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How to market any business ... but especially restaurants, coffee shops, bars and cafés

How to Market Any Business .. But Especially Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Bars and CafésRunning a business is never easy, there are so many pitfalls. And getting new customers, and old customers to return, is something that taxes many business owners. So, what are the secrets that work for successful businesses? 

This is a question I get every week. And believe it or not there is a formula that works for most businesses, most of the time. That’s not to say that marketing is easy. Or to say that all marketing works, most of it doesn’t!

What I’m about to reveal does however work for many businesses and lead me to write a 36,000 word book on the topic. Marketing is however such a huge topic that I focused the book on the food, drink and hospitality sector. But as I said above, these strategies and tactics work for most businesses. Just adapt them to suit.
The title of the book is straight forward and to the point as all marketing should be.

It’s How to Market a Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Café, Tea Rooms, Pub, Wine Bar and Other Food and Drink Outlets. Obviously, it focuses on the food, drink and hospitality sector and with a tome of this size has advice gleaned from hundreds of businesses worldwide. It’s the result of visits to Portugal, Spain, France, US, UK and South Africa with additional advice from places as far away as New Zealand. But wherever the advice is from, it is relevant to the thousands of food and drink outlets in Portugal and the Algarve.

Worldwide Advice for The Algarve

Even though tourism is doing relatively well in the Algarve there is a lot of competition to get customers, especially in the shoulder months and out of season. As someone that loves the Algarve, travel and is a dedicated foodie, I’ve spent the last 2-3 years checking out hundreds of restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars and tea rooms to discover what the successful ones do to market themselves so well.

What I’ve discovered is that it’s not just a matter of a few adverts, although advertising can work; the successful places do much more. And it’s no longer sufficient to just use the tried and tested traditional marketing tactics; digital marketing is equally as important.


Some of the advice included in the book, under Top Marketing Tips, is from business owners in the Algarve. But, like the best marketing advice, good advice has also been found worldwide. For example, just a few miles form my home I discovered a restaurant that gives customers a copy of the recipes being cooked. This is a tip I’ve previously shared with the catering colleges I advise, and its good to see it filtering out into the real world. And, in case you are wondering, giving away recipes doesn’t mean people cook at home rather than eat with you. They come back to gather more stunning recipes and try to cook them as well as you do! It encourages repeat business and can lead to a recipe book ...which is a an idea one of my local gastro pubs gave me.

Further afield I saw excellent websites that prompted people to book online and some places that prompted us to review the establishment on TripAdvisor before we left. These owners know how to use review sites to maximum advantage and made full use of them to get positive feedback and more new customers.

More Restaurant, Wine bar, Café and Foodie Marketing Advice

Another piece of good advice we gleaned was based on websites and SEO. I love SEO as, by following some relatively simple advice when you write a webpage, you can have people finding you online for years. It seems far too simple to work, so in the book I conducted an experiment that has had SEO experts around the world asking how to achieve the success I had.

You can test this advice yourself and let me know if it works for you.

OK, some background first. Coffee shops are very popular in many countries, which makes it hard for them to stand out and be found amongst their competitors. To stand out many serve particular blends or serve Fair Trade Coffee. This isn’t quite so true in Portugal; Fair Trade has been available as a concept since 2014 but take up is slow. So, bear with me as I’m demonstrating a concept and not selling coffee.

So, if a coffee shop, in say Florida, wants to pick up the Fair Trade business they need to have a webpage saying they serve Fair Trade coffee. Then anyone searching for this type of coffee will see them on the search engines. Volumes are not going to be high, but repeat this with Brazilian, Guatemalan and other types of coffee and the volumes start to add up. Repeat again with locally sourced produce etc and volumes really start to climb.

Knowing this I produced a webpage about a mythical coffee shop in Naples, Florida, to see if I could get web traffic from people searching for Fair Trade coffee. In Florida Fair Trade is important and is searched for. Success depended on being found by people searching for Fair Trade coffee in Naples, Florida.

Does it work?

Well try the search yourself. Google Fair Trade coffee in Naples and see if you can see my mythical coffee shop. You can spot my post as it has my name in the URL and the page description. Check out what I’ve written. Let me know if you found me on Google, and at which position, in the comments box at the end of this article.
I set this task to people on LinkedIn and it was taken up by a good number, many of them SEO practitioners, with spectacular results. My mythical coffee shop was on Page One of Google in most cases.
Of course, no form of marketing is 100%, so if only 90% of people searching find your site, for the terms, you optimise for this is a great way to get repeated free “advertising” on the World’s biggest search engine!
And better still it took me less than an hour to put the copy together and post it on my website. Importantly, this principle works for any business, not just restaurants.

Simple Marketing is Best
One of the best bits of advice I was given was to look after the locals. These are the customers that are there when the tourists have gone home!
Looking after the locals is such simple advice. When I asked for examples I was told that the restaurant concerned specifically marketed to the local during the quiet months. They did things like two for one offers, and discounted afternoon teas, during the winter. The margin per diner was lower than usual, but a full restaurant made up for that and kept cash flowing in.

I’m in marketing so …
Forgive me if my marketing background shows through at this point. Businesses need to keep marketing and I’m no different. If you want to dig deep into how to market any business, especially How to Market a Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Café, Tea Rooms, Pub, Wine Bar and Other Food and Drink Outlets, then go to Amazon and download the book. It’s priced the same as my favourite drink in a bar overlooking the ocean. Go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079V9KDQ5

Or alternatively just check out my website, www.StefanDrew.com, for as much free advice and tips as you can find.

And of course look out for my occasional features on this site.

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