The Organic Marketer

Starbucks Asks for Ideas: Why Shouldn’t You?

This is a story that has been making the rounds for a while, but I thought it was time to introduce it to some of my readers and ask them what’s stopping their company or organization from doing the same thing. You’ll find this story everywhere, but BBC News has a great blurb about how Starbucks is turning to its customers for new ideas on how to serve them better.

Visit and take a look around. It’s a clean, simple web site — what Starbucks venture isn’t? — that asks customers to submit great ideas, vote on them and even discuss them with other customers. You can see which ones are being actively considered by Starbucks and which ones are going to be implemented.

This form of public interaction has done wonders for the coffee giant, especially in times when it’s own news isn’t that spectacular. But as great as the site is, it could go even further. Starbucks could be creating individual store mini sites that take on the unique personality of each location. They could be bringing longtime customers into a mentoring relationship with newbies (yeah, I know, it’s coffee, but stay with me here). They could use this site and others to champion some of the wonderful cultural and environmental needs and causes that Starbucks is so well known for.

So, yes, I’m complaining Starbucks hasn’t done enough. It’s a good start and I’m impressed, but now I want more. Which leads me to your customers — Do you provide them an anonymous way to interact with you and provide suggestions? Do you even care what your customers are wanting? Are you thinking beyond the typical marketing strategies that you’ve used for, say, the past zillion years?

Consider the lessons from Starbucks. They are expert marketers who have captured the tastebuds and wallets of millions of consumers with their $4 cup of coffee. Asking your customers to become a part of the process seems like a doable idea — now go do it.