Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Starbucks Closing Stunt

Not really knowing the financial impact (positive or negative) of yesterday's Starbucks closing stunt, I find a few positive brand reinforcements established from the effort. First, the public sacrifice of revenue to improve service is a great way to differentiate their commitment to quality from new emerging competitors. Although many competitors seized the moment by offering discounts to their coffee products, the gesture may have lessened their value as a product and as a brand.

Second, the unusual amount of growth probably has created some human resource issues. When things are moving fast, employees often forget the reason behind the urgency to perform better than yesterday. This "drop anchor" approach presents a way for management and employees to reconnect and regroup on fulfilling the essentials of the Starbucks brand.

Finally, the claim for most of the down-time was espresso. I guess it would have been difficult to claim to be working on a better cup of coffee. Espresso, on the other hand, is not a mainstream product in comparison to their other offerings. However, there is some room for improvement, due to the process. I know what you're thinking, "I've never had espresso, but I want to see what the fuss is all about". I won't call you a sucker, but, well, you know.

For now, the store closing stunt has presented some great possibilities for Starbucks. They've shown a commitment to service, and a value for their employees skills and development. They've also highlighted an area of improvement, which can only be recognized by a small fraction of their customer base. The true measure of their success will happen today, when you walk in to get your usual latte or grande cup of coffee. Will you notice a difference - a difference that says, "I get it"? I hope the marketing and PR folks at Starbucks have planned this exercise to produce something tangible for customers for the next few weeks. If so, the battle will have been won for the day. If not, the competitors have an opportunity to make up some much-needed ground.


In the past few days, BusinessWeek has released two articles about their concern for the economy. The first article, by the Standard & Poor's, and Action Economics staff, talks about inflation and consumer sentiment. The other article, by Chris Farrell, highlights "Stagflation", which is a term to suggest we're going back to the economy of the late 1970's. Well, I have a brief response. REALLY?

I may be one of the few citizens who remembers $1 per gallon gas in this decade, and housing prices below $200,000. All along, during the pricing increases, I said to myself, "Where is all the money coming from?". I even wrote a few school papers on predatory lending and inflation calculations, but no one seemed to be alarmed by the financial path of this nation.

If you get a chance, please read both articles. There's nothing new in them, if you have been a skeptic all along, but it is interesting. I truly don't get it. Our economy seems to be built on one scam after another.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


It’s amazing how ceremonial we have become in this world. I get totally confused during Christmas when someone who wouldn’t speak to me all year suddenly wants a hug and conversation, because it’s time to give and share. Valentine’s Day is not much different from the rest of the holidays. “EVERYONE AT THE COUNT OF THREE WE ARE GOING TO SHOW APPRECIATION TO OUR LOVED ONE, OR FIND THE CLOSEST PERSON TO SHOW APPRECIATION, BECAUSE IT’S VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!”, is what it translates into for this world.

When did we become so mechanical, so typical?

Everyday you wake up is the opportunity to exercise the very things you celebrate and execute on those famed holidays. If anything, the holidays should be times of reflection to review how you’ve loved, and how you’ve given to others during the entire year. We’ve grown into a practice of following and not being led.

I hope this day sparks a new initiative in all of us to get in the practice of practicing everyday. Me personally, I could care less about flowers, gifts and kisses on one insignificant day. I’d rather share a book or share a beautiful thought with someone on a day that really doesn’t matter, which in my life is more significant than any holiday.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. May the day bring you a new respect and understanding for love. May love encourage you to want to do better and be better. May that encouragement move you to make it happen for yourself and your love for God. May the act of “making it happen” allow for a closer walk with God.

- Gift 4 of 4


A matter of understanding scope, time, and impact
The role of the cutting edge marketing professional, regardless of institution or organization, is to make relevant translations between all parties to influence performance and progress. The consumer wants a need to be fulfilled, and so does the company who sells the product or service. How do you translate between the two parties to meet those needs? It’s easy when you have a company culture of totally valuing the customer, or when the customer totally understands the company. But what if there’s a communication barrier – with no fault to point out? Who then translates the message to both parties?

It’s far beyond spin, especially when neither party knows what they want.

Today, I came to understand the value of translating. It will become one of the most valuable commodities in the marketplace. The professional who can listen, and match those keywords with solutions from another language will make the biggest difference in the organization. Technology, in many ways, has forced all professions and disciplines to lose contact with other aspects of the business. Therefore, it is the role and responsibility of the marketing professional to make those connections, and create a platform where understanding (if not dialogue) can take place.

I don’t have a point to make. I’m just rambling to feel better. Never underestimate the value of listening.

- Peace

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A New Day

Stuart Elliott’s recent article in the New York Times titled, “For Marketing, the Most Valuable Player Might Be YouTube”, acknowledges the impact of online and access-on-demand video, with respect to marketing. More than ever, commercials now have the ability to have a more dynamic impact on how consumers understand their brand. For me, it’s a refreshing alternative to the ambiguous creative work done during the web boom.

With the emergence of accessible video, and a considerable demand for it, advertising has the ability to have a closer relation to the quantitative objectives set by the corporation. This also places pressure on traditional forms of media, such as billboards and magazine ads, to find their position in the world of advertising.

I really don’t have a point with this entry. I simply would like to introduce the concept that Mr. Elliott has exposed, which is helpful to all walks of marketing professionals.