Advertising

jeff

New member
Feb 8, 2006
5
0
Amarillo, TX
Hello, need some input. Me and my wife own a small coffee shop, single location in a town of about 200,000 people. We have several competitors, although we have a very strong loyal customer base. Having problems however, attracting new customers. We have a very limited advertising budget (the occasional radio spot). I am curious we currently use a generic styrofoam cup(nice cup, just no logo). I believe that money would be better spent going to a customized cup to help with product recognition. Although, I have concerns on initial upfront cost and storage. Any recommendations on a good supplier willing to work with a small buisness. And am I even on the right track. :roll:
 

topher

Super Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2003
3,736
13
Boca Raton
styrofoam?? What made you go with that? I personally wouldn't return to a shop that served in that. Not trying to be rude....just honest. When I go to a place that serves in it...I feel like I am at a gas staition
 

cafemakers

New member
Nov 3, 2004
576
0
From my experience, unless targeted to a specific purpose, radio is not typically the best use of advertising funds for a coffee business; both expensive and (obviously) lacks the other senses that can be manipulated in direct marketing, sampling and other creative promotions. I prefer for clients to avoid advertising completely in favor of a more creative and targeted public relations campaign - this is practically free and has a much better response from the public due to its "real" nature.

Before you do that, though, you may want to be certain that your product is outstanding and that other areas of your business are functioning smoothly. Many coffee shops believe that their revenue problem is marketing related "if we can only get more people in the door, all of our problems will be solved". The truth, I find upon further examination is that it is far more likely (about 90% of the time) that there are other significant business shortcomings (#1 product quality #2 operational mismanagement #3 brand image) that if addressed independently will be far more effective than some huge and hugely expensive marketing effort to bring customers through the front door.

Styrofoam cups and some other cues from your website (menu / shots of the interior) tend to indicate that there are other things you could be doing that are a better use of your advertising funds before inviting the masses. In the absence of tasting your product and reviewing your financials and procedures, here's a quick freebie tip that may help: find the distinction of your brand and make it a part of everything that you do.

Don't misundertand my sentiment, I can see that you really care about your business and that a lot of your time has gone into planning and looking for opportunities to cater a number of different market segments.

My question for you is: WHO are your customers and WHAT are you to them? Is there a clear brand image that the "Marshall Coffee" logo projects in their mind? What 3 words does your ideal customer use to describe you in 10 seconds or less? You cannot be all things to all people - the image that you project on the website is that you 1) sell gift baskets in a 2) clean but quaint living room 3) with a speedy drive through and 4) on a big ol' deck 5) in 64 flavors and all under the Starbucks inspired color scheme saying "We serve only the best!" in a stryfoam cup. Getting my point?

Pick one - do it well - and make it a part of everything you do, from your communication materials, press releases, menu design and the way that you greet your customers. What that one thing is? Others can help, but only you can decide.

Recognizing and admitting that your business has a problem then subsequently looking for help puts you most of the way to improvement - you're doing the right thing, so keep it up.

Best of success,

Andrew
 

Muddycup

New member
Dec 4, 2005
201
0
New York
They are right, no styro foam!

Now, I tend to like the grass roots approach, of course this advice given without knowing how you do things at your shop, there maybe things you need to improve on within the store.

So take some free coffee cards and start walking your neighborhood, go to places of work, homes, offer cards to other businesses to give to there customers.

this is a one time promotion gets them in the door, and the personal contact will help you build more regular customers

The card I use is "good for a free cup of coffee or $1 off any drink"

start with this, meet your neighbors, go with a gift/offer
 
OP
J

jeff

New member
Feb 8, 2006
5
0
Amarillo, TX
  • Thread Starter
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  • #5
wow

Well let me start by thanking you all for your feedback. I must admit I was blindsided a bit by the reaction to the "styrofoam" :oops: . The fact is we bought an existing shop when the original owners retired, The decisions regarding the building, the layout, the color scheme for our logo, and even the "cup" selection had already been made. We were not to eager to jump in and completely revamp a successful business. The business has been open for 10 years, and we have owned it for 4. (My wife worked for the original owners when it first opened.) I am "ranting", Let me just say we our very proud of our "Coffee Shop", quality and customer service are our absolute priority. But the fact that the mere mention of "styrofoam" can generate such an immediate doubt as to the quality of our product suggest I really do have some research to do. Maybe it is time to change things up a bit. And Muddycup, I like the "grass roots" idea. thanks.
 

Rockcreekcoffee

New member
Dec 8, 2004
39
0
Billings, MT
Marketing

Jeff:

I would agree, no styrofoam. Do you have a Costco near by? We have found that there cup prices can't be beat. Just remember, if you go to a paper cup, most likely you are going to need a java jacket.

As far as marketing - can you deliver to other business in your area? Look at partnering with other shops that are a good fit with your product.
During a week in your shop, sample out new coffee or products. Give your customers another reason to come back.

I am absolutely 100% against couponing. It makes your customers get use to it and it tells them your product isn't good enough to pay full price. There are some things that you follow the "big guys" on. When is the last time you saw one of them coupon or give $$ off a drink?

Rockcreekcoffee
 

Muddycup

New member
Dec 4, 2005
201
0
New York
to answer your question about coupons and the other guys, ALL THE TIME,
all the big guys have promotions all over the internet as well as discounted pricing it is a standard in the industry.

Starbucks has internet coupons
Dunkin donuts offers discounted coffee with sandwich order
Mcdonalds has free coffee with sandwich order

Now before you go and tell me we are better than those guys let me say ofcourse we are, but one time promotions conbined with local personal interaction goes a long way and costs very little.
 

Coffee Guy

New member
Oct 19, 2003
874
0
Seattle,Washington USA
Tap...tap...tap...Is this thing on? :D Just kidding. Hey Jeff, I've viewed your website and found it very interesting. You have quite the selection of coffee(s) to offer the public. Do you roast your own coffee or have it privated labeled? Just wondering. If you roast your own, that can be a great feature you can show off to the locals. What type of competition do you have in your area? Do they offer the extensive selection that you offer at your location? If not, that is what you use to your advantage. Additionally you say that you've owned the shop for 4 years, however your website states that you are celebrating 10 years. I would clear that message up a little so there won't be any misunderstandings if you have local customers that already know the history of your coffee shop. Since you've owned this location for 4 years you are not a rookie at this business, so I won't bore you with how you should make decisions. But what I would suggest is that you send a few people out including yourself and see what your competition is doing. See what they are doing that you may not be, or see if they create some sort of excitement in their customer base that you may not be. And lastly, if companies like Starbucks, McDonald's, and Duncan Donuts, and the like are doing programs to bring more customers in, then you should also be doing the same thing. Not necessarily recreating the the wheel, but using some of their ideas but taylor to your application. I think your idea about having your own printed cups to reflect your business is an excellent idea. They are expensive in the beginning. For example most paper cup companies like Solo or International Paper have minimum order requirements like 100,000 cups per size. Then of course even if you order those cups you must have ample room to store them unless you have them floor stock them, which will cost additional (rent) for them to store them for you.

I agree with everyone on the styrofoam cup issue. Especially if you are serving a great coffee, do it in paper. Styrofoam sometimes has a bad reaction to coffee. Your customer deserves better. I also agree with the points made about radio advertising, and in some cases the same with print advertising. I know it's tempting to take out a Val Pak ad, but truthfully how many of those distributed are actually within your customer based area? You've been around long enough to take the more "Grass Roots" approach with your customers. In my humble opinion, the best way to attract new customers is to #1--Ask some of your existing customers to bring in some new faces, rather they be from work, close friends, family members, or even fellow church members. #2--Get involved with some of the local organizations and offer some sort of specials with them if they commit to helping you aquire some new business. #3--Do some sort of customer appreciation week. That's right I said week, not just a day. This gives more people an opportunity to see that you are (in a way) giving something back, plus it's a cheap way to create more buzz, especially if none of your competitors have done this before. You be the first, it will make anyone else look like a copy cat if they do it after you've done it already.

O.K. I'm getting tired, I can't believe I had so much to say...Wow you must have caught me after having too much coffee today :shock:

In any case, just thought I'd throw out a few ideas in your direction. I would be interested in hearing about how things are turning out.
 
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jeff

New member
Feb 8, 2006
5
0
Amarillo, TX
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  • #9
Hey "coffee guy", thanks for responding to my post. To answer some of your questions, we do not roast our own beans, however have worked with the same roaster since the shop opened "10" years ago. I'll explain Marshall Coffee Co. has been opened for 10 years, however we are not the original owners. My wife worked for the original owners since the shop opened and managed it for several years. 4 years ago the original owners decided they wanted to settle down and enjoy their retirement. In turn, my wife(we were dating, but not married at the time) bought the shop. We kept everything the same including the name, location, etc. It was basically just a change of ownership. I do see the confusion and am considering an "about us" page to the site providing an overall history.

As far as competition goes their has been quite a bit. "Starbucks" is the only major chain in the area,(specialty coffee) although their have been numerous "locally owned shops". Most come and go, but a few have seen long term success. We have been very lucky, we have a very loyal customer base. Most of our customers are the everyday same drink at the same time sort. My wife knows most of them by name and drink. This in itself can make any change a little bit scary. We would like to see more "first time" customers, but we are very aware of the loyalty we enjoy and are cautious about any change that could endanger that. As for being a "rookie", I am. My wife obviously has a lot of experience, but I have only recently become more involved in the day to day operations of the shop.

I appreciate your recommendations, and tend to agree, we certainly have not been to impressed with radio advertising in the past(specially considering cost). "Grass Roots" seems to be a common theme, and I like the idea. I have already been tossing around some ideas. Anyway, now I have gone on forever, I do appreciate your response.

Thanks,
Jeff
 

LaBelleCoffeeShop

New member
Feb 9, 2006
10
0
LaBelle FL
styrofoam

Jeff, I know there was a few post crying about you using styrofoam at your coffee shop. I know thats not what started this post about, but thats what I want to chime in about.

My wife and I just purchased an existing coffee shop, a little local neighborhood place with no competion what so ever in the area, well there are a couple of gas sations and fast food places, but I figured this was something I needed to mention just to see where I come from.

Our shop has Styrofoam also. Came that way, but after reading the post on here I decided to get a couple of sample cups from some venders and other places and asked my customers which that liked most. A few of them like a triple wall paper cup, But a lot of them Liked the Styrofoam because they said it felt sturdy. And the Answer I liked most was from one customer. She said " I don't care about the cup, As long as you keep making great coffee I'll keep coming back". That made me smile. But it also made me realize that the bottom line is, if you have a great product, thenwho cares what kind of cup you have. Of course If your in an area of the country where there is nothing but tree huggers and eviromentalist then I could see how it could be a small drag on your buisness.

But if you have a Great product then word of mouth is your best advertising.
 

Coffee Guy

New member
Oct 19, 2003
874
0
Seattle,Washington USA
Hi LaBelleCoffeeShop:

I couldn't disagree with you more about your comment, "But it also made me realize that the bottom line is, if you have a great product, then who cares what kind of cup you have." Styrofoam cups may have a use in cold drinks, however, in hot coffees they do have a tendency to change the taste of hot coffee, especially when using them for espresso drinks. It has been my expererience many years ago when we tried these cups in what we thought was a cost saving measure to see how they would be received. In most cases customers said they made the coffee taste odd. Main comments at the same included, "The plastic tasted weird" or "I don't like the smell when I drink my coffee." Other comments were about the same. Bottom line (as you put it), in my opinion it does matter what kind of cup you put your coffee in. Go paper Jeff, you're better off by doing so. And by the way go hug a tree :wink:
 

LaBelleCoffeeShop

New member
Feb 9, 2006
10
0
LaBelle FL
?

Coffee Guy,

Intresting, Never heard of this before, Never experieced this before, Of course never ran (okay my wifes running it) a coffee shop before.

Thanks for the heads up! Don't take offense to this, but I guess I will have to look into this more to see if your comments have any true merit. My many years in life (most in the military, still am) have taught me, I have learn to research what other people say to see if there is merit in what they say. Thanks for at least bringing this possiblity to my attention.

Oh as far as hugging a tree, why? they don't hug back!!!
 

Coffee Guy

New member
Oct 19, 2003
874
0
Seattle,Washington USA
Hey LCS:

No offense taken. I too am a veteran of 16 years. Although I left the military a number of years ago...So when it comes to researching the answers, I have extensive back ground in that. I would tell you what I used to do in the military, but I'd have to kill you :twisted: ...Truthfully though, those comments are mostly from people who consider themselves coffee snobs :wink: And as for the trees, one must be careful when mingleing within them, you never know what you can find in or around them :D
 

LaBelleCoffeeShop

New member
Feb 9, 2006
10
0
LaBelle FL
Hey Thats my Line

I am just a few years from retirement,
As for the can't tell me LOL... Right not I work For
HQ USSOCOM .. so I know how that goes .. lol ...

I have gotten a quite obvious response from some plastics company about the taste thing .. of course they would say we have never heard of that .. I did inquire to a so called expert who said there was no sientific evidence that could find but that in his opinoin coffee still taste best out of a glass or ceramic coffee cup, well that's how we serve our for here customers ... not alot of help on it so far ....
Maybe I should start a new post and see what everyones thoughts are on it...

think I will.

oh and by the way thanks for your service in the military.
 
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