Free Coffee

February 17, 2009
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There are a couple of gas stations close to my home, both are clean, well lit and offer gas at the same price. Both offer free coffee without a minimum purchase, they simply want you to come in and grab a cup. Yet one is always more crowded than the other, for a pretty simple reason – the empty store uses signs to offer the free coffee. The full store has no signs, but they do have friendly people working there. The employees greet you even if you are pumping gas, they ask you to come in and grab a cup of coffee, talk to you and typically while you’re there you pick up other things.

When you begin to think about competitive businesses, there are often few differentiators – product, service, price, reputation, accessories – all factors that influence purchase decisions; but sometimes when these are all equal it comes down to the their experience and your branding… those underlying factors that can’t always be seen but make a huge impression.

As eMarketers we have the ability to carry on very focused conversations with our recipients, we know what they open, we know what they click – all we have to do is zero in and facilitate the dialogue. It is not just about offering a deal, but ma


There are a couple of gas stations close to my home, both are clean, well lit and offer gas at the same price. Both offer free coffee without a minimum purchase, they simply want you to come in and grab a cup. Yet one is always more crowded than the other, for a pretty simple reason – the empty store uses signs to offer the free coffee. The full store has no signs, but they do have friendly people working there. The employees greet you even if you are pumping gas, they ask you to come in and grab a cup of coffee, talk to you and typically while you’re there you pick up other things.

When you begin to think about competitive businesses, there are often few differentiators – product, service, price, reputation, accessories – all factors that influence purchase decisions; but sometimes when these are all equal it comes down to the their experience and your branding… those underlying factors that can’t always be seen but make a huge impression.

As eMarketers we have the ability to carry on very focused conversations with our recipients, we know what they open, we know what they click – all we have to do is zero in and facilitate the dialogue. It is not just about offering a deal, but making sure that you are actually talking to the recipient and keeping them engaged. Take time to understand what they want by watching your numbers, and never forget to thank them.

After about 10 fill-ups at the station, Suzi thanked me and asked why I wouldn’t step in for coffee. I felt a little bad, so I walked in and jokingly told her that I prefer tea, she quickly helped me brew a cup and since then when I roll into this gas station, they all know my preference and remember to invite me in for tea… personalized stuff always works.
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