Posts Tagged ‘starbucks’

Don’t just Invent. Innovate.

by Robert Driscoll on July 26, 2010

There are many misconceptions about what inventions and innovations are in the marketplace, but they are two very different things.  You can invent something and not do anything with it.  Think of Bell Labs which has hundreds of thousands of patented inventions.  Many of these inventions are just simply ideas and only some were great enough to be innovative where it changed the marketplace.  Or think about Leonardo da Vinci.  A great inventor who was ahead of his time, but many of his inventions simply were not practical during his lifetime.  Now look at Thomas Edison.  While he might have failed hundreds of times trying to invent the light bulb, when he perfected his invention and introduced it in to the marketplace, he created an industry.  He was an innovator.

  • Innovation isn’t about being new to the marketplace.  Look at the iPod from Apple.  It wasn’t the first MP3 player in the marketplace.  They just did it right and made it simple.
  • Innovation isn’t about technology.  Look at Starbucks.  They’ve created a business model around selling coffee in a comfortable environment and charging a premium.  They weren’t the first ones to sell coffee. They just created an environment that people wanted from a coffee shop and marketed in right.
  • Innovation isn’t about doing it better.  Sometimes you just need to make your product simpler and more affordable.  Look at Windows from Microsoft.  They opened up a new marketplace where people could afford it and gain access to it easier.  They don’t have the best operating system in the marketplace, they just made it easier to use and made it affordable.
  • Innovation doesn’t always come out of big research and development budgets.  There might be some initial research and development, but you don’t have to go broke in the process.  Look at Red Bull.  They tapped in to the youth culture in clubs and created their own viral grass roots marketing campaign and turned it in to a multi-billion dollar empire.
  • Innovation doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  You don’t have to spend a lot when you’re innovating.  You can do it very inexpensively and create a new marketplace with low overhead.  Ebay, for example, was profitable from almost day one and found a way to connect with the marketplace immediately.  Its first year revenues were modest, but it took the earning from its initial years of operation and invested it in to research and development to grow the service.

What do all of these have in common?  They’re obviously innovative products and services, but they all made an impact.  They all did something that was different in the marketplace that connected with its users.

Sometimes creating that next big thing is just simply doing it better than your competition or making it simpler.  Ideas are all around us.  Now innovate.

Branding – Branding is a balancing act

by Laura Lowell on October 5, 2009

balancing actAll too often companies find themselves with a brilliant strategy – on paper at least. When they try to implement the strategy, they run into obstacles such as channels, partners, technology, infrastructure, competition, or lack of resources. The reverse is also true. Companies can spend so much time executing that they lose sight of the business objective. They might end up with an awesome website, but no real results.

Effective brands, that is, brands that deliver on their promise and help companies sell more stuff, are those that find the right balance between strategy and tactics, between images and words, between effect and affect.  Every brand is made up of several different components:  visuals, messages, voice, and personality, for example.  Each of these is integrated into specific deliverables like a company logo or tagline or photographic style.  The trick is to find the right combination and then apply them consistently throughout everything you do.

It starts with strategy – how will you achieve your objectives?  Depending on your brand promise some strategies are going to be more effective than others.  For example, you probably won’t see Nascar investing in “environmentally-friendly” campaigns; you would expect it from Starbucks. There are lots of different ways to achieve your objectives.  Make sure that your strategies align with your brand promise and that you can actually implement them.  This is what I call the “duh” test.  Run the strategies by a colleague, friend or spouse and see what they think.  If they ask you a question and your reaction is “duh”…you might want to rethink the strategy.

Next come the tactics – what exactly will you do to implement the strategy?  If your strategy was to grow your market share by expanding into new markets, a tactic might be to partner with a complementary brand in the new market to jump start your brand recognition.  This might require a joint email campaign, billboards and local ads on radio and TV.  The key is to align the tactics with the strategy so that everything is in support of the brand.  Otherwise, you end with a lot of random activities – all of them are probably pretty cool on their own – but together they don’t deliver.

To be valuable, strategy must be practical, and tactics must be integrated. With the right balance of strategy and tactics, your brand will grow and so will your business

Listening to customers through Twitter

by Robert Driscoll on July 2, 2009

listen-To-Your-Customers-On-TwitterIn my previous post “How Brands Can Leverage The Power of Twitter, I discussed how companies can use Twitter to increase their companies sales. It is widely known that it costs companies more to find new customers than to keep their existing ones, yet too often they neglect their existing customers.

While many companies use call centers to address customer complaints, many customers feel like their frustrations go unheard. Today, more companies are starting to embrace the power of Twitter to market their new offers as well as a means of keeping their customers informed of changes, updates and addressing their unique concerns. Twitter is becoming another conduit for customer service and an opportunity for these companies to build their brand with new and existing customers. Twitter is not a means to replace a companies call center, but rather to complement it. In a recent USA Today article, it stated that, “the popular communications technology has helped companies quickly and inexpensively respond to customer complaints, answer questions and tailor products and services,” while at the same time, “easing the load on call centers and expensive mailers that most customers abhor.”

In the era of instantaneous communications, even email now is considered too slow. Companies like JetBlue and Starbucks are using Twitter (Click here to follow Jetblue on twitter and here to follow Starbucks on twitter) to update their customers instantly. JetBlue uses it to not only communicate their latest flight specials to their customers, but more importantly, informing them if their flight is delayed, in turn reducing customer frustrations. Starbucks uses it to get customer feedback on their services and to address customer complaints as well.

While using Twitter to tweet the latest product releases is what companies primarily use it for, it is just as important they pay attention to what their customers are also saying about them. Companies such as Salesforce have built Twitter in to their online customer service portal called the Service Cloud. Their service not only allows their customers to post complaints but also to search for relevant tweets, track responses and list their own.

Customers don’t want to be placed on hold when they call customer support. They want answers right away. Twitter is allowing companies to have these instantaneous conversations with their customers to not only help promote new products and services, but to handle and resolve complaints, in turn improving the company’s service to their customers.

The questions to ask yourself are: Are you using the new tools of “today” (like Twitter) to effectively “listen” to your customers? Or Are you sitting on the sidelines waiting for a better tool or are you just “happy” with what you have? Are you sure your competitors are not using the new tools of “today”, while you are waiting? What if your customers are talking to the customers of your competitors (trust me, they are!) and hearing of the ‘instant’ support they are getting? How long do you think they will “Wait” before they switch?

The answer is simple… listen to your customers through Twitter!