not everyone likes coffee

I was raised well by my Swedish family. I always offer coffee. (and then take some myself, thank you very much).

Some people like tea. My offer of coffee is misguided. Some people are opposed to caffeine. My offer of coffee is an affront. Some people aren’t thirsty. My offer of coffee is irrelevant. Some people like coffee, but not the way I make it. My offer of coffee forces them to be polite.

I could, of course, only talk with people who like coffee the way I make it. I could (implicitly) demand that they conform to my tastes if they are going to talk with me. But that would be come tedious after awhile.

I thought of this today when someone said that a group of people didn’t understand something that I had written. I realized that how I write here, where you choose to drink the coffee, where an audience gathers because they have acquired a taste for the way I brew ideas, will be different than how I write elsewhere, on behalf of others. When I am writing on behalf of my organization, I have to remember that the audience isn’t my audience, it is the organization’s audience.

That audience is part of a microculture that has formed in this organization over the past century. While I’ve been forming elsewhere for half that time, I’ve only been here for a year. And while I can use my voice and perspective, there is an edge in my personal writing that is not part of the organization’s persona.

I read today about buyer personas in a case study of The post talks about identifying clear profiles of the buyers you are seeking. Once you have this picture, you structure your communication strategy, a website, for example, to answer the questions that this buyer has. the company is an IT company, but the application became clear for me.

On my blog, I always offer coffee. But what if I help our church think about our people. There is a group of people in our church who are parents of young children. They really don’t care much about coffee. They pretty much want to know what time and where and how long the children’s events are. They want to be able to find that information quickly and really don’t care about my odd photos and clever wording.

There is a group of people in our church who are committed to learning and want to know where the learning opportunities are and whether we have anything online and what we have offline.

There is a group of people in our church who want to serve other people. They need to know when and where and how and who.

And as I think about those buyer personas, I realize that we haven’t been thinking that way. I realize that if we did, we could help them very well and could be much clearer in our website and all of our communication. And that’s a good thing.

I think I’ll get some more coffee and work on that. Can I get you some?


That ringing sound? It’s my virtual Red Kettle.  But it’s okay to give at the office.


11 responses to “not everyone likes coffee

  1. So you took a business article, extracted the lesson for your church, posted it here, then I pulled the lesson back to my business.

  2. of course! Sounds like finding people to help you with your business!

  3. I like the coffee here a lot.

    Your brain works in mysterious ways. Good, but mysterious!

  4. I like mysterious better than odd. Thank you.

  5. Jon I come by here everyday day for a coffee and rarely have I come by and found the coffee to be burnt.

    Sounds to me like your talking about layers. Layers of information for all the people who work in different ways. Those who want the quick facts and those who want the long understanding piece. the nice thing is they aren’t mutually exclusive. just well organized.

  6. Funny, you offer coffee, but it’s always turned into perfectly brewed tea by the time I settle down and enjoy it over here 🙂

    Good point you make about reaching people though.

  7. Because coffee is a good thing–and, even if it’s not accepted, it’s always polite to offer!

  8. Phil – I try to keep it fresh. thank you.
    Joanna – true confessions? I really like tea, too.
    Deb – along with fresh gingersnaps?

  9. I do like coffee. And I like to know where to find it when I want it, without having to do too much tasting of whatever is put in front of me to obtain it. The problem with most communication is that, unlike coffee, it’s not well labeled and is tasteless and odorless.

    Thanks for the post.

  10. well written jon. coffee with cream and sugar for me unless it is nighttime, in that case i’ll have a beer 🙂

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