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November 25, 2012 / glennlim thots

Business – “What are you Selling?”

Take a leaf from the pages of Starbucks‘ marketing strategy. In 1981, Howard Schultz (CEO) discovered the passionate coffee culture in Italy. He observed how customers would drink coffee for hours, socialize, study or read, and enjoy the trendy coffee house surroundings. He brought the same concept back to USA,  believing in its potential to bring Starbucks to the next level.

Hence, the birth of the “Living Room” concept – comfortable sofa seats; woody & warm interior decor; newspaper & magazine racks; friendly atmosphere that encouraged social interactions; pleasant & affable staff. All of these components strategically woven together to create the ultimate customer experience!…Starbucks wasn’t selling coffee (only), Starbucks was selling an experience!…and we bought it!

The way I see it, selling is ‘Irrational’. Because a whole lot of other factors are thrown into the mix of consumer behaviour. It’s not just their mind we have to appeal to, but their hearts, their personality, their history, family, emotional experiences, preferences etc.  Behind every customer is a human being. Thus, when it comes to selling, we have to first understand human behaviour and psyche. It is imperative that sales-people understand, and use, the psychology of marketing.

Starbucks knew this secret, and capitalized on it aggressively. Starbucks focused on creating the “Third Place” concept for everyone to go to between home and work. Creating this unique and relaxing experience has precipitated customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. We immediately think of Starbucks when we want to spend time chilling, reading a book, meeting friends, or hold business meetings…and while we’re at it, why not a cuppa as well?

So what are you selling? If you think you’re just selling a product or service, you may be dead wrong! Start by putting yourself in the shoes of potential customers. Ask yourself, how would you want to be treated when you are served? What key experiences would you cherish such that you would come back for more? Piece these clues together, create a customer-centred strategy and then start selling it back to them!



Leave a Comment
  1. bizbytes / Nov 25 2012 5:00 pm

    Great article. Sounds like a mix of marketing and blue ocean strategy, i.e. focus on the non-customer, find out why they’re not buying, then craft your business model to target and hopefully convert the non-customer.

    • glennlim thots / Nov 28 2012 12:36 am

      Thnx for your comments. I’ve heard of Blue Ocean Strategy but not familiar of its concepts? Care to share?

      • bizbytes / Nov 28 2012 8:19 am

        BOS is based on the book Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne. It is about creating a blue ocean of uncontested space by creating a new product or service that attracts all the people who were previously non-customers. You do this by eliminating or reducing aspects of your product that are less appealing or value adding to the customer and by raising or creating factors that are appealing. I wrote a short post about it if you’re interested:

      • glennlim thots / Nov 29 2012 8:59 am

        excellent! I will try to get a copy soon! thanks!


  1. Business – “What are you Selling?” | The Money Match-Maker

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