I spend a lot of time engaging in the reading/writing trenches, nestled into corners of various coffee shops. I’ve paraded face in quite a few in my day. So much, in fact, I think I’ve noticed some favorable marketing aspects and some which could use a caffeine-infused wakeup.
Of course, a post speaking specifically upon coffee shops is not going to help the general public of business owners; so, I will relay my observations and suggestions in a manner that is digestible to all.
Pay Attention to How Your Brand Treats Employees
When I was younger, my mom would always say what I did was a reflection on her (sorry, ma!). In business, I believe how employees are treated is a reflection on upper-level executives and overall brand value.
I’ve observed managers speaking negatively, condescendingly, and downright disrespectfully to employees, to the point where I told one individual I would not be returning to their establishment due to my observations.
Chris Winfield tweeted a Forbes article yesterday on behaviors of leaders. Check numbers three and five. If the above manger did, I would still be frequenting their establishment.
Do you think others observe how your employees are treated? You better count on it.
Some coffee shops are designed poorly, as far as creating an ongoing ambiance. Rather than a quick come-and-go scenario, other brands ‘invite’ you to stay…for as long as you wish. Furthermore, the design of these establishments ‘walk’ that brand of ‘talk.’
Basically, as a frequenter of coffee shops, I have needs. So do all of your consumers (regardless of your service/product). For instance, yes, I like coffee; but, I also want to stay and sit, use WiFi, learn about local happenings, purchase the local and national paper, and situate myself in comfortable seating.
What is your brand doing to ensure consumers come back? What additional resources or amenities could you provide them with? It could be a number of things including on and offline implementations. Do you think cuddling your consumers makes a difference?
Take a look at what 7-11s in Jakarta are doing to satisfy their consumers.
Give More to Get More
If yours is a business that likes cutting cost-corners then this sub section is not for you. There’s a particular shop I visited. I buy a lot of coffee; so, when a coffee card was offered I took the bait. You get every tenth coffee free. Awesome, that means within a good week, I’ll probably get at least two free coffees!
Admittedly, I don’t like carrying around extra cards or ‘signing up’ anywhere; but, this made sense, until… For one, there’s no honor system or phone number system. If I forgot my card, then, oh well, I’m out of luck as far as the ongoing freebie is concerned.
Secondly, as stated above, I drink a lot of coffee. It’s not uncommon for me to consume more than twenty cups per week; yet, due to the manager’s rules, I can only get one free coffee per week (though that notion contradicts the ‘buy 9 get the 10th free’ slogan).
Thirdly, and this was relayed to me verbatim: “We no longer carry coffee ushers for our customers because the manufacturer raised the price.” They raised the price on cardboard coffee holders? By how much? A few cents? Wow.
Consumers like being cuddled. Furthermore, we like the eventual ‘freebie’ or ‘discount’ for being a ‘regular.’ It’s kind of like a ‘thank you for your patronage’ type of thing. That matters a lot to some people. Are you so concerned with cutting costs that you must take away from consumers? Bad idea.
Not only do patrons appreciate deals; but, they’ll tell their friends about it too! Read the following case study done on special offers.
The title is a bit misleading. I don’t know if the wealthy don’t ‘worry’ about money; but, they likely worry less than those less financially fortunate. A lot of marketing mistakes are due to worry. Probably a lot of mistakes in life have a lot to do with worry and anxiety…
A little while ago, I read a story about wine makers. It features information about particular wineries and their owners, who are already wealthy, and often do not make a lot of funds from the fruits of their grapes’ labors.
It’s a good read; but, here I would like to write upon some business lessons taken from the story:
Do you ever dread your business? Why did you get into it? Was it to make money? Was the business handed down over generations? Did you see no other immediate ways to make a living? Is it your passion?
I’m a realist. I understand situations are not clear cut. However, make sure you’re not fooling yourself. Success means a lot of things. For some, the meaning has nothing to do with money; it has to do with doing something meaningful to them.
A lot of wineries are started because (yes, the owner has the funds, but…) owners have a passion for the process, the end product, and satisfying the taste buds of enthusiasts. Are you truly passionate about your business? If not, you’ll experience a lot more ‘road bumps’ because your intuition is looking for them.
If your business is not about the enjoyment in delivering your product/service to your market, you may never experience ‘success’ no matter how hard you try.
As a writer, I write constantly. Some messages are greeted with more success than others. Does it have to do with my writing? Sometimes. But, I think most times not. There are a lot of writers producing each day. My content must compete on the Web. What separates my post from being read over other content? Sometimes, it has to do with luck and timing. Sometimes it has to do with another cohort reading it, sharing it, posting it to places where others can see it, etc.
For instance, a startup may be doing everything ‘right’ yet does not experience the traction it wants. Such ‘I want it now’ sentiments can get you into trouble or make one think less of their brand. Why? Some very successful people are where they are now thanks to patience and particular timing. When will your time come? I wish I could assuage your anxieties and answer for you; but, I can tell you just about all of us are going through the same. It’s a marathon; it’s not a race.
Operate Your Business
I’ve never owned a business; so, some owners may scoff at this message. So be it. I hope all owners operate business the way it was intended. For instance, in the online marketing space, some suppliers may bend their own rules (sometimes Google’s) to satisfy a client.
Sometimes the client’s needs are not aligned with the owner’s ethics. However, let’s be real, all owners want business. Should an owner compromise the ethics of their brand to satisfy a client? I can’t answer that for you. I know my answer. In one portion of the wine article, one maker tells of those who want that 100-point score and will be hefty prices to do it. What was one winemakers reply? “My first warning is, don’t go into the business looking for a certain score.” He is secure in his decision to stand by his ethics (and that of his brand). Are you?
As a business owner, what do you want out of employees? We know you established a business to make money; that’s pretty obvious. Employees are a means to business success. But, let’s be more specific. What do you really want out of your employees?
I read a great post earlier by James Agate at Link Fish Media. James interviewed himself along with reputable link builders in the online marketing space. Motivation was a key theme throughout. But, what about looking at motivation from a different angle?
I wrote a post from my personal blog last week on the power of intrinsic motivation. Yes, of course, employees want to get paid well. We all need money. But, what about the feeling of self worth and feeling valued by the company?
A recent WSJ article featured the notion of recruiting from within your company. I think it’s a great idea from the start, aside from some of the more practical advantages, such as:
- It usually costs less to hire from within
- Employee personality and work ethic is already known
- Employee is already on-board with your brand
Cisco Systems created an internal program, Talent Connection. Cisco is a larger brand; its Talent Connection system helps managers identify in-house talent, rather than have them rely on outside candidates for openings. As the WSJ story deems, the program identifies ‘passive’ candidates.
I especially celebrate the notion; because, I was once a ‘passive candidate.’ Many people in the online marketing space were passive candidates for positions they now love and aggressively pursue.
An aggressive employee may be sitting in your office space right now; yet, their quiet personality may come across as passive. Maybe they want and are very willing to do more. What kinds of opportunities are being extended to those who may be passive? Are there any kinds of similar systems established at your brand akin to Talent Connection? Why not?
Since 2010, almost half of Cisco’s 65,000 employees have created profiles on the site and actively sought in-house opportunities. The process has saved the company millions as well as raised employee satisfaction (as measured by an in-house survey).
Two, difficult tasks regarding SEO firms and clients focus on learning curves and communications. If you’re searching for online marketing services, then you have a need. There may not be an SEO genius in your current ranks; yet, you’ll never know unless you venture to inquire.
In the very least, prodding present employees regarding potentially new positions or projects can’t hurt. Alternatively, you may find your next brand’s next point-person or executive was silently doing their work in the back cubical all along.
I don’t know who or what meets you or your marketing team’s definition of ‘king’; but, ensuring your viewers are content is pretty important methinks. I bet those who consume your brand’s content would agree with me.
Can I answer all your brand’s viewer content questions in this post? Absolutely not. I can offer some ideas though. Many times, I’ll suggest brands think exactly like their consumers. I consume a lot of content on the Web on a daily basis. I may or may not be included in your brand’s targeted market; but, definitely consider the following because it comes from a ‘consumer’s’ perspective.
What Kind of Content?
I’ve mentioned many times that content does not have to be written. Some people like to read, some people like to browse, some people like to watch, others want to listen. What do your content consumers want?
Perhaps take a gander at some major brands in your vertical. Perhaps that brand is a head of the curve. What varieties of content do they produce? Take a look at the reader perception of some posts. Are some posts getting shared more? Can you make sense of any patterns?
For instance, common sense tells me a visually DIY post is going to be more successful than a textual one. Moreover, do you offer a product? It is likely people will want to see how something works before they buy. If two brands have similar products, yet one does a better job showcasing how its product meets consumer needs, which one do you think ‘wins’ more often?
How many pieces of content are optimal to produce per week? There’s a definite answer; you should know it. Are you ready for the magic number? There isn’t one. Know your readers; track your site traffic; track your shares (subtracting the ‘in-house’ shares).
Producing content is not like lifting weights. You won’t necessarily get ‘bigger’ as you produce more content. When your brand gets traffic numbers like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, then sure, churn out that level of content. Until then, understand more does not make you bigger.
Some brands like being more methodical and plan, using an editorial calendar. That’s great; but, I would use one in relation to ‘evergreen’ content, content that could always be beneficial, not being aligned to current events. On the other hand, sometimes industry events unfold and consumers may want to know about current events. Your brand may have to step outside of its calendar and give the consumers what they want.
New Kid on the Blog
I’m a new person in a small town. If I do nothing to engage others, should I expect people to rush up to me to get to know me? Sure, some people will be curious about a new face, but that’s few and far between. Otherwise, if I don’t do something on my end to integrate myself, I’m going to be pretty lonely in this new place. You have to give to get.
What are your blog’s authors, your brand’s ‘facepeople’ doing to engage the community? It would be great if web browsers were starving for information and all you had to do was erect a blog, satiating the masses. It would be great; but, the reality is quite the opposite. Each passing day, it’s likely there’s yet another brand, pretty much just like yours, trying to vie for the same market. Some of them may actually be trying to actively draw people into reading, conversations, collaborations, answering questions, etc.
How well is your brand known? How well is your brand really trying to be known? Your content’s lack of greatness may have nothing to do with the content itself and everything to do with your level of engagement in your space. If you want people to come to your blog, you must first reach out; establish connections, reminding viewers your content is there to serve them.
I walked into a coffee shop the other morning and witnessed a customer, the end user, giving the barista an incredibly difficult time. I’ve observed such dynamics a lot in my life. I waited on tables as a young adult. Some people remember you are human too while serving them; others become detached from humanity and begin treating people…differently.
I think that’s a major error in logic and ethics. It’s a slap in the face to ‘the golden rule.’ I felt like reminding the (gentleman?) that while he was a customer at that moment, he is likely to be ‘on the other end’ of the dynamic in some shape or form. We’re all consumers, and if we offer others something in the form of product/service, it’s very beneficial to never forget the former sentiment.
User experience is incredibly important. Moreover, you don’t necessarily need a third party’s help to channel your inner ‘end user.’ You are one too.
Let Them Have Their Cake
When I was young, birthdays were huge to my grandmother. Pretty much the entire day was all about ‘you.’ Furthermore, the party’s delectable treats were completely your choice. That was great ‘customer’ service my grandmother was delivering. She asked what we wanted first. Wow. Was it just due to a grandmother’s love or was grandma people-savvy? I think both.
I read an article yesterday about a unique spin on 7-11 experiences in Jakarta. If you read the story, you’ll discover a demand for ‘café-like’ internet hangouts. A few, savvy franchisees are designing their stores to function less like mini marts and more like coffeehouses, with live bands, WiFi, a wider variety of fresh foods, etc. Franchisees are directly asking locals of wants to design upcoming stores.
Ask your consumers what they want out of your goods/services. Get a sense of the demand first, and then attempt to supply it.
How Am I Driving?
Do you ever notice those ‘how am I driving’ stickers on big trucks? I’ll assume there is some sort of system of checks and balances in place, tracking the professionalism of workers. It’s my hope that the system is utilized by owners and not just other drivers on the road. Wouldn’t you truly want to know how well your product/service satisfies? I would.
A lot of brands offer occasions for feedback; yet, I’ll be honest. I kind of take most of the ‘options’ as visual lip service, kind of like the ‘how am I driving’ stickers. A brand should want to know how well it’s driving customer satisfaction.
Be honest. How many times has your brand enforced feedback? How many times do you candidly ask social media followers? Do you host a transparent page on your site hosting user feedback? (That notion scares some of you, huh?)
Let consumers know you want their opinion and will indefinitely listen. The notion needs enforcement just like other elements of marketing. However, how far are you willing to push for your consumers’ true feedback?
I am friendly with a retail store owner. It’s interesting to know how much thinking some implementations warrant. Think of a store as a Web page, only larger and obviously more interactive. Where should he place his goods to recruit attention and make conversions?
There’s a whole lot that goes into the process. So much in fact, one can start to think about placement a lot; yet, mere thinking doesn’t garner results. We must take action; so, those thoughts become compulsive actions. He engages in the thinking/doing so much, one may wonder about his mental health.
Of course, I’m kidding. His thinking, action, and rinse/repeat rituals are warranted. It’s akin to online A/B testing.
Online readers are fickle; in some cases, we don’t even know if we can deem them ‘readers’; many are more like ‘browsers.’ Browsing can turn to reading when the level of interest is raised. How can you rearrange some implements to possibly attract raised interest?
When was the last time you thought about your design? Is it dated? Do the colors, fonts, and images POP at readers? A lot of people (including me at times) will write about producing great content. Unfortunately, sometimes the content is good but the packaging is bad. The latter spoils the chances of the former.
Take a look at some of your content pages’ bounce rates. Readers must invest at least a few minutes to peruse content. If not, they’re bouncing due to lost intrigue as a result of poor content or poor design. Your design will host future content. Why invest resources into great content when the ‘cover’ of the book is being poorly judged?
Reconsider your design. Take a look at the Blue Glass design. Fonts are large, colors are crisp, and the pages POP off the screen.
I think many Web masters do not consider the value of space. I myself love reading; but, there is a difference regarding a page’s initial reception. Accessing a page with blocks of text is intimidating. It ‘tricks’ the brain into thinking the process requires more ‘work.’ A page, offering a good portion of white space and line breaks is not as intimidating. The line ‘breaks’ denote an intellectual ‘break’ as well.
Some people will encourage the use of multiple visual elements , like pictures to accompany written text. Added implements are great (if they support learning or a message). Otherwise, they are not needed, but white space is.
Let’s take a look at how Copyblogger formats posts. You’ll notice it is all text with one, little picture at the beginning. However, notice the liberal usage of white space throughout. The information is segmented into ‘breaks’ or ‘chunks,’ which makes the post easy to initially engage and mentally grasp.
Sometimes my retail-store friend gets tired of looking at the same mannequins. He’ll dress them differently, rearrange their hand gesticulations, or put them ‘in the back’ for a bit of mannequin hibernation. The hibernation is good for consumers too, the owner thinks. “People respond to different whether they know it or not,” is one of his philosophies on the topic.
Regardless of the authority or popularity of your regularly-scheduled writers, think about giving your regular writers a rest and invite others to you write for your site. It’s a beneficial process for several reasons:
- It offers your readers a fresh, unique voice/perspective
- Outside authors can bring their readers to your blog
- The guest author may enjoy new ‘fans’ due to their guest appearance
- The notion of ‘accepting guest writers’ intrigues more writers/industry people
- IT IS NEW, DIFFERENT, AND USUALLY ELICITS A RESPONSE