Merchandise and gifts are neat ways to spread awareness of your brand. You can leave them in a bowl at the counter for people to collect, or you can pop one on the bill tray with every purchase.
But how do you choose the best item for your cafe?
Choose Something Useful
People aren’t used to turning down free things, so they may accept something that they don’t want, because it’s free and easy.
However, a gift that is useless is likely to end up in the garbage. That’s a waste of your time and money, it’s an inconvenience to your customers, and it’s destructive to the planet. So, first things first, make sure your present will be used.
When looking at gift options, think “Would I ever use this?” Pens are great, so are little booklets of sticky notes. But if you want something a bit different, how about an earphone/cable tidy? These little gadgets are great for keeping headphone wires untangled, and they’re not the sort of thing that people go out and buy for themselves.
This brings us to our next point!
Does the Customer Already Have One?
You’ll get more mileage out of your branded gift if it is useful but uncommon. It should be something that a customer will want or need, but wouldn’t go to the hassle of purchasing for themselves.
Earbud tidies are a good example. What about a keyboard cleaning brush? Who even knew these things existed? Little bottles of hand sanitizer are also great – and are an appropriate choice for a dining establishment.
Is it a Gift that Keeps on Giving?
Make sure your gift is built to last. A phone company was a major sponsor at a recent music festival – they handed out cheap phone chargers, good for one full charge. I kept that gadget in my bag for months, and used it to boost the life of my phone probably 20 times.
A branded icepack is also neat. These won’t be thrown out, because they’re useful and people rarely think to buy one, until the need is dire. Your icepack will be chucked into the freezer and brought out a couple of times in summer each year. The longevity of your icepack basically depends on how often and how thoroughly your guests clean out their freezers. And now that freezers are often “frost-free” designs, you could be looking at a 10-year return on a single icepack. That’s a good investment!
Make it Small and Subtle
If people can slip the item in their bag or pocket without drawing too much attention to themselves, they’re likely to indulge. Leave a jar of branded sweets or mints on the counter next to the till: customers might take a couple while they’re paying and pop them in their bag for later.
Keep in mind with individually wrapped sweets, however, that they can be wasteful. If you can, source candy from places that offer recyclable or biodegradable wrappings. Also, keep the little things out of reach of children. Don’t make your brand into a choking hazard.
It is Easy Being Green!
Eco-friendly is the new customer-friendly. You don’t want your business looking like it puts its own interests above the planet’s. Think twice about non-recyclables, or items that come in lots of plastic wrapping.
There are even options for getting planting cards – biodegradable cardboard strips that have seeds in them, so you can pop them in the garden and eat them afterwards! There are a few restaurants and cafes that are making their menus out of this type of paper – definitely something to think about.
Repeat Custom – Keep ‘em ‘Cupping’!
Cafes should absolutely sell reusable carry-cups. Keep-cups should incur consistently lower beverage prices. Train your staff to identify what volume of keep-cup relates to which similar-sized take-away cup, and how to charge accordingly.
With your own keep-cups, you can play around with different marketing options. Get five stamps on a loyalty card, get a keep-cup. Spend over $20 in one transaction, get a keep-cup for free. Buy a keep cup and get your first coffee free. Get two loyalty stamps for every keep-cup coffee purchased.
Keep it Professional
Don’t try and force your brand into private moments. You better believe that no one is hanging up your corporate Christmas decoration!
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