Exclusivity. The way Decathlete Marketers strengthen their brand bonds.

Today I am sad and unbelievably disappointed. For those of you who know me, you know that I am a fanatical Starbucks loyalist. In fact, I do not have a good day, guaranteed, if it doesn’t start with a Venti Pike from Starbucks. That Venti Pike has to be double cupped with a sleeve, add four brown sugar packs, and half and half that results in coffee the color of my skin (I am not kidding). I also make sure that the logo on the sleeve lines up perfectly with the logo on the cup. Call me crazy, but if I don’t go through this ritual, my day turns out all wrong. Wherever I am, whatever city I wake up in – I seek out the nearest Starbucks. I even pick my hotel based on the location of the nearest Starbucks. Starbucks is a ritual for me, a Brand Ritual™ as a matter of fact – shameless plug for my book, where you can learn all about how successful brands build Brand Rituals for sustainable success.

Now for the bit about why I am disappointed… on Friday, Starbucks released its Limited-Edition Rose Gold Card. Each card is hand-assembled, featuring a “gorgeous artisan rose base metal with rose-colored coating, laser etched with traditional Starbucks lettering”. Each card costs $450 and gives the owner $400 worth of value at Starbucks plus automatic membership in its highest-level loyalty program. Only 1000 cards were available for sale via luxury deal site gilt.com. They sold out in seconds. And there was also the matter of early post snafu. Whatever happened, the fact is that I didn’t get one! The reason for my sadness. :-(

The Limited-Edition card is just the latest in genius marketing coming out of Starbucks, with Howard Schultz at the helm. Howard, although seen as a terrific entrepreneur or CEO by most people, is in my opinion, also an unbelievable marketer with the ability to see how his customers connect and bond with his brand. Howard is an example of a customer-centered, future-focused business leader who fits my definition of a Decathlete Marketer™. Some examples of what makes Howard a decathlete:

  • Understanding the power of cultivating deeper and bonded relationships with his core customers versus a focus on just attracting new prospects. Howard turns current customers into “super influencers” – both online and offline loyalists.
  • Ability to make his customers feel valued as individuals – offering personalized coffee drinks and localized store experiences.
  • Harnessing the power of data (big and small) to drive insights, innovations and ideas. As an example – launch of blonde roast for those who prefer a less bold taste.
  • A huge focus on digital at the core – fantastic app, engaging social media presence and community and the partnership with companies like gilt.com

Most of you know how brilliant Howard is and there are many, many more examples of what Starbucks is doing right. But what I’d encourage you to think about is how you can start to think and act like a Decathlete Marketer™. What can you do in your business to make your current customers even more loyal and bonded with your brand? How can you get a handle on customer data to uncover powerful insights and actionable ideas that will drive your business growth? How can you better partner with your CIO/CTO to connect the dots? As we move into a new Cambrian period of marketing, how can you position yourself, your brands and your company to thrive?

As part of my next journey, I am going to be exploring more Decathlete Marketers™ and I look forward to sharing more about who is kicking some ass in the new world of marketing and what you can do to get there.

Meanwhile, if anyone has one of the Limited-Edition Starbucks cards they’d like to give me for Christmas, I’ll gladly accept the gift!