How to Market a Smoothie Bar
Smoothies are a combination of fruit and juices. Add in wheat grass for a healthy kick of vitamins or yogurt for richness. Shaved ice brings down the coolness factor to almost a frozen drink. However you blend up your smoothie, you'll need a marketing strategy to bring in customers.
Developing a brand image for your smoothie bar is the first step in a marketing plan. For example, if you use only organic fruits and juices, it makes sense to stress that in the smoothie bar's brand. Another alternative is playing up how healthy your smoothies are. Perhaps your smoothies are made without artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives. You could focus on how fun the smoothie bar is, or how exotic because you use tropical fruits and have unusual flavors.
Define your customer base. What appeals to someone who prides herself on her healthy diet won't necessarily appeal to a customer who favors taste. An older customer base may value price over variety, while young parents look for fast service. Look for ways to expand your current customer base without alienating existing customers. For example, adding a small-size smoothie would appeal to families with young children and seniors who don't have as much of an appetite.
Even if there isn't another smoothie bar within a five-mile radius, you still have competition. Fast food restaurants, grocery stores, health food stores and even ice cream stores serve smoothies. Make a list of all the competition, their smoothie offerings, prices, customer base and marketing programs. Compare what they do and offer to your smoothie bar. Highlight why your smoothies are better, healthier, faster or cheaper in your marketing materials. Price your smoothies based on not only the ingredients but what your competition is charging as well.
Social media has impacted the way retailers and restaurants do business. It's no longer enough to have a website or blog. Viral marketing through Facebook, Google+ or Twitter can boost your business, according to Jennifer Abernethy, the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Social Media Marketing." For example, offer a Facebook-friends-only discount, or offer a two-for-one coupon to your Google+ circles. Announce new flavors of smoothies through Twitter. Hold a contest for new smoothie recipes and award the winner free smoothies for a week.
Think of publicity as advertising you don't have to pay for. There is a twist. Advertising is expected to sell, while publicity is news. You control what goes into the ad, but you don't control what the reporter writes about your business. You can buy advertising, but you can't buy publicity. Develop a quarterly press release distribution that highlights new flavors, company milestones -- you just sold your 100,000th smoothie, for example -- or special events. Supporting a charity generates publicity, brings in new customers and shows the community you care. A food drive works for a smoothie bar, but you could also hold a back-to-school clothing drive for homeless children, or solicit contributions to an animal shelter.