For your ice cream business to succeed, you need to market and advertise it well. After all, the more people who know about your ice cream, the more customers you’ll have. An obvious way to advertise is to put a sign outside your store. But you should also take into consideration whether the location of your ice cream shop is in a high traffic area where a great number of people are likely to stop to buy your tasty treats.
You can promote your ice scream store in numerous ways. Since people love deals, you might consider printing and distributing coupons with offers such as “Buy One, Get One Free” or “$1 off your next purchase over $5.” You can still make money off these offers if you upsell your other products when the customers come into your store. In addition, you might offer your customers a punch card that will allow them a free cone after, say, five visits. Consider holding special events at your store such as birthday parties or holiday promotions like meet Santa or the Easter Bunny. Hold After School specials for kids or even Happy Hour ice cream time on your slow days. Come up with unique products like special ice cream shapes made from cookie cutters, or think of a gimmick such as Baskin Robbin’s 31 flavors (without copying directly) to help to create buzz about your shop. Work in conjunction with the school district to offer a free cone as a reward to students who have perfect attendance or make the A-B honor roll.
Online Marketing, PR and Cross-Promotion
If you think you don’t really need a website to promote your ice cream store, think again. Whether you live in a small town or large city, consumers often search the Internet to find out information. So if someone heard about your shop and wanted to know more about its location, hours and phone number, one of the first places she will look will be online. Also think about using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to keep people updated about what is happening at your store and attract "followers." Run special deals on your website with coupons that people can print out and bring in to redeem. Along with your online efforts, make sure you are doing local public relations. Send press releases to the appropriate media outlets (local newspapers, radio and TV) about any special upcoming events at your store. Yet another great marketing tactic is cross-promotion. Find other noncompeting businesses such as a bookstore or sporting goods store and offer to let them put fliers in your store in exchange for you putting fliers in theirs. Become a sponsor for a local youth sports team or participate in church or school fundraisers.
Ice Cream On the Move
Rather than always having people come to your store to buy ice cream, consider taking your ice cream to the people. Buy an ice cream cart or truck and frequent places people might buy ice cream. For example, set up your cart downtown for the lunch rush or even at local playgrounds. Consider being a vendor for local sporting events like kids' football, soccer or baseball leagues. Even events like theater productions might want to offer ice cream to their patrons as a snack at intermission. It also might be possible to meet with local restaurant owners to see if they would like you to supply them with ice cream as a dessert option for their customers. In addition, whenever local schools or churches are having carnivals or other special events, you might be able to convince them to let you supply ice cream as a snack option.
Melanie White is a freelance writer and educator with over 15 years experience writing such diverse projects as corporate videos, marketing materials, magazine/newspaper articles, play and sitcom scripts, jokes, and monologues. White has a BA in English and a specialization in Creative Writing from Southern Methodist University.