Starbucks marketing campaign includes newspaper inserts and direct mail. Really?

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

Starbucks is rolling out a new line extension – flavored coffee. They are trying to compete with flavored coffee leaders like Dunkin’ Donuts, Millstone, and Godiva. They believe this is their best opportunity for growth. The interesting thing is they are going retail with this product as opposed to strictly in store sales. With this strategy, what is Starbucks’ marketing approach?

Their marketing strategy includes print, direct mail, newspaper inserts, in-store sampling, digital, and email. Here’s what I find interesting, a company who was once held up as the shinning example of “anti-advertising”, has committed to full-blown advertising over the last 5 years. What happened? Did they finally turn to the dark side? And what’s with all this “traditional” marketing stuff in their plan? Newspaper inserts? Really? Direct mail? Did someone drink too strong of a coffee?

As Starbucks, and other brands who have stayed away from advertising (i.e. Google), is realizing, all forms of advertising and marketing are still relevant and needed based on goals and objectives. I’ve pointed out before, Starbucks used their store fronts as advertising. So actually, they have spent a great deal in marketing by having a Starbucks on what seems like every other street corner. Now they are putting huge advertising dollars behind marketing campaigns as well as leveraging the in-store sampling that they have used masterfully over the years.

This brings me to my main point. Don’t dismiss any marketing tactic as too outdated or too “low tech” to be considered in your marketing mix. In fact, even sandwich boards can be effective if utilized in the right campaign. Don’t get caught up in doing the “in thing” just because it’s the in thing. That’s the wrong reason to incorporate cutting edge technology and tactics. Technology is not a strategy. At it’s core, technology is a relationship play. As we have always advised our clients, hang out where your customers hang out. Communicate with them in a way they like to be talked to.

Starbucks realizes their customers still read the paper, look through magazines, and like’s postcards (that’s how Gold Members get their rewards) as well as redeeming email coupons. For all their social media prowess and developing a successful online site “My Starbucks”, they still know their customers like being communicated through other channels. I give Starbucks great props for being open to include tactics that work for them regardless if it’s traditional or online marketing. And, isn’t that what marketing is really about? Meeting people where they are instead of making them come to you.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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