Don’t Be The Ignored Real Estate Blog, How to Avoid The Starbucks Mistake

The_Starbucks_MistakeIs it safe to assume that you’ve have been to a Starbucks, and are familiar with the ubiquitous white cup with the round, green logo on it?

Somewhere on that cup is their web address:

How many of you have been to
The response is almost always “none.”

The scarce few that have are checking the balance on their Starbucks Card.  Most have never even noticed the web address on the cup (this is Starbucks’ first mistake).  It would be a safe bet that less than .01% of their loyal customers have ever been to their website.  1000’s of worldwide stores and close to a million white cup holders every day… if I am right, it’s a pitiful reality.

How many white cups are brought back to work, to be left just inches from a keyboard, and yet, the website remains ignored?

You should be thinking to yourself, “Why would I ever want to go to the Starbucks website?”

Obviously Starbucks themselves have not put much thought into this question, so I am going to do it for them.  (Send royalty checks to…)

Starbucks needs to consider what incentive will drive their audience to their website.
You’re not going for a grande mochaccino with a shot of caramel, that’s for sure…or is it?
Typical customer (read: addict): couple of trips a week, at least $5 per visit.
That’s $500+/year. Not cheap. Some of you will quadruple this figure.

Starbucks will drive their customer base to their website if their ‘call to action’ is alleviating the cost of the daily visit. We love free stuff, and if you are going to give us a break on our addiction… sign us up.

If Starbucks can make the customer feel like they are getting something that saves them money, but in fact are putting themselves in a position to actually spend more money, more often… that’s smart marketing.

Here’s The Starbucks Solution:

Offer a conspicuous promotion on the cups.
None of this fine print crap at the bottom of the cup.
Send us to to sign up for coupons for our favorite beverages. Learn which products we like most, how often we visit, what our zip code is, and most important of all: our name and email address – all in exchange for a couple of coupons every month.

By knowing what products we like, Starbucks can now provide us with coupons for our favorite beverages.
Our frequency will signal how often to send coupons.
Our zip code will provide data on the success rate of the promotions and allow Starbucks to announce new locations.
Our name and email will help personalize the coupon and ensure that our (soul selling) coupons are delivered.

But There’s a Catch.
While we are feeling fortunate to be saving money on our addiction, and waiting anxiously for our bi-monthly coupon, Starbucks now gets to hammer us with:

1. More opportunities to drive us into their stores – have coupon, will travel.
2. An almost free way to communicate with segmented groups of loyal customers as often as they like.
3. Perpetual branding.
4. New product announcements.
5. New location announcements.
6. Gift ideas for every occasion (for the Grad, for Mother’s Day, Secretary’s Day, Client Appreciation and on and on).
…And if we’re getting the coffee for free, you know we can’t resist buying the muffin as a reward.
It’s a win-win.  Actually, it’s a Starbucks win. You buy more, much more often.

Starbucks is not adopting such an emarketing strategy, and I would be ignorant to say that they need to.

Let your audience know that you have what they need and to your website they will come.

However, Realtors with websites and blogs are making this same mistake, and it is costing them any chance at leveraging their traditional marketing with their web presence.

thumb_downGiven that Realtors typically reach as many as thousands of people on a monthly basis, I would expect that any marketing effort that yielded such poor results as the current emarketing strategy of Starbucks, would be avoided.  But it’s not.  I see most magazine ads, business cards, newsletters, post cards, fliers, and classified ads branded with nothing more than a fine print web address.  This marketing collateral is completely devoid of any ‘call to action’ to drive traffic to the most valuable lead generator in their arsenal.

thumb_upRealtors don’t need to give away coffee on their website in order to get traffic.  Beer maybe…
Your target audience is looking for something, that you have: Answers, Knowledge, Trust, Commitment, and Passion, as well as Access to the MLS and Home Valuations.
This is your coupon for coffee.
Let your audience know that you have what they need and to your website they will come.

1.  Smart, Funny and Invaluable San Diego Real Estate Articles Written Daily at
2.  I Know The Value of Your Home.  Do You?  Visit to find out.
3.  All Available Properties in San Diego Are Posted in Real-Time On
4.  The Smart Answers to the Stupid Real Estate Questions You Are Afraid to Ask Are At

Pick a clear and effective ‘call to action’ and make sure it is visible on everything from your voicemail to your email signature, from your mailers to your business cards.  Otherwise, you are simply wasting your time.

Starbucks shows us how to blow a chance at marketing effectively using the internet to millions.  Don’t expect any better results from your neighborhood reach if you are making the Starbucks Mistake!