Getting the Word Out
Okay, everybody. You've inspired me. Let's talk advertising.
As I mentioned in these pages before, I'm not exactly the business type. I've never studied marketing or budgeting. I am not a PR person. And I hate worrying about money. Still, as one of the owners of this small business, at some point I have to start thinking about how we can increase our business, especially during our lightest hours.
Up to now we've relied almost exclusively on word of mouth and foot traffic. During the first week we were open we handed out fliers and hung notices on door knobs, but that's about it. In many ways, this approach has worked well for us because it has provided a chance to grow with our customer base. If we had been inundated with customers during our first few months in business, I don't think we would have been able to provide the same level of service. We needed that time to work out the kinks in the system.
Now that we are ready to grow, however, it's time to start doing some "real" advertising. But where? How much? And at what price?
Taking a look back at our business plan, we originally identified four target audiences for CTTP: people who live in the neighborhood, tourists, students, and people who work from home (i.e. the laptop brigade).
So far, I think we are doing a fairly good job of recruiting customers from the neighborhood. Just by virtue of location and signage people are apt to try us out eventually and, if they like us, come back. However, there are still a lot of people who don't know that we now serve breakfast, soups, and sandwiches, so we need to work on advertising our food offerings. Our current plan for reaching this group is to place an ad in the Haight-Ashbury Beat.
We don't intend to put a lot of effort into advertising to tourists. For the most part, this group finds us when they are walking down Haight Street soaking up the local atmosphere. If we get lucky, maybe somebody will write something about us in a tour guide one day, but that's about all we can hope for.
One of our primary target audiences is students, but we have yet to do much to attract their attention. This point was (painfully) brought home to me a couple of weeks ago when I looked in my own school paper, UCSF's Synapse, and discovered that one of my classmates had written an article about places in SF where one can find fair trade coffee, but didn't include CTTP. Apparently, she didn't even know that we existed. Our current plan for reaching this group is to advertise in the campus papers at UCSF, USF, and SFSU.
Our final target audience consists of people who work from home and, again, this is a group we have yet to actively pursue. We have received a certain amount of free advertising from the websites that list free wifi hotspots so anyone who is actively looking for a place will find us, but I'm not sure that is adequate. I would like us to do more to reach this group, but I don't know how at a price we can afford. Some people have suggested advertising one or more of the city's weeklies, but those are expensive and not the least bit targetted.
What do you think? Does anybody have any brilliant low-cost marketing ideas that would help us get the word out to our target audiences? Are there groups out there that we should be marketing to that we haven't considered yet? Should we bite the bullet and advertise in the weeklies?
Any and all input greatly appreciated.