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Business Marketing

Focus Consumer – Starbucks Gets It.




The announcement

Starbucks announced it will close 7100 stores for 3 hours tonight to bring 135k employees together as a refresher of the mission- Great Coffee.

They Get It.

What I thought was most brilliant about this approach is it says several things to the majority of consumers and I imagine tomorrow will be one of the highest producing days on record for the coffee giant. This public approach (rather than hiding it) says they get it. They’ve gotten so big that maybe they were getting off course, but the company is willing to put some serious cash behind the message, demonstrating to it’s employees that it is beyond serious when it comes to the coffee experience at Starbucks. It says the same to me as a consumer and it’s a win if tomorrow my drink at Starbucks is a winner.

My Thoughts

Becoming complacant in any business today is a weakness no one can afford. Remaining the dominant player is not an easy feat when the bullseye on your back grows daily.

Real Estate

I think some of the big real estate brokerages around the nation should get together not for sales meetings and 2008 strategy sessions- how about instead coming together on behalf of the consumer experience?

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. Mike Price

    February 26, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I personally think this was orchestrated as a buzz marketing campaign. It has all the earmarks of something Mark Hughes would have been the architect over and it has worked famously. Getting people to talk about your product is the currency of marketing these days. The press, social media and more have fawned all over this effort. I’m not saying it was disingenuous, far from it. But make no mistake, the retraining of the employees could have been done in a way that would not have required the stores to be closed. In order for a company the size of Starbucks to create buzz, they need to think outside the box. I have no doubt in my mind that the return on investment from closing the stores will show an astounding return. I have no doubt that this will become a text book case study that will focus more on the marketing aspect than the operational focus of what some may have seen as a risky decision.

  2. KC Investments

    February 26, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Marketing or focus? Whatever. If it’s happening at Starbucks either Benn or Jeff Brown will know about it. Jeez guys. Ever heard of a Coke?

    Oh, and tell Lani I said “Hello” and “Get Better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  3. JB

    February 27, 2008 at 2:51 am

    A Coke? A friend once worked as a young man for a soft drink company at one of their plants. He noticed two things causing me to drink coffee instead of soda.

    He had to replace his rubber boots every 90 days as they eroded to nothing through constant direct contact with the product.

    The truck mechanics there used the product as a solvent to clean up engine blocks etc.

    Oh miss? Would you please make that a Venti with room? Thanks

  4. Kris Berg

    February 27, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Mike – Don’t agree that they couldn’t have done it without closing shop for the night. As the mother of a Starbucks barista, I have been getting an earful. With the employee turnover (remember, we are talking about a younger crowd), too many of the current employees weren’t privy to the old way of doing things. They are having to not only retrain but deprogram.

    So, to make it more of a general argument, whether an company or industry is trying to move back or move ahead, it’s this “deprogamming” that is the difficulty, no? Learning something “new” is tricky, there is resistance, and sometimes a lock down is needed to truly effect change. More Brokers should try this approach. 🙂

  5. Mike Price

    February 27, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I have to admit I do not frequent Starbucks unless I am out of town and have no idea where else to grab a quick cup of Joe. I find it bitter and would rather have a cup of plain old Maxwell House.

    I have no doubt in the sincerity of the program to get the company back on track, I guess with time zones and the sheer volume of stores/employees being what they are, they could not have done this without shutting down. I still believe strongly that they recognized the spin in the effort and worked it from as many marketing angles as possible. I am not being critical of it, I’m actually quite impressed.

  6. Benn Rosales

    February 27, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Isn’t it both. If your company or organization has a pr problem in that the product (in this case coffee) is suffering and people know it- what better way to use a problem to an advantage that says “we’re solving the problem.” The intent is to shore up the product by retraining, at the same time, letting the consumer see there was an issue, and we’re willing to lose money to make it right. I call it taking a stand in a win/win. Call it spin, call it what you like, it will work because I’m a consumer of their product and I’m willing to buy into it. If you never liked it to start with, you may never buy into anything they do.

    But take the larger point. Stop with the sales meetings and start with the consumer focus meetings. Post upcoming.

  7. Bob Wilson

    February 27, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I just want to know if they plan on teaching them how to steamguide properly steam milk so the foam doesn’t look like a bubble bath (hint: don’t re-steam the milk).

  8. Mike Price

    February 27, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    I don’t care for their product, but that has nothing to do with what I think of their business model, which thus far has been a good one. My opinion remains unchanged.

  9. Kris Berg

    February 27, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Bob, That is indeed one of the “Biggies” they are reteaching. 🙂

  10. Sparky

    February 27, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Did you catch the story on Fox last night during the training sessions? SB patrons were totally ‘jacked’ and upset ‘cuz the doors were locked, but they could see in, and see all the workers in there, and they couldn’t get their fix. So they all went just down the street to Dunkin Donuts…

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.



headphones listen podcasts

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace,, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…



family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.



side hustle paperwork and technology

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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