If you’ve not read this previous blog entry, I highly recommend it. And I assure you, with that post and this, it will be worth your while.
I have long questioned what makes some businesses succeed wildly? That post is a fascinating piece on that latest San Francisco cultural craze: $4 toast. –And not only San Francisco, but spreading to other parts of the nation. $4 for toast? Uh, why, exactly? As it turns out, there are compelling reasons, at least one of which you can likely incorporate into YOUR business immediately as well.
If you follow the linked article to the Pacific Standard ezine, you will read about Giulietta Carrelli. A compelling story, all by itself; but what I first thought was attributable only to her, I’m beginning to understand is something far more universal. Certainly it’s wrapped in Giulietta Carrelli here, but this is something that I believe can be done by any of us — or at least most any of us.
Starbucks’ popularity is not the sale of coffee; it’s the sale of an event. I understand that Starbucks successor owner, Howard Schultz got the vision for the current iteration from visiting Italy, and observing coffee houses there. What he envisioned here was what he coined, “the third location” — after home and work. So his product was not coffee, but location: ambiance, surrounding, coordinated meeting place — event, as it were. If you understand this, you begin to see a little bit into the psyche of the US consumer. As you meditate on that for a bit, I will widen the concept:
Our universal constant, circumstantially growing stronger year by year, is for connection — interpersonal connection. Facebook has capitalized on this as well. But as we make “weak connections”, like a green plant that stretches for the sun, we will always strive to make strong connections. So, for roughly a third of our total market (the other two-thirds, the subject of another post), it’s not the “product”, as we most often presume. It’s people. And meaningful connection. So for Starbucks, it’s his “location”; but this isn’t yet the core, which brings me to this final point — and one that we can all implement: In all of the successful businesses I’ve seen, there is one almost universal constant — easy to miss unless you’re looking for it. In that linked article, about halfway down, was this quote:
Animated and lucid—her blue eyes bright above a pair of strikingly ruddy cheeks—Carrelli interrupted our long conversation periodically to banter with pretty much every person who visited the shop.
If you wrap this together with the Starbucks theory, you begin to get a clear picture of what we’re looking for. Community. So, as I promised in the beginning, what is it that everyone can incorporate into their business? Banter, connection. Understood, not everyone is a quick-conversation extrovert. But attempt to dialog with each customer. Connect.