The enterprising coffee shop owner spends a lot of time investigating marketing methods to increase customer footfall and lift turnover and profits. In an increasingly competitive market for independent coffee shops, especially with the likes of McDonald’s and Greggs upping their coffee game, it’s more important than ever to be on top of your marketing. Ideally, you want to get your customers to sell your coffee for you. It’s one of the oldest and most successful sales techniques in the world: a recommendation from a living, breathing customer. Of course, if a noticeable portion of your customers are no longer breathing, either you need to examine your coffee shop hygiene or accept that you’ve targeted a rather vulnerable demographic. No, we’re talking about the power of the review, the testimonial, the endorsement, the recommendation.
It’s called social proof. Where would-be customers might not trust an advert or a promotion or your bold claims, they’re more likely to trust the word of a third party. You already know this, of course. If you want a carpenter or a builder, you’ll ask your friends who they’ve used, or ask for recommendations in a local Facebook group.
You will already have had new customers because of the recommendations of your loyal fans, even if you’re not aware of it. But that’s all passive. You’re not influencing it.
How to increase recommendation for your coffee shop
Firstly – and this should go without saying – you need to pay attention to everything from cleanliness to coffee consistency, to make sure your customers are getting the best experience.
Secondly, you need to ask your customers how they enjoyed their drink and any accompaniments. If you’re not doing this already, why not? Are you fearful of the answers? Even disappointing answers are useful, in that they show you where you can make changes and increase customer satisfaction. So, ask.
Thirdly, when you get a very positive reaction, you need to ask for that social proof. And you want it online. It’s not a scary question: “Oh, I’m so pleased to hear that. Would you mind leaving us a review online, please?”
Ideally, you want them to make their online recommendation on the spot. There and then. But it goes beyond acceptable to insist upon that. Instead, we recommend a double use for your loyalty card. On one side go the stamps, on the other, the web address of the places where your customers can write their reviews.
Where should your coffee customers leave their reviews?
When Big 7 Travel compiled its 50 Best Coffee Shops in England list, online reviews and blogs played a part in the decision-making. That’s social proof in action, and winning a place on that list is great PR. You may not have such lofty ambitions, but by ensuring that your coffee shop or mobile coffee van, sandwich bar or eatery is easily found online – and by encouraging customers to endorse you – you can certainly gain positive attention in your local area.
Google is the obvious starting point. Search for your business (or go straight to https://www.google.com/business/). It should appear in a column to the right on the search results page, as well as in the organic list. Only people with a Google account can leave a review on Google, so don’t rely on this as your only way to collect reviews.
Facebook. We believe every business should have a Facebook page, and make it as interactive as possible. It’s easy to post content and for customers to leave reviews.
TripAdvisor. You might think of it as being about hotels. It isn’t just that. You may have a listing – and reviews – you’re not even aware of. Check…
Trustpilot, Yahoo Local Listings… search for more if you like, if only to check for bad reviews which need addressing and to make sure all the listing information is correct. But focus on those top three.
By creating memorable experiences, and asking customers to be your brand ambassadors, you’ll soon build up formidable levels of social proof for your coffee.