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Case Study : Small Business

An editorial calendar keeps coffee shop's plans brewing

Strengthen Relationships

Amelia and Josie working

Savor + Sip

As the daughter of an entrepreneur, Amelia Braun was born with the small business spirit. When friends pointed out that she was always making crepes for them and should start a creperie, the idea stuck with her. She opened Savor + Sip in Searcy, Arkansas, in February 2018 — and has been hard at work since. In 2019, Savor + Sip was one of the six businesses chosen for a makeover as part of Deluxe's Small Business Revolution series.

Creating an urban, welcoming environment

For more than a year, Amelia and her wife Josie Braun have created a coffee shop that replicates the experience of a big-city cafe, but in a small town. Savor + Sip stays open later than most businesses in the area and has a modern and urban feel. Most importantly, it's a welcoming place where everyone is invited to stay for a while, work or hang out over coffee, and dig into the homemade crepes and desserts.

To achieve this experience, Josie says, “Our staff makes the experience what it is. We try really hard to get really friendly, outgoing staff who are great at customer service. Then, people can feel like they're welcome and running into friends when they come in.” 

The Brauns have a strong understanding of their customer base and are social media savvy. They're determined to see things through. It's important to them, and to their customers, that Savor + Sip's relaxed and fun vibe remains constant even after the Small Business Revolution team departs. 

Working in the business, not on the business

The Brauns will be the first to admit that they’re new to owning a business and have a lot to learn. Their day-to-day struggles range from staffing challenges to running out of menus. They also spend a lot of time running out to buy supplies at retail. Over the long-term, getting the word out is a constant concern. 

With both of them working so many hours in the shop, they don’t have time for “back of the house” duties, such as marketing and planning for the future. They would love to hire more employees to help maintain the inviting atmosphere, as well as to free up their own time.

Savor + Sip does manage to reach the nearby Harding University campus through Instagram and Facebook, but it needed to expand its reach even more, particularly during the summer when the college town, and consequently the coffee shop, is emptier. When Harding's students leave town for break, Savor + Sip's foot traffic dries up. Even when school is in session, sales are inconsistent each day, making forecasts and staffing difficult.

Without a clear marketing plan, getting customers in the door is challenging. The Brauns' stress levels stay high and their shifts get longer as they fight to stay on top of everything.

Creating an editorial calendar to guide their marketing

Because most of Savor + Sip's challenges stem from lack of consistent traffic, the Brauns needed a strong plan to expand word-of-mouth. Fortunately, they had a strong understanding of the two audiences they wanted to reach:  Middle-aged women seeking a nice lunch spot; and college students looking for a place to hang out, do homework or job-hunt while enjoying coffee and dessert. 

To quickly boost the coffee shop's online visibility with those groups, the Deluxe team modified Savor + Sip's Google listing from being categorized as a "restaurant" to also being labeled a "coffee shop" — and the place rocketed from 12th to 5th in online rankings. The Deluxe team also added Savor + Sip's menu to the listing — a big deal, given that 62 percent of diners are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t see the menu. Finally, adding amenities helps potential visitors know what to expect. 

The Google ranking was a quick win. However, Savor + Sip had more to do if it wanted to increase visits. To expand their reach, the Brauns needed a solid plan. The Deluxe team helped them create that plan in the form of an editorial calendar.

Creating Savor + Sip's editorial calendar

What is an editorial calendar? An editorial calendar clearly lays out dates, channels and content initiatives that meet business and customer goals, often in a spreadsheet format. It takes into account seasons, local events and influxes of customers so that there is a clear schedule of content to produce and deliver.

A robust editorial calendar does more than say which day to publish which content. It also details who the content is for, who will write it and what goals the content achieves (e.g., getting more traffic or sales). 

Each business will have a calendar unique to its needs. For Savor + Sip, Deluxe laid out the calendar by month. Within each month, the team listed holidays, Searcy events and Harding happenings that are relevant to the coffee shop. They also added items like "Behind the counter" employee profiles, which aren't tied to specific times of year, but give the Savor + Sip team an idea to build content around. With all the upcoming events written down, it's easier for the Brauns to identify themes and see opportunities to communicate with their target audience.

Then, the Deluxe team worked with the Brauns to break down each month into the appropriate marketing channels, including email, social and print.

For example, in June the Brauns have plans for a singer-songwriter night. Under June, they added to the calendar that they will send out an email campaign to entice interested performers to sign up, as well as to generate buzz with customers. They will do the same thing on social media, as well as include photos of the event with posts that encourage performers to get involved and "be the next singer-songwriter." All these items went on the calendar.

Likewise, when students' families descend on Searcy around Harding graduation, orientation or other events, Savor + Sip will be ready to promote their offerings to this influx of visitors, and drive traffic that way.

For Savor + Sip, an editorial calendar makes it easy to see what's most important for the business to communicate. This way, the Brauns can channel their energy and have guidance for their day to day. By eliminating guesswork and rushed social posts, an editorial calendar provides strategy and structure. And once the calendar is mapped out, they can dig into it more fully. For example, here is what July might look like for Savor + Sip:

The best-laid plans sometimes get derailed — but can be adjusted

Then tragedy struck: Amelia's mother passed away. Battling grief and running a business is something no owner should have to suffer through. Fortunately, having a detailed plan can be therapeutic in its own way.

When tasks pile up, just getting ideas down in a spreadsheet can make a difference. Amelia, for one, loves plans. "I'm excited to have an outline for the next few months so I can look forward," she says. And if life tosses another curve ball, the plan can easily be readjusted by going into the spreadsheet and altering the dates or events.

As an added bonus, calendars make the plan clear to the rest of the Savor + Sip team. Employees understand what's coming up and what's needed, so they can pitch in well ahead of time. 

Above all, their calendar lets the Brauns have control of their shop's experience, making sure it matches the expectations set by themselves and their customers. They're able to stay true to themselves and their customers. 

A clear path forward 

Savor + Sip is taking all the right steps. But they’re only human, and Amelia realizes, “At different points in time we’ll be going at different speeds. Right now with personal stuff it’s more of a crawl.” She’s optimistic about the next few months as they fully utilize the editorial calendar.

The Brauns prove that it is possible to handle the unexpected while running a business. And when it’s not always easy, having a plan to work will help them find the strength to grow their business. 

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