Marketing Public Relations Small Business Starbucks

Marketing opportunities: As perishable as lettuce.

roasted_coffee_beans.jpgI’ve always admired how Stew Leonard promoted and ran his grocery store, but this morning, I’m given another reason to give him the nod. He is clearly paying attention.

Starbucks is going to be re-training their baristas next week. You know, teaching them how to do little things like how to make coffee, a skill they’ve apparently not needed with all the automated equipment they use these days. Locally owned coffee shops have to be loving this.

To make this training happen, Starbucks is closing their stores for 3 hours in the middle of the business day.

Ever the opportunist, Stew Leonard’s issued a press release to not only announce that they will give away free fresh-roasted coffee during Starbucks’ lights-out period, but it also brilliantly educates the client about how serious Stew Leonard is about coffee. The release discusses the importance of coffee freshness, how fragile the freshness really is, how many beans they roast each day, how many varieties they roast, and so on.

The release strikes right at the heart of the coffee aficionado (or snob, whatever) who might think that “grocery store coffee sucks”, by showing how serious they are about it. After reading the story, it’s difficult for the coffee lover to avoid thinking that Stew’s takes their coffee seriously.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

NORWALK, Conn., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ — Starbucks recently publicized that all 7,100 company-owned stores will close between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. local time on February 26 to retrain more than 135,000 employees in an effort to create “a renewed focus on espresso standards.”

Stew Leonard’s, which roasts its 20 varieties of coffee fresh in-house and brews more than 2,000 pounds of beans every day, today announced that during those same hours on February 26th, all four of its store locations will offer free cups of coffee, cappuccino or espresso.

“We know what it’s like when you need your java jolt, so while Starbucks is turning customers away, we’ll be welcoming them with open arms and a free cup,” said Stew Leonard, Jr. “We actually got this idea from Mike Perry, owner of Coffee Klatch Roasting in southern California, who was visiting our stores the other day. His coffee shops have been recognized as serving the ‘Best Espresso in the World’ at the 2007 World Barista Championship in Tokyo, Japan.”

Note the language used throughout the release. Not only does Stew Leonard’s use the release to educate people about coffee, but they use common knowledge to do so, saying “coffee is as perishable as lettuce”. They also use the right lingo about coffee and make the discussion emotional, “we know what it’s like”, etc.

How many opportunities like this are presented to you each year? How many do you take advantage of? As I’ve suggested before, use the news in your marketing. You don’t have to be in the coffee business to take advantage of this opportunity, although you do just about have to be nuts not to use this opportunity if you ARE in the coffee business.

8 replies on “Marketing opportunities: As perishable as lettuce.”

Actually, there are so many holes in *$ offerings that you could drive a truck through them. I don’t know if you could build an international business with all of them, but there are loads of opportunities there, even in a saturated coffee market.

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