The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Oh For A Lovely Latté

By Brian H Meredith
From the NZBusiness Magazine "Marketing Maestro" Archive.
First published July 2003

Got any idea how much coffee there’s supposed to be in a latté? A double shot, that’s how much - 20 grams of coffee. Now, call me a Jaffa if you like (but you’d be wrong – I’m a Londoner now resident in Nelson) but my beverage of choice in the morning is, in fact, a latté – a classic, expertly prepared latté with its full ration of 20 grams of properly sourced, carefully stored and expertly ground and intricately prepared coffee. And how often can I get my hands on and my lips around a cup, glass or bowl of this liquid of the gods? All too rarely, that’s how often.

The most frequent problem that I encounter is the provision of a latté with a single shot or, just 10 grams of coffee which equates to a slightly brown, slightly flavoured drink of hot milk (then, of course, there are all sorts of other problems including lousy beans, careless grinds, over and under extraction, variations in steam pressure and water temperature and so it goes on)

And why does this tragic state of affairs exist?

 Because, like all too many businesses, cafés are not at all adept at giving me what they say they will or doing what they say they will do.

My perspective on this issue is a simple one – pop the word “latté” on your menu and you had better ensure that you know what a latté is and are willing and able to produce and deliver a latté as it is supposed to be. The reality, however, is that getting a classic latté (or, indeed, any other espresso based coffee) is a frustratingly hit & miss affair.

Business success is surely based on the ability of a product or service provider to make a promise to a customer and then deliver on that promise – sure, there’s a lot of other stuff too but isn’t this one of the fundamentals?

I have been developing a business opportunity in the past few months designed for the China market (SARS notwithstanding). One of the many pieces of the planning jigsaw was to explore if and how TradeNZ could assist me. I started at their website, browsed through the description of their services and decided that they may well be able to help. I fired off an email using a link on their site, described what my objective was and sat back and waited several weeks for no response.

Went back to the web site and tried again – fired off another email. Response – nothing.

Finally sent an email pleading for help –received a telephone call from a delightful lady who said all the right things and promised to get onto it. Fantastic.

Except for one tiny, little detail. She didn’t do it.

Same question again – how hard can it be to do what you say you will do? To deliver what it is that you promise?  Isn’t it fundamental?

Several months ago I purchased a pair of trousers and attempted to purchase a second pair but in a different colour. As the store didn’t have my size in the second colour (I hate that!) they undertook to order them for me (a tiny bit irritating because I don’t do delayed gratification at all well). Several months later I am still waiting for the call (and you can bet your life that the $1500 jacket that I am wanting to purchase will now be looked for elsewhere).

Same question again – how hard is it? Promise then deliver. Offer then fulfil. Say then do. Basic good business (isn’t it?)

My 12 year old son is an energetic sought of a chap who is given to doing the occasional daft thing like helping to unpack the grocery shopping and then swinging a 2 litre bottle of milk around his head until it flies out of his hand, hits the floor in the dining room and explodes it contents all over the light coloured carpet.


Call the carpet cleaners, explain the problem and am reassured by the promise that they’ll be here in the morning and in the blink of any eye we’ll never know the milk was ever spilt.


They lied.

Two weeks later the carpet stinks and the stains are visible. Sure, I’ve called them and they’ll be back to try and rectify it. But its so darned irritating. So time consuming. And if they can, indeed, rectify it, why in heaven’s name did they fail the first time?

If your business is carpet cleaning and you don’t clean carpets what’s going on?

If your business is coffee and you can’t make coffee, what’s all that about?

If your business is menswear and you can’t supply menswear, help me understand that?

As a humble Marketing Consultant, one of the truly gold plated pieces of advice I can give you is this:  Deliver what you promise – it’s a breakthrough marketing concept and it works.

Brian H Meredith


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