Does your brand pass the "coffee date" test?
This post is about the "Coffee Date" test, a little trick that helps me assess whether a brand can really appeal to its ideal customer and target audience.
"Your brand and your ideal customer meet for coffee.
What happens? What do they talk about?"
Take two minutes and try to come up with a short list of 3-4 things your brand and your ideal customer would have to talk about over macchiatos and hazelnut lattes.
How did you do? If the conversation covers a variety of interesting topics and issues, you're on the right track!
But if all your answers revolve around your service or product, you may be missing an opportunity.
Don't worry! We're going to fix it.
Imagine this: You meet up with a friend, and she opens the conversation by trying to sell you something. You try to change the subject, but the conversation keeps coming back to what she can do for you. Erm.
If you're like me, you might gulp down your coffee and start planning your escape.
But if she asks about how your life is going, enthuses about the new album just released by that band you both love, and reminisces about that vacation you took together in college, you might stick around for hours.
Sounds like a great conversation! Can I come?
Friendships – and all good relationships – are webs of shared experiences, common interests, similar values, and mutual caring about each other's wellbeing. And if you're really lucky, you inspire and help each other to become better and happier people.
In the same way, the very best brands are about more than transactions. Beyond solving a problem for your target market (which of course is super important), there are so many ways you can captivate and build trust with your ideal customer. A vast universe of ways. There are as many ways to relate to your ideal customer as there are facets of his or her personality, values, goals, and lifestyle, and points where you overlap with them.
The best brands are like good friends.
They are more than transactions.
If you want to inspire your ideal customer to trust you, believe in your vision, and join your journey – think in terms of real-life relationships and connections.
The Coffee Date test is designed to help you think outside the box of your service or product, and find other authentic ways you can speak to your ideal customer.
So here's an example of how it can help add some color to your ideal customer profile:
BEFORE: Jane, a 25–45-year-old busy mom who runs her own business.
AFTER: Jane was running late for coffee because the sink overflowed, and now she has to hire a contractor to fix it before the in-laws arrive for a week-long visit. She just turned 35 and she's exhausted from wrangling a rambunctious two-year-old while keeping her small business above water and all her clients happy. All she wants to do is get away from it all for a few days with her girlfriends and enjoy a little rest, relaxation, and reggae music! But she has minimal time for planning.
Honestly you're surprised she even managed to get away for a coffee date, so you want to take her mind off her worries for a while. So the two of you spend two fun hours musing about your dream vacation, gushing over cute photos of each other's kids, lamenting the shortage of hours in each day, and exchanging creative ideas and suggestions for each other's businesses.
Much, much better.
As you develop a clearer picture of your ideal customer, you can check your brand attributes to be sure they align with that person's needs. It can help you say "Hey, I get you," and mean it.
To build trust and rapport, show that you understand your customer and care about their interests.
If your brand is a reflection of you, especially if you're a solopreneur, I don't mean you should squeeze yourself into a box where you just don't fit. But you probably have traits and qualities that you can authentically bring to the table to help meet your ideal customer's needs.
For example, if Jane is constantly stressed and pressed for time, and you happen to be good at calming your friends down when they're panicking, does your brand voice reflect that? Are you reminding them that they have what it takes to juggle all those priorities? You can serve as a soothing and encouraging presence in the lives of busy Janes.
Having a clear vision of your ideal customer helps you speak directly to them. It lets you say, "Hey, I get you," and mean it.
As any marketer will tell you, understanding your ideal customer inside and out makes a world of difference in how you position your business, write content, choose imagery, decide where to advertise and build a presence, and make countless other little daily choices for your business.
Like friendships, brand loyalty requires give and take. When you build a brand that speaks to your ideal customer's hopes, dreams, and pain points, and shows that you care about them, the right people will feel it, and know instantly that they belong.
When it's all said and done, there are countless ways to explore who your ideal customer really is. But as a coffee lover, this is one of my favorites.
So, what would your ideal customer and your brand talk about over coffee?