Jun 22, 2015 | Customer Retention Strategies That Work

Starbucks Name? A Brand Loyalty Program At Its Finest!

Niamh - Marketing @ Thanx by  Niamh - Marketing @ Thanx

Ever thought about how you can implement Starbucks's marketing strategy at your business? Let's take a deeper look inside the coffee mogul's loyalty program approach and see what we can learn.

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Starbucks name? We all think we’re unique when we tell our friends or post that picture to Instagram of an entirely fabricated name. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Fed up with the Barista's constant, "And how do you spell that?," you've adopted a new, more witty title. 

But, sorry to tell you, you’re not alone and, maybe, you’re not as funny and as you think. You’ve actually been participating in Starbucks own brand loyalty program. Essentially, you’re working for them, and for free!

There’s plenty to be learned from how a Starbucks name creates marketing success, so here's what we're going to unpack:

  1. How Starbucks creates its brand loyalty program
  2. Why its works
  3. How you can put these best practices into action at your own business.

P.S. if you’re one of the few who hasn’t created one, feel free to play around with this Starbucks name generator: http://www.whatsmystarbucksname.com/.

What's in the Starbucks brand loyalty program latte?

So, how do they do it? Well, everyone can point to a focus on consistency and a willingness to embrace the digital realm – if nothing else, the Starbucks marketing strategy embraces a 21st century approach (which adds up to big bucks for Mr. Schultz and Co).

But what else is going on? What's the "secret ingredient," so to speak?

At the simplest level, loyal customers make a "brand," and Starbucks certainly boasts devoted patrons. Starbucks will open 1,600 stores globally this year, despite:

  • The rise of independent coffee houses
  • A 1% increase in pricing across the entire U.S.
  • A boycott after an international tax scandal

Much of this loyalty comes from the cultural experience Starbucks provides. It’s consistent. No matter where you are in the world, step inside and you’ll feel right at home – you’ll have the exact same tasting drink and, of course, free WIFI. The Starbucks brand is a stable force that provides certainty – one of our six human needs (which I suggest reading about h/t Mr. Robbins). ­­­­

Starbucks has also led the way when it comes to social media. They have set the bar high and lead by example by engaging with customers and utilizing social platforms to create a community. They rank at the top (or almost) against every major brand. Now, of course they have an entire team dedicated to this, but the main principles of success apply to any business.

“Social networking is not about farming followers, it’s a way of cultivating relationships” - Hubspot

And it's at the intersection of consistency and cultivating relationships that the Starbucks Name comes in. Try searching the hashtag ‘StarbucksName” or the popular blog  (http://starbucksspelling.tumblr.com/) to see some of this marketing work in practice. The "name campaign" works because it builds one-to-one, unique customer relationships (that of course drive an increase in profits).

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Photo Credit: Niamh Coghlan, Thanx

Drink the Starbucks brand loyalty program down and sip from its magical mocha

Starbucks has been actively engaging both customers and employees through the My Starbucks Idea Website for over 5 years now. A site that encourages both staff and customers to “Share. Vote. Discuss. See.” any thoughts or suggestions they have. This is essentially a marketing research tool that allows customers to drive the direction of the company. It’s genius really. Customers do the legwork and the company knows that new ventures will be successful – members of the client base are the ones who suggested them!

Having your client base actively involved in shaping the company is a sure shot to increase brand loyalty. It's only natural for people to frequent places they feel actively listen to them. It’s a constant loop. Customers speak, the company listens and responds, customers speak, the company listens and responds – and so on, and so on.

Net net, engaging in real-time with your customers is essential. Engaging patrons directly makes them feel unique and that they have an impact, which creates a scalable model that still feels personalized to the individual.

Get your own Starbucks brand loyalty program now before the coffee bean runs dry

So, what can we learn from Starbucks to put into action at our own businesses? Let’s review how, and what, this mogul does well when building and nurturing brand loyalty:

  1. Be consistent
  1. Embrace the digital realm
  1. Create strong and engaging customer relationships 
  1. Create a feedback loop

This may seem obvious, but when was the last time you genuinely sat down and thought about these concepts for your business and how to capitalize on them? Carving out some time for strategic thinking will be instrumental in driving your company to the next level.

In case you missed it, did you know your top 25% of customers account for 85% of your revenue? It literally pays big bucks to look after your regulars. Obvious? Maybe.

But, take a second to think about where you spend your marketing budget. Let me guess – Outreach? Acquiring new customers? Thought so.

It’s time you put better logic into action. Imagine you knew who exactly came in on a regular basis and consistently spent more. Would you make sure they were looked after? Of course! We all know the internal dialogue of waiting in a long line at a cafe! (Check out this hilarious short animation of said experience).

 

 

I will leave you with this quote that ignites excitement and pushes us to act upon everything that the Starbucks name campaign does well: getting customer input is a considered action that will increase your R.O.I. and shape business decisions according to useful insight. 

“The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise” – F. Scott Fitzgerald – The crack up (New York: New directions publishing 1945).

 

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