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Instant coffee and the marketing of your customer program

I don’t claim to be a coffee snob by any means, however, I do like a tasty cup of quality joe. And, you don’t have to be a coffee connoisseur to know that instant coffee has probably the worst reputation of all in the coffee family – maybe just a notch above some gas station coffees but definitely far below the trendier types sold in shops with jazz music, WiFi, and those sizes that need to be translated.  

But, Starbucks one of those trendier types, has decided to boldly go where no “quality” coffee maker has gone – instant coffee. VIA Instant Brew claims to be have the “rich, flavorful coffee of Starbucks” in just an instant. Too good to be true? Maybe, but those marketers are sure doing a good job making you believe that this time instant coffee is different.

This may be a great lesson in marketing your customer program. Many times our marketing team is asked to help with rejuvenating a customer program that has gone stale, or asked to create ways to draw attention to a customer program that is going to be “re-launched” within a company.   

Let’s take a look at some elements of their campaign and how it can be applied to marketing your customer listening program.

•    The Name – Even the name itself is dripping in Starbucks’ fancy marketing – VIA. Is it foreign? Perhaps an acronym? Or, just simply a way to describe how to get from “here to there”?

Lesson Learned: Naming your program something that is memorable, clever, or unusual may be a way to make it stick in the minds of employees or customers.

•    The Message: On VIA’s website, it really tries to not mention the words “instant coffee.” They have even switched the words around to say “coffee in an instant.” Doesn’t that sound more appealing? They also are sure to leverage the fact that Starbucks coffee is high-quality and they have spent “years perfecting this process.” It really makes you believe that this is going to be the best instant coffee you have ever tasted.

Lesson Learned: How you craft your message around your customer program is very important. You should have a plan on what you want to emphasize and follow through with what you want people to take away.

•    Creative Vehicles: In VIA’s case, they have a very simple, creative video to explain why this instant coffee is different. Also, the packaging is very clever.

Lesson Learned: Think about creative ways to get your message out there. Consider the best vehicle to do this, whether it be a video, logo, microsite, or even a clever viral campaign. A little creativity can go a long way.

Brianne Drlich
Marketing Communications

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