We are a new coffee shop, we haven't quite been open 4 months. When we opened we decided that we wanted a soft opening to get our feet on the ground so we didn't do any marketing. Now we are ready to kick up our traffic in our shop. I am wondering what marketing have you done good and bad? What was most successful and what was just a waste of money?

I appreciate all your input.

Kevin

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Guerilla market. Info cards, buy one get ones frees, free drink cards ect. Walk around to housing and businesses within a couple mile radius of your shop and hand them out to everyone you see.
buy the marketing book for the specialty coffee retailer from bellisimo its worth the dough with tons of sweet ideas. I think a walk for a cause to raise money is the best way. Costs nothing feels good and you usually get a whack of media press and that's free. Make it a yearly event. Builds awareness for your shop and something that is close to your heart. Our company started a coffee trust to help kids at source. We have raised quite a bit so far. Pretty excited to hit the 50 g mark then its time to do some good.
Just to add to what Lucas said, you might think about doing door knob hangers for the free drink coupon if your in a residential neighborhood.

Also check out http://www.coffeestrategies.com/ It's a blog written by consultant Andrew Hetzel (who is also here on bX). I know that he recently mentioned how he doesn't like coupons as a way of getting people in the door, but I think if your a new business in a neighborhood it is a good introduction.

I certainly know that in previous shops that I've worked for, the only people who come in with coupons from those Entertainment books seem to be just looking to cash in and get out. We even had a guy who printed one off the Entertainment book website and then kept bringing it in (as if they can be used more than once...)

I have nothing to back this up numbers wise, but I've always appreciated businesses that sponsor local activities and events. Anything to get your name out there and be on the short list when people think "I want to find someplace to have a coffee and hang out" (or whatever your concept entails).
Have you had a chamber of commerce ribbon cutting with free article in the paper(s)? If your Chamber offers this sort of thing you might want to join.
I am also against coupons in general. I have seen coffee bars and restaurants put coupons in print materials, etc. only to get lack luster returns. One friend of mine who opened a restaurant spent $500 do have a one month ad with coupon in a local paper. He had two people bring the 1/2 price coupon ... period. He joked that he could have, for the same price, handed out $20 bills out in front of his restaurant to passers by and at least had some business. :)

The Marketing book that my father wrote, mentioned above has some great coffee specific marketing ideas in it for sure. Andrew also makes a good point in that you do not want to devalue your product. Bringing people in the door is another story.
I think if you are talking about spending a lot of money on putting ads in publications with coupons, yes its a bad idea. But if you have office buildings and or housing in your immediate area it can be a good tool. Design something, get it printed cheap, or print it yourself if you feel like you can do a quality job. And go out and meet people and pass them out. I walked to all the office buildings surrounding my shop when we first opened and did exactly as i said before. We now have numerous customers that came in for the first time, and brought a friend, with one of the buy one get one frees i handed them, and now both come back and pay full price. If you have a quality product I dont think you devalue it by giving someone an incentive to come in and try it. At least that has been my experience so far.
Instead of spending money to put coupons in the paper, have the paper write about your shop. Hit up college newspapers if you're near one or even high school papers. They always need something to write about....so why not your shop =P
How do people feel about events? I've been working at getting things going on in my coffee shop - since we opened our patio, we've been getting live music out there as much as possible on weekends (nothing particularly amazing, but really quality street musician types). I'm starting a book club for fun (just something I've always wanted to do, and why not do it at my shop), and we're working on getting an artfest sort of thing going on Saturdays. I feel like having something visible going on will attract attention and drive people in the door.

Our busiest weekends tend to be when we've got some sort of downtown event going on, and there's spillover (like marathons and charity events), but we're tucked a bit out of the way, so it's not a LOT of spillover. How could we use those events to our advantage? How do we get people to walk the extra block from the busy bar and club street to visit our shop?

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