Indoctrination. Let’s take a page from a company that I believe most people have a passing acquaintance, Starbucks. The success that Starbucks has achieved: Coming straight out of Seattle and growing to ubiquitous world domination that will most likely see its morphing into a chain of upscale sit-down Bistros that no longer serve coffee, is truly amazing.
Yet their success is based upon simple brain hacks that led to the creation of what could be termed “The Cult of Starbucks”. (And, along the way, ruined a perfectly good 25¢ cup of “Joe” – free refills, with a $2.00 cup – sans refills) This was accomplished by using a term substitution reprograming method – Tall, Grande, or Venti anyone? You ever notice how they patiently, and subtly correct anyone who ordered small, medium, or large – as if we were all children? All by design. Once you know the language you are already part of the culture. But, there is more to it than just that.
To further amplify the Starbucks strategy I have inserted below a section from another piece I wrote that delves into the subject. Several years ago I was creating this character, a disillusioned film school professor, and story over a series of blog post – chapters, if you will. What follows is an exert from one of these posts as he discusses the success of Starbucks.
“Of course all my students want to know what makes a film successful – monetarily – critically they don’t give a crap – this is the show me the money generation and they’re going to get theirs – come hell or high water. So we look at the latest box office bonanza’s to try and figure out the common thread. But they are too close to their subject to formulate any kind of rational observations beyond the technique. So I suggest to them that we pull back – re-establish our point of reference – look at the bigger picture – and that takes us to Starbucks for a mocha-frapa-latte grande.
So, after we all order our steaming hot milk foamed caffeinated beverages from – I always delight in pointing out to these vapid Terrantino’s – some of my former students now happily ensconced in the rat race of their destiny – we sit and ponder the great mystery of life – how to make a shitload of money. I ask them what they think it is that makes Starbucks the success that it has been. Brilliant marketing plan – filling an untapped market – seductive indoctrination into a cult-like situation with brain programming word sets that redefine objects with alternate language – What? Marketing major – go figure.
I tell my teaching assistant to get me one of those maple scones – I swear they’ll be the death of me – while I ask this group of excuses for sentient beings what their first memory is – the one buried deep in foundation of their misfiring synapse. I won’t bother with the myriad answers – all incorrect – it’s good to be the professor – that geyser forth from this mob of miscreants. Their first real memory is of that fleshy orb – bloated and heaving – the directions clearly marked with a dissimilar color – protruding bull’s-eye – rushing heaven-sent towards the visage – docking naturally – a perfect fit – with the oral cavity. Ah sweet nectar – life’s sustenance – this honey of the gods. And that’s what made Starbucks the success it is today. Breast-feeding. They are speechless – dumbfounded – they thinkest me offest my rocker. My teaching assistant returns with a blueberry scone – they’re out of the maple. I throw a fit – she flips me off and eats the scone.
Settle down everybody – let me explain. Look at what’s in the cup you’re holding – a little coffee and a whole lot of warm frothy milk in a perfectly designed container – the lid of which has a little hole to suck out the contents within. Now, let’s look at mother’s milk – the remnants of this mornings caffeine fix – courtesy of the blood stream – and a whole lot of warm frothy milk – courtesy of the aerobics workout mom just finished – all neatly delivered in a perfectly designed container with a little hole to suck out the contents. I tell you its genius – while we were all out searching for our inner children to give them the eviction notices they deserve – the bastards at Starbucks plotted to give aid and comfort to the enemy within by feeding us and feeding off our most base desire – to be nurtured – to suckle once again – to regain that precious innocence. And, of course, we fell for it – stupid inner child.
I wonder if Starbucks changed the color of their cup lids to a pleasing shade of brown might that boost sales. What does this have to do with money making films you ask - I haven’t got a clue - I just wanted to get some joe…
I’ll have two Vente Cappuccino’s to go, please.”
And that is a part of the Starbucks success formula – another other is, they make a darn good cup of coffee.
How do these observations translate out to your enterprise?
Easy, if you have a quality product and you can create a culture to surround it you can engage your customers in ways that make them care about the culture and the product.