Marketing Lessons from the Lemonade Stand

Saturday morning in Chandler, Arizona wasn’t cool. What you’re about to read really is. These lessons from the lemonade stand provide a refreshing example of the power of marketing.

In Arizona, garage sales are a sub-culture, a segment of society, and a way of life. Let’s just say these events are “interesting.” We’ll say the same for some of the people who participate regularly in this home retail activity.

Most Arizona garage sales happen early on Saturday mornings. The hosts have to get up and their stuff out on display usually before the sun comes up. People are early risers in the Valley of the Sun to beat the heat. Furthermore, shoppers are early risers and early hunters. They’re hoping to secure the best deals before someone else does.

My neighbors directly across the street are moving out of state. My son and I will miss them. They were having a garage sale. We offered to help.

The 4 kids involved set up a lemonade stand as well. A cup of their lemonade cost 50 cents. My son and the oldest girl were passionate about marketing and selling their product. They wanted to go knocking on doors to tell people about it. We had them stay in place for the garage sale shoppers.

When a car or truck pulled up, the kids pounced. They rushed over and were waiting at the door before people could get out of their vehicle. They made their adorable pitch. People were politely saying “no thank you” or “maybe later.” It seemed you couldn’t even sell lemonade in the Arizona heat. Hmmm…

I observed the process closely. I wanted the kids to be successful and feel good about themselves. I watched. I listened. I waited. When the time was right based on the kid’s frustration rising with the temperature, I quickly but quietly slipped on my marketing consultant hat. I asked the kids if they wanted to sell more lemonade. They did. I asked if I could help. They said “yes.”

I suggested to the kids they change their marketing tactics. I pointed out that it felt unusually hot outside for early in the morning. It was uncomfortable. It was not a dry heat. All of us were sweating through our shirts. Our faces were sweaty. This doesn’t happen in Arizona’s well-known “dry heat.” The kids agreed.

Here was my marketing advice:

1. Wait. People are coming to shop at the garage sale. They are not coming for lemonade. Give them a chance to get what they want, then approach them with something else they might want.

2. Wait. When people arrive at the garage sale, they are hopping out of an air-conditioned vehicle. Let them bake in the heat for a couple minutes and they will be more inclined to want and buy your lemonade. The heat will help do your marketing and sales for you.

3. Soften your sell. The kids were using a direct pitch, “Would you like to buy a cup of lemonade for 50 cents?” I had them say, “Excuse me. I know it’s really hot outside. Could I interest you in a cup of ice cold lemonade?”

4. Give people choices. I dashed over to our house and whipped up pitchers of pink lemonade. Now people could choose regular or pink.

What were the results?

Ka- Ching! Ka – Ching!

The kids were thrilled. Their sales conversion rates skyrocked. They needed multiple cups to hold their cash. The cash cups needed to be emptied multiple times. More lemonade needed to be made. More ice was needed. People went from tolerating the lemonade experience to actually enjoying it. They even seemed to enjoy the lemonade more. People were complimentary of the kids and how good the lemonade tasted. They were appreciative. Some were even giving tips to the kids on top of paying full price.

The marketing lessons from the lemonade stand for you may be:

– Be open to change. – Hard work doesn’t always pay off like smart work.

– You don’t need to change what you sell. You may need to change HOW you sell it.

– Know what your customers want. Give them what they want.

– Give your customers choices whenever possible.

– Be willing to give away the lemonade you’re selling for free if your inner voice tells you to do so.

– Sometimes you get so caught up on the inside of what you do, the most valuable marketing consulting for you can come from someone on the outside.

The saying goes, “When God gives you lemons, make lemonade.” How you make your lemonade matters. How you do your marketing can also make a world of difference in how strong your sales will be.

By Thomas Baldrick     Google +