Marketing Done Right: How Starbucks Has Befriended Their Army

I have been in awe for a while over Starbucks’ ability to turn buyers into promoters, and today I received an e-mail that is a perfect example.  The e-mail was as follows:

“Hi,

As you know, Canada Post is on strike. And that means, for as long as this goes on, we won’t be able to send you postcards for your birthday drink you’ve earned.

But rest assured: we’re keeping track of all the good things we’re supposed to send your way. And once the strike is over, we’ll send you those postcards you were supposed to receive – with an extended expiration date so you can enjoy them.

Thanks for your understanding and patience. And if you have any questions, please call us at 1-800-STARBUC.

Starbucks Card Team”

Just to get this straight: I’m receiving an apology e-mail for not receiving a bonus gift due to something outside of their control.  Ahead of time.

Let me point out the awesomeness about this (as if it needs delineating):

  • Starbucks offers a free drink for card-holders’ birthdays: This makes people happy because they’re receiving something free; it also attaches a more personal feeling towards Starbucks due to receiving a ‘gift’.  There are some who would argue this increases customer loyalty because it invokes the feeling of obligation to return the favour — which, in this case, would be returning to purchase again.
  • This drink has NO size or type limitation: this makes people feel a little giddy for ‘screwing the system’ if they want to get a Venti super-expensive fancy drink….. or, simply, allows people to get the drink they normally would choose.
  • This gift can usually be used within a month (or two?) of the person’s actual birthdate: This allows people to not feel a need to use the gift card right away (avoiding any association with stress or rushing).  From the business perspective, it also allows the person more time to potentially forget about cashing in the gift.
  • They will not be cancelling (or ignoring) these usual gifts, even though an entity outside of themselves is causing their delay.  They even take it upon themselves to apologize for the delay.  They owned up to something that wasn’t even their fault, and were the better company for it.
  • This anticipated message was sent with an affirmation that the expiration date will be extended — in case anyone was worried about getting their gift in time.  This way, even these somewhat caffeine-infused worries are alleviated.

Rest assured indeed!  If Starbucks opened a bank, I would consider switching.