starbucks

Extreme Brand Advocate Story: "Starbucks Melody" Goes La La for Lattes #Energize

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book, “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Loyal Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines,” by Rob Fuggetta, Founder & CEO, Zuberance. Melody Overton of Seattle is such a passionate Starbucks Advocate that her moniker is “Starbucks Melody.”

“I’ve been called Starbucks Melody even when I’m in the courtroom,” laughs Overton, an attorney who works in downtown Seattle, not far from where Starbucks was founded at Pike Place Market in March 1971.

Starbucks has more than 24 million fans on Facebook and 1.6 million Twitter followers, as of August 2011. But it’s hard to imagine any Starbucks customer more knowledgeable or passionate about Starbucks than Starbucks Melody.

Overton probably knows more about Starbucks than most Starbucks employees including their baristas (not unusual for Advocates of Starbucks and other brands.) When Overton talks about Starbucks, you can hear the excitement in her voice, like she’s had a few too many lattes.

Overton is the author of a popular blog all about Starbucks entitled “StarbucksMelody.com.” She also tweets about Starbucks (@SbuxMel), where she has about 4,000 followers. Overton is not a Starbucks employee or paid consultant. “I’m not on Starbucks’ payroll. They’ve never even given me a gift card,” she points out. Instead, like millions of other Advocates of other brands, Overton recommends Starbucks because she wants to share her authentic enthusiasm for Starbucks with others.

A Passion for Coffee

“I have a passion for coffee,” says Overton, who visits her local Starbucks “ritualistically twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.” Her favorite Starbucks coffees are the reserve blends prepared in Starbucks Clover® brewing system, found in some Starbucks stores. On those rare warm summer afternoons in Seattle – for Seattle, that means anything over 70 degrees – Overton likes drinking Starbucks iced passion tea or iced green tea.

“I like the way it (coffee) really has the ability to bring people together,” writes Overton in her blog. “I like the conversations around it. I like being able to have a common ground to connect with people about. Most of all, I fall in love with those moments when you can see some deep joy in a person’s eyes over discovering a new coffee, learning about coffee, or just hanging around the coffee – even if not drinking it.”

Her favorite Starbucks store? “Oooh, that’s a tough question. But like I’ve said on my blog, very high up there would be the store at First & Pike in Seattle, at the entrance to the Pike Place Market. It has beautiful design. The customer service is good. And it was the first Starbucks store to get two Clovers,” Overton says.

Melody Gets “Totally Sucked In”

Overton’s love affair with Starbucks began when she moved to Seattle in 1989 from nearby Tacoma, Washington, where she was in the air force. Overton’s attraction to Starbucks was as strong as Starbuck’s Italian roast.

Overton’s passion for Starbucks kicked into high gear in 2008, when Howard Shultz came out of retirement to the revive the faltering company, which he said had lost some of its “romance” and “soul” as it became a global behemoth. In a highly unusual move, Starbucks actually closed down all of its stores on February 26, 2008 for one evening to train its baristas.

“2008 just rattled me. What an insane year that was for me, as a Starbucks lover. I said to myself: ‘Wow, this is really cool.’ I just got totally sucked in. I became so excited about Starbucks,” says Overton. She was particularly impressed by the launch in April 2008 of MyStarbucksidea.com, Starbucks’s first online community. “I loved it! I felt like I really had a voice; that I could connect with Starbucks and with other people like me and make a difference,” she says.

Melody’s Most Memorable Starbucks Moment

Overton’s most memorable Starbucks moment occurred three years later in January 2011, when she attended the official unveiling of Starbucks’s updated logo. “That was amazing,” says Overton, one of only three consumers Starbucks invited to the event, held at the company’s headquarters in Seattle. “Oh my God, I even got my picture taken with (Starbucks CEO) Howard Shultz. When I walked out of there I was on cloud nine. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven,” she gushes.

Rampant Starbucks Advocacy

Overton continues advocating Starbucks today to readers of her blog, Twitter followers, family, friends, colleagues, and just about anyone who’ll listen. “I’ve been known to randomly bring up Starbucks in all sorts of places, even when I’m sitting in a hair salon,” laughs Overton.

“The hardest people to sell Starbucks to aren’t in Seattle,” says Overton. “People here are hugely over-caffeinated,” she states. “My biggest accomplishment was when I got my sister-in-law, who lives in southern California, to drink a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte,” says Overton.

Exactly how many people has Overton converted to the Starbucks religion as a result of her rampant advocacy? “Hmmm, I’m not sure. It’s probably in the hundreds, or more.”

“I’ll have to ponder that over a French press,” she chuckles.

Read more: “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Loyal Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines”

Read more: Extreme Brand Advocate Stories

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance

Loyal Customers, Brand Advocates, What’s the difference?

As I have talked about the characteristics of Brand Advocates over the past few months I typically use one of my favorite subjects, “Coffee Shops,” to explain the difference between Loyal Customers and Brand Advocates. So grab a cup and here we go… I know I’m not alone, but about 3pm in the afternoon, my craving for that coffee beverage really starts to kick in. Much to my checking account’s dismay, I have become a Starbucks customer almost once a day. My daily routine is largely driven by the fact that my favorite coffee shop is 15 miles down the road and Starbucks is a one-minute walk away.

Do I recommend Starbucks to friends? Not really, but I’m a fairly loyal customer of Starbucks.

But if a friend or co-worker asked me to recommend a coffee shop I would recommend Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View, CA. I have sent more people to Red Rock than I can count. The “Silicon Valley” vibe, locally owned spirit, carefully handcrafted beverages complete with foam art, and coffee making expertise are a beautiful blend. I’m a Red Rock Advocate and a highly valuable customer for their business.

So let me get back to Starbucks to fully illustrate the difference between Loyal Customers and Advocates. The info graphic below shows how 1 in 5 Loyal Customers are Detractors.

This statistic describes my Coffee world well. Even though I spend a lot of money at Starbucks, I’m primarily a Detractor in that the main reason I go there is out of utility and lack of other inspired options.

But something happened over Christmas that actually moved me up the scale towards being a Starbucks Advocate. One of the baristas gave me a hand-signed Holiday card with a gift card inside. I assumed the idea was thought up by someone in the marketing department but I really didn’t care. It was a thoughtful and personal gesture that made a positive impact on my perception of Starbucks or at the very least the Starbucks location to which I go every day.

So what suggestions can Brands take away from my Coffee experience?

  • Don't make too many assumptions about loyal customer’s loyalty or Advocacy. It is quite possible that “loyalty” may simply be from a lack of better choices.
  • Consistently ask your customers how you (the brand) are doing with them. Our recommendation is to ask the Ultimate Question: “How likely are you to recommend our brand or products to your friends?”
  • Continually strive to make customer experiences more human and personal. For example, Denihan’s Affinia hotels give their customers a choice of 6 different types of pillows and allows guest to bring their pets. These great experiences are the corner stones of Advocacy.
  • Don't confuse Loyal Customers with Brand Advocates. Instead, think about these 2 groups as distinct segments.
  • If you have yet to systematically identify your Advocates, your Loyal Customers are are a great place to start because they have the most experience with your brand. There are surely customers in this segment that are recommending your products to their friends, or would do so if you just made it easy for them.