Coffee is not for amateurs...

by Martin Avis 14 replies
Not very long ago a coffee shop opened in my High Street. It wasn't part of a chain, and it had the look and feel of a greasy spoon.

More recently a branch of Costa Coffee opened up opposite and within a few weeks the original coffee shop had closed its doors for good.

There is a lesson to be learned from this. And if you think about, an important lesson for Internet marketers.

When you open a new business in a market that has some established national (or international) brands, there seems little point these days in looking like a poor relation.

You may only have one branch, and you may have some great unique selling points, but in order to make people want to use you, you have to 'fit in' with what the market expects.

For coffee shops at the moment, that expectation is for a calm environment with sofas and easy chairs, newspapers to read and a wholly baffling range of speciality coffees.

You have to invest money in shop design and signage that can stand alongside the multi nationals.

You have to 'feel' like an established company.

And you have to understand the dynamic of the business.

You don't need to be the only coffee shop in town - my sleepy little town has a Costa Coffee and a Nero Coffee (as well as a busy Macdonalds), and they all do good business. There is room for competition even in a small marketplace.

But there isn't room for amateurs.

It's amazing how many people fail to understand that in all kinds of markets.

I'm not talking about deceptive 'fake-it-until-you-make-it' practices. It is about assuming an air of professionalism in all that you do right from the word go.

Martin
#main internet marketing discussion forum #amateurs #coffee
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  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    Hi Martin,

    Good to see you posting here.

    I wrote a book several years ago on customer service and loyalty, and this is something I mentioned back then.

    Many people mistake regular customers for loyal customers.

    Sometimes a similar business opening a few yards closer will automatically get most of the business. When it comes to loyalty you need more than just a great product to keep your customers when a competitor comes along.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bev Clement
      Martin, will the Yanks know what a greasy spoon is?
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      • Originally Posted by Bev Clement View Post

        Martin, will the Yanks know what a greasy spoon is?

        Isnt a Greasy Spoon a Greasy Spoon?

        Take Care,

        Michael Silvester
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        • Profile picture of the author Bev Clement
          Michael, yes a greasy spoon is a greasy spoon, but Martin was talking about "Greasy Spoon" and that is different from a greasy spoon. :p
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          • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
            One of the biggest secrets people have to learn is not to compete but to find a niche no one else is serving.

            For example in my town we have a tiny Kava cafe that does a roaring trade.

            Kava is a legal drink that makes you feel very mellow (so I'm told I don't have any interest in Kava or coffee).

            But my point is that most businesses that go broke never have to if they just find an underserviced or untouched sub-niche in their area.

            The same is true online.

            Even in the internet marketing niche which is very competitive there are thousands of almost completely underserviced subniches.

            Let me give you an example.

            Try to find a good information product on how to capitalize on free classified ad sites like Craigslist USfreeads etc.

            See if you can find someone who is an obvious expert in that area...and going out of their way to position themselves as an expert just in that area.

            That's the key.

            If you're positioned very tightly in a sub-niche other businesses in your main niche are more likely to do joint ventures with you and promote you because you're not seen as a threat to their business.

            And you have a whole lot more credibility selling even high priced products because you've niched yourself tight enough to be seen as the leading expert.

            Kindest regards,
            Andrew Cavanagh
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      • Profile picture of the author WritingMadwoman
        Originally Posted by Bev Clement View Post

        Martin, will the Yanks know what a greasy spoon is?
        Ayuh, we got em heah too. (my best Downeast Maine accent) Unless you guys use the term differently, but to us a greasy spoon is usually a small diner or restaurant that fits the adjective greasy perfectly - from the food to the people to everything about the place. Maybe not always dirty but definitely not pretty or upscale in anyway. lol

        Martin, great story with an excellent point!

        Wendy
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        • Profile picture of the author Neil Morgan
          Wendy - you got it right!

          Great post Martin. It's an example of the age-old maxim that perception is more important than reality.

          The 'Greasy Spoon' in your story could have had the most wonderful coffee in the world, but that wasn't a factor in its demise.

          A good lesson.

          Cheers,

          Neil
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          • Profile picture of the author Greg Cooksley
            Hey Martin,

            Very good analogy.....

            Doesn't matter what business you're in, it always pays to be
            professional in your outlook and the way you conduct your business....

            You just have to understand what "professional" means in your
            business or niche......

            If you are selling hi-tech equipment, you have to have a hi-tech
            profile and image. If you are selling home-made pies and jams,
            you have to have a homemade image....

            Now I bet that when you read the above paragraph, you got an
            image of a hi-tech store and then a farm style roadside store
            in your minds didn't you???

            So your appropriate interpretation of "professional" needs to
            be applied depending on your business/niche....

            Regards

            Greg
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            • Profile picture of the author Stacie Bennett
              Originally Posted by Greg Cooksley View Post


              So your appropriate interpretation of "professional" needs to
              be applied depending on your business/niche....

              Regards

              Greg
              That is a very good point to add to Martin's post! What do your customers (potential customers) expect you to 'look' like? Whatever your business, you need to look and act (be) the part of the expert. From day one your customers have to 'perceive' you as the one that knows what you are doing, no matter what your niche or business model is.

              (Oh and around here, a 'greasy spoon' is used to describe a lot of the local truck stops, not the big chain ones, little hole in the wall places)
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  • "COFFEE IS FOR CLOSERS!"
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  • Profile picture of the author onlinemarketer
    cool story and a good point too, people are looking for fresh or new stuff
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    • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
      Andy Henry - "Many people mistake regular customers for loyal customers."

      This is so true. You could put this slogan on a tee shirt and have your employees wear it to bed each night so it is the first thing they see when they get up in the morning. Just be sure to print it backwords so they can read it in the mirror while they brush their teeth.

      I'm in a niche where the products we sell are consumables that all our customers have been buying for a long time. Long before they ever found our site.

      Our largest strength in the market is our customer service. That was the hole in the market and the weakness our competition had that we could exploit. So we did.

      Over 85% of our customers were at one time or another regular customers of our largest competitor. Appearently that company must of had a slogan along the lines of "Regular Customers Are Loyal Customers" they drilled into their employees heads.

      Sure hope they never get hold of Andy's book...

      KJ
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  • Profile picture of the author Jesus Perez
    I've actually read the opposite. Small mom and pop shops are prospering whenever a Starbucks opens beside them. This is because Starbucks boosts the traffic and when people see the lines inside, they opt for the smaller shop.

    But you're right about environment. It definitely needs to be up to par. No one want to sit in a rinky-dink greasy place.
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