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Lessons to Learn From Starbucks!


Mar. 9, 2020

As hard as it is to remember now just a couple decades back you would’ve been laughed out at for proposing the idea of charging $4.25 for a cup of coffee. And yet, today, that kind of price is absolutely standard.

Good coffee as a concept is associated with a quality high-end experience. Even the gas stations and greasy spoons that used to pour the watered-down ashy shity stuff that only people pushing 45 have many vivid memories of.

This massive change in perception and market viability comes from a huge multinational corporation, Starbucks. And they happen to be one of the best examples of how advertising strategies for huge multinationals often rely on tools that are just as potent for new and small business marketing.

Lessons to Learn From Starbucks in the 90’s and Early 2000’s

Starbucks Drive Through

Starbucks ascension in the 1990s quickly swelled into a mass-market phenomenon, with new locations seemingly opening across the street from each other all around the world.

They accomplished this in a context where coffee was seen as the cheap side to a meal or something to pay a few cents for in the morning, to providing not just beverages, but a full-on experience, directly inspired by the most popular smaller coffee houses of the era.

Those coffee houses generally signaled to customers that they were welcome to stay and relax a while, unbothered. There was often pleasant music playing. The most beloved shops were clean. Their staff was welcoming and service-oriented.

While many of those businesses treated this atmosphere as simply a byproduct of being a local business, Starbucks seized the opportunity to market this intimate experience and was rewarded with massive growth.

And their marketing strategy even had a positive impact on those existing coffee houses. Because the overall awareness of coffee as a high-end product combined with coffee houses as leisure hotspots, a Starbucks moving in down the street often increased business for locals during the early to mid 2000s.

These businesses realized that there was little to gain in being a well-kept secret, and actually saw great benefits from a major multinational moving in. Which eventually leads to these small businesses changing their advertising strategy, taking notes on how the behemoth that is Starbucks managed to bring their services to become a mainstay in the national imagination.

How Local Competition Held Out Against Starbucks

McDonalds McCafe

By the 2010s, the tide has turned against Starbucks. Although Starbucks is still a massively successful corporation, their approach is no longer to open as many stores as possible. They are now scaling down and closing underperforming locations, including some that have only been open for a few months total.

Intuitively, the expansion of high-end and luxury coffee offerings from other major chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s. Starbucks’ own reports to investors, however, place the blame squarely on a very different kind of competition: those same small, regional and local coffee shops that provided them with their original coffee and leisure business model.

With Starbucks’ own advertising strategy as an inspiration, as well as small business digital marketing tactics new to the era, the 2010s have seen major growth for smaller coffee shops, a bright spot going against the wave of consolidation and mergers in most consumer spaces.

The key? Applying big brand marketing thinking to new business promotion.

In the Social Media Era, There Is No Reason to Market Small

Local Coffee Shop

There is no competing with marketing budgets that run in the hundreds of millions as a small business. In the social media era, though, the gap between that kind of multinational muscle and the potential growth from a small business strategy is much smaller.

Small businesses can take the core of big brand advertising strategies, scale it to their budget, and experience major growth as a result. The key is to leverage tools that have both proven ROI, and less risk than the traditional avenues that huge multinationals put up brute force levels of cash to support.

The core pillars of this digital advertising strategy are:

  • Social Media Marketing, with appropriately adjusted voices projected on each separate social media platform, depending on the target demographic for each. For example, Snapchat skews younger and suburban, while twitter skews older and urban. Presenting the same branding message in each varied voice is key for maximizing ROI on social media advertising.
  • Community Management both on social media as well as other areas such as blog comments or feedback about your brand on third-party websites. Rather than letting a counter-narrative emerge about your brand, community managers make sure to have your core brand image persistently communicated across as many media as possible.
  • Content Marketing, which leverages Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies to create natural, useful content that pulls in new visitors and subtly promotes your brand story.
  • Inbound Marketing that explores ingenious, brand-appropriate ways to attract potential customers to all aspects of your brand’s digital presence, from the various social media profiles to the official website.
  • Fully-Integrated Marketing that creates a strong through-line between every single prong of your branding strategy, seamlessly encouraging potential customers to weave through your branded content of their own accord.

Are you looking for a proven way to quickly establish your new or growing business as a major player and drive traffic to your website without taking the major monetary risk of a brute force traditional ad campaign? The ideas above are just the beginning of the list of possibilities that we’ve thoroughly crafted for our clients.

nvision creates a completely custom marketing methodology for each business we work with. The pillars of big brand strategies as applied to new businesses outlined above are simply the basics around which we develop an all-encompassing advertising strategy from whole cloth.

If you’re interested in the original, innovative concepts that Local Leap Marketing will create to thoroughly establish your business in the minds of your target customer base and send more new leads to your website contact us at nvision for a consultation today.

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