I'd love some marketing ideas that are "off the wall" to jumpstart a 6 month old cafe in a conservative hospital environment. My ideas usually get shot down my hospital administration, and we are having trouble growing because only a portion of the total hospital population uses us regularly. Our Starbucks down the street is closing so this is my opportunity to get noticed in a good way! I'll take all suggestions! Thanks all- Susan

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Hi Susan,

Our company wrote an entire book on Marketing for the Specialty Coffee Retailer. I have found that grass roots marketing efforts work the best. Positioning yourself as the local coffee expert is important to compete with chains and other retailers alike. I think the most important thing is to get your product into the hands of potential customers so that they can taste the difference. Coffee is a specialty beverage and a well prepared drink can taste totally different than your competition as long as your staff is well trained.

Here is a link to an article on marketing as well from Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup.

Good luck with your new business!

- Matt
What is in your lease agreement with them about marketing does and don'ts?
They don't allow "Solicitation" and I have to get all menu items and prices approved in writing 30 days before I actually bring in the product. They have taken this to mean no daily specials, no buy one get one free, no discounts of any kind. I am not allowed to offer a special price on anything without it being approved 30 days in advance in writing. The admin. told one of my employees..." You are not supposed to compete with the cafeteria" (we are a newer coffee bar in a hospital setting. We can not use the hospital name in any marketing campaign, but it is impossible to tell people where we are located without telling them which hospital! Aside from double punch day, what else can I do to draw in customers? I'm frustrated. Susan
Susan-

Could you do some flyers and say :

Susan's Coffee
2200 Maple St
Anytown USA
phone 123-4567
and not mention the hospital ?

Could you say with this use west entrance lower level or 5th floor ??

Some people might recognize the hospital. It might be nice if you could get a
media person to sample your place and maybe talk about it on the air (radio probably better for this), without going into a big advertising campaign.

You mention that the hospital won't allow you to advertise competition with the
cafeteria. I am wondering if the marketing director or pr director of the hospital might have some ideas w/o compromising the relationship between the cafteria, hospital and you.

I find it bizarre that you're in a hospital , but the hospital won't allow you to or help you advertise the location.

How are your hours compared to the cafeteria's ? Do you have food items ? Is your
menu comparable to theirs ? How do your prices compare with their pricing ?
Wow, those are great ideas. Our hours are greater than the cafeteria as we do not close during the day like they do. We have to make our pricing higher than cafeteria pricing on similar items. We are not allowed to bring in "real food" such as sandwiches. We have to get cookies/pastry types approved before we sell them. I also find it bizarre that they are bringing us in as a benefit to the hospital employees, yet we are not able to contact employees at all!! But I will meet with the marketing director to see if she can help us. Thanks a lot for the idea!
If i remember a passage correctly in Bean Business Basics there's a situation where a coffee bar went to the hospital direction and sat down with them to agree on giving a certain percentage of profit to an mutual good cause. That way you can attract customers to your coffeebar and they know they're doing something good (You have to sooth there minds).

Another thing i discussed on Baristaexchange was giving out half filled out customer cards. You give them a card for 10 beverages where 5 spots are already marked. I'm telling you it costs you absolutly nothing but the customer value is of the hook

Hope it helps.
How did this turn out for you Susan? Which direction did you decide to go? How did your meeting with the Marketing director turn out?

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