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  • If I Opened a Coffee Shop

    by Michael Bertoldi on November 17, 2010

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    Think about the qualities associated with a local coffee shop. Good coffee, a relaxing environment, free wifi conducive to work or study, access to the internet, and a wireless network connection.

    Yes, of course I realize that free wifi, access to the internet, and a wireless network connection are essentially the same thing. It’s three times important. But don’t think about it from the vantage point of the necessities of a coffee shop – you know how important wifi is to your customers. The more important thing to consider is why wifi is so important to a coffee shop.

    Your Customers are Showing You Where to Reach Them

    Coffee and ComputersSavvy that. Who needs focus groups and exposure statistics when customers are in your business, showing you exactly how to reach them? Seriously, think about it for a minute – I’ll wait… Ready? What’d you see? I saw the regulars. Not the drive-thru, morning coffee regulars. The three times a week, your establishment is my home office regulars. The I come here to study, work, and surf the internet regulars. You see them. Laptops and smartphones abound. Now connect with them.

    How I Would Connect With the Coffee Crowd

    We know Facebook and Twitter are huge players in the social media space – especially for B2C types. But if I ran a product plus service based business where things are consumed – like a restaurant, ice cream joint, coffee shop – Foursquare and Yelp would play a huge role in how I connect with my customers.


    First of all, don’t let your employees become the mayor of your establishment (If you’re not familiar with what it means to be the “mayor” on Foursquare – click here for a quick schooling on Foursquare). An occasional check-in is ok, but don’t oust your customers. If that happens, the whole mayor deal is out the window. Besides, it’s not fair to stack your best customers up against someone who has to be there everyday.

    Speaking of the mayor, give them a worthwhile deal. I’ve seen a restaurant offer the mayor 25% off of food. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me. How about a pizza joint giving their mayor free bread sticks everyday? Again, a decent deal for the mayor of your business. But an offer like $1 off a drink purchase? Come on. If someone frequents your establishment so much that they’re there more than anyone else, do them better than that. Yeah, I’m looking at you Starbucks.

    Also consider giving those who aren’t the mayor a deal for checking in. Come up with a system where you reward customers for their first check-in, fifth check-in, tenth check-in, and so on. Perhaps even a “check-in X amount of times in one month” deal would be nice. The restaurant I mentioned earlier does this. Your first check-in gets you a free appetizer with your meal, your fifth gets you a free dessert with your meal, and your tenth gets you free lunch.

    Now, there are probably better and worse deals than what I’ve mentioned here. Just consider them as examples and do what you can to reward your customers who check-in on foursquare.


    If you own a restaurant or coffee shop and you’re not familiar with Yelp, you’re already behind the eight ball. Quickly open a new tab or a new window on your internet browser and click here to read about Yelp then click here and watch this presentation on Yelp. Now, the best part about Yelp is the review system. You get to see real reviews from real people, as their slogan states, and often times they’re positive. What I find interesting about Yelp is that it’s not your typical review site. People don’t seem to go there simply to complain. You might even find that positive reviews out number the negative reviews. Yelp is a site where the consumers connect with one another, share photos, and allow you – in most cases – to contact them! That’s right. Whether their review is good or bad, reward them for writing it. Could a free coffee fix a bad experience? Maybe, maybe not. But it could get you another chance. Could a free coffee keep a good reviewer coming back? Possibly even entice them to spread the word about your business? It’s certainly worth a try.

    There’s also a check-in system on Yelp. When it comes to customers becoming the “Duke” of your establishment from checking in on Yelp, simply apply what we’ve talked about regarding “Mayors” on Foursquare.

    Do it Now

    Don’t wait. Meet your customers where they are – online. Reward then handsomely. Help them help you. All it takes is some social love and your customers can become your best marketers.

    Sound like a plan? Are you already offering deals on Foursquare and connecting with reviews on Yelp? Let us know how it’s going in the comments.

    Photo from antWerpenR

    • http://twitter.com/67tallchris Christopher Porter

      I work at a coffee shop, and have had this same conversation with the “mayor”. I threatened to kick him off, but have decided to only sporadically check in, to let my twitter friends know I am out of the loop for a bit (in case they really cared).

      Very thorough analysis of the local market in social media. I think geotaging will become more prominent with google’s hotpot coming onto the scene in the last week or so (that I have been aware of anyway).

      Thanks for the great post

    • http://www.michaelbertoldi.net Michael Bertoldi

      Thanks for checking in Chris! I appreciate your comments. I’ve never been a huge coffee drinker, but one theme seems to run true with most coffee shops – laptops! I think any coffee shop not using social media is missing out.

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