Have you seen the new social networking site Starbucks
launched several weeks ago called MyStarBucksIdea
media release Starbucks issued calls it an online community network
after going through it, it does seem like a glorified
customer feedback form. Since I prefer Diet Coke as my caffeine poison of choice, I don't
really care what Starbucks is calling their new venture but I was very
interested to know how they were going to sell the concept to their
I'm a big believer in cross promotion and incorporate offline
advertising into all the custom linking services I offer. IMO, it's smart to
advertise to your demographic offline because people assign credibility to what
they read and transfer that trust to an online brand when they see
And we know trust
helps to build links
. So I figured I'd learn a thing or two from a company
that managed to make paying $4 for a paper cup of coffee at any time of the day
an unconscious part of our routine. I was curious to see how this retailer was
going to promote a new online opinion venue to a customer base that's
predominately offline. I headed over to our local StarBucks cafe to see if they
were displaying any in-store collateral supporting the new networking
Surprise surprise - they weren't and the counter clerk didn't know
anything about the site either. Which sincerely surprised me as I always had the
impression StarBucks was marketing savvy.
I'm sure StarBucks spent a ton
on money on creating this new Web2.0 platform so it's a surprise to see they're
not taking advantage of in-store collateral annoucing it's creation. I know it's
perceived to be cool
to have a social media tool in
your marketing arsenal and while I applaud StarBucks for making an attempt to
build community, I'm shocked at their lack of basic Marketing 101.
that sounds a little harsh but I really feel that way. Everyone wants to use the
latest toys and look cool
because when you're cool
people talk about and admire you. But I have to
wonder... here's a company with an almost 100% offline presence and they go and
launch an online social networking site to build a -- community? They already have
community in their stores everyday.
Which is why they
should capitalize on it to market the new online venue. If they launch a new
coffee, where do they promote it?
In the stores of course. So why
wouldn't they promote a major new portion of their business in-store as
I know, I know, just because our local StarBucks aren't pimping the
new site doesn't mean it's not happening elsewhere. It SHOULD be happening here,
Williamsburg is a hot tourist destination and was visited by the
last spring so we're not total hicks. Starbucks owns thousands of
offline stores -- thousands. Are they using them to promote a new marketing tool
designed to listen to customers, the very people they want becoming part of
their new community?
From what I can see -no. Too bad
too. If the idea is to use the social networking site to empower customers,
they're not doing it at the most effect level - the storefront.
Now I ask
you, is that cool?
People turn from being
customers to brand evangelists when they feel they empowered and part of
something. Think about your loyalties and why you have them, do you feel the way
you do because someone listened and acted on your opinion? Probably.
If you have an offline store supporting an online presence, or even if
you exist only online, it makes a world of sense to cross expose your
URL/promotion at every opportunity.
If you're going to go through all the
trouble of creating something as detailed as a social networking site or as a
simple as a magnetic sign for the side of your car, be sure it's going to be
seen by the people who can make a difference and in a format that reinforces
You want to look cool?
Buy sunglasses. You
want to grow your company and your link base? Advertise in on and offline
publications and venues reinforcing your credibility.
Time for a fresh
diet coke. :)
March 30, 2008
Based in Williamsburg Virginia, Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing company focused on providing custom link building campaigns and link training and is the author of the link building blog Link Spiel