Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Pointers to Publishing | Lessons from the lemonade stand

Published:Sunday | March 26, 2017 | 3:00 AMCorine LaFont

Sales and marketing, over the years, have become so complicated that sometimes you lose the essence of why you are selling or marketing your products and services. The joy and passion seem to have gone, and all sales and marketing has become is a transactional activity rather than the building of a relationship with your prospective customers. Since when have we been reduced to a number, a cog in the wheel, so to speak?

Recall the days of the lemonade stand when you were kids? Maybe for us in the Caribbean we didn't do lemonade, but we would remember the bag juice or snow-cone, chilli bibi, and nuts. so what can we learn from old-school approaches, and are they still relevant today?

1. We sold to everyone! It didn't matter who you were, we approached you. No discrimination, no segmented marketing, no research. Just walk up or ride up on the bike and asked if you wanted to buy.

2. House to house was the marketing approach. Yes, we connected with all and sundry. We got to know by personal interface who was in the household, thereby knowing how many more products to take next time, plus some demographics such as age and gender and after a while, it got personal

3. We didn't care who said no because we knew that they would buy the next time. We didn't take it personally as we knew we had other houses to go to and the rest of the community to conquer.

4. In the personal interface, we got to know the customers' likes and dislikes, flavours, and colours. I remember buying snow-cone, and I had a choice of flavoured syrups, or I could top it off with condensed milk.

5. For those who ran the business of a lemonade stand, sometimes the kids drank the lemonade and there went their profits. While it's not advisable to eat or drink off our profits today, it didn't matter doing that back in the day.

6. Customers were happy to support you in your small business as young children. They saw it as enterprising and knew it must be for a worthy cause. Even if the lemonade tasted sour or sweet, you didn't complain or have a system to write a review or submit a claim. After all, it was just a few cents, so what did you have to lose? You had more to gain by seeing a smile on the little ones' faces.

 

TAKE RISKS

 

7. At that age, children are not afraid to sell their products. They have no fear of walking up to speak to a stranger. On the contrary, somewhere along the continuum to adulthood, we picked up fear and now have the paralysing challenge of speaking in public and approaching someone we don't know. Though times have changed, as they say, and we have to be more cautious, plus it is seen as extortion and child labour when children are seen peddling. Nevertheless, you can relate to the point I am making here.

8. The focus wasn't on how much money you would make at your lemonade stand. You didn't have spreadsheets, a cash flow, and projections and auditing. All that complicated stuff would definitely take the wind out of your sails, and the lemonade stand probably wouldn't exist. It was all a matter of something exciting to do, and the fact that someone paid you something brought a sense of accomplishment that made you aware that it was possible, and once you were willing to work at it, you can make it or even become wealthy doing it.

9. What the child may think is your reason for buying may be very far-fetched from your goals behind supporting the cause. Sometimes we as business owners do not take the time to get to understand our customers and make assumptions, which end up being a complete 180 degrees from the truth.

10. Taking risks was exhilarating at that tender age. No care or fear in the world. "What's the worst that can happen?" we used to think. Now, most decisions are down to a science.

These things did work back then, though I am not suggesting that you no longer do research and incorporate calculated projections and such. All I am saying is, don't lose touch with why you created or were promoting your product or service in the first place. Remember that adrenaline rush you felt when you took the leap of faith.

Remember, your customers can sense when you are working hard to make the sale, and that can be a turn-off and shows desperation. I know you may have heard this before, and it may seem nonsensical to the educated and analytical mind, but just enjoy what you do. engage with others in a real way. build relationships that will create loyalty and the revenue will follow.

- Corine La Font is a speaker, online business coach, author and self publishing consultant. Check out her website at http://www.helpdeskja.com or contact her at corinelaf@gmail.com