Jake Fichman
Jake Fichman
Government Media Advisor | CEO | American Israeli

What CEOs can learn from Starbucks

Image originally from Pexels

Many of the greatest moments of my life happened in a coffee shop. I fell in love with my wife while talking over cappuccino and coffee cake at a locally owned boutique cafe. Sitting at a quaint cafe on the side streets of busy Jerusalem, I discovered my passion for the world of digital creativity. And more often than not, on a fresh Sunday morning, I plant myself to work at a cafe nestled high up in the hills amongst the trees and sounds of nature.

Though my experiences over an Americano may have been unique, my magnetic passion for cafes is not. Even more so, my admiration for the “Starbucks Experience” is one shared by hundreds of millions across the globe. But why?

Selling more through meaningful experiences

Starbucks was founded in 1971 in the city of Seattle as a glimmer of hope in the all but glorious coffee market. The hope was to awaken a passion in the American market for the finer forms of espresso and hot drinks. However, Starbucks was not alone in the pursuit and had many worthy contenders who would not succeed to establish even a single percent of the market capture that Starbucks still owns today.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Starbucks coffee. I prefer knowing that my dollar is going to a locally owned cafe. This makes me feel good. But I must say, this nice warm feeling of supporting local doesn’t stand up to the overwhelmingly positive experience that I have each and every time I visit a Starbucks. The reason? For us originating in the world of marketing and brand expression through meaningful customer experiences, it is clearly the perfect execution of the company’s defined value proposition.

Let’s dive deeper into this.

Mission meets profit

The Starbucks mission is, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Notice that it is not, “To be the best coffee provider in the world”?

For those of you who are company CEOs, Founders, or Executives, this is where the potential of your company lives. In the why. Why does your company exist, what greater purpose does it serve, and why should customers care?

Starbucks nails it, time and time again. They don’t care if I like their coffee as much as they care that I feel nurtured and inspired. I don’t remember a single sip of the coffee I drank that late afternoon on a date with my now-wife many years ago. But I sure do remember the feeling of my soul being nurtured and the atmosphere of that boutique cafe. I can say the same about when I fell in love with brand expression via digital marketing, but I sure remember feeling inspired and uplifted.

There’s no greater method of marketing and no deeper message to convey than the heart of why your company exists. This is why I love the iconic brand statement made by the owner of Dyson, “I just think things should work properly.” He didn’t say that Dyson wants to make the world’s greatest vacuum cleaner. He wants to take away our vacuum time frustration. This is why they win.

Eliminate pain points and optimize customer experience

Starbucks executes on eliminating frustrations and optimizing experiential value. This is a perfect recipe for company managers who find themselves in a saturated market. Focus on solving the market’s pain points, while optimizing the customer experience.

Discovering how your business should approach the customer experience brings us back to the reason for Starbucks’ success. Find the reason your company exists. Not what and how it produces, but the beating heart that drives the passion for progress and innovation.

For my digital agency, we’re all about creating meaningful customer experiences through passionately helping our clients to express their global brands. This ethos drives our hiring process, client selection, and the entirety of our internal operations. What drives your company?

The consistency that Starbucks is able to provide across its 30,000 cafes is unheard of. Their unprecedented mix of regulated experience and innovation allow the company to maintain its customer base while reaching out to the future to capture new markets. The success that Starbucks has is an absolute reflection of its ability to communicate and express its reason for existing through its over 300,000 employees worldwide. Again, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

Discovering your company’s purpose for existing will lead you directly to its competitive advantage. The passion and heart that took your business from a business plan on a sheet of paper to where it is today may have been lost, or may have never been understood. Revisit this magical time in your company’s journey, and from there, rediscover why your business is worthy of my dollar.

About the Author
Jake Fichman serves as international Media Advisor to the Prime Minister's Office and is Founder and CEO of Goldfish Marketing Agency in Israel. Originally from the USA, Fichman specializes in international communications and strategic messaging.
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