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All I wanna do is to thank you June 16, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, business strategy, conversation, marketing.
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Readers who recall my 5 step marketing mantra will remember point 5 stated the most remarkable thing you can have is exceptional customer service. We’re sadly still in a place where a number of organisations don’t get this, due in large part to the customer service departments being seen as a necessary evil, a cost of doing business. As a result, the people staffing these roles are not empowered to simply solve problems and instead are hamstrung by rules designed to elicit the bare minimum of support; enough to keep the customers at the table but not nearly enough to actually make them happy to be there.

The contrast between the great and the not so great was rammed home for me recently thanks to a lousy experience with one of the world’s largest magazine publishers and one of the world’s smallest cafes. Those who know me know my love for coffee is wholly unbridled, bordering on obsessive. They will also know the outright contempt I hold for the Starbucks of the world, suffice to say North America is not David-friendly when it comes to my dark master.

Reach out and touch somebody

Reach out and touch somebody

Thankfully here in Toronto I have found Balzac’s, an independent coffee house which roasts its own beans and makes, quite simply, the best coffee I’ve had here so far. Having fallen in love with the store-bought goods I began ordering online, and when the first batch showed up, I was greeted with a hand-written card, offering up a 15% off code for my next order and a note about their Facebook application.

Let’s review that people:

  • I already love the product
  • They’re making it cheaper for me to get
  • AND they’re offering me another way to interact with their brand.

Contrast this with Conde Nast, who told me, when my issue of Wired failed to appear (while my co-workers waltzed around with their’s) that I needed to wait 2 weeks before they could fulfill a missing order. Having waited patiently, I contacted them at the appropriate time to be told:

We are sorry to inform you that the issue you requested is no longer available.

To be fair, they then told me my subscription would be extended by an issue, but this is not the point. I understand magazines are having a hard time of it lately.

Can I suggest though the ways to innovate in your business model are not to deprive people of the thing they desire in the interests of saving a couple dollars.

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Free business plan – SMS Coffee July 21, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in marketing, work/life.
Tags: , ,

The lines between marketing and business strategy are, in my mind at least, getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Note I am placing a premium on value over a better campaign to sell a lousy product, but that’s just me. If businesses suddenly created nothing but products worth talking about, everyone in the ad industry would need to go and find new jobs (best of luck to them).

Mmmmmm...coffee....*homer drool*

Mmmmmm...coffee....*homer drool*

Friends who know me know I am passionate about coffee. I regularly go to tastings which are held a one of my favourite cafes here in Melbourne, and while I have hauled myself back to a respectable two cups a day, I savour every minute of it and look forward to the next.

So I was thinking about how people could enjoy more coffee, more conveniently. I’m a big believer that the future isn’t online, it is mobile, a platform that encompasses everything the internet has brought to us without needing to be tied to a desk. I’m already starting to live that life, but we’re only a short way through the wealth of possibilities.

With this in mind, I want it to be easier to buy coffee. Particularly if I’m on the move, I don’t like the standing around waiting for it to be made. So here is something I think is a pretty good idea. If someone could go build it I’d really appreciate it.

  1. A coffee house does a deal with a micro-billing provider to bill people via their mobile rather than having to fork over cash (further towards a paper-less society – this is a good thing)
  2. Sarah, almost at the city train station where she will jump off, sends an SMS to the coffee house with just “1” in the message body
  3. This is received by the coffee house. Sarah’s number is in the database, 1 is her favourite, a long black.
  4. They accept the order and this pushes a message back to Sarah saying her coffee is being made
  5. Sarah’s train pulls in to the station, she gets up to the coffee shop across the road from the station, finds her coffee waiting for her and off she goes. No lines, no waiting, no fumbling for change.

We have the technology to do this, and the know-how to apply it to hundreds of other industries. Why aren’t we people? This doesn’t need a 30-second spot; it creates value and is worth talking about. And that is enough.

Image courtesy of Amit Gupta, with thanks to compfight.

What happens when the heart just stops? March 13, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, philosophy, work/life.
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On my way to the office this morning I stopped by my favourite coffee emporium in all of Melbourne, a shop at the edge of the Prahran Market called Passionut. I stepped inside to see the place flooded with chocolate bunnies, Easter eggs, the layout of the store in disarray. “Where are Tim and Carol?” I asked the eager guy behind the counter. “Oh, they’ve moved on,” he said, and that was that.

Tim and his wife Carol stocked a range of fantastic coffee, wonderful fresh nuts and dried fruit, and some great chocolate. Chocolate and coffee are two of my real passions in life, I can take either in until the cows come home with little loss in desire to consume more. More than that, buying it from Tim and Carol, a couple who I’ve shared lots of music and more laughs with became an experience in itself. I’d share with them my hopes for meetings I was having to get the music I make into a wider sphere, we’d swap mix-tapes of Eric Bibb and B.B. King among others, time in their shop was refuge. To quote Hugh Mcleod, coffee was the social object but the conversation around it was much more important, and that was never so apparent until today when I wandered in to find they weren’t there anymore.

I’m sure the new owner is a lovely guy and I hope he does well. But I didn’t go back to the shop because of the coffee, I went back because of the relationship I had with the Tim and Carol. I can’t count the number of places I can get coffee from Costa Rica in Melbourne, so I’m off to one of those. I’ve no interest in buying from the new guy, they were all out of the one I like anyway. That experience with one of my favourite things in the world gets tucked away now, forever and ever, amen.

When a brand becomes an experience and takes on a life of its own, neither the creator nor the consumer is in control anymore. That’s a really exciting space to be in, the rules are entirely unwritten. But it also means there’s no way that experience can be transferred, because it is so personal. It’s the final destination for the brand that has achieved everything else, the only place left to go is complete reinvention. That’s where Tim and Carol have gone to, and I guess I’m on my way as well. Good luck guys.