How to Build Interest (Part 1 in a series): Coattails

By James Ellis

You want to know a poorly kept secret? I met my wife on Craigslist. Missed Connections, in fact. I know! Crazy, right?

Anyway, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a dirty little peek at the Missed Connection page in their particular city. Quickly scanning to see if they recognize a person or place is really just cover to see if anyone left an MC about you.

Lots of people do it. And even more single people do it.

If I was a business owner, let’s say of a coffee shop, I’d have to wonder if there was a way to leverage the popularity of Missed Connections to help build my own audience.

Single people drink coffee. They sit for a bit, read a book or surf while enjoying their tea, and then they leave. How do I get more people to come in and drink?

Hypothetically, you could start posting a MC listing every day, talking about how you really liked someone’s glasses, or ask about the book they were reading. Nice shoes!

Do that for two weeks. Stay innocent. Pretend you have no idea where these are coming from. Then, after two weeks, post something on your Facebook page and Twitter account about how amusing it is that all these people are posting to MC from your shop. Keep posting. You should start to see posts that aren’t from you. Good. Keep posting. After three more weeks, start posting your favorite MC from your store of the day on your web site and social networks.

Go crazy. Have an MC day, where the whole store knows what’s going on. Everyone will be drinking coffee to see and be seen, to meet someone, to know that their MC post will at least be read, likely by the person it was for.

This is an example of building interest in your business by riding the coattails of some other popular idea. I’m not saying your nut company needs to do a Gangnam video (yeah, I’m talking to you, pistachio growers), but find your audience, learn what they do, what they like, and slowly and slyly become a part of it. Never let it appear that that’s what you’re doing, because that ruins it. Spur the connection and foster it. Never force it.

Author’s Bio: James Ellis is a digital strategist, mad scientist, lover, fighter, drummer and blogger living in Chicago. You can reach out to him or just argue with his premise at

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