Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why does Starbucks have a web site?

I was recently listening to some otherwise well informed people discussing online campaigning. All three of them were more or less skeptical of the usefulness of investing in a campaign web site for much more than fundraising. I, of course, wanted to scream.

Instead of screaming, let's take a look at a business that's using the web. And hey, just for grins, let's make it a low-tech business with locations all across the nation--on almost every street corner, in fact. Let's make it Starbucks. A glance at the Starbucks home page tells us they use the web site to:

--direct people to Starbucks locations
--deeply explain nutritional and flavor info baristas may or may not know/have time to explain
--promote coffee tasting events
--recruit new Starbucks employees
--sell coffee

I'm sure you see the parallels in a campaign:

--giving directions to the campaign office and other locations
--detailing positions on issues, background information and press
--promoting campaign events
--recruiting volunteers
--gathering donations

Let's think about this for a minute... clearly Starbucks sees value in creating, maintaining, and updating a web presence--even though you can hardly swing a dead cat without hitting a Starbucks. And (perhaps most importantly), they're accountable to shareholders--if the web site didn't deliver, it would be discontinued. That's how public companies work.

When you're thinking about your web investment, think about whether you want to follow in the footsteps of successful multi-million dollar companies or in the footsteps of politicians who don't yet understand the value of the web.

--Louella Pizzuti