The Basics to Successfully Marketing Your Bubble Tea Shop

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In the ever-changing world of bubble tea, marketing your shop can be both an exciting and nerve-racking process. Whether it’s evaluating demographics, being up-to-date on the latest boba products, or solidifying a unique image to stand out among competitors, there are several steps you can take to maximize your store’s overall brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new owner just starting to open a boba tea store or a seasoned entrepreneur thinking about rebranding, properly marketing your bubble tea shop is a great way to boost sales, revitalize your store’s presence, and ultimately grow your business.

How to Start a Brand

Successful boba tea businesses such as Gong Cha, Boba Guys, and CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice all have a string of shops throughout the United States and even some in Taiwan. However, these stores didn’t get to where they are now by blending in with their competitors. Instead, they built their own brand identities using unique aspects of their tea shops in a way that commanded attention from their target audience.

When you are going over your store’s label, your first step should be pinpointing your customer. If you put together a business plan for your bubble tea shop, the information may already be laid out in front of you. Based on your store’s location, you can mold your brand to fit the area’s age, gender, education level, and general lifestyle behaviors. For example, if your tea business is located in a college town, your brand would most likely benefit from attracting students. Perhaps your shop can offer student discounts or provide wifi for those looking to stay longer, but finding a way to connect with your target customer should always be a priority.

Once you know exactly what type of person you’ll be serving, you can begin to look at other aspects to differentiate your image. Are other beverage shops selling their product at sky-high prices? Do most of your existing customers prefer on-the-go drinks instead of a sit-down experience? Examine what works and doesn’t work for your competitors, evaluate the ease of your store’s operations, and figure out the advantages in your bubble tea products. Identifying these qualities can not only help with your branding statement, they can also assist with setting your shop apart from the others.

A strong trademark proposition can often keep your products on a customer’s radar, but establishing a real bond with your target can boost the longevity of your business. Since bubble tea is still fairly new for some demographics, there are many ways you can leverage your brand and boba tea beverages to attract customers. By introducing organic milk as one of their staple ingredients and allowing patrons to customize their drinks based on sweetness levels, Boba Guys strongly positioned themselves as a bubble tea shop that is friendly towards health-conscious and organic-seeking consumers. As a business owner with an Asian-influenced bubble tea store in the U.S., finding ways to bridge the cultural gap between Western and Taiwanese mindsets and lifestyles can work to your advantage.

When you fully realize your trademark proposition and have a solid understanding of your market, it’s time to commit to it. Whether it’s incorporating feature products into your menu, reinventing your floor plan for more customer accessibility, allowing customers to personalize their drinks, or even using high quality ingredients as a base for your beverages, be sure to follow through with your new and distinctive image using your environment, operations style, marketing language, and brand personality. This way, you have a compelling and powerful foundation for your next steps: attracting and retaining customers.

Finding the Right Promotions Tools for Your Tea Shop

If you are just starting to promote your business, it’s important to start with the basics before jumping into more advanced tactics. There are several ways a bubble tea shop or restaurant can win over loyal customers, but it’s up to you as the store owner to evaluate which method best suits your shop’s needs.

Fundamental Marketing

With the power of the Internet, marketing has vastly evolved throughout the years. Potential customers now look through your menu, prices, and offers online before even stepping foot inside of your shop. According to a research study led by Forbes, “most customers—82%—conduct research online,” and when survey respondents were asked about what attracted customers to their stores, a third believed that it was their website. Having a clean, organized, and SEO keyword-driven website with good photography for your bubble tea business is not only the first impression of your brand, it also helps you better communicate your product and store features with current and future patrons.

Other online business and social media tools include claiming your business through Google My Business, Yelp for Business Owners, OpenTable, and even creating an Instagram account. These are extremely efficient and inexpensive ways to market your brand. If your store provides a delivery or pick-up service, partnering with food-service platforms such as DoorDash or GrubHub can even boost sales. Be sure to set your goals, understand the budget you’re working with, and always keep an eye out on your return on investment (ROI) before continuing onto the following marketing tools.

Intermediate Marketing

After attracting customers using basic promotional methods, you can start elevating your business marketing to another level, aiming for patron retention. Customer loyalty plays a key role in the success of your business for several reasons. Not only do they come back for repeat visits, they are also more inclined towards bigger purchases, recommending friends, or signing up for other services. However, if you don’t provide the right motivations for this type of customer to visit again, you can easily lose them to a competitor over the smallest hiccup. A few ways to retain valuable customers are to provide quality products/services, hire knowledgeable and friendly bobaristas, or offer a reward system for long-time buyers.

Having an application-based loyalty program such as Belly or FiveStars is a great way to offer incentives for customers while opening up a outlet to market through email. More importantly, reward apps often help business owners tap into their customer database for a better understanding of who they are as well as their behavioral patterns. You can also reward customers by offering stamp cards, providing seasonal options, or a maybe even a free beverage in exchange for customers who write positive reviews. Partnering up with a bubble tea influencer or specialty food blogger can also increase your brand presence online, while helping you reach the right customers.

Advanced Marketing

If you already have a steady customer base, but are looking to expand and take your bubble tea business to the next level, there are several advanced marketing tactics you can follow if your budget will allow it. Business marketing tools such as paid search, paid social advertising, partnering with local events, and even getting involved in B2B settings can catapult your bubble tea business to new heights if done correctly.

Paid digital advertising can grant exposure to your bubble tea shop on a national level, especially if you’re paying for local and mobile ads. Unlike SEO content, which organically drives customers to your website, paid searches allow store owners to target potential customers searching for similar keywords surrounding your business with the goal of increasing traffic to your website.

Getting involved in events around your store’s location such as providing bubble tea for student organizations, fundraisers, concerts, and/or festivals can create an unforgettable experience for customers and promote a better image for your store. Taking part in other bubble tea-related activities such as catering or participating in a specialty food industry trade show can also help grow your network, while attracting the right demographic to your shop.

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