The other day my daughter, Sophia, announced that she wanted to set up a lemonade stand. Seeing as how I didn’t really want to spend the better part of my weekend selling lemonade, I tried to talk her out of it by showing her how much she’d need to spend to buy the lemonade mix, get the cups, that sort of thing. Regardless of my best efforts, there was no changing her mind. She wanted to go into business and there wasn’t anything I was going to do to stop her.
So as I succumbed to my role as venture capitalist in her first business startup, I decided that at the very least, this would be a great chance to teach my daughter about counting money, basic business principals, that sort of thing. We sat down with a pad of paper and started writing the business plan.
It didn’t take long before Sophia, becoming completely exasperated with my efforts to teach her about price structure and ROI, looked up at me and said, “But Daddy, I just want to give it away. Our neighbors are so nice, I just want to give them the lemonade.”
Wow! What do you say to that? She hit me with a complete game changer that I didn’t expect. Suddenly, the lemonade stand had taken on an entirely different meaning.
So we put away the business plan, she drew up a sign and my wife helped her mix a pitcher of lemonade. Just as we were about to open for business, Sophia came in from the back porch with a sprig of mint she had cut from a pot.
“Can we put mint in the lemonade,” she asked. “I want to make it extra special.”
And with that, on a Sunday afternoon in a quiet neighborhood, Sophia was open for business.
Within a few minutes, one of our neighbors who heard about the project came over with 50 cents to buy a glass of lemonade. Twice the price my daughter was originally planning to charge.
“But it’s free,” Sophia told her.
“That’s O.K. I want to pay you for the lemonade,” she replied.
Not knowing what to do with the money, Sophia put it in a cup and set the cup on the table (where everyone could see it).
Before long, more neighbors came by, each one giving her at least 50 cents. When a car would pass, she would jump up and down and scream, “Free lemonade,” hoping they would stop. For the most part they didn’t. However, at one point, one did and the driver handed her three dollars for his glass of lemonade – 1,100 percent more then if she’d gone with her father’s suggestion of 25 cents per cup.
By the end of the day, Sophia had made a whopping eight dollars at her “free” lemonade stand.
When it was all said and done, I realized that although my original business lessons didn’t stick with my daughter, I learned a lot about marketing.
Here are 10 things I learned from Sophia’s lemonade stand that you can use to market your business:
1) Give people something for free and they will feel obligated to return the favor
When you help someone, it creates a natural desire to return the favor. Offer a white paper providing a solution to an industry problem, share your knowledge or expertise in a free presentation or webinar, provide helpful tips on your blog, participate in forums offering helpful advice or share ideas on Twitter. In doing so, you’ll not only build trust but establish yourself as the expert and develop relationships with potential clients.
When the free content is really good, people will be more willing to pay for the best stuff.
2) Give potential customers a taste of your offerings
Offer a sample or demonstration of your product or services. Provide trials which provide a hint of the full potential of your offering. Just be sure to make it good. When users are excited about the base product, they are much more likely to upgrade.
3) Make it “Extra Special”
Don’t just offer lemonade. Put in that extra sprig of mint. Make everything you do “extra special” and clients will take notice. Not only will they come back for more, they’ll tell their friends.
4) Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Your “Neighbors” (Network!)
One of the first things my daughter did when she opened her stand was run next door and tell the neighbor. After getting his lemonade, he called two other neighbors to tell them about the lemonade stand – both of whom came right over with “donations.”
Don’t be afraid to tell friends, colleagues and social media connections about your services. You never know, they may talk to your next big client later that day.
5) Do What You Need to Do to Be Seen
It wasn’t enough to just put up a sign. My daughter’s advertising consisted of jumping up and down screaming “free lemonade” at passing cars. While it might seem extreme, it worked. How are you “screaming” about your business?
6) Show Genuine Enthusiasm, Passion and Confidence
Sophia maintained an unbridled enthusiasm throughout her project and it showed. She was excited about her lemon aid stand and it affected the way she did business. Most important, her passion was genuine.
People feed off passion. Passion builds confidence and people want to partake in the experience. If you are passionate in what you do, your passion will shine through. You go from being a sales person to a someone who wants to share their passion with others.
7) Be Persistent
Even though most of the cars passed by, my daughter didn’t give up. Finally, after many failed attempts, one of them did stop—doubling her income for the day.
8) Build Anticipation
My daughter’s first customer knew about her project in advance and was there as soon as she opened for business. Don’t just launch your new product or venture, let people know it’s coming. Drop hints, give them a tease, make them look forward to the big day.
9) Find Good Partners
My daughter’s little brother kept drinking the lemonade – not the best partner. However, her friend from down the street was out there with her jumping up and down screaming doubling her advertising efforts.
10) Advertise Your Popularity
Once my daughter’s cup started filling with coins, people were more likely to “donate.” Don’t be afraid to advertise your popularity. Include testimonials in your ad materials Place download counters, comment counts and subscriber numbers in prominent places on your web page. Just make sure the stats are high enough to warrant a little bragging.
This article first appeared on Webdesigner Depot. It has been modified slightly from it’s original publication. Sophia is a few year’s older now but she still keeps that same sense of adventure and enthusiasm wherever she goes. And yes, she’s still teaching her father…every day.