Why you should educate your customers
In today’s competitive retail landscape, gaining an advantage over other coffee shops is an increasingly difficult task. Loyalty schemes are easily mimicked and other well ran outlets eager to serve customers with great products and service are never too far away!
On first thought, taking the time to inform customers of additional information about whatever it is they’re drinking may seem like making a hard day even harder. And perhaps this is true. But before the notion is disregarded, it really wouldn’t do anyone any harm to understand the bottom line benefits of this little bit of extra effort.
What is it you’re actually selling?
You’d be pretty naive to think your customers are coming to your cafe just for their morning fix, even if this the only thing they do buy. A clever marketing fella named Phillip Kotler urged business people to think of products not just as physical items, but something that has layers made up of core product benefits, customer expectations and potential add-ons that could be bundled in. For example, you’d certainly expect your IKEA wardrobe to come with instructions (right!?). But if those instructions are really hard to follow it certainly wouldn’t reflect well on your thoughts about IKEA. The point is, something trivial which is often taken for granted can still reflect heavily on a product’s perceived value.
Taking this one step further, Kotler gets us to think about other things that could form opinions about our products, positively or negatively (new restaurant, amazing food, dirty restrooms. urrghh!), and adding informational components to products can certainly help. For example, knowing how many calories your latte contains, or knowing the milk is from a local farm immediately appeals to anyone watching their weight or those with strong community values. What about knowing where or how your coffee was grown? This way you could learn a little bit more about what you like and what you don’t. Maybe customers value this, maybe not. But if they do, you’ve immediately showcased your offering in a better light.
The advantages of educating your customers
And although it may only be a slight advantage, it is an advantage. And if it transpires that all that happens is you gain just one extra customer, one who likes to know where your weekly guest coffee is grown, could easily be worth £800 a year, perhaps more. Surely that’s worth thinking about?
The trick to adding informational benefits is knowing when they’re valued and when they’re not. One way of getting around this is simply adding it to the menu boards around your shop, customers who are interested will be happy to read, those who aren’t, won’t. At least it means you don’t have to play teacher.