Smell the Coffee

10-08-15In our free market society, we succeed by creating value in the lives of other people. Whatever product or service you are a part of delivering, you must give people more value in their minds than the price they are paying you. I find that in my own business, I enjoy delivering a high level product or service that is sold on value and not price.  This can be accomplished in almost any field.

Coffee beans are a commodity. They are traded electronically on the world markets, and the price fluctuates constantly by fractions of a penny. If you are offering coffee beans as a commodity, it can be difficult to differentiate your organization from your competitor’s. If you offer coffee by the cup at a convenience store or a drive-through, you are offering a service. People who could brew their own coffee for a few cents are willing to pay you a few dollars for the convenience and service you provide. As long as your coffee is hot and fresh, it will meet the needs of your customers. Beyond that, it is hard to stand out from the crowd.

Beyond providing a commodity or a service, there’s one additional element you can provide that can make you totally unique and world-renowned. You can offer the same cup of coffee but make it an experience. People who would only pay a few pennies for coffee beans on the open market, or a few dollars for a cup of coffee to go at the gas station, will pay hundreds of times the price of coffee beans to drink the same beverage if it is part of an experience. Whether you’re sitting at a sidewalk café in Paris, listening to jazz musicians in New Orleans, or watching the ships come in under the Golden Gate Bridge, a cup of coffee can be infinitely more than ground beans and hot water. People rarely applaud or sing the praises of a commodity or even a service, but they will spread the news about an experience for years.

A limousine experience is little more than a taxi with a great driver who’s informed, engaged, and professional. A bartender can be so much more than someone who simply pours beverages when he or she remembers your name, your preferences, and provides compelling conversation. An insurance or financial broker who remembers as much about your kids and your hobbies as they do about their own products goes from being a sales person to a valued part of your family.

As you go through your day today, use commodities that provide a service in order to create an experience.

Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at; on Twitter at; or on Facebook at


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