Identifying Marketing Strategies of Competition and the Incarnational Approaches of Expressions

As you may already know Expressions has been a long time dream for me and I have been spending a good deal of time focusing my energies on writing a business plan to implement hopefully within the next year. In truth, I am nervous as to my adequacy in carrying out this dream as much of my character is describable as "highly relational" and business is not necessarily something I have been schooled in or have a lot of experience in. With this in mind I would like to share a portion of Expressions Marketing Strategy with you in the hopes you will offer comments and critique it's positive and negative projections. I have offered links within it as to ideas and principles which I have borrowed from others as well as incorporated from my own philosophies and beliefs. Please keep in mind that this is in my eyes not just a business but a ministry also in the hopes of bringing a relevant and living gospel to the southeast communities of Calgary.


The major coffee shop providers for the south east quadrant of Calgary are predominantly the franchised or corporate movements of Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, or Second Cup. Their locations are usually targeted to high traffic shopping locations found both on 130th Avenue and the Douglas Glen shopping mall. Auburn Bay is a developing community and with the hospital and surrounding industrial complex, Expressions does anticipate one or more of them to be a competing factor.

These competitors predominantly focus their marketing through three streams. They are Visual Presence, Convenience, and Fast Service. Visual presence targets customers through the simplicity of publicizing the marketed logo in accessible visual avenues located within close proximity to the store itself. Convenience offers the customer quick access to a product which is dependably similar to the other locations considered associates of the franchise or corporation. Finally, fast service provides the customer with the product in a quick fashion ideally through either the provided store front or a drive through window at a cheep price.

With the projection of most reports in customer growth, Tim Horton’s is expected to continue to grow in demand with the major focus being on convenience. Although offering a number of products their main drawing point and focus is on the sale of coffee. Other products include baked goods, snack products, and home style lunches. Due to franchise partnerships and the demands created by them their products have diversified greatly and in appearance it seems they will continue to develop into more of a restaurant then a coffee house focused on community development.


Expressions intends to use an (i)ncarnational model of marketing both in product services and community development. By this Expressions means to focus on four avenues to connecting with customers and the local community. They are Presence, Proximity, Powerlessness, and Proclamation.

The practice of Presence is in some ways similar to that of the competition in that it uses the marketing logo image in strategic avenues of visual accessibility to draw the customers in. However, Expressions presence can also be visualized through community involvements such as participating with other social gatherings which are externally located from its central location. Through the sale of coffee mugs the marketed presence can also be brought into the home. Other avenues of presence can come through the visual invitation of mail outs, posters, and local news letter postings, giving advertising to Expressions community events along with product offerings.

Proximity becomes Expressions desire to enter the lives of the local people where they currently are involved and create a gravitational connection to those movements and that of Expressions. By that we mean to shape our involvements around the needs and cultural placements of local practices. Coffee Products and small baked goods/snacks will be offered according to the tastes of the customers. Likewise, Expressions community involvements both internal and external will be highly influenced by the customers social needs, dreams, passions, and social involvements. In many ways the practice of proximity is unique to Expressions compared with its competition as the intent is to serve the customer holistically rather then the products.

The element of powerlessness is intended to again focus on the needs and service to the customer through relational contact. We would like Expressions, its environmental spaces, and community groups to be open and usable by all regardless to the buying of products, beliefs, or social positions. Expressions does not wish to put parameters on anyone who is entering the store front and instead intends to build relational fronts first while then exposing them to the benefits of products and community involvements. In essence, Expressions is placing the power into the hands of the customer while remaining powerless in its self propagating agendas holding faith to the customer bringing sustainability to its developments.

Finally proclamation brings voice to the growth and developments of the Expressions movement. Following the establishment of a physical presence, creating a gravitational proximity to the local community and customers, and remaining open and inviting through states of powerlessness; Expressions can pursue marketing through the practice of proclamation. By nature as customers encounter the benefits and find good value in Expressions products and social involvements they will then tell others about its services and community. This can happen not only through invitation but also through the witnessing of local social activist groups which are involved with Expressions.

Expressions Vision for the Future

Expressions is projected to be a missional endeavor into the S.E. corner of Calgary, Alberta. Its intention is to create a community where people can explore self expression in creative, dynamic, and constructive ways; embody a holistic identity; empower one another in their dreams, passions, and gifts/talents; and engage the world by seeking to make a difference within local transformational endeavors. It is not meant to be a church by traditional understanding but is hoped to be the simpler, more intended picture of what the church was meant to be in a biblical perspective. Plainly stated, it is a gathering of people; a diverse and socially inclusive community which develops a kinship through the shared experiences and expressions of acceptance, purpose, patience, generosity, advocacy, accountability, hospitality, culture, civility, spirituality, and proximity with one another.

The community of Expressions then becomes a missionally directed entity which seeks to develop Passionate Spirituality, Holistic Incarnational Living, Intentional Community, Transformational Discipleship, and Radical Stewardship. Much of this missional perspective can be expected to come from the creative and imaginative expressions to which the community itself brings into existence. Expressions simply provides a centralized space to which each member can use as a launching pad of sorts for their own missional expressions of the above values.

The purpose and power behind allowing creativity and imagination to shape these values is probably best articulated by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost in their book 'The Shaping of Things to Come'; "This failure to make space for active creativity is a problem of organizational culture long before it is a problem of fact. Therefore it is a failure of leadership when imagination as a vital resource for mission and ministry is not truly valued... we need to cultivate imagination and creativity afresh in order to communicate meaningfully into the emergent cultural paradigm in the west."

In essence this is what we hope for the average Expressions Community Member:

After seeing our sign on the side of the street one afternoon, he/she enters the Expressions atmosphere with the intent of finding a place to sit and enjoy a cup of espresso. He/She is greeted warmly by the staff and served promptly with great politeness at the serving counter.

After finding a comfortable chair and table he/she begins to take in the environment of Expressions. There is upbeat music playing softly in the background with the sweet smell of fresh coffee and perhaps a hint of incense in the air. There is a small open stage with sound equipment and a mounted flat screen T.V. on the side of it with video playing of natural scenery and wild animals. Beside the stage flickers a lighted fire place which was blowing warm air into the room.

To the left is a brightly colored wall with the words at the top saying "The use of the Mission Statement is dead and the Mantra has taken its place. The Mantra being Expressions of…" Then all around the wall were words such as Needs, Hope, Kindness, Hospitality, Friendship, Music, Talent, Environmentalism, Faith, Epiphany, and Health. Around these words were lots of pictures and posters articulating different groups which meet in Expressions and were socially active throughout the local community and the city of Calgary. There was contact info and in some cases, places to leave your name and information if you were interested in joining up with any of these groups.

It was also noticeable that the rest of the walls were filled with different art pieces with write ups beside them where local artists were selling pictures, art, and talents to those who entered Expressions. There was also book racks and book shelves with gift baskets, coffee mugs, cd’s, and books under all sorts of topics.

After a few minutes of sitting there sipping the hot espresso, he/she is approached by Erik or someone else who was in the shop and greeted with an introduction. Over the course of the next few minutes (maybe longer depending on the connection), a friendly relational conversation was shaped talking about what the Expressions Community was about and getting to know one another. Before leaving Erik (or whoever the other person is) hands him/her his card and invites the individual to return either for one of the evening events that was going on or for just another espresso and visit.

Over time it is hoped to build that relationship in the exploration and hope of that persons “expressions” becoming part of the community itself whether it was joining an existing group, or starting one of there own, or simply participating in the local events and presentations that happen in and with Expressions Coffee & Tea House.

Guy Kawasaki and The Art of the Start: A Fresh Look at Entrepreneurial Evangelism

O.K. O.K. I know at first it seems like an oxymoron. How can entrepreneurial endeavors have anything to do with evangelistic practices? Perhaps it is from a "secular" framework but I think we could learn a lot from some of the ideas Guy Kawasaki talks about in his book 'The Art of the Start'! What do you think? Here is a great video of Guy talking about some of the things he has learned over the past decade in business. Mac users BEWARE!!! Ha, ha!