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October 04, 2005

Great series of posts on marketing lessons learned at Starbucks

(Posted by francois to: branding | branding | customer service )

John Moore over at Brand Autopsy has a great set of posts (here is one) on what he learned at Starbucks - some which definitely resonate with my high tech marketing background, others which are confirming what goes behind delivering the experiences that I have been enjoying as a loyal Starbucks customer.

Some of the lessons learned include - "rarely, if ever, can you sprinkle magical branding dust to create an endearing and enduring brand." - referring to the fact that you need to first and foremost focus on building your business and not your brand. One will flow out of the other - not the other way around.

Another one is - "remarkable business make the common uncommon" - well Starbucks clearly did that!

And in a third post he quotes Howard Schultz, the Starbucks Chairman as saying “If we greet customers, exchange a few words with them and then custom-make a drink exactly to their taste, they will be eager to come back.” He calls it delivering great customer experiences though "touchology" - brilliant!

Like many of you, I have experienced firsthand how powerful the results of those practices can be - both positive as with Starbucks, and negative, as with Brueggers (update since I last posted this: the last time I went there they had virtually no bagels - their excuse: they ran out of dough - that's like Starbucks running out of coffee beans - unlikely) and many others.

It is amazing to me how many companies are still not focusing on the overall customer experience - which happens through all the customer touch points - advertising, word-of-mouth, product, packaging, service, delivery, repair, etc. It must be too logical for silo-ed companies to understand. Or maybe it's time to redefine the role of marketing!

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Comments

“If we greet customers, exchange a few words with them and then custom-make a drink exactly to their taste, they will be eager to come back.” He calls it delivering great customer experiences though "touchology" - brilliant!

Francois, isn't that the bread and butter wisdom of every Old World cafe... since the down of the coffee era back when the Viennese developed a taste for the drink while battling the Ottoman Turks and stopping their march into Europe. Wow, only after finishing this sentence, did I realize that my brain is, in fact, still processing the latest political news from Europe... :)

"Touchology"...?... Brilliant...? I don't think so. Just plain old common sense.

Posted by: Emil Sotirov at October 4, 2005 12:12 PM

I meant "dawn of the coffee era"... not "down..." Sorry.

Posted by: Emil Sotirov at October 4, 2005 12:16 PM

Emil,

I guess you're right - but these days we see so little of that, that when somebody does it right it impresses the heck out of me. Especially when its done a fairly large scale like at Starbucks.

And when I said brilliant - it was the marketer in me over-reacting to the "clever" terminology...more so than the strategy.

But at the end of the day - you are correct - there is nothing new here and its all common sense.

I am just surprised how we do not have more companies embrace this. How many companies do you know where the marketing department is spending all their marketing $$ on advertising while having the customer service department deliver painful experiences to the customer?

Posted by: francois at October 4, 2005 01:07 PM

Believe it or not, there was a post the other day on Feld Thoughts called "Unbelievably Great Customer Support from Verizon Wireless"... and I agreed with the post having similar experience with Verizon. Take a look: http://www.feld.com/blog/archives/2005/10/unbelievably_gr.html

Posted by: Emil Sotirov at October 4, 2005 01:51 PM

And you are right - the Verizon story only confirms what you are saying about being easily impressed these days... :)

Posted by: Emil Sotirov at October 4, 2005 01:56 PM

Emil said, "'Touchology'...?... Brilliant...? I don't think so. Just plain old common sense."

And Francois has responded with, "I am just surprised how we do not have more companies embrace this. How many companies do you know where the marketing department is spending all their marketing $$ on advertising while having the customer service department deliver painful experiences to the customer?"

Part of Starbucks' foundation is building the business first, and the brand will flow from that, rather than the other way round. One of the inevitable results from this is that the marketing strategies are SIMPLE, and focus on customer touch-points. Hence the business lesson about "touchology." Yes, it's simple, but it is brilliant in its simplicity. When you keep the customer as the reason for your decisions, you realize they're not looking for anything complicated. In the case of Starbucks, they want their coffee but more so than that, they want their third place and they want to feel special. It's not tough to make people feel at home.

When you try to build a brand first and then turn it into a business, things get more complicated. We have all kinds of complicated marketing strategies, and that's fine, but not if we forget that a single customer experience in the store has far more impact on a customer than a thousand ads will ever have. And that is the inevitable result if we focus on the brand before the business or the customer. THAT'S the take-away value here, in my humble opinion.

Posted by: Laura at October 4, 2005 07:15 PM

Laura - thank you for the comment. I agree 100% with your statement that there is brilliance in simplicity.

In terms of trying to build a brand first - I do not think that is possible. A brand has to be build on "usage". If that's absent then people will not help you retell the story or pay attention to/notice your brand-building exercises.

Posted by: francois at October 7, 2005 10:43 AM

This is cool, you have to try it. I guessed 37466, and this game guessed it! See it here - http://www.funbrain.com/guess/

Posted by: Allison Trump at November 16, 2005 08:08 PM

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