Coffee this morning? Of course, and each of us has our own thought process in making the choice of whether it’s going to be Green Mountain, Starbucks or Dunkin'. Since we have lots of Keurigs strategically placed in our various kitchens, the Boston office and our home offices, my choice is less about the coffee, but the convenience and the variety. But, then that’s me, and as the LP (Little Princess) often reminds me that since I have the taste buds of a warthog, I’m pretty sure that I can’t tell the subtle differences.
I happened to have the opportunity to have breakfast last week with one of the senior executives at Starbucks, who opened and then ran their European operation. A fascinating brand and sales guy, and the one phrase, I took away from that discussion was “the experience”. Let me just assume for a moment that all very good coffee is just that…very good coffee. Are there differences among the Green Mountain, Starbucks and Dunkin' brands and tastes? Of course, but the real differences for me have little to do with the taste (the warthog thing again) and have everything to do with the experience. The Keurig/Green Mountain experience for me is “variety and convenience”. My Dunkin' experience is “speed and efficiency”. And, then there’s The Starbucks Experience.
Starbucks is all about the experience of the brand In fact, the experience is... “the experience”. It’s the coffee, of course, but the bigger value is the experience of the people, the baristas, the chairs, the music, the wifi and their locations. It’s because every point of contact of the brand encircles the experience such that price is not an issue since the experience always trumps price.
Let’s take this concept now to think about our own selling experience-that experience through which we market and sell ourselves or our company to new prospects. If you take yourself 100 feet above the deck and look very objectively at that entire sales process, how would you grade yourself and your company? Are you selling coffee and talking about the price of the cup, or are you selling the value that you provide and the experience of your brand? I'm going to think about this a bit this morning, but first I need another cup of coffee.
As most of you know, I'm a marketing professor at Tufts in my spare (?) time, where I have the pleasure of working with juniors and seniors in a unique program. Each semester, I embed five students/team into six companies to execute on complex, semester-long, marketing assignments, and I am now looking for companies for the fall semester. Companies have ranged in size from emerging startups to large corporations. The common factor is that they all have interesting and complex marketing projects. If you're interested, just email me, and I will set up a call to discuss this with you. It's a great opportunity to solve the marketing project idea that you've been thinking about, but haven't had the extra resources to put to it.