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Low-cost marketing hacks to fill your café

by OnDeck Australia,   Aug 29, 2019



Hospitality is one of the most competitive and dynamic industries, with our tastes for new trends just as healthy as our taste for delicious products. There is no end to the weird and wonderful coffee concept shops popping up, and with new places constantly opening it can be a hard task to keep your cafe full and humming with life.

While nothing can take the place of a well-executed brand and menu, there are some tried and tested marketing hacks that you can implement to get people through the door and create a culture that keeps them coming back.


Make friends with Instagram

There is no avoiding or denying the effectiveness of a good Instagram profile when it comes to quick cafe marketing hacks. Very few industries do quite as well from a well-curated Insta account as cafes as even an average Joe becomes a food connoisseur when exploring Instagram.

Invest in getting some high-quality professional photos taken of your key signature dishes. Use these as the base for your Instagram, then get creative with daily content to create a high-quality feed that reflects your brand. If you are short on capital and can’t afford a professional shoot get creative with your phone. Most new smartphones have high-quality cameras and a range of filter options to create professional-grade images. Set a theme and pick a few filters to keep your branding consistent, then have some fun.


Mobilise your customers

Encourage your customers to get involved in your social media spaces so you can take advantage of user-generated content. The more your customers Instagram and tag you or your custom #hashtag on Instagram or share your Facebook handle, the wider the audience you reach. Being tagged in customers’ accounts is one of the most effective methods of word of mouth marketing you can get (also the cheapest marketing you can get!).

Try starting a photo contest for free lunch or coffee or get creative with interactive elements in the cafe. Things like feature walls, a cafe mascot or a signature dish with a hashtag name can be quick and easy (and cheap) ways to tap into a huge audience through your customers.


Do your digital due diligence and sort out Google Reviews

It’s estimated that almost 89% of customers will do a Google search before choosing somewhere to eat, so turning up in your local search engine is essential. Start by ensuring you have filled out a free Google My Business and Yelp listing with as much detail as possible. Then wherever and whenever you can, encourage customers to leave a review. Keep an eye on your reviews as they come in and try to respond to as many as you can – especially the bad ones.


Brand partnerships

Building brand relationships with your suppliers and the local community can be a great mutually beneficial way to generate endorsements and create unofficial ambassadors for your venue. Whether it’s a small shout out to your coffee supplier, or more ambitious partnership activities with local retail outlets or community groups; reaching out to brands and businesses that align with your values can help appeal to your market.


Create a loyalty program

We’re not just talking about old school punch cards – although they definitely still hold value. Loyalty programs these days can be as creative and technical as you want. Whether you sign up to a rewards app that lets your customers log their purchases, or create a borrow/return takeaway mug program to boost your sustainability, loyalty programs are great for creating an incentive to return.

Look into what loyalty apps service your area, or get creative and come up with your own methods. Some great examples of low-cost loyalty cards include a polaroid picture of your customers that sits on a feature wall. Not only does this act as a coffee punch card, but it also creates a point of difference and community within the cafe. Get creative – the more engaging, the better!


If you are struggling for ideas or don’t feel confident to implement a marketing plan yourself enlist the help of a freelance marketing professional or agency. Plenty of professional services will offer a basic plan that can be customised to your unique venue and local market to ensure your marketing investment pays off.

If you think OnDeck can help you achieve your hospitality business goals with a flexible short-term business loan, submit an enquiry or call us on 1800 676 652.



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