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Newsletter #1025: The “Lessons from Ice Cream” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Think you don’t have a lot in common with an ice cream company? Maybe. But if you have tight margins, lots of competition, or a small budget, there might be more similarities than you think.

Here’s how these ice cream brands are overcoming those challenges:

1. Give them a weird experience
2. Be yourself — even if that’s “bad”
3. Put it on a stick
4. Check it out: Idioms of the World

1. Give them a weird experience

At Catbird Creamery in Maine, if you order vanilla, they’ll insist that you sample something a little more adventurous. And even if you’re going to order vanilla anyway, they want you to at least try the strawberry balsamic, tamari caramel, or green tea ginger. Catbird knows that anyone can make a good vanilla, but what makes them stand out is helping their customers see all of the other crazy stuff they can make too.

The lesson: They’re giving their customers an experience to talk about. Even if the customer doesn’t order the hot pepper flavor they just sampled, you can bet they’ll tell someone they tried it.

Learn more: Portland Press Herald

2. Be yourself — even if that’s “bad”

It may seem counterintuitive for a company to tell you their stuff isn’t good for you. But for Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, it’s what makes their stuff so good. In fact, the side of their trucks say it all: “This is the best ice cream made in Wisconsin, and it tastes so good because it has gobs of Wisconsin cream, tons of real ingredients for boat-loads of luscious flavors. That means it’s not low-fat, low-calorie, or low-anything, and that’s why everyone loves it. You want nutrition, eat carrots.”

The lesson: Hey, if they weren’t transparent with their customers, people would find out anyway — and then it would be a different story. Instead, they celebrate it.

Learn more: Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream

3. Put it on a stick

SnoBar makes alcohol infused ice cream like the Grasshopper, Brandy Alexander Chocolate Chip, and Cosmopolitan ice pops. And they’re not just alcohol flavored — there’s a full cocktail in every serving. SnoBar also shares a lot of tools on their site to help people spread the word about it with printable posters, downloadable PDFs with cocktail recipes, and cooking videos. But frozen alcohol is nothing new — SnoBar just put it on a stick, scooped it into a carton, and squeezed it into a push-up pop.

The lesson: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make something remarkable. Just make it different enough for people to talk about, then give them a bunch of ways to talk about it.

Learn more: Snobar

4. Check it out: Idioms of the World

Do you know why it’s great “to have a wide face” in Japan, or why it’s rude “to give someone pumpkins” in Spain? This post about cultural idioms around the world will help you figure it out. Into the mouth of the wolf!

Check it out: Idioms of the World

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  1. Aurelie Chazal February 24, 2015 at 4:25 am #

    “You want nutrition, eat carrots.”
    That’s brilliant because they are still targeting a pretty big niche of people who don’t think ice cream should be low fat. By using a negative, they’re actually making a positive statement appealing to people looking to eat real ingredients and have a guilty pleasure.

    Great article, full of really valuable lessons for any industry.

  2. Explee - Animated video March 5, 2015 at 5:53 am #

    I agree with both you and Aurelie on this point, as when we buy an ice-cream —or any other “unhealthy treats”—, all we want is to take pleasure and enjoy 100% of each single bite.

    By encouraging people to listen to their envy, they just give more credit to their purchase and discredit all the others reason not to buy it.

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