Ira’s cafe is tucked away at the bottom of a narrow city centre laneway. Without regulars who live close by Ira’s place is dependent on converting tourists and weekend shoppers into diners. Every neighbouring cafe stations a host in the small doorway waiting for passers-by to make a decision. Ira takes up his post in the cafe doorway too, but he approaches the problem a little differently.
Because his cafe is at the end of the laneway he can watch people approaching. He sees them stopping to look at how busy a cafe is or to glance at the menu only to move on in search of a better option. Ira knows that once they hit his place they are running out of choices and also beginning to question their original decision to wait or walk on. As each group approaches he watches their cues, makes an assessment, then acts. Families fearful of not finding room are asked if they’d like a table for four, and shown that there is more room inside. Couples are asked if they’d like to see the breakfast menu. Lone tourists wheeling suitcases on the way to the station are offered takeaways.
At every turn, Ira comes across as empathetic, in contrast to the usual way sales conversations are handled on the street in a ‘can I have a few moments of your time?’ fashion because he is constantly assessing the prospective customer’s cues and anticipating their internal narrative.
If we want to become better marketers and brand storytellers we need to pay attention to what people want but quite possibly haven’t yet articulated. When we do our actions are seen as good service and not an inconvenient interruption.
Image by Linh Nguyen.