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Online outreach helps a cafe make new fans and keep the old

2 min read

Digital Technology

Back when its marketing strategy relied heavily on repeat customers and printed advertisements in free weeklies, the New York-based Nuyorican Poets Café was lacking measurable data for its investments and losing thousands of dollars.

The struggle was finding a cost-effective way to promote the business that could be feasibly managed by the full-time staff of only three people. That’s when Nuyorican turned to social media and Internet marketing, effectively doubling their original operating budget of less than $1 million and slashing marketing costs at the same time, said the cafe’s executive director, Daniel Gallant, who spoke at this year’s Realtime NY 11.

The business opened Facebook and Twitter accounts as a way to directly engage with their customers. It also took advantage of the hyperlocal nature of Google Places by customizing the listing so it prominently featured the most commonly asked information, such as operating hours and location. This alone cut down on hours of phone time that the staff was using to correct misinformation, freeing up their time to bring in revenue and generate ideas to improve the business.

Nuyorican also created a Google AdWords account and used keywords that accurately represented the context of what the audience would actually be searching. For example, Gallant said, users searching the term “Shakespeare” are more likely looking for information on William Shakespeare, rather than Shakespeare poetry slams. By using contextual search terms, Gallant said they were able to create relevant advertising that was specifically targeted to their intended audience.

Some other ways that Gallant and the team at Nuyorican were able to turn their marketing efforts around:

  • They didn’t abandon their original customers. Even though social media was working for Nuyorican, the business was mindful not to forget their older fans who were there first. Older customers preferred e-mail, so the team made an effort to keep those communication channels open while exploring new ways to market.
  • They engaged fans every day with small pieces of information. Social media is known for its short bursts of information, and marketing your business that way is no exception. Don’t just post on Facebook or Twitter because you feel you have to — that’ll likely inundate your fans and cause them to tune out. Always make sure your posts are of value to your customers.