>What Starbucks Wishes It Could Be Again

>This is my favorite coffee house in Waco, Common Grounds.

It’s what Starbucks wishes it could be again. It’s right across the street from Baylor University (my Alma mater) located in a house that was built in 1940. Even though they did some remodeling and upgrading over the summer it hasn’t lost it charm.

At any time you visit, you’ll see your share of college kids and beatniks hanging out, but you’ll also find a businessman or woman stuck over in the corner with their MacBook sipping and tapping away.

At common grounds you can listen to some evening music in the courtyard, hide outside under the dark patio, sit out front and be seen by everyone, or stretch out inside on one of three couches fronted by animal skin rugs (I’m sure they’re faux). Heck, they even have a deer mounted above the mantle. We are in Texas, after all.

Unlike Starbucks, Common Grounds has cool-names for their drinks like the Mexican Hot Chocolate, with a dash of spiciness. Although, I am upset that they’ve dropped the Mac Daddy from the menu. It was my favorite and was the only drink with whip cream and sprinkles that I would ever be caught dead with.

Yes, Starbucks is convenient and I spend plenty of money there. But some days I will go out of my way to head over to Common Grounds. Especially if I’m meeting someone who’s coming from out-of-town. Every one’s been inside a Starbucks before, no matter where you live. But not every one’s been inside Common Grounds. Starbucks has replaced the customer experience with ubiquitousness.

So I guess here’s the marketing question from all this. Will customers go out of their way do business with you if one of your competitors is a little more convenient? They won’t unless you give them a little something extra. That usually means a better experience or a unique product presentation.

Many small businesses like to say they are different because they know their customer’s names and they give service with a smile. That’s not a difference, that’s an expectation.

If you really want to be different, put some effort into delivering a unique customer experience. Take your product, the same one your competitor has, and present it in a way that will make people want to drive an extra five miles.

Can you find Common Grounds in your business?

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