Small Business Ideas

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We All Scream For Sushi Ice Cream?

by Emily O'Shaughnessy

This article in yesterday’s USA TODAY about crazy ice cream flavors is a fun welcome into summer, as well as a reminder to businesses that unique, funny or clever updates to current products can be effective marketing moves.

As Bruce Horovitz points out, the ice cream shops aren’t counting on huge profits with their new pizza or sushi-flavored or other strange concoctions. Instead, they are hoping the craziness is enough to create a buzz. It gives the store something new to promote, gets people talking and — hopefully —  in the door to make other purchases.

These shops now have something new to promote on Facebook, tweet about, pin about, or communicate in whatever way the reach out to their target consumers. Another thing to make them stand out amongst competitors.

Anyone Remember the Bacon Milkshake?

I don’t think Jack-In-The-Box was counting on a huge profit when they introduced bacon flavored milkshakes on their menu back in February. Their goal was to create a buzz, get people talking and ultimately drive traffic to their restaurant. I have no idea what their numbers were, but I do know I read about those bacon shakes plenty from several different sources. They were all over the internet, so regardless of what the shake tasted like they got people talking about Jack-In-The-Box. Personally, I didn’t have the desire to try one. But I have a feeling plenty of people out there did, if only out of curiosity or to be able to say they did.

Of course, you don’t have to be an ice cream shop to use this technique. Many small businesses can create something interesting or cool to get people talking about their brand.  Could even be the same old product packaged in a fun and different way. Or maybe it’s not even a product at all. Perhaps it’s a new slant on your standard service. Or a unique window display. Or a funny contest or wacky promotion. Whatever it is, the “new” idea doesn’t have to be a smashing success. But it does need to be funny or clever or unique enough to capture people’s attention. The goal is that once they’re talking about it, they’ll decide to check it out for themselves. And of course, tell all their friends.

Once these customers get in the door there’s a good chance they will instead purchase a trusty standby (glazed) instead of, say, the broccoli-stuffed donut. But that’s ok. They came to you instead of a competitor down the street. And isn’t getting them there half the battle?

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