Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’

Social Media Marketing

August 14, 2013

Everyone says “Use social media for marketing.”  Most business people ask “How?”.  Here’s a great “case study” to help you see both the power of social media marketing AND how to tap into it.

My friend, Anthony is known as “Sunshine” at the 6th & Union Starbucks in downtown Seattle where he is a regular.   He was delighted to stop in one morning in June and see he was the “customer of the week”.  He took a picture of the chalkboard and posted it on Facebook.

Sunshine Starbucks 2

Most recently, he posted a photo and a thank you shout out to Sarah at the same Starbucks for the custom drink carrier she had made for him.  Of course that was proudly shown around his office – the largest hotel in downtown Seattle!   No one at the Starbucks knew that though.  Nor did they know it would make the rounds on Facebook and be featured in my business blog.

Custom Drink Carrier

Did I mention that “Sunshine” has over 600 Facebook friends?  When you start doing the math exponentially of all the friends friends, well, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that some mega word-of-mouth advertising.

So how do YOU tap into this sort of social media promotion for your business?  First, you have to WOW the customer.   Making a personalized drink carrier certainly qualifies.  But so does giving recognition to regular customers in the form of the “Customer of the Week” chalkboard.  Such a tool encourages team members to get to know customers well enough to feature them.  Any time you can make a customer feel “special” they will tell their friends.  In today’s world, that usually includes social media.

I don’t expect that all my readers will be able to cut and paste this case study instantly into their businesses.  My goal in sharing it though is to get you thinking about ways you can WOW your customers and encourage natural social media sharing.  

New HaircutCan you take pictures of customers in their new cars,  post them on your dealership’s Facebook business page and send them the link to share?  What about in front of the new home you just sold them?  The garden you just planted at their home?  The new haircut you just gave them?

Are you getting some ideas?  Great!  Now get busy creating some buzz!

Branding Bliss

August 15, 2012

The goal of any brand is to become a part of the fabric of our culture.  To have their name become synonymous with a product or service the way Kleenex did with facial tissues, Coke did with carbonated cola beverages and FedEx did with overnight delivery.

When I was a teenager and young adult, McDonald’s was still a “new” and growing concept.  Where still a part of American culture both here and around the world, another brand has emerged to take their place.

That brand?  Starbucks.  My evidence?  The many postings of mocked up Mars Rover photos from the “surface of the planet” that have been posted by friends all across the country.  Here are two:

I’m sure the marketing team at Starbucks is doing the happy dance over this.  To have customers so accustomed to your brand being there, being a part of your life, a part of monumental moments (which the Mars Rover landing was indeed) is to accomplish branding bliss!

So how can you gain better branding awareness for your business? Consistency and repetition.  No matter how you advertise, how many locations you have, how much you have to spend on branding you must be consistent in look and message over and over again in all forms from media, social media,  physical locations, vehicles, uniforms – everything – to effectively imprint in your customer’s mind.

Whether you want to be the next global company or just your community’s “go to” source for whatever you do, you have to be consistent.  Consistent in images such as your logo and branding colors.  Do you even need to see the word “Starbucks”?  How often do you only see the mermaid circle logo or even just the green umbrellas and still you know it’s a Starbucks.

You also have to be consistent in delivery of your goods and services.  At Starbucks you always know exactly what you are going to get.  There is a standard for everything – even the iced tea mixing cups are marked with lines for tea, water and ice for each size.  That’s why the iced tea is always perfect.

In a Las Vegas hotel Starbucks, I watched an employee make my iced tea NOT using the company provided shaker cup and I could tell from the looks of it that it was going to be too strong and not to my liking.  So I asked him to make it using the branded shaker cup which he begrudgingly did and one of his team mates said “He does it that way all the time and people don’t complain.”  I then said “When it says Joey’s over the door, he can make it his way.  I came in because it says Starbucks.  As long as it does, customers expect it be made the Starbucks way.”

Consistency and repetition with a fierce protection of your brand and standards – that’s the secret to finding your business log on the next remote planet we visit!

We All Scream for Ice Cream

July 11, 2012

Summer is here!  Much of the country is sizzling in record high temperatures.  image

Even here in often gloomy Seattle, the sun is shining.  That means the lakes are speckled with stand-up paddle boarders, the hiking trails resemble I-405 traffic and yet, we still need to do business!

You may find it challenging to keep your team focused on the business at hand – and getting more new business – when it’s hot out, or in the case of Seattle, when the summer makes a brief appearance.  Still, times are tough for small businesses  and giving everyone a day off to enjoy the sun is just not feasible for very many companies.

So what can you do to enjoy a little “summer” in your office and why should you?

Hawaiian shirt day.  Declare Wednesday of next week “Hawaiian shirt day”.  Let everyone wear their wild, tropical prints or their classic Tommy Bahama style shirts with khakis.  If you are so inclined, make a contest for the craziest shirt, let everyone vote secretly throughout the day and give a gift card for a Starbucks Mocha Coconut Frappuccino to the winner.

Total investment:  $5 for the gift card

Take a “Friday the 13th” group break at the Starbucks in your building or nearby.  This Friday from Noon-3 you can try their new “Refreshers” beverages FREE!  Yes, you read that right!  Two flavors and they are giving out FREE 12 oz “tall” sizes just so you can try it.  (No purchase needed – 1 per person so everyone has to go in person to order their own drink).  Call the Starbucks nearest you to be sure they are participating then take your team there for an afternoon break and toast to summer.

Total investment:  a phone call to be sure your location is participating!

Bring in ice cream.  Over the years I’ve heard of companies arranging for an ice cream truck to come by their building and the manager picking up the tab for everyone’s selection.  Other companies have had the CEO serving ice cream from one of those frozen treat carts they rented.  Some teams will bring in the makings for ice cream sundaes to the lunch room.  All of that can get pricey and takes time – both in coordinating and consumption and it’s critical that we keep a sharp eye on the bottom line both in costs and productivity.


As a result, I’m in favor of just stopping by your neighborhood Albertsons, Safeway or QFC for an assortment of individual serving size ice cream cups (no drips!).  My personal favorite are the Haagen-Dazs single serving (3.6oz) cups.  There are a wide variety of flavors, a spoon is tucked inside the lid and can often be found on sale at the grocery store for 10/$10.  Even the “regular” price is only about $1.50/each.

Pick an assortment, hide them in a brown paper bag sealed shut in the freezer, then in the afternoon, have everyone pull their chairs together in the middle of the room for a “quick meeting”.  Arrange the cups on a table and let everyone choose a flavor, then take a few minutes to tell them how much you appreciate their hard work, dedication and loyalty while they enjoy their unexpected treat.

Total investment:  $1 – $1.50 per employee

These are VERY inexpensive ways to show your appreciation for your team.  By acknowledging how hard it is to come to work and focus when the weather is so beautiful out, you will reduce the amount of “sick” days this summer.  You will also build loyalty and a sense of community within your business that translates to reduced turnover, greater productivity and an improved customer experience.

Read this Blog…Please!

May 16, 2012

Okay,  you’ve decided you are going to blog.   Now lets talk about how you build an audience.

Like any “business”, the larger the potential pool of “customers” the greater chance you have for success.  Same with blogging.   Broader areas such as business management, wine, food and travel have both more potential topics and a larger pool of readers than narrow fields of interest.  Keep this in mind when choosing  the ongoing theme of your blog.

Set realistic expectations.  It takes a solid year of diligent blogging to build a respectable size audience.  The first few posts will probably only be read by your family and close friends.  If that is still true a year later, you are probably wasting your time.

Be sure you have a Facebook business page and a Twitter account to reach people across various platforms.  If your blog has a business theme, a LinkedIn page is also a good idea.  If you have a webpage, be sure there is a tab or link for your new blog.

If you have a newsletter database or list of current clients, send an email with the link for the first few blogs you write and encourage them to “subscribe”(receive your blog in their email) or “Like” your Facebook business page to see it when it posts there or “follow” you on Twitter for the weekly link.

Yes, I blog each week.  In fact, since I do 2 blogs, I actually blog twice a week but only once for each blog.  Consistency in blogging is critical as it is in every other form of marketing.  Also, search engines give you higher rankings based on the consistency of your pattern.  So the same day and time each week will get you better search results than a random posting pattern.  Use the scheduling feature on your blog host to post at the same day and time each week regardless of when you actually write your blog.

What day of the week and times should you post?  Depends on your target reader.  My business blog (this one) goes up on Wednesdays at 9:00 am PST.  My audience is a manager or small business owner and midweek is usually less hectic.  Mornings are also typically better since they usually start their day by checking email.  However, my travel blog is posted at 11:00 am PST on Fridays.  That audience is more likely to read at lunch on their phone or iPad and are thinking about the weekend or making vacation plans.  Think about YOUR target reader and choose a day and time you think will work best.

Use hyperlinks.  For example, don’t say “coffee shop” if you mean “Starbucks”.  You can’t hyperlink to “coffee shop” but you can to “Starbucks“.  Hyperlinks increase the possibility that people using a search engine like Bing or Google will find your blog if they are looking for a name you have hyperlinked exposing you to potential new fans.  Also be sure to include all the key words and names as “tags” on your blog creation page.

If you write a blog featuring a nice comment or example from a business, send a link to your blog to that business.  Encourage them to “share it” with management, customers and staff.

Photos.  A picture is worth a thousand words – just be sure the photo is yours.  Some photos are protected.  If you aren’t sure, use your own and you won’t have to worry about copyright infringement.

Invite a guest blogger.  In addition to your own wisdom, invite other bloggers to write a guest post for your blog.  The cross-promotion with their audience may grow BOTH your readers.

Consistency is key.  Be consistent – and persistent and you may find a larger following for your insights than you ever thought possible!  Happy blogging!

Mixed Messages

March 7, 2012

Let me say up front that I LOVE Starbucks.   They have mastered not only the perfect glass of iced tea but the consistent delivery of same.  In foreign lands or my own town, I’m always happy to see the familiar green letters.

At airports I determine which security check point to use based on the location of a Starbucks on the other side.  That was the case at SeaTac airport last week.  There I visited the recently redecorated Starbucks near the “A” gates enroute to South Satellite – a no-Starbucks zone.

Have you noticed your Starbucks getting a facelift in the past year?  There’s a lot more use of wood and less of the wall mural type graphics.  Same is now true of the airport location.

Above the condiment counter was a message reflecting the Starbucks mission of sustainability.   One line encouraged the purchase and use of their reusable cups and mugs.   Now anyone who knows me is aware that I have enough of the Starbucks travel cups to coordinate with my wardrobe and rarely am I without one so obviously the suggestion would not offend me.

However, the rest of the sentence says to think about how many trees we can saveDid I mention it was CARVED IN WOOD?  if you are going to talk about saving trees, let’s not mix the message by carving it in a tree!

I was so taken aback by the contradiction that I went over and touched an exposed edge of the board to see if in fact it was wood or some wood lookalike.   It had the same layers you would see in plywood and nothing indicated the materials used were from reclaimed wood.

Then it got me thinking about all the facelifts given to all the Starbucks locations and how much wood was used not to construct but merely to decorate.   Isn’t that a mixed message for a company that tauts sustainability and wise use of natural resources?  I keep thinking that they are pretty savvy folks at Starbucks so all this wood must be recycled in some way but I really don’t know.

It never crossed my mind until I read the copy on the WOOD wall.  Is this really something Starbucks wants me thinking about rather than just how great my iced tea tastes?

What about YOUR business?   Are there mixed messages you send to your customers?   Do you taut customer service and yet not return calls promptly?   Do you sell the latest technology but your sales team are still hand writing orders?

These mixed messages dilute the power of your brand.  They shift the focus off your products onto the contradiction.   You strive for consistency in delivery of your goods and services,  it’s important to have the same consistency of message as well.

Off Duty, Spot On Service

August 24, 2011

Friday night I was at the Pike Place Market Foundation annual Sunset Supper.  It was a wonderful evening, amazing food from 45 of Seattle’s best restaurants.  Add in wines from 30 of Washington’s boutique wineries,beer, specialty cocktails and the fact that the weather actually cooperated and you can imagine this was a great evening.

Regular readers of this blog already know I’m actually an addict…an iced-tea addict that is.  Awesome food, wine and other adult beverages only go so far with me – then I NEED an iced-tea.

Conveniently, the table I was seated at was a mere steps from the “original” Starbucks in Pike’s Market which was “closed” to normal business for the evening.

They were  participating in the Sunset Supper with “tall sized” hot or iced coffee drinks and had a sidewalk table set up to serve those beverages.

I, however, don’t drink coffee…I drink iced-tea.  I approached the smiling team member and explained my “need”.

Even though they did not have any tea already made (if you have ever gotten an iced-tea at Starbucks, you know what I mean) she did not send me away.  She did not tell me they were only set up to do coffee drinks.  Instead, Karrie Johnson told me they’d be happy to make me a hot tea and pour it over ice.  

  When she brought up the “venti sized” cup with a freshly brewed iced-tea complete with Sweet ‘n Low already added, I hugged her!  

Back at my table, all my friends commented on the refreshing cup of tea I was sipping.  Everyone was impressed – especially when I mentioned that it had been made “special”.

The photo of my hubby, John Murphy and I from the evening posted on Facebook clearly featured my iced-tea in the foreground.

Of course I had to have a 2nd one before the evening was done and my request was met the same “can do” attitude that is the hallmark of Starbucks.

Anyone can make a glass of iced-tea…what is it really?  Just brewed hot tea and ice.  Training a team to make a beverage is easy – creating a culture when they do not only serve, but actually befriend customers – is the recipe for success!

That is what the Starbucks team does consistently and as a result, the line at their stores is also consistent.

How do you get customers to routinely stand in line to do business with you?  Deliver an exceptional customer experience, not just a great product.  Make them feel special. People do business with people they like, do your customers like YOU????

Coffee…or Iced Tea…to Travel

April 1, 2011

At the risk of being forced to move, I live in Seattle and I don’t eat seafood nor do I drink coffee.

That being said, Starbucks is a locally based company I am always amazed by.  Not only are their products great, their team is consistently of the “can do” mindset.

Despite not being a coffee drinker, I am a very regular Starbucks customer.  I have patronized Starbucks all over the world.  You see, I drink iced tea.  LOTS of iced tea and they have mastered the perfect glass of iced tea.

I also travel regularly and more and more hotel rooms have gone to single cup coffee makers in the rooms which makes brewing my own tea more challenging.  In Las Vegas, finding a coffee maker of any kind in a hotel room would be the equal to winning the lottery.

Last year, it occurred to me that since Starbucks makes both great iced tea AND had these nifty “Coffee Travelers” that maybe I could get a “traveler” of iced tea.  I called the Starbucks in the Hughes Center at Paradise & Flamingo in Las Vegas figuring a location near office buildings would likely have the “traveler” boxes.  Essentially, they are a foil bag filled with beverage and then put into a box with a spout for easy pour.  Each “box” holds about 95 ounces making it perfect for meetings or iced tea junkies such as myself.

I opened the conversation with “I know this is going to be an odd request but…”  The person on the other end of the phone paused for just a moment and said, “I’m not hesitating because we can’t do it, I’m just thinking what I will use for a funnel to get the tea into the pouch since it’s designed to be put under the coffee urn tap to fill.”

She then asked how many I needed (2), what variety of tea (black), sweetened or unsweetened and when I wanted to pick them up.  Sure enough, a few days later I stopped in on my way to the hotel from the airport and there were my iced tea “travelers” all ready to go.  They gave me cups, lids and straws and I was a happy, well-hydrated camper for the several days I was in Las Vegas.

Three times since then I’ve visited Las Vegas, each time with family or friends who also drink iced tea and the same location has been wonderful about making my special boxes of tea.  I call a couple of days ahead and tell them when I’ll be in and it’s ready.  By the time you are reading this, I’ll be sipping tea from yet another box of tea by the wizards at Starbucks.

What is brand loyalty worth to your company?  If you are part of a large organization, what is branch loyalty worth to you and your career?  I continue to call this particular store for my special order each visit not because no other location could or would do it; rather because we now have a history.  It’s that history which retains long term customers.

Grace Under Pressure

February 2, 2011

I arrived at the Salt Lake City Airport last week to catch my outbound flight.  As soon as I walked in, I noticed the minimal “emergency” type lighting.  Jokingly I asked a staff member, “Did someone forget to pay the electric bill?”  With a chuckle, I was told the power had been off for about a half-hour.

It’s an odd feeling to be in an airport without power.  The escalators and moving sidewalks do not work, only a few of the screens giving flight information are operating and the stores and restaurants are dark.  The generators were keeping the luggage ex-ray and metal detectors operating which allowed the airport to continue to operate.

My first stop once I clear security is always to Starbucks to get an iced tea for the trip.  I looked over and saw a line of customers in the very dark Starbucks so I joined them.  Staff told customers that due to the lack of power, they were limited to iced drinks; 3 varieties of iced teas, tea/lemonade blends and iced coffee.  They also had all the pre-made baked goods, fruit, waters and sandwiches but they could not process credit cards.

The Starbucks team were filling orders (including my Venti Black Iced Tea shaken with 2 Sweet ‘n Lows) for a continuous line of grateful customers.  People were snapping up the waters, fruit and sandwiches in anticipation of delays the power outage might cause.

Operating with a flashlight and a hand-written list of all the items prices and a small hand calculator, they continued to do business.  They kept a running list of items sold so they could later key in the data once power was restored. Pretty impressive!

It became even more impressive as I made my way out to my gate at the end of the concourse. I walked by several stores that were dark and staff members stationed out by the entrance with arms crossed sending customers away.   Really?  Was there no way to do at least SOME business?  The Starbucks was darker than any of the stores I passed yet they continued to operate and wowed customers in the process.

What about your business?  Do you have a plan in place for disruptions such as power outages?  Does your team have the tools they need even if that is a flashlight and calculator?

We “WOW” customers when we do things they do not expect and this wow factor creates tremendous loyalty.  Be sure your business is trained and prepared to demonstrate the grace under pressure of the awesome team of the Starbucks at the Salt Lake City Airport.

Serving up Customer Satisfaction

June 9, 2010

Anyone who knows me already knows I am an iced tea junkie.  Not the “iced tea” from a soda gun, cans or bottles but real, brewed iced tea.  As a result, Starbucks gets a lot of business from me – not coffee – iced tea.  They have mastered the perfect glass of brewed iced tea.

My mom is an addict also.  She and I are taking in some in Las Vegas.  Several things about Vegas; it’s hot – even things that appear to be just across the street are 1/2 mile away and I don’t know of a hotel on the Strip that has a coffee maker in the room.

What that means to iced tea fanatics is it’s a long way between much-needed iced teas and there’s no convenient way to just brew your own tea in your room.

To solve this dilemma, I called the Starbucks at Paradise & Flamingo – near where we are staying and spoke to Christine, the Manager there who just happed to answer the phone.  I asked if they offered the cardboard boxes of brewed coffee I had frequently seen in conference rooms.  “Of course”.  Then I said, “Okay, this next part will seem a little strange.”  Her reply, a pleasant “Maybe not.”

I told her what I wanted was one of those boxes, but instead of brewed coffee, I wanted their magic formula of brewed iced tea but without the ice.  Ice I can easily get at our hotel – brewed tea, not so simple.  She said she didn’t know of a reason why that couldn’t be done but asked me to hold a minute.  It wasn’t much longer than a minute before she came back and told me sure, and even gave me a price that was more than fair.  Seems the only reason she had to confer with her team was that the fill opening on the top of the box is designed to fit the coffee tap.  To pour tea from a pitcher would require a little creativity but she was sure they could use a funnel to accomplish my request.

I was so thrilled, I ordered my “box of tea” – in fact, I ordered 2.  It worked so well, this will become a normal event for me whenever I’m in Vegas.

The best part; Christine’s can do attitude. There was no “Well, we don’t normally do that” just a willingness to explore a new way to serve the customer. Logically, it wasn’t that odd a request, they have the boxes, they make the tea but often I find employees aren’t open – or empowered – to put components together in ways other than the “standard issue”.  This is why we love our Starbucks and gladly stand in line to do business with them.

Are the members of your team empowered – and encouraged – to serve customers even beyond the confines of your “menu” of goods or services?   Shouldn’t they be?

The Right Hand of “god”

April 21, 2010

I started my career as a secretary long before they became known as Administrative Professionals.  For many years, I was proud and happy to be the “right hand of god” and was fortunate enough to have great bosses.  It only seems fitting today to focus on these often unsung heroes of our businesses.

Most executives readily admit they would be lost without their assistants yet many don’t realize it’s National Administrative Professionals Week.  You count on your “right hand” to remind you of important dates, but this would be akin to your spouse reminding you of your anniversary or their birthday – it loses a lot of the luster if they have to tell you – so they won’t.

Consider this your “reminder” so you don’t spend the next couple of weeks in the “office doghouse”.

Flowers, cards, chocolates, lunch are all fine.  Want to do a little more?  A gift card for a massage from a local spa, a dinner gift card in an amount to cover dinner for 2 or gift card at a bookstore for a reader, iTunes for a music lover or coffee card for a caffeine junkie.  Most can be purchased on line or from an expansive display at your neighborhood Safeway store.

These are people who know your personal preferences in everything from restaurants to airline seats; show them you have noticed something about them with your thank you gift.

Beyond acknowledgement of their hard work and dedication during this national recognition week, consider some ways to add fulfillment to this important job all year long. IAAP is the International Association of Administrative Professionals.  They have Chapters all over the world, including several in most major cities.  The group is focused on continuing to build skills and the investment of a membership for your assistant could be money well spent.

Does your assistant have skills and talents beyond the requirements of their job?  If so, is there a way to tap into them in a business capacity? I’ve always been a bit of a hobby photographer.  One of my bosses gave me the opportunity to serve as photographer for the company’s customer golf tournament.  This day out of the office allowed me to make a contribution to the overall success of the event and meet face-to-face clients I had always spoken to on the phone.  Decades later, I still have fond memories and appreciate my boss who saw me as “more than a secretary”.

Take the time to give appropriate recognition and genuine gratitude for your own “right hand” person today.

%d bloggers like this: