Who’s Looking After Momma?
I was not alone. For starters, Starbucks stores averaged a grand total of two CD sales a day. Its stock was off 50% from its 2006 high, and it had a lousy December. In desperation, CEO Jim Donald was canned, and Howard Schultz brought himself back to resuscitate the company.
In order to regain “the soul of the past,” Schultz ordered all 7,300 stores in the U.S. closed at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 25 for a three-hour kaffeeklatsch, during which time employees would be retrained in the glories of coffee and how to sell it.
This was dumb. You do not lock out paying customers to hold sales meeting during business hours. As a result, 20% of the Starbucks faithful headed for Dunkin’ Donuts—which offered a special 99-cent latte promotion that day—and 80% of those said they would be back there soon.
The Starbucks mass closings received vast media coverage. According to a survey by Synovate, 75% of Starbucks customers were aware of the closings, but half of those had no idea why. As a PR stunt, it was a bust.
In last Tuesday’s edition of this e-zine—which described the Blitzkrieg PR that gets 50% of Regnery Publishing’s titles on The New York Times best-seller list—I wrote:
Impress on the author to never neglect the core audience. It is tempting to try and convert the uninitiated, but the core audience is where the sales are. “It’s easy to walk away from your base,” said Marji Ross, “and not sell to them. But an author must talk to the base.”
This goes for every business, every product, every service.
Hopefully Howard Schultz will reinvent Starbucks.
Never forget the late marketing guru Dick Benson’s dictum about the dangers of straying from careful and constant attention to your core business: “Who’s looking after Momma?”