Starbucks has nothing to do with coffee

The stress on the New York City streets is nearly tangible. Men in business suits with their neckties blowing in the wind are scurrying like cockroaches from the light while women are running in high heels and pencil skirts, sure to be just on time for their next meeting. Horns are blowing and cabs are being hailed at a rate that seems to defy the laws of physics.

Amidst it all, a young man of maybe 19 years works slowly and methodically. His purpose and his focus seems different than the rest. His intentions are different whether he knows it or not.

If you’re starting or already running a business, you probably feel most days like the ladies running from one place to the next trying to ensure that they are always on time. Our misplaced loyalty and fear of ruining our reputations allows us to overcommit and deliver on the things that don’t really matter. And that’s life. We scurry from one task to the next, from one day to the next, from one month to the next, all while missing the point. Or worse yet, not even thinking of what the point is.

This whole scene played out as I was standing inside Starbucks on 7th Avenue waiting for my morning coffee. I was watching as this young man meticulously placed every single water bottle with the label out in a perfectly designed row in the cooler. He was the reason we were all here.

There were 50 people packed into a noisy room the size of a small cubicle to get coffee at 7:30AM and it had nothing to do with the coffee we were about to drink. I had two cups of coffee earlier this week that were better than Starbucks.

All of those people were there for the same reason that I was. We didn’t want the coffee. We wanted the experience.

“When people buy your product, what they really want is an experience.”

The stock boy, making those precise rows of mundane water bottles, unknowingly added to the experience. The entire cooler was an experience. From the perfectly aligned beverages to the colorful sandwiches to the soft lighting, every inch of the store was an experience. The smells, the tastes, the music playing in the background, the seating, the location of the machines so that you could watch the baristas every move… it was all designed for the experience, not the coffee.

I encourage you to take a look at your business and decide, “Am I providing my customers with a product/service or am I providing them with an experience?”

What can you do to create an experience or better the one you already have?

What other companies are great at providing an experience for their customers?

Don’t sell me coffee. I can get that anywhere. Instead, sell me what I really want.

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This post was written by Josh Layhue

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