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

The Starbucks Mistake: The ignored web addressIs 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. 

Create the right insentives and you will not loseHowever, 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.

Given 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.

Realtors 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!

Related Must Reads:
Your Blog Is Bait - How To Use Blogging To Generate Leads
3 Soft Barriers - How To Generate Leads Through Blogging
Understanding Your Audience

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Eureka! Could this be the key to keeping people on my website as well? It just might be.

Good call, you charming, juicy little red creature. I think I'll go eat a salad!

My tomato addiction just caused a slap to the forehead moment. Duh... why didn't I think of that?!?!

Starbucks does have a customer club that I joined through their website. They email me about local promotions and give me free coffee every now and then. Maybe the link is gone now...

But your points about Realtors and our sites are spot on.

If they have such a great tool to push the hook in a little deeper on us java addicts then why the heck aren't they driving it down our throats with their over priced fare? That's the mistake...

Give a way the handle,
sell the razors.

Since the world knows that Starbucks goes with coffee - why not modify their big green logo (on the cups and on the stores) and replace "coffee" with ".com"?

Awesome content! I'm about to order materials for a symposium and will happily steel some of these ideas for that. Well, better make that creatively borrow!

Great ideas. I have been promoting my website in all of my open house, print, and mail advertising, even teaming with a new neighborhood cafe for a coupon offer. ie: visit for a discount on your meal at the great new restaraunt you've been meaning to check out. Good advertising for the partner firm, extra traffic for you.

First, I am not a Realtor. I only assist my wife who is in Real Estate with administration and such. My background is over 14 years of retail management.

Second, I love your blog and insights.

Third, the one thing I continue to see being missed in this industry regarding the role of the internet is the comparisons. Not just by industry professionals, but consumers as well. It is actually understandable, because we went throught the same thing about 15 years ago. Remember? "Brick-and-mortar stores will go away. Internet shopping will take over." and other headlines all over. And . . . we never went away. In fact, we grew. Why? Well, here's how things actually transpired. We all jumped on board and quickly developed websites that would serve as order-taking machines. We actually found ourselves scratching our heads wondering why the weren't generating orders as we thought. Fortunately, we learned something very quickly about consumer behavior via the internet . . . customers were now able to have choice, and that is all they wanted. They were actually educating themselves and making the choice whether to visit, purchase, or . . . not. We found something else out more recently that is directly in-line with what you are discussing here . . . "email capture" is very important. Did you know that consumers are more likely to make a purchase at a store that they receive a full-color email ad than from any other media source? The email address has become as (or more) important than the phone number.

Now, what does all this have to do with this blog? Websites serve purposes to every industry and in different ways. Starbucks? It's a nice thing to have a website, but not very necessary. If I told you the total volume sales of just espresso in one location per year . . . you may have a coronary. So I won't do that. What Starbucks did was create a solid brand and did that by branding themselves to a common product not even unique to them. People don't "go get a cup of coffee", they "go get a Starbucks". Listen to them. You'll hear them on the loud cellphone conversations they have. Starbucks became a part of the culture. Starbucks is truly a lesson in branding, but not really for this topic.

What I am seeing now in this industry is websites being built with the focus of being lead-generating machines only, and that is a function . . . just not the only function. Consumers want quality and substance which you touched on. They want service that is of value. Did you know that most internet users make a decision to remain on a website within the first 30 seconds? And if they don't like what they see . . . they don't come back. What's on your homepage? I would say car company websites are actually more in line with this industry than anything for web design that provides full-service functionality and lead-generation in my opinion. But most of all they also provide support before, during, and after the transaction. They are designed from the perspective of you walking into the dealership and receiving service. Yours should be the same way.

The role of the internet in this industry actually will shine through with the FSBO websites. Here's why I say that. Some consumers (and wacky press) are trying to say that Realtors are unnecessary. You can just do it on your own. They are doing it on the internet and so can you. What they are not saying is that advertising a property for sale is only one step. They never talk about the next steps . . . negotiation, contracts, yada yada yada. They would like everyone to believe that Real Estate can be bought and sold just like any other trinket on ebay. Or that the transaction can be pieced together like planning a vacation on expedia. Not true. I know that, and you know that. But what the consumer is truly saying in turning to these avenues is show me the value for the commission you are charging. Not just your title, show me what you are worth. For example, if you are going to receive $12,000 of my equity in commissions why would you take dark and crooked photos and then post them for advertising my house? I see that all the time and it kind urks me. Here's the best . . . I never heard from the person again after I listed with them. If not only calling or sending an email, does you customer have the option to access transaction records through your site or traffic to their listing? Those are things that bring substance and value. Commit commit commit to what you will do and . . . then do it. And if you advertise it . . . you better do it. And if you blog it . . . make it have substance.

This industry like any other is built upon value to the customer, and whether you provide that or not always shines through eventually. The one question I would like to ask (and my apologies for my ramblings) is who do you think it is more important for to have the better website . . . the agent or the broker?

I'm so glad you linked to this post. A lightbulb just went off in my head...out of the darkness of a lonly blog I plan to come!

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Thank you and I thank Brad for his detailed comparisom to retail. It does open the eyes, thanx.

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