Author Archives: Nick Usborne

Before you create your new coffee product or service, figure out the marketing.

October 7, 2015 by Leave a comment

Cart before horse in marketing.I talk with a lot of people who are working on launching some kind of coffee business.

Some are launching a roaster or coffee shop. Some are launching a coffee subscription service. And some are launching a new coffee maker or grinder.

Many of them have one thing in common.

They put the cart before the horse.

In other words, they do everything – including launching – before they give much thought to marketing.

This is a problem, because marketing is everything.

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Published in Coffee marketing

Shut up for a minute and let your customers tell your story.

September 2, 2015 by Leave a comment

Man with mouth taped closedI was on the phone with a coffee company last week and we were talking about their marketing.

More specifically, I was anxious to talk about how they were telling their story.

Their business is online, but they don’t sell their own coffees. They curate and sell coffees from top roasters across the U.S.

Every day they are dealing with these roasters and, of course, with their customers.

But the story they tell on their website is fairly ordinary and flat.

Same old story you’ll find on a hundred other coffee websites. They are passionate about coffee. They love great coffee roasters. They want to share the best with their customers. And so on.

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Published in Coffee marketing

A well designed coffee bag makes a big difference.

February 22, 2015 by Leave a comment
A well designed coffee bag makes a big difference.

I was recently sent a couple of bags of coffee by Driven Coffee, out of Minneapolis.

The instant I opened the shipping box those two bags of coffee made a strong and positive impression.

They looked good. They were professionally designed. The messaging was simple, on-target and powerful.

More important, ...

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Published in Coffee marketing

Can celebrity endorsements boost your coffee brand?

October 3, 2014 by Leave a comment
Can celebrity endorsements boost your coffee brand?

Celebrity coffee brandsAs I have said before on this site, branding your coffee can be a bit of a challenge.

After all, whatever the coffee you are selling, it looks pretty much identical to the coffee your competitors are selling. It’s a small, brown bean.

In other words, coffee is a commodity.

Yes, a very small percentage of coffee drinkers can taste the difference between a coffee from Kenya and a coffee from Ethiopia. But most can’t. They just like a good cup of Joe.

To overcome the “commodity” challenge, roasters and marketers try to differentiate their coffee in a variety of ways.

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Published in Coffee marketing

To differentiate your coffee, you need to find the right story.

December 4, 2013 by 1 comment

Coffee bean in a spoonAs I have said in previous posts, the interesting thing about the coffee business is that we are all selling the same thing. It’s a brown bean. A commodity.

At the top end of the market, which is pretty thin, you can differentiate your coffee by its taste. A few people can taste the difference between a decent coffee, a good coffee and a great coffee.

But with most people, their appreciation of coffee is the same as their appreciation of art – they just know what they like.

So…if you are selling a brown, roasted bean – just like every other coffee company – how can you differentiate your own beans?

The answer is pretty simple. You tell a story.

Typically those stories revolve around things like the country of origin and the circumstances under which the coffee is grown, processed and roasted. Shade grown. Fair Trade. Organic. Small batch roasting. And so on.

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Published in Coffee marketing

Why the cost of shipping could kill your online coffee business.

November 25, 2013 by Leave a comment

Shipping costs for online coffee vendorsIt would be nice to think that the future of your coffee business will turn on the quality of your coffees and your service.

If you have a coffee shop, that may well be the case.

But if you sell coffee online, there is another factor that has the potential to sink your dreams.

Shipping rates.

Put simply, if you sell a pound of coffee for $9 and the shipping cost you pass on to your customers in $9, you just doubled the price of your product. And nobody wants to pay double for their coffee when they can just run down to the corner store and pick a bag off the shelf.

True, the coffee they buy may not be as good as yours. But even so.

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Every action required on your coffee business website reduces conversion rates.

November 13, 2013 by Leave a comment

Abandoned ecommerce shopping cartOne of the mistakes many people in ecommerce make is to fail to pay attention to the number of clicks and pages between their homepage and that final purchase confirmation page.

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling coffee beans, coffee grinders, coffee makers or, for that matter, books or sneakers.

Every step between arriving at your site and completing a purchase reduces conversion rates.

Let’s look at those steps, and how we can reduce their number…

The process a visitor goes through when wanting to buy something on your site is divided into two phases.

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Finding the right words for your coffee ecommerce site.

October 15, 2013 by Leave a comment

coffee website copywritingWho writes websites?

Who are these people who sit down and write homepages, category pages, sales pages, blog posts and all the other written content on a typical coffee site?

In the case of small companies it might be the founder of the company who does most of the writing. Or one of his or her employees.

If nobody feels particularly comfortable doing all that writing, maybe a freelancer is brought in to do the heavy lifting. With larger companies, there may be a writer or two employed in-house. Or they may get their ad agency to handle it all.

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3 Reasons why coffee companies think their marketing is top notch. When it isn’t.

October 8, 2013 by Leave a comment

Coffee marketing the same...It’s all too easy to look at your marketing plan and activities, take a peek at your website and printed materials, track your results…and then conclude that all is well with your marketing.

In fact, it might not take much to persuade you that everything is hunky-dory, and nothing needs to be changed or improved.

This is a problem, because as soon as you sit back and decide that everything is going just fine, you are no longer motivated to test new approaches and see if you can leverage those changes to do even better.

Let’s look at 3 of the influences that might lull you into achieving less than you could.

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Published in Coffee marketing

Help restaurants serve better coffee, and boost your own brand.

September 30, 2013 by Leave a comment

Poor quality cafe latteSeveral times over the last few weeks I have enjoyed really nice meals at some excellent restaurants.

Great care was taken with the food and its presentation.

The service was great.

But in every case the coffee I ordered at the end of the meal was a crashing disappointment. In fact, I am writing this within a couple of hours of enjoying a wonderful meal culminating in a Cafe Latte that tasted like it was made with instant coffee and warm milk.

That’s really bad news for the restaurant, because the coffee comes at the end, and creates one’s final impression of the overall meal and experience.

Why was the coffee so bad? I don’t think it was about the coffee they used, or the quality of their equipment. In today’s case I think it was simply because the person using the equipment didn’t know what he was doing.

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Published in Coffee marketing