Starbucks’ Sad-Sack Marketers
What triggered this column were identical muddy and unreadable full-page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal received May 16, 2015.
The Advertiser: Starbucks.
The Product: An old-fashioned direct mail continuity program.
The Offer: The world's finest coffee shipped to you monthly.
Broken Rule No. 1 by Starbucks: No Keys
Both full-page ads in the Times and the Journal used the same response link: starbucks.com/subscription
This means Starbucks had no way of knowing which orders came from the Times and which came from the Journal.
Nor will they ever be able to track profitability by source.
Broken Rule No. 2 by Starbucks: Mud
[See the first image in the media player.]
The illustration: muddy people in a muddy room with a muddy caption at the top:
ROASTERY AND TASTING ROOM
Note to Account Managers and Designers
Newsprint is cheap and porous. It absorbs color. The blinding speed at which the press runs frequently causes color reproductions to be out of register — like 3-D movies without the glasses. If you want your illustrations to pop, use a Free Standing Insert (FSI) with quality paper that has a glossy finish. If you want your illustrations to pop, use a Free Standing Insert (FSI) with quality paper that has a glossy finish.
Broken Rule No. 3 by Starbucks
[See the second image in the media player.]
The Muddy Headline: Unreadable Copy
Gray italic mouse-type reversed against a turd-brown background.
Note to Account Managers and Designers
"Never set your copy in reverse (white type on a black background) and never set it over a gray or colored tint. The old school of art directors believed that these devices forced people to read the copy; we now know that they make reading physically impossible." —David Ogilvy
The Starbucks Offer
- Pay anywhere from $12.50 up to $34.50 per 8.8 oz. bag.
- Plus shipping and tax.
- Give credit card account and pay in full now.
- Sign up for 3-, 6- or 12-month delivery.
- No premium or up-front goodie.
- No choice of whole beans vs. ground.
- No choice of regular vs. decaf.
What Starbucks Could Have Learned From Who's Mailing What!
- At a 1982 gathering in New York City, US News & World Report circulation director Dorothy Kerr decreed:
"Do you want to make money in direct response? See who's mailing what. Track those mailings that keep coming in over and over again, and then steal smart! These are the controls. The information in these controls is the result of millions of dollars in testing."
- I did what Dottie Kerr suggested and launched the Who's Mailing What! newsletter and archive service.
- This extraordinary repository is now 31 years old.
If Starbucks Consulted Who's Mailing What!
The pioneer of monthly coffee delivery by mail was Gevalia, a Swedish company with the good sense to use the Wunderman Agency for years.
Who's Mailing What! contains 193 mailings for Gevalia.
Of those, 142 used a premium — a goodie up front.
Included are four "Grand Controls" — four efforts mailed for three consecutive years meaning they were hugely successful and brought in pots of money.
- Free stainless steel programmable coffee maker — yours to keep just for trying Gevalia.
- Take 2 trial half-pound packages of Gevalia for $10.
- A $99 value for $10.
- No further obligation.
- Cancel any time and keep the coffee maker.
- Cost of coffee: $5.55 to $7.45.
Takeaways to Consider
- Who's Mailing What! contains information on more than 200,000 print and electronic mailings. Most are available as PDFs and downloadable in seconds.
- Who's Mailing What! contains information and PDF samples of more than 1,500 "Grand Controls" — mailings in nearly 300 categories that have been mailed and received for 3 consecutive years or more.
- These "Grand Controls are 24 karat marketing gold — the result of literally billions of dollars in testing.
- Today's hotshot kids sneer at direct mail as being something out of the last century created by fuddy-duddies.
- WHO'S MAILING WHAT! HAS NEVER BEEN ABOUT DIRECT MAIL! Instead it's all about:
- Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)
- In short, Who's Mailing What! shows you what promotions bring in responses, orders and donations in consumer, business and nonprofit marketing efforts.
- Online, in print and in the mail.
- Who's Mailing What! can do two things for you: 1) Make you rich and 2) Keep you from screwing up and losing money. Check it out!
- Try it for a month. It can change your business (for the better)!
- "God protect us from amateurs!" —Henry Castor
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