How do you tell people who you are without saying a word? Go out for coffee!

There’s a coffee shop in my neighborhood. It’s pretty famous around here. They just opened up two new stores in the city. They’re considered a big deal.

Except they suck. Regular coffee costs two bucks. They are always out of something. At no point does anyone in their employ know what kind of bagels they have that day. I asked the owner if Viennese coffee was flavored, and he told me that it wasn’t – it was just regular coffee from Vietnam.

I have never been there without at least 5 people in line ahead of me. People love this place. They happily fork over their two bucks (we won’t even get into what lunch costs) for a cup of acceptable coffee in a Styrofoam cup that dribbles.

Why? Because they like what it says about them.

You see, around here, if you don’t work during the day, there are two kinds of places to go for coffee. There are the places you go because you are unemployed and have nothing better to do, and there are the places you go because you have so much money you don’t need to work. This is one of the latter shops, and this is why there’s a lineup out the door.

Young mothers bring their preschoolers and sit on the sidewalk patio because it says, “My husband makes enough money that I don’t have to go to work.” Recently retired folks go there to lie about their golf scores. Home business owners go there to network and schmooze. That’s why I go.

When a potential client is introduced to me at this coffee shop, they are silently being told, “She’s doing well. She is successful. She has the time to come here when other people are out working.” The client trusts me. I go where he goes. I do what he does.

Is it worth it? In the last year, I’ve gotten over $8000 worth of business from clients I’ve met at my local café. Considering I go there about four times a week, at $2/coffee, I’ve spent about $416 to get over $8000, not including future revenues and referral possibilities. Plus I got coffee.

Roll out the clichés if you want. Like marries like. Birds of a feather flock together. You’re judged by the company you keep. Whatever.

What kind of company are you keeping?

4 comments on “Brand Management at the Coffee Shop”

  1. I found this post particularly interesting because it’s only as of recent that I’ve made it a habit to meet with my local clients at the local café. I for one don’t think it’s dumb or cliché at all. Rather, I get to…
    – Meet with a client in a casual, non-stress environment
    – Enjoy a cup of coffee with them
    – Brand myself to the other locals sitting around as I talk just loud enough for my client to hear but for others to wonder; my client’s expressions handle the rest. They’re usually a smile, a nod of approval, a handshake, etc.

    We meet, cover important points, have a few laughs and enjoy some great coffee which is usually something we both enjoy.

    Anyway, that’s been my experience!

  2. Working at home is great for my reclusive tendencies, but I’d love to have a place to get out and socialize, especially if it was good for business. I live in the sticks. I Washington State we measure the distance everywhere in hours. For me, nothing is less than half an hour away. By the time I look presentable and go somewhere I’ve lost all that work time. Hopefully someday, when it doesn’t matter.

    Then I would really fit in at your cafe, wouldn’t I?

  3. Absolutely! You, too, could lie about your golf scores. I read your comment to my husband (a definite city fan) and there’s a good chance he’s breaking out into hives right now. I, however, would love the sticks. I avoid people as much as possible in a city of 400,000 and frankly, it’s a lot of work. Think of all the work I could get done if I didn’t have to spend so much time avoiding people. :-)

    Great to see you again, Terry.

  4. It’s interesting you spend so much time avoiding people, yet run a service business and a blog. It sounds incongruent, but I totally understand. Maybe we like people only when it’s on our own terms?

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