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Keeping the café culture alive

Local independent cafes and restaurants rely on repeat business and a strong community of loyal customers to keep tables full and profits high. But in tight financial times where only one in four people are regularly eating out compared to four in ten before the recession, how do local businesses entice new customers through the door and stay friendly with their regulars? The answer lies in the world of digital media, so read on to find out more:

Create an online community

The best first step into digital marketing is to get people talking online about your business. Set up a Facebook page and twitter account and encourage customers to like your page and get involved. Stay active on your social media with regular updates, posts, anecdotes and photographs, and ask your regulars for feedback on new menu ideas, recipes or events. Word of mouth is the best possible endorsement for any business, so get your loyal customers to post feedback about their meals, and ask them to share your page with their friends. Use social networking to promote special offers and discounts, as well as live music or other special events.

Email exclusives

Encourage customers to sign up for email newsletters or alerts by sending out particular deals, special offers or chef’s menu choices by email only. Making these offers exclusive will build up your online customer base and may well encourage customers to forward these deals onto their friends, driving even more new customer traffic your way.

Spot the slow times

Every business will have their slowest times, so if you have identified that Tuesday afternoons are painfully quiet then use e-shots to send out coupons that expire by 5pm on a Tuesday. Once you’ve got more people through the door, don’t miss the opportunity to promote other deals or special events to welcome them back.

Online loyalty programmes

We are all familiar with the standard “Buy 10 cups of coffee, get one free” incentives. But instead of using a punch card, use digital media to track customers’ progress and email them to personally invite them in for their free drink!

Digital thank you

Don’t forget that building a strong community of customers isn’t just about promotion after promotion. Use social media to thank your customers for coming in or trying out a new menu or recipe. It costs nothing to say thank you, and it won’t be forgotten.


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