Guerilla Marketing Ideas

Comfy Place

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Jul 15, 2006
Bloomer, Wisconsin
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Here's an idea that I don't believe has been talked about in some time on this forum: guerrilla marketing. These are marketing techniques that don't require a lot of money, but usually give you a good return on the investment. I'm curious what other shop owners/managers are doing in this regard that has worked for you. We all could use these to help increase our customer counts, as well as highlight the plusses of the independant coffee shop.

In the spirit of guerilla marketing and sharing, here is what we are currently doing that is costing us less than $50. We have printed a tri-fold brochure that let's people know who we are, what we have to offer, and also gives them a few really good coupons to redeem. We are currently going around our town and putting these on every house, apartment, etc. door. We are hoping to put out at least 500 of these in the next week. During our neighboorhood "assault", we are talking with people who knew we were in town, but just haven't come in yet. The coupons should give them a good reason to finally stop by and check us out.

What about you? What guerilla marketing ideas have you tried that worked, or ideas that you currently are trying that you are seeing success from? We're all anxious to hear your ideas!
Excellent topic! Especially now that we have a serious decline in ice cream sales and have yet to see the coffee sales catch on.

Just last night I delivered my tri-fold brochures to a very popular local pizza joint who have offered to staple them to each delivery. However, I wish I had seen your post first because I never thought to put a coupon with the information. Ugh....

I've also made some small posters with different promotions - for example, I've offered the police department free coffee for the month of October. They frequent the dry cleaning business right beside my shop, but have yet to come in for coffee. There's also "free coffee with the purchase of a baked good" for preschool moms between 10 and 11am, lunch special (soup and crusty bread) for teachers at the local schools. I've just put these out this week, so I don't have anything to report yet.

Anxious to hear more ideas!

Buddy's Ice Cream Cafe
Montreal, Canada
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Wow, I'm surprised that more people haven't picked up on this to share notes. Is it that virtually no one on this forum does these kinds of things, and instead goes for the traditional advertising? Everyone, including me, can use more help in thinking along the non-traditional methods for acquiring new customers. Remember this point also: it costs much, much more to obtain a new customer than it does to keep one, so if we can help ourselves to reduce the amount of money it takes to find new customers, its a big win for everyone.

Come on people, let's put our thinking caps on! Here's another idea that really helps: put out press releases. This is something that I know we haven't done enough of, but it is a great boast for a business. Basically the cost of a stamp, which is much cheaper than a regular newspaper ad. Talk up a recent addition to your line-up, a fund-raiser that you were sponsoring, an event that you will hold or had held, etc.. These help to generate interest in your business, and we all could use more of that!
A local wine merchant does wine tasting every saturday, I am going to do coffee/tea tasting at the same time frame so that we can send people to each other.

There are two local TV stations where I am, and most of the reporters are customers. I am getting some mugs printed with my logo. Once I have them, I am going to give them to TV anchors hoping they will have them on their TV reporting desk. It's a long shot, but my cost is 6 bucks per mug.

When I first opened, I asked every repeating customer to bring my menu back to their offices and posted them on their bulletin board. I even asked them to bring co-workers with them next time. And many did.

My wife recently did the biggest brightest gaudiest awning on the block :p. and we immediately saw an increase in traffic.

I like the press release idea. I done it once last summer and it was effective, but I forgot all about it.

Great Topic, Thanks.
same boat here

We own an desserts & ice cream parlor. Now that it's getting colder, sales are way down but we still have to pay the rent!

We've added coffee, tea and hot chocolate, plus a variety of home-baked goods. Everyone loves the stuff, but not enough people are coming into the shop to start with.

I like the idea of the brochures, and I thing coupons are a must to see if you're getting anywhere.

We have a "frequent buyers card", but not that many people use them. I'm not sure what else to do.

BTW, hello to everyone...this is my first post! I can't find an ice cream parlor forum, but since I consider our shop a "dessert parlor" more than just an ice cream parlor, I thought it would be ok to join you.


Hi Karen,

Wow - your situation sounds identical to mine! I think we'll do just fine bouncing ideas off of each other this winter! :)

Have I got the ice cream parlour forum for you! I found these guys just before we opened last April, and if it weren't for them, I'd be a ho-hum place, instead of the fabulously unique ice cream parlour we are. You'd have a hard time to find a better, more friendly source of experience than here:

See you at IceCreamFolks!

Kim Walker
Buddy's Ice Cream Café
Montreal, Canada
Hi there!

I wanted to call our place an Ice Cream "Cafe" also, then decided on "Dessert Parlor", then changed to "Desserts & Ice Cream Parlor"! :wink:

When we opened in April 2004, I wanted to be a coffee shop/ice cream parlor. Unfortunately, our place was solely an ice cream parlor for 5 years before we bought it and the patrons are total creatures of habit.

After wasting tons of coffee and desserts, we dropped that part of it after about a month.

We stayed open the last two seasons until Halloween then reopened in early March. This year we're planning on staying open all year, so we added back coffee, tea, hot chocolate and baked goods.

Everyone love the stuff, but not enough people are coming in!

I joined ice cream folks...I did a search on yahoo groups earlier today and couldn't find them! Thanks much!

Chill Out Desserts & Ice Cream Parlor
Ridley Park, PA
After reading on this forum all I could on the 'coffee' side of business, I realized that I could never be a true 'café', and wish I had put more emphasis on the 'dessert' aspect of the business, because ultimately, that's what I wanted to be known for. I just assumed that desserts and coffee made you a café.

I too am wasting a lot of desserts and dumping 1/2 pots of coffee, but the cappuccinos and lattés are becoming a real hit. I just tell myself that the dessert waste is an important business expense right now while we become known. Too bad you quit after a month... I bet it would have caught on if you had just given it more time. I'm trying to buy desserts in daily batches, and I buy frozen cheesecake and thaw only a few slices at a time. Unfortunately I've been eating a bit more cheesecake than I'm selling! :grin:

I visited your website and got the chills on how closely our business resemble each other! Especially when I saw Ice Cream Canollis!!! I have been searching high and low for a distributor of empty shells because I thought I had a unique idea!

Anyhow, I'm happy you found Ice Cream Folks, and I look forward to talking more about our business in the future.

Hi Kim,

I don't know if the "cafe" part of our shop would have worked back in took us a long time to make people realize we were different owners (even though we changed the name!) and to shake off the previous owner's bad reputation.

Now, though, I think we're established and people are willing to try the new items because they WANT us to stay open all year.

I don't buy desserts...I make them myself. We don't offer a lot. We have banana bread, pumpkin bread, apple cake, cookies and brownies (with some unique things once in awhile). I tried fudge but that didn't sell. People are buying loaves of the breads, so that helps.

Let me know about the cannoli shells...I could probably get them and ship them to you. They're not that expensive.

Do you have "real" cappuccinos? The first year I used a mix and people weren't thrilled about that. I didn't want to invest in an espresso machine and all that. Still don't think it would be worth it for us.

The Frozen hot chocolate does move though, so maybe frozen cappuccino would.

It's great "talking" to you! I think we're going to do the brochure idea, and flood the area with flyers letting people know we're stying open, plus add some coupons.

Take care, Karen
Hi again,

Yes - it is great 'talking' to you! Especially since we have very much the same ideas... it's hard to find our type of business out there. I was warned over and over again about 'co-branding', but I think we have it working out fine... not great, but fine. As for the flyer idea, which is also great - we've partnered with a pizza joint to share the printing costs and mass mail out. As soon as I'm ready financially (they're much more established than we are), we'll hit the town.

Thanks for the offer on the canollis - I appreciate it. Once I've exhausted all my options, I'll let you know if I'm still stuck.

Do you do parties at your place? My party room is still in the making, but I have six reservations for December already. I'm hoping it will carry us through the winter.

OH! And I wanted to pick your brain about the pictures on cakes... I haven't started them yet because I haven't decided what type of printer to buy (or actually which ink is the easiest to find). What kind do you use?

Parking Tickets

I found this one a week or so ago and thought it was a great idea. It is a trifold with coupons, but if you print it on neon green paper (or whatever color parking tickets are in your city) and place them on windshields of cars in timed parking zones this works. When they see it they assume it is a ticket and are pleasantly surprised to see it is in fact coupons. Most will come in just because of the clever idea!
Try it! It worked for us!