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Life and Business Lessons From Death Wish

Jan 31, 2017 | Growing Your Company

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”

Cassandra Clare

In life and business, a good image can make or break you. If you’d like a blueprint of how to present a positive image that is good to the last “like,” then take a look at Death Wish Coffee.

We discussed the then-small coffee roaster at this time last year because it beat out thousands of other small businesses to win a free, 30-second Super Bowl commercial spot. I tuned in because it blended my two favorite things: Strong coffee and small business. I knew it would undoubtedly bring them massive exposure and also potentially huge sales.

That potential was met, according to a page on the company’s site devoted to its year of progress. The page’s blog post and video contain some self-aggrandizement, but if you look closer, managers go out of their way to express appreciation to their fan base (old and new), their employees, and even explained how they improved the company’s infrastructure. They capped it all off with a cautiously optimistic outlook – they know they basically won the small business lottery and they’re keeping their feet on the ground.

When fortune smiles upon your company, spread the love. Try creating a similar combination of promotion and gratitude in your “thank you” to your audiences. Assuming they’re being honest in the video, we know the company:

  • Is grateful for their opportunity.
  • Experienced an increase in production and public interest.
  • Adapted to the rise in demand by relocating and expanding its operations.
  • Reinvested in itself by upgrading facilities and software.
  • Has risen to the challenge of increased production and volume with a lean staff.
  • Ultimately remembers that client services is still top priority.

I was inspired when I saw the video. Sure, it’s a little sappy with its piano-based atmospheric soundtrack, but everyone featured seems genuinely happy about the company’s newfound success.

There is some omitted information I’d love to know, such as number of new hires, how much business and revenue has poured in, and if they’ve fielded offers for partnerships or sales. I do not believe they are publicly traded, so they do not owe those answers to anyone outside the company.

Ultimately, Death Wish’s image draws me in. The staff and its audience have a love – and probably an addiction – for the mega-caffeinated beverage. At the very least, it’s an image that audiences will embrace, with strong notes of positivity and all-inclusiveness with hints of humility and self-satisfaction.

I believe this is an effective way to conduct yourself personally and professionally. This and similar engagement-based campaigns cost relatively little to produce and can instantly reach the world. When you’ve achieved some success – which can be anything from a number-based goal to celebrating an anniversary – grab a cup-a-joe and publicly acknowledge the people who got you there. That sort of goodwill attracts more people to your business.

Please comment with other companies’ “thank you” campaigns that have moved you and feel free to contact Brinen & Associates with your small business questions.


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I formerly worked as a satellite employee from my home state of New Jersey. I ended my employment with my former employer in 2016. In 2018, I was sued by my former employer for $1.1 million in Illinois State Court. I was referred to Brinen & Associates, LLC by a friend who is a client of the firm. Brinen & Associates, LLC came highly recommended. I contacted Joshua Brinen and then had a consultation at his office with his colleague Mark White. Together, Messrs. Brinen and White explained my options...

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