Sustainable marketing for plastic-free cafes & restaurants

Perhaps you’ve audited your business practices and have made changes to better reflect your values; maybe you’re in the process of eliminating single-use plastics or you’re working hard to encourage your customers to bring their own cups and containers.

How does your brand reflect this?

We’ve teamed up with Molly, an ethical and eco digital creator at Farai Creative to give you some tips on how to spruce up your image. For those of you that are genuine about being a sustainable cafe, bar, restaurant or food van, these tips can help you on your path to promoting your business.


With the right digital marketing tools and strategy, and with some time and creativity, it’s certainly possible to have a thriving café that welcomes conscious customers who share your values – customers who might even love your ethos so much that they’ll create shareable content and help spread the word.

If you want to know where to find customers who care for our planet, and how to encourage these people through your doors, there are a few vital tips to get started in your sustainable digital marketing strategy.

Encouraging conscious customers (and promoters!) starts with:

1. Finding your audience and talking to them

Half of digital marketing success lies in community building – I truly believe that! The method here is to find your people - the customers who love what you do and who’ll bellow about your business from the rooftops (if given the opportunity).

So, how do you find your people?

First and foremost, determine and outline who your ideal customer is. Chances are, this person might already be a frequent visitor to your café.

If you like, go one step further and create a customer persona or an imaginary social profile for them. Outline what they like and dislike, what their goals and challenges are, where they hang out, and what their favourite social platforms are.

Then, in your digital marketing:

● Work on building your presence on the platforms your ideal customer uses.

Use hashtags that they’ll be searching for (not hashtags that your competitors will be searching for).

Create and share content that they need– content that’s useful and informative for them.

● Join Facebook groups that they’ll also be members of, like Zero Waste + Plastic Free Living Perth WA, Plastic Free Living Tips & Tricks or Sustainable Living Australia.

Collaborate with leading influencers, bloggers, or inspirers who share your values. Chances are, the people following them will like what you’re doing, too.

Search who’s tagging your competitors in products – go and give these people a follow or say hi!

Once you’ve found your people, remember to create conversations, comment, and support them right back. Don’t be afraid of sharing the humanity behind your business.

2. Making sure your marketing imagery reflects your values

The imagery you use sends a message about the type of business you are, especially on your website and on visual social media platforms, like Instagram. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.


Getting started with on-brand imagery starts by creating a visual branding strategy, which works as a guide to answer:

What types of photos will you use? Popular image types for cafés often include images of items on the menu, the café space, graphics or quotes, and reshares of images taken by customers (make sure to ask permission first!).

What will/will not be included in your photos? For example, if you don’t want to encourage the use of a single-use cup at your café, make sure that you don’t source and post imagery that shows single-use. This could send a confusing message to your audience.

What colours will you use? Think about the colours in your logo or the feeling you want to encourage with your images. Generally, muted browns and greens help customers feel a sense of earthiness and sustainability. Lots of bright colours can evoke a fresh and fun feeling (@florafauna_perth is a great example of fresh and colourful branded imagery).

Your imagery is often the first impression a potential new follower or customer will receive about your brand, so, make sure it’s sending the right message. Most importantly, however you choose to brand your imagery, make sure it’s consistent.

If you can, find a product or food photographer to work with long-term. Partnering with a photographer can help to create consistency in your imagery and high-quality images can help build a stronger visual brand.

3. Making sure your marketing copy (words) reflects your values

Just as your imagery should send a message about your values, so should your copy – all writing on all platforms. To create consistency in your copy and brand voice, create a brand voice style guide. In this guide, ask yourself:

Who are you speaking to in your writing? (Who is your ideal customer?)

How do you want your audience to perceive your brand?

● If your café was a person, what would their personality be like?

What sayings, metaphors, and adjectives would your café use?

It’s okay to change your brand tone of voice depending on the situation, but it’s best to make sure that every piece of writing published (whether that’s blog posts, captions, or emails), sounds like it comes from the same person. Make sure everyone who writes for your brand is on the same page with what to include or exclude in their writing to achieve a consistent brand voice.

4. Getting noticed on niche directories

A great way to encourage new visitors to your business is to make sure you’re listed on the directories they’re visiting. For environmentally conscious customers, some essential directories to list yourself on include:

The WA Plastic Free Member Directory

EcoPages

Greenfinder

The Urban List (ensure to use your keywords!)

Even better, consider becoming a B Corp or a member of 1% for the Planet. Not only will your café gain an accreditation or make a pledge to give back to the planet, but you’ll also be listed in their respective directories.

Above all, don’t greenwash in your marketing. Greenwashing (making people believe that your business  is doing more to protect the environment than it really is) is the number one way to lose trust with your followers and customers. Read more about how to avoid greenwashing on the WA Plastic Free blog here and the Farai Creative blog here.

If the imagery and copy you use sends an honest, on-brand message, and if you position yourself to be accessible to your audience, create conversations with them, and provide useful content, I’m certain you’ll be on your way to calling-in your ideal conscious customers.

It’s these small pieces of the puzzle that make for a holistic, sustainable approach to digital marketing. Time to get started!

About Molly:

Molly is an ethical and eco digital creator. She creates and implements brand and digital marketing strategies for conscious businesses and entrepreneurs at Farai Creative. In her spare time, Molly shares tips and tales about ethical and eco living on her personal blog, Molly Farai, and co-runs WA Ethical Collective a Perth-based community for Western Australians who are passionate about ethical clothing and manufacturing.


For help with your digital marketing, book a discovery call with Molly or send her an email at molly@faraicreative.eco.

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