Marketing coffee when they should have been advertising routers

Do you know why your customers buy? A coffee shop we know and love that’s been in business for over 15 years recently asked their customers that and was shocked by the response. Whereas they had always assumed that the coffee and atmosphere were the main drivers for business, a customer poll revealed that people’s #1 reason for being in there was WiFi and access to power plugs.

WiFi and power plugs? What has the world come to? No, never mind, we’re not here to judge, but what this can teach us is that no matter how well you think you know your customer, you probably don’t. People continue to buy coffee there just as they always have, but their reasons for doing so have shifted.

It goes to show that if you don’t keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ motives, you can get blindsided, just like this coffee shop did when the router went out and everyone mysteriously vanished. All of a sudden their time-tested value proposition of “great coffee, great people” was worthless. It’s thus far better to ask the right questions.

Questioning will help you stay abreast of why people buy. Those reasons can vary a lot between individuals who each have their own unique demographic and psychographic profiles, but in aggregate you should be able to develop the profile for an average customer. Many marketers even choose to name them, like “Suzy shopper.”

1. The first thing to do is ask the right questions!

Poll your customers however you can. Try online surveys, asking people at the check-out counter, or handing out paper questionnaires. Remember to always keep it less than 10 questions and if you want to supercharge your response rate, offer a drawing or sweepstakes for participating. In that survey, ask them things like:

Why did you make a purchase today?

Would you buy again? Why or why not?

What is the most important thing to you about ___ product/service?

What made you choose us over the other options out there?

2. Create a hypothesis for your customer value proposition 

How many responses is enough? For the average small business, no less than 100 will do. Tally all of them up and select the top reason for buying from each category. This should allow you to craft a statement like this: “Suzy shopper purchased because ____.” This is your hypothesis value proposition, but don’t stop here because you’re not done yet!

3. Make sure you’re working with an actual value proposition 

You’ll want to make sure that you, unlike many business owners, steer clear of the feature/functionality trap. This is when you think your business advantage is a technological one, like a car dealer advertising more cup holders on their sports car. You see businesses of all sorts advertising this way, saying that they use ACME technology or the X1 method. But do customers really care? Heck no! They have no idea what ACME or X1 are, they only care that their dentist makes them look more attractive, their mechanic gets them to the party, and the pastry chef makes their five year old smile.

It’s about what you do for them, not how you did it. So stop advertising technologies and get wise! Your value proposition is about the real impact to your customer’s life.

So stop now and double check your hypothesis value proposition. Is it about how it makes them feel, or is it about your industry’s version of “more cup holders?” If it’s about how it makes them feel, you’re on to something, and you can check that it applies to at least two of the five most common reasons that people buy (from an acronym known as PIERS):

Productivity: will they get more done?

Image: will it make them look better?

Efficiency: will it make their life easier?

Revenue: will it make or save them money?

Safety/Security: will it give them peace of mind?

Let’s put all of the together now…

What did you come up with? Hopefully your hypothesis is ready to be tested by the trial of marketing. Take your newly minted value proposition and try it out in a marketing campaign. With a direct mail postcard campaign, you can even A/B test its effectiveness against the old one so that you can know if you’re truly onto something.

New value propositions really are that easy! Nobody expects you to be a mind-reader because the answers you seek are lying right in front of you with your customers! Like our friends at the coffee shop, you should be curious and ask lots of questions. So get out there, improve your value proposition, and in turn, increase your own marketing efficiency and revenue! (how did we do against PIERS?).

Looking for a little help with that campaign? 

Opportunity Knocks Marketing can help you develop a killer value proposition and if you’re having trouble formulating your own or simply don’t have time, give them a call at 877-222-6010 and enlist their help today!


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