about serving them. [7] X Research source You'll probably end up paying anywhere from $10 to $15 a year to keep your website up and running. Update your site regularly, especially if you have rotating menu specials or weekly deals. Include lots of enticing photos that will draw your customers in (e.g., a high-quality photo of a cozy cup of joe and a pastry on a quaint little table). If you want to take online orders, set up a special tab and platform for that. Don't forget to test it out so it works as smoothly as possible. Make sure to add a mobile plugin so your site is just as easy to navigate from a phone or tablet.

Tip : Here's an example of something you might write for a personal “My Story” message: "Growing up in rural Italia got me hooked on the aroma of freshly baked sfogliatelle commingling with the fresh scent of grape vineyards wafting in from the casement windows. I have specially curated my menu to capture this feeling of old Italia and to pay homage to my Mother (and the greatest pastry chef I've ever known), Elena. I am honored to share a piece of my home with you."

2
Create social media profiles for your business. Start accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to market your cafe and engage with potential customers. Post lots of enticing photos as well as any special deals you have going on to keep people in the loop. You can even share short videos showing your customers what goes on behind-the-scenes in your cafe. [8] X Research source Giving behind-the-scenes shots can be charming and funny—both things that will make customers want to support you and your business. If you dread the thought of using social media (or have little knowledge of how to use the various platforms), have a trusted employee manage the profiles for you—just be sure to pay them extra for their time. A huge benefit of having a social media site is that you can encourage your customers to take and post photos—free advertising! You can even offer your customers a special perk (like 20% or a free pastry) for uploading a quality photo. If you have a cushy budget, consider putting ads on Facebook or connecting with influencers to market your cafe goods.
3
Make sure your cafe's site shows up in browser search results. Register your site on Google My Business to make your cafe's site show up in geographic search results. Use relevant keywords in your site headings and titles so your site will pop up when someone googles something like "Denver cafe" or "Denver cafe in LODO neighborhood." [9] X Research source This is also referred to as SEO (search engine optimization). If you’ve hired a web developer to build your site, they’ll know all the ins and outs about boosting your site’s SEO. If you’ve built it yourself, your chosen host likely has a blog or “Help” feature to show you exactly how to do it on the page builder.
4
Personalize your owner profile on various review sites. Manage your cafe's online presence on various different platforms like Yelp, Facebook, OpenTable, Zomato, TripAdvisor, or Google My Business. Make sure your cafe's opening hours, location, and contact information are correct. Upload a professional photo of yourself or the cafe’s logo or sign so you can interact with customers who leave reviews. [10] X Research source If the review site allows you to add a menu, upload it! The more information people have about what you're offering, the more likely they are to come in. To encourage people to leave (hopefully good) reviews, post little placards on each table or add a line about reviewing the cafe on the bottom of the receipt. You can even offer them a freebie or small discount for posting a review or for "checking in" on one of the platforms. Respond to as many reviews as you can and be extra cordial and generous in replying to any not-so-great reviews.

Fun Fact : Increasing your engagement on review websites (in a friendly manner) can help boost your cafe's star rating. A researcher at Harvard Business School found that even a 1-star improvement on Yelp increased revenue by 5% to 9%!

5
Use text and email marketing to spread the word about special deals. Put a newsletter signup list on your checkout counter or have people text a certain code to a number for special deals. This will allow you to reach out to customers with special deals in the future. However, be frugal with how many messages you send out because you don't want them to get annoyed or block the number. [11] X Research source Always give your customers the option to back out of receiving the texts—they'll appreciate it! For instance, the small plaque or ad might read: "Text 'CROISSANTPARTY' to 9494 to enjoy a free pastry! Reply 'stop' to stop receiving special deals via text." Sending 1 special deal or message a month is a good frequency. If you choose the texting route, you'll need to start an SMS campaign with a particular SMS marketing service like Textedly, SimpleTexting, EZ Texting. It usually costs around $25 a month to create a text campaign.
6
Incorporate a loyalty program to keep people coming back. Give your customers a punch card that they can use each time they come in. You can also use a loyalty customer app like Belly, LevelUp, Swipely, or Punchcard so they don't have to keep track of a physical card. [12] X Research source Keep in mind that loyalty customer apps can add $125 or more to your monthly expenses. Some customers may also be wary of entering their phone number or email into the app’s system. Physical punch cards are cheap to make and easy to distribute, so they might be a better choice if you’re tight on money or just starting out.
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