My visit with Larry – and not the one that flys MiGs out of SQL
So one might think that I am referring to the evil ‘E’ that I once called my boss – but instead I am referring to a local company that I visited over the weekend – Larry’s Beans. In a nutshell Larry’s Beans is a Raleigh coffee roaster serving up some pretty dang good coffee. Being in Chapel Hill, A Southern Season is the java mainstay – but trolling our local grocery one day I picked up a bag of Larry’s Beans ‘Malabar Triple-X’ as it was on sale – just to see how it would perform.
A week later (after finishing up the bag) I dropped Larry’s Beans an email commending them on a superb product. I drew a parallel to the ‘Islay scotch of coffees ‘ – as this stuff was the bomb (seriously run and buy a bag) and a few of their marketing folks wrote me personally to say thanks! After a few exchanges of email I was cordially invited to a tour of their plant on Saturday.
So I’m thinking to myself that – ok- Coffee plant tour in Raleigh – can’t be that cool, but all in all I’ve got to be able to try some more coffees… and their product was pretty darn good. So upon arrival on a gravel industrial road in the center of Raleigh we were quite amazed with what we saw.
Greeted at the front door (Metal work coffee leaves) by one of their marketing reps we entered into the Willy-wonka-esk Larry’s Beans office/plant. In addition to the ~40+ people in attendance at this plant tour there were three taps of coffee, two kegs of beer (dark and light local brew), A long table spread of hors d’oeuvres (good stuff too: stuffed grape leaves, falafel, etc.) and a live bluegrass style band playing in the back. This was cool.
Over the next two hours we both toured the plant and the sustainable/renewable property (think bio-fuels, solar power and worm farm) with their VP and then went to experience the plant’s roasting operations with their founder and leader (Larry) as well as a separate coffee tasting with beans from around the world.
I could go on for hours/pages on this place – but the point of this writeup is not to rehash the experience, but instead illustrate the way customer relations should be done. From my personal emails to the guided experience, Larry and his team shared a ton of passion – not just for their business, but for their cause as well. Insert tech piece here: Check the paper trail of the fair trade beans on this web site – just enter the code from your bag! (…which to boot is also compostable)
Granted – they were selling a consumer product – a tangible product that consumers actually ‘do’ get passionate about – ‘but’ at the end of the day they took it to another level. Someone might enjoy a cup of Starbucks above and beyond every other coffee… but does come attached with the self actualizing traits that ‘totally’ sustainable locally roasted free trade coffee does? I’m not a tree hugger type of person – but I can see how you can justify the premium cost for a higher quality ‘green’/sustainable product.
At the end of the day – as a marketer – I felt invigorated. Too many times in technology marketing we are left with speeds and feeds …or over arching high level messages that no one can attach to. Here we have an entrepreneurial venture that re-educated me in the art of marketing.
I’m sure that I’ll follow-up with some other tidbits that came out of this experience – but I think to myself how I, my company and my clients can leverage this experience the Larry’s Beans offered. The combination of message, vision and purpose was clear – but it really came down to the delivery of passion and quality. They effectively brought me to their product and spoon fed me in tantalizing bites… How do we scale this on a global scale …and how do you do this with software? – ugh …will need to ponder more – but need to crack this nut or er bean…
The last line is key – ‘..Just do it …and have fun doing it’
Seriously though – was one of the best company experiences in the past 10 years… (Coca Cola HQ visit was up there as well… )