The basics of marketing can be traced back to lessons you learned as a child. And something almost all children in North America can relate to is the concept of a lemonade stand and all the work that goes into it, from preparing the lemonade all the way up to selling it.
But if you want to make money selling juice to your neighbors, there’s a lot more to it than simply slapping up a stand made out of some scrap wood and painting a quick sign. The basics of marketing apply no matter how far back into your childhood you go.
Once upon a time there was a quiet little town with middle-class families whose parents all worked very hard to provide a life of plenty for their children. One month at school, the teachers organized a fundraiser project to raise money for the kids to go on a special trip to Washington DC to visit the capital of the country.
To raise the money for the trip, the teachers suggested that the children rely upon a tried and true marketing technique handed down over generations: a lemonade stand.
In one of the residential neighborhoods there lived two families whose children went to the same school and were in the same class. Little Johnny lived on the end of the cul-de-sac on Treetop Avenue, while Little Suzy live in the first house on the right on the corner of Mountain Boulevard.
Little Johnny’s father was a carpenter, so the first thing he did when he got home from school was go straight to his father and ask him for help. His dad was busy, but his son needed help, so he made time. They spent the next few days building the perfect lemonade stand, made out of cedar wood with the letters and pricing etched into the boards and then scorched for effect.
Saturday rolled around and it was time for Little Johnny to go out there and make money with his lemonade stand. The only problem was that he hadn’t told anyone that he was going to be selling lemonade on Saturday and Sunday. The only people who even knew that he had anything to sell were the neighbors on either side of their house, who had happened to be watching him and his dad put together the stand over the past days.
Meanwhile, around the corner, Little Suzy was killing it with sales. While Johnny only sold 5 cups of lemonade all day Saturday, Suzy sold over 300 cups of the same time. Yet her lemonade stand was far inferior in terms of looks; she had made it out of cardboard and some scrap wood found in a dumpster at a construction site, and had painted the signs herself with a little guidance from her mother.
What happened? Why did Little Suzy sell 300 cups of lemonade when Little Johnny only sold five in the same amount of time, especially considering that Little Johnny’s lemonade stand was far superior in terms of looks and craftsmanship?
It all comes down to marketing. While Johnny had spent several days preparing the perfect platform from which to sell his lemonade, Suzy only spent a single day building her lemonade stand. The majority of her time was spent marketing.
First, she had her mom help her design flyers, which she then printed up and handed out to all of her teachers at school, asking them in turn to hand copies out to all of the students in their classes. She also had her mother and father take copies of the flyers to their work, where they then handed them out to their coworkers.
She also took flyers to church, her Girl Scout meeting, to the grocery store and pinned them on the bulletin board, and she also stapled them up to light posts around her neighbourhood. On top of that, she went door to door throughout the entire subdivision, handing out flyers to anyone who answered the door, and leaving them inside mailboxes when they didn’t.
She also had her mother help her design a Photoshop version, which she then sent out via email to all of the friends and family members that she knew of, and had her parents do the same. She also leveraged Facebook and other social media platforms to send the message out to her friends, and asked them to send it along to their friends.
While Johnny spent the bulk of his time trying to create the perfect lemonade stand, Suzy was out there doing what every smart business person does: network. She went back to the basics and utilized marketing 101: it’s not so much your product as who you know.
Now there is something to be said for the fact that a perfectly polished product can potentially sell well, but the problem is that if you don’t market it, if you don’t have a content marketing strategy in place, if you don’t go out there and rub shoulders and network with people and ask them to come purchase, you will never make any sales.
If you have a travel blog and you are writing stories and sharing photos, that’s a great first step. But unfortunately that is all it is; a baby step. The very first of what needs to be many in order to complete the journey. Hiking up the mountain doesn’t happen until you’ve actually walked 1,000 steps.
Content is not king. Content marketing is king. And emperor. And dictator. A “good-enough” platform is all you need to have in order to sell a product. It is far more important to network and market than it is to polish and hone until perfection. There is no doubt that planning is key, and preparation is vital, but at some point you have to get out there and actually do the legwork and stop worrying about whether or not your lemonade stand looks good enough.
Don’t be little Johnny. Be Suzy. Suzy kicks ass.
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Featured Image Used Courtesy of a Creative Commons License: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nojuanshome/14876289922. No changes were made other than adding text overlay.