Starbuck’s is not the best coffee in the world. Not by a long shot. I know this for a number of reasons. My friend and best man James (who, by the time you have read this will have already text me to point out the deliberate miss use of an apostrophe in the first sentence) is a coffee snob and he informs me that Caffe Nero is the best coffee on the high street. However, to be honest I don’t really need my grammatically astute friend to tell me this. I know Starbucks isn’t the best coffee. It is probably, at best, an average cup of Joe.
So why is it, that if you were to line up a branch of the main high street coffee shops in a row I will always choose to go into Starbucks? Believe me when I tell you that I am even writing this blog post with a side helping of Venti Black Americano (I lead a very sheltered life caffine-wise) and Blueberry Muffin.
It’s because of exactly the same thing that makes me ogle Apple iPads and not give a flying damn about the Samsung Bluergh or the Blackberry Yawn or the Microsoft I’m Bored Now.
It’s just cooler. I feel like it says something about me that I drink in Starbucks. I am aware that this makes me sound like a massive ponce to say out loud (do you blog out loud?) but I really do. I’m a starbucks guy.
It’s not about the coffee. It’s the comfy chairs. It’s the smiling barista that serves me with a big smile despite ordering the most boring drink on the menu. It’s the music and it’s the freebies.
Now as a photographer it takes a lot of work to get the ‘feeling cool’ element right. It means spending a long time working out who your clients are, what they like, what you love doing. It means spending time and money working with someone amazing like Melissa Love to project all of that successfully into the world. But the freebies – you can do that on your own.
Starbucks do this great thing every week where you get a code for a free download on iTunes. Sometimes it’s for a new single, sometimes a book, this week it’s an app for Good Food Seasonal Recipes. Obviously I took this one. I also discovered Ben Howard thanks to these iTunes vouchers. When I walk into to Starbucks I expect a cup of coffee that I will enjoy. I expect a friendly welcome and some chilled, agreeable music. I don’t expect to get inspiration for the next months dinners, or a new album I love, or a holiday read for free.
So ask yourself. Your clients expect great pictures, excellent service and a friendly photographer. What extra bits are they not expecting that could blow their mind and get them always thinking of you as the place to get photographs? It should be easy to do and depending on your target market should not be too expensive. Champagne is a good one but it’s kind of cliche. Think back to your business and what it stands for. Tie it in to your branding. For instance you all know I love food. So I send my couples a recipe for a date night meal to cook together with all the ingredients they need. They don’t expect that at all. It feels like I am really trying to help their relationship and encourage them to be together. American client relationship GURUs Zach and Jody Gray send out gift cards to Starbucks because coffee is a massive part of their personality.
What can you do?
Now my Americano is cold. It’s ok. I know they will give me a fresh one.