I live on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where we have a substantial tourist season in the summer.

I don’t spend much time at Starbucks. I’m not a coffee drinker. The only coffee I drink is a Coffee Frappuccino. But even with the brief moments I have spent in the store this summer, I have seen multiple people purchase the North Carolina mug from the Starbucks “You Are Here” series.

The mugs depict various landmarks, cities and states. The company has released several series of these location-based coffee cups. People travel around the country and collect them to mark their stops.

Starbucks didn’t invent the concept, but it’s still genius.

This is something that small, scrappy product companies can emulate. What I mean is that if I was running community for a unique product that was big on portability and flexible use, I would find a way to encourage and reward people when they used it in different locations.

Those mugs are more than a check-in. They’re a badge of honor. You might see “gamification” there, but it’s very much tied to an experience, not just checking a box.

How you accomplish this is up to you. Is it an online “passport” where they show their stamps? Is there a physical component to it? I think that depends on your product – what it does and how much it costs. But it is very much a community thing that connects people around their shared experiences.

It drives home the point that your product is meant to be used practically anywhere – and it’s a really fun bit of community building, too.