Est. reading time: 6 minutes
Adriano Telles left his small village in the north of Portugal, Alvarenga, at the age of 12. Destination: Brazil. At the age of 44, he was back and opened his first coffeehouse and coffee import business in Porto. His success, back in 1903, was due mainly to his smart marketing techniques, even though his product was not as popular as it is nowadays!
Can these marketing lessons from the past possibly be of any use for the future success of a small running tour outfit, such as Porto Running Tours?
Before delving into Telles' story of success, I must tell you how I found out about it.
Back in 2015 while setting up Porto Running Tours, I began realizing that my top priority should be to draw up a marketing plan and learn a few effective techniques that would enable this new project to lift off the ground. At the same time I was looking for the best stories to include in tour scripts and that's when I came across this impressive character, Adriano Telles, businessman and talented marketeer, the founder of the coffeehouse chain 'A Brasileira'.
Reading about how Telles started his coffee business in Porto and grew it was truly inspiring and definitely spiked my curiosity. Before engaging into any sort of digital marketing training, I knew I should first learn from history and the past success examples of entrepreneurs in the city!
Telles' journey before coming to Porto
Adriano Telles chose to graduate in pharmacy but soon realized that in Brazil (as in many countries) it is not always easy to work in one's chosen field of studies. Not in the late 1800's, it still isn't in 2020!
He had emigrated to Minas Gerais and married well: the bride's parents were wealthy coffee farmers. Adriano eventually became a well established businessman and farmer himself. Due to his wife's health problems, he returned to Portugal - as did many other enriched Portuguese of the Northern region, the so-called 'Brasileiros Torna-viagem'. In Porto he set up his new coffee import business and created his own brand, 'a Brazileira'.
The first physical facilities of A Brazileira, in rua Sa da Bandeira, 71, were nothing more than a coffee roasting unit, next to the tiny coffee shop he'd opened in order to leverage his brand.
The year was 1903. The inauguration was a success: Telles knew his stuff well...!
Not a lot happens by chance in our running tours ;) Here, Michal and Juan are standing out front Porto's a Brazileira, on a brief stop during their running tour on the 4th of May (2019), its inauguration anniversary, the opening date is carved for posterity at the entrance: 4th of May 1903
Porto's a Brazileira undergoing renovation works in 1916.
The humble coffee store was being transformed into a luxury coffeehouse!
The present emblematic glass and metal awning above its front entrance was already present!
Telles' marketing strategy - the 3 takeaways
1. Educate your customer
Adriano edited and offered his customers a biweekly printed newsletter which, in between the local news' sections, had simple instructions on how to prepare a good cup of coffee!
One must take into account that by the beginning of the 20th century, coffee, drunk in a cup, was not yet popular in Porto's salons and taverns, being that sometimes it was a mere ingredient mixed in alcoholic cocktails...! Only a few bartenders had the skill and no tavern keeper had the will to prepare their regulars a decent coffee.
In this particular aspect, I feel like marketing has not evolved that much. One of the current practices in digital marketing is sending newsletters with free advice, such as '5 tips for running faster' (with our new sate-of-the-art sneakers) or 'How to prevent chafing in your 1st marathon '(using our branded vaseline) ...
2. New product? Samples & freebies
Adriano offered a cup of coffee to every customer who bought a bag of roasted coffee beans.
He did so for 13 whole years!
More than 100 years have passed but the technique is still popular. Brands frequently set up small tasting stands in chain supermarkets corridors. Nowadays we can even get a free coffee machine if we agree to buy a few hundred capsules of coffee. Freebies is one of the best tools companies have at hand to foster the habit of consumption.
3. Write your slogan on every wall.
Adriano paid for a pretentious slogan to be displayed in strategic public locations. Together with a few newspaper ads, it worked far better than he ever expected. The hype was such that, on the opening day, the police had to contain a considerable crowd of expectant Portuenses!
The slogan 'the best coffee is the one from 'a Brazileira' is still visible in some gables and walls, here in Porto.
Adriano Telles' tremendous success in Porto lead him to seek new business opportunities further south, under the same designation: Two new coffee shops in Lisbon - Chiado (1905) and Rossio - a franchisee in Braga (1907), one in Aveiro, then Coimbra (1928) and yet another 'a Brazileira' in Seville, Spain.
Together with a few other historic coffeeshops in Porto, 'a Brazileira' is presently a popular tourist attraction. In this photo: Raoul, Asics frontrunner & RunningTours.net founder, sprints past its front entrance on a sunny Spring day!
Can Adriano's coffee marketing lessons adapt to running tours?
More than 100 years ago, Adriano was already mastering the techniques of marketing (as we call it nowadays). But then, coffee is such an easy product to market: it's a substance that keeps us awake, stimulates the central nervous system and releases adrenaline, helps in the mobilizing fat and with weight loss... all deeply valued effects!
My question is: for this 'running around the city' product, what kind of benefits can we advertise ...? (please pardon my irony ;) )
In the meantime, we running tour guides and business owners, hope -and work hard so- that one day soon, guided running tours will become one of the most popular trends of active tourism. There's however not many shortcuts to success, a ton of work needs to be done, marketing wise, that's for sure. Ads, newsletters and freebies? We can use those for sure!
A tip for running&coffee-loving Porto visitors
One of our most successful signature tours is the 'coffee and nata' running tour. It combines four of our favourite things: running, history, coffee and Portuguese custard tarts!
Of course you can just pick another running tour from our list and enjoy the ambience of any other Portuense historical coffeehouse (<listed here!) later in the day!
Speaking of marketing... want to lend a hand?
âPlease share this post with your friends who run! ;)
Sérgio é o fundador da Porto Running Tours, corre regularmente desde 1999 e desde 2015 que guia visitas em corrida na Invicta enquanto revela algumas das suas mais fascinantes histórias.
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