The Marketing Lesson I Learnt From A 10-Year Old Lemonade Stand Seller

Offline and direct marketing

I will tell you a story that will help you understand the power of marketing done the right way. The thing is this, the lesson learned can be applied by both offline and online business owners all over the world. Although the story being told happened in the US, the key marketing principle being demonstrated apply to anyone involved in marketing.

It all happened in good old Portland on a beautiful hot summer day. On driving around motorists would often pass children who are trying to make some extra pocket-money selling lemonade. The problem was that most would use the same old white board duct taped to their table with the wording "Fresh Lemonade at only 50 Cents".

Many would simply pass these stands as they would have their own soft drinks. But, this particular day was different. It wasn't long before this one gentleman cruising around came to an intersection only to see a youngish girl of around 10 or 12 waving a sturdy board that had flashing neon lights around the outer edge of it. Now, this was different to the same old boring white boards that were commonly used by most kids.

That was not all. The way the ad read intrigued motorists as well. The sign she held up read "Cool Off with Lemonade Freshly Squeezed Right in Front of You." Unlike other boards, the wording was done in red. That was true advertising brilliance, and got many a motorist to pull off and stand in line for a cup of lemonade. Once you got to the table, you got service with a smile and were given the option to make your choice with the wording "Would you like your lemonade sweet or sour?"

Once you made your choice, you would have the privilege of seeing some magic unfold in front of you. The young girl would take 2 ripe lemons and lay it on her cutting board, quickly slice through it using a steak knife, and swiftly twisted 4 halves, added spoons of sugar, stir it and then drop ice cubes in it. Once she accomplished this feat, she would simply say "That will be $1.00 please"

When asked what prompted her to create the colorful sign and using the catchy headline, she commented that the previous white board did not make the desired results in getting people to stop, so she thought of using the strip of old Christmas lights back home and wrote the action she was performing anyway on a pink board instead of a white one. In addition, she managed to create some energy around her stand as passers-by were buzzing around her Lemonade Stand. The enjoyed her friendliness, and the prompt way they were being served.

What Do We Learn From This Experience?

First, this girl took it upon herself to change her marketing message and the way it was presented to attract people to her lemonade stand. Her message and the colourful way it was presented spurred people into action. You must remember that people were feeling hot and had a need to "Cool Off". This young girl provided the solution by placing the action word "Cool Off" right up front on her advertising board. Then, she personalized her advertising message by putting in the word "You" in it.

The marketing lesson that we can take away from this would be that you need to test your sales message if you find the one you have is not working. Then you would need to rend excellent customer service that is fast and efficient so they will come back for more of the same. You can bet that the motorists, who experienced this, will tell their friends to stop by at this girl's Lemonade Stand. Have you noticed what she does when her line dies down? She would grab the board and wave it around to attract attention to her stand.

True marketing genius indeed. She would make use of a headline that has a CTA (Call to action), coupled with a sales message that has an enticing benefit attached to it, "freshly squeezed right in front of you." She would have a close by asking if you would like your lemonade to be sweet or sour, and let you witness the quality of her produce by squeezing fresh lemons. The girl would end it of with a call to action by saying, "That will be $1.00 please"

Let me help you to focus every effort that you put into your business toward your customers thereby satisfying their needs by showing you how you to test your market, tweak your messages, and build a solid relationship with your customers both offline and online.


Anthony Khoury

Owner at The Small Business Doctor

Aspiring entrepreneur and marketer. Loves building start ups and small business in general. Just released a book called The Beach Bum Millionaire: How to build a Million Dollar Business The Lazy Way


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Eric Phuah

Eric Phuah, Director at Hystericalz Pty Ltd

Some good fundamental marketing tips there Anthony, thanks for sharing! Always good to see creativeness in action at such a young age as well.