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Listen Up, Starbucks


High time for coffee maker to realize potential.


(SBUX), are you listening? I mean, seriously, are you going to let a little economic downturn roast your entire business? As an avid lover of the Java, I must proceed with a dramatic intervention as I see businesses like McDonald's (MCD) and Dunkin' Donuts cleaning your clock. This is a time for innovation and aggressive offense, not cowardly defense. To save your business and re-establish the fantastic brand you once had, listen up and take some notes.

1) Free up the Wi-Fi: Seriously already, would you please just give away the internet access? A T-Mobile (DT) hot spot is a joke. I've often chosen Panera Bread (PNRA) over you simply because I'm not going to pay to do some work when I'm stranded or traveling. Drop the T-Mobile gig, and free it up baby!

2) Ease the Pain on the Plane: Have you ever tasted airline coffee? I would gladly pay $1.00 more for a nice cup of Starbucks coffee while I'm darting the commuter from Lexington to LaGuardia. You aren't going to create new coffee drinkers and seriously, the new drinks are getting old. You must wiggle into the existing coffee drinking market. Airlines are in desperate need of a coffee shakeup. Sounds like a great place for you to start.

3) Road Warriors are the Ticket: I really thought you had something when you started placing your stores near concentrated road stops within heavily traveled areas. I even started timing my stops as I drove so that I could grab a grande dark blend, then hit the road with a fresh java buzz. I really thought that soon every road stop would possess a Starbucks. But then… nothing. A real disappointment. Every time I fill up for gas off the highway, you should be close by servicing my caffeine desires.

4) Creativity Rules: The new RedBox by McDonald's is a hit. The local RedBox has a line every time I go by. Its quick, easy and cheap. You must get creative and draw people to your store for more than a $4.00 latte. Forget just trying to dialog with every customer that comes in (that had to be a key point in your re-training session as I've noticed a difference) and create new ways to bring avid coffee drinkers to your store.

5) Engage your Audience: Do you really know much about your clientele? I don't think I have ever bought any ancillary item you're now pushing in your store because quite honestly, it doesn't appeal to me in the least and here's a secret, I am your audience. So, where is the disconnect? Why are you trying to sell me a CD of an artist I've never heard of, while I pick up my double espresso? We're in a day and age of social networking via the web, and an interconnecting passion. Web 2.0 is the future. What are you doing to position yourself for it?

Hopefully you're now humble enough to adhere some solid advice. In my opinion, you make the best coffee around and I still love to enjoy a Starbucks many times per week. However the fade has ended, purses are closing and now it's time to get creative. Remember, your best defense is a strong offense. Are you ready?

Check out what Hoofy and Boo think about this international coffee giant.

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