Cafe-Shaped Business

You Are Here Books Imagine if cafe-shaped conversations translated into smaller businesses. Educational marketing expert Rachel Reuben talked about her interpretation of implementing a cafe-shaped experience for her college admissions community. I had another experience of that today, and wanted to share it.

But first, I have to tell you a bit of backstory about Carolyn Jordan.

The First Store

Imagine walking into a really small town bookstore, asking for a book, and realizing it’s not there. (Mind you, there’s not enough store to have the selection one would need). She offered to order it for me, and that it’d be in two days hence. Perfect, I said. I gave her my contact info, and then I left.

I came back a week later, as I walk in the door, Carolyn says, “Hi Chris. Your book’s here. I found something else you might like, too.” She remembered my name.

First important lesson: knowing someone’s name is a powerful magic for success.

Next, Carolyn had a suggestion for something else I might like. She knows books. She knows people. She did this repeatedly over the next several months. It’s why even when I had a great full time job, I’d work there over the holidays, because she was a book lover like me, and she loved hand-selling books to people who appreciated the reference.

The New Cafe-Shaped Store

Independent Book StoreCarolyn runs a very small store, You Are Here Books. It’s actually physically in the dining room of her home on a small country road. She has a tax ID. It’s a real business. Only, she hasn’t put up a website yet. Carolyn is actually selling directly to people like me.

We went there today to buy another $200 books for Toys for Tots (or whatever you call the teen segment of that program). She helped me find a whole bunch of great books, and as always, had lots of great conversational information about books she had out.

But not only that, Carolyn had out some crackers and brie, some grapes, and those kinds of things. Her husband, Tom, came home and I had a beer with him and talked even more about books. We spent another $100 of our own money for our own books with Carolyn.

And Social Media and Business Relates to this How?

That is the feeling I want from social media and how companies interact with it. It’s not huge. It’s like… 1915 sized. It’s this thing where people can spend a few extra moments to make a human connection instead of an “off the shelf” connection. I can buy from Amazon, and that’s sometimes convenient, but I can’t get the human touch of what I got with Carolyn.

That’s the time to use social media, when you want to reach people on a more personal and more connected way. It’s not always the path to more revenue. In fact, it’s definitely not as easy as just pushing a few clicks and having books sent to the house. But when you need a more personalized feeling, a more human experience, cafe-shaped is what social media does best.

What say you?

Oh, and if you want to talk books with Carolyn, you can call her – 978.257.3279 or email her: youareherebooks@gmail.com

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  • http://oregonstate.edu/~mcqueenj John

    This is exactly why I do much of my gift shopping on Etsy.com. The personal touch offered by the sellers is second to none. I probably should be shopping more at my local mom and pop’s but guess what, they’re gone so I’m left with Target. Booo.

  • http://oregonstate.edu/~mcqueenj John

    This is exactly why I do much of my gift shopping on Etsy.com. The personal touch offered by the sellers is second to none. I probably should be shopping more at my local mom and pop’s but guess what, they’re gone so I’m left with Target. Booo.

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  • http://www.sethgoldstein.net/ Seth G.

    Chris,

    You hit the point of Social Media right on the head. Social Media needs to be treated like a face to face interaction. If it’s done that way, and only that way, people will see success personally and professionally.

    -Seth

  • http://www.sethgoldstein.net Seth Goldstein

    Chris,

    You hit the point of Social Media right on the head. Social Media needs to be treated like a face to face interaction. If it’s done that way, and only that way, people will see success personally and professionally.

    -Seth

  • http://www.tellourlifestories.com Margaret

    Dear Chris,
    You are so right! And I am learning this with my website. When I launched it 30 people signed up right away and then they didn’t tell their stories, their subscriptions expired… Now I am learning to do more personalization, featuring writers, doing one-on-one encouragement, one writer at a time. These aren’t bloggers, or twitterers. A beautiful story just came in today about growing up during World War II and running to the bomb shelter in England. It’s the personal touch that makes the difference whether it’s on the web or not. We all want to be in community. The beauty of the internet is that we can touch people we could never touch before.
    Thanks so much for the food for thought!
    Margaret
    @tellourlifestories.com

  • http://www.tellourlifestories.com Margaret

    Dear Chris,
    You are so right! And I am learning this with my website. When I launched it 30 people signed up right away and then they didn’t tell their stories, their subscriptions expired… Now I am learning to do more personalization, featuring writers, doing one-on-one encouragement, one writer at a time. These aren’t bloggers, or twitterers. A beautiful story just came in today about growing up during World War II and running to the bomb shelter in England. It’s the personal touch that makes the difference whether it’s on the web or not. We all want to be in community. The beauty of the internet is that we can touch people we could never touch before.
    Thanks so much for the food for thought!
    Margaret
    @tellourlifestories.com

  • http://www.toddsmithphotography.com/transparency/ Todd Smith

    I love this idea. Social media is putting the personal side back into internet businesses. I love doing business with small, personable places like this. I’d like my business to be like that too. Thanks. btw… you do this really well in my opinion.

  • http://www.toddsmithphotography.com/transparency/ Todd Smith

    I love this idea. Social media is putting the personal side back into internet businesses. I love doing business with small, personable places like this. I’d like my business to be like that too. Thanks. btw… you do this really well in my opinion.

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  • http://jodiontheweb.com jodi

    Great post and good timing. I have been thinking about this exact topic lately. I will be referring to this post soon! Thanks as always Chris.

  • http://jodiontheweb.com jodi

    Great post and good timing. I have been thinking about this exact topic lately. I will be referring to this post soon! Thanks as always Chris.

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  • http://techprgems.com vanhoosear

    I keep coming back to this post. I think it’s my favorite Chris Brogan post so far, and that’s saying a lot, because there are so many of them… Thank you!

    I just wish the companies that many of us hold dearest actually practiced this!

  • http://morethanmarketing.net/ Todd Van Hoosear

    I keep coming back to this post. I think it’s my favorite Chris Brogan post so far, and that’s saying a lot, because there are so many of them… Thank you!

    I just wish the companies that many of us hold dearest actually practiced this!

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  • http://www.soulbusiness.com.au/blog Yollana: Soul Business

    Hey Chris, Great article! What yummy bookshop to have nearby :) This is actually what I was intending to create when I started http://www.growthbooks.com – an online bookstore specialising in spiritual and personal growth stuff. I closed the store lst year (after only 6 months or so in operation) because I realised that while it was close to my passion, books ain’t quite it for me. So I started Soul Business instead.

    So, um, if Carolyn and her husband are interested in taking their store online, I’d be delighted to sell them my website… It’s custom designed to be friendly, with a blog and space for articles, and could easily be reskinned for You Are Here books. Although I realised it’s not my thing, I put a lot of love into the website design and development, and I’ve just been waiting for the right person to come along… And as I’m in Australia, they might find the price especially reasonable (with the exchange rate as it is)… Just a thought!

    Thanks again for a great post.

  • http://www.soulbusiness.com.au/blog Yollana: Soul Business

    Hey Chris, Great article! What yummy bookshop to have nearby :) This is actually what I was intending to create when I started http://www.growthbooks.com – an online bookstore specialising in spiritual and personal growth stuff. I closed the store lst year (after only 6 months or so in operation) because I realised that while it was close to my passion, books ain’t quite it for me. So I started Soul Business instead.

    So, um, if Carolyn and her husband are interested in taking their store online, I’d be delighted to sell them my website… It’s custom designed to be friendly, with a blog and space for articles, and could easily be reskinned for You Are Here books. Although I realised it’s not my thing, I put a lot of love into the website design and development, and I’ve just been waiting for the right person to come along… And as I’m in Australia, they might find the price especially reasonable (with the exchange rate as it is)… Just a thought!

    Thanks again for a great post.

  • http://www.tellourlifestories.com Margaret

    One thing that I have found is that it is important to know who your users are, and not take their level of expertise for granted. Of course it depends on what you are doing. But, for example, there are those of us who are knowledgeable about how to use the internet, how to log in, how to create a password, all the common things. But meeting people at the door and meeting their experience level at the door are two different things. In a library example, you would see a person walk in and assume that they knew how to use the card catalog. But maybe they don’t have a clue. Same with life online. There are hundreds of thousands of people who don’t use the internet every day and they want to join in, but they are intimidated. So just a thought to keep in mind for future reference.

  • http://www.tellourlifestories.com Margaret

    One thing that I have found is that it is important to know who your users are, and not take their level of expertise for granted. Of course it depends on what you are doing. But, for example, there are those of us who are knowledgeable about how to use the internet, how to log in, how to create a password, all the common things. But meeting people at the door and meeting their experience level at the door are two different things. In a library example, you would see a person walk in and assume that they knew how to use the card catalog. But maybe they don’t have a clue. Same with life online. There are hundreds of thousands of people who don’t use the internet every day and they want to join in, but they are intimidated. So just a thought to keep in mind for future reference.

  • http://www.how-to-weld.net/how-to-weld-an-introduction-to-welding/ How To Weld

    Awesome post Chris. You really got down to the essence of what social media is and can be.

  • http://www.how-to-weld.net/how-to-weld-an-introduction-to-welding/ How To Weld

    Awesome post Chris. You really got down to the essence of what social media is and can be.

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  • http://www.yuregininsesi.com sesli chat

    Great post and good timing. I have been thinking about this exact topic lately. I will be referring to this post soon! Thanks as always Chris.

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  • Anonymous

    Your right, getting that human touch in social media is the way to go, not the sell sell sell of the big Amazon size companies online today.