You are wrong. Offline and Online all the same.

September 7th, 2008

Every Monday I like to throw some ideas out there and see what happens.

They return to me in the form of ‘I’ve tried that and heres why it didn’t work’ or ‘that’s already been done’ or ‘feedback’.

This one I have been throwing around for ages and talked to a lot of people so I thought now was time to unleash it.

Think about the mass of learnings we make online, monetisation models, usability

Now let’s apply them to an offline situation.


Fundamentally we are all humans interacting with your website or service.  We all have the same basic needs and wants.  We engage with your product sometimes with an end goal in mind othertimes we get sold on that end goal.  

Imagine I have taken over the local cafe.


Hmmmm ok, immediately I think of two things.

  1. Offer coffee for free or very low cost to boost volume. (adsense model)
  2. Offer coffee for free but charge for the experience (freemium)
  3. Offer unlimited coffee at a monthly charge.  Different plans better coffee (saas)
  4. Offer a special coffee that comes nicely packaged with chocolates on the side. (price discimination)


I like this one

  1. Remove barriers to your end goal.  Buying a coffee.  Have a sliding door, efficient ordering system. 
  2. Rather than volume (above) make it usable, friendly help user have a compelling experience (create flow), they are likely to spend more. (something online world hasn’t tapped yet).
  3. How quickly can i read your menu? how does the language affect my selection? do you have a top 10 list or ‘most popular’ items.  

I’d better stop you get the idea using usability you can keep going for a while.


This one is already applied somewhat

  1. Create a community of coffee lovers, run a coffee course, teach them how to make coffee.
  2. Setup a monthly newsletter for your loyal fans
  3. Give your loyal fans cards valid for a free coffee for there friends (help them spread your idea)
  4. Offer free wifi and organise tweetups / meet ups (via

You get the idea.

Other filters you can view your cafe through: 

  • Conversion Rates: Optimise your entry points and languages for certain products.  
  • Authenticity: Have nice personable people greeting you, I’m more likely to open my wallet if I’m feeling good about my experience
  • Colours: Colours affect my perception of the store.
  • Analytics: Do you know what type of customers come when? how long they stay? what they buy? Most effective source?
  • Leaking links: Do you advertise / have signs that are building others brands not your own?

Conclusion: Ben should buy a cafe!

You can see that we have this great platform of learning online, we should all be looking at how we can apply these learnings into new contexts.

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One Response to “You are wrong. Offline and Online all the same.”

  1. Simon Young Says:

    I like the provocation!

    One thought: isn’t the reason freemium and SAAS models work online is that the cost of service is so much lower? And isn’t that why we pay for an individual coffee at a cafe?

    Of course I might be wrong, which is why we have free-to-air TV (but still, that scales in a similar way to internet content, it’s not physical products that have to be consumed) and in free, ad-supported local newspapers.

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