It doesn't matter if you have the greatest ice cream in the country, if you don't market it well, no one will know about it. To get people in the door, you need to let them know you exist and that you have what they're looking for.
Marketing can grow your business, but can also be a huge waste of money if you do it incorrectly. Below you will find advice on how to grow your ice cream shop through creative and profitable marketing strategies!
Sell experiences instead of ice cream
This may sound vague, but stay with me for a second. While yes, the success of your shop depends on having good ice cream. But often when people buy ice cream, they are actually buying the joyful experience of eating a frozen treat and having a good time with friends or family. Not too many go to an ice cream shop alone, right?
So focusing on the experience can really help you market your shop. Offer board games and card games to your customers, have a board game night even! Then families and friends will come more often to buy more ice cream, and to enjoy their time playing games with their family.
The nice thing is that this doesn't cost a lot. You just need to buy a few popular games and then spend money advertising it. Get connect four, Uno, The Great Dalmutti, Apples To Apples, Codenames, Telestrations, or other games that groups could play. Make sure they aren't too long.
Another example is doing events. If you do a special frozen dessert like rolled ice cream, you could have a time where people come in and you teach them how you make rolled ice cream! This would be great for a date or families to come to. Or you could have a taste testing competition where you make brand new flavors, and people can come in, try them, and rate them. And then the best rated one you add as a new flavor to your shop!
These are just a few ideas, get creative and think of what events you could do to sell experiences instead of just ice cream.
Use social media platforms to advertise
This one is a no brainer, but it still needs to be said. Make sure you have an Instagram and Facebook account for your shop. Then make sure to post about new flavors, special offers, or anything else that would entice people to come in.
You can also use these platforms to run ads. Facebook and Instagram have very effective ad systems that let you target exactly who you want to see your ad. So if you want to attract more families with kids, or just college students, you can do that! Just make sure your ads are high quality, interesting, and will entice people to want to come in and buy your ice cream. Try running ads for any events or special promotions.
Try giving people a $1 off if they follow you, and have QR codes inside your store to make it easy for people to scan and follow. With Google you can find a QR code generator easily that you can print out.
Do a flavor of the month
This is a great way to bring people back to your shop more often. They may not come in every week, but if you have a new flavor every month, they'll definitely come at least once a month! And the nice thing is that you can use seasonal fruits and ingredients to help keep costs down.
So for example, in June you could have a strawberry lemonade flavor, in July you could do a patriotic ice cream , in August you could do a peach cobbler flavor, and so on. This is a great way to bring people back to your shop and to try new flavor combinations.
Have a loyalty program
This is a great way to get people to come back more often. Offer a punch card where they get one free ice cream after buying ten. This is a great way to get people to come back!
You can also do other things like giving people free toppings or a free waffle cone with their loyalty card. Just get creative and think of what would entice people to come back more often.
Offer unique and interesting products
This is a great way to stand out from the competition. If you have unique flavors or toppings, people will definitely come to your shop to try it out! You can also make unique combinations like s'mores ice cream or a cotton candy flavor.
The sky's the limit here, so get creative and come up with some unique flavors that people will love!
Try doing fresh waffle cones, ice cream sandwiches with homemade cookies, or even milkshakes! Get creative and offer something that people can't find at other shops.
Give out free samples
This is a great way to get people in the door. Who doesn't love free ice cream? Just set up a little table outside your shop with some samples and spoons. This will definitely attract attention and get people in the door! This could be great especially if you are just starting out. This is most effective if you have a good amount of foot traffic outside your store.z
Partner with complimentary businesses
Is your shop near a store that sells burgers or pizza? If those other shops don't sell ice cream, then you could partner with them. Give them a coupon to hand to their customers and then could give you the same for them.
You could even do this with nearby bowling alleys, arcades, or similar places. Places where people may often go on a date or as a family activity, and then want to get ice cream afterward!
Start an email and/or SMS list
You can create these pretty easily. For email use Benchmark or MailChimp, most have a free plan too. you could have a place in your store where people can put their email, or have them text a number to join your SMS list. You could again give a discount of $1 to incentivize this.
Then whenever you have a new flavor or a marketing campaign, you can send a quick email or text message and get dozens of people coming in!
These are a few ways to advertise and grow your shop! Use and apply them to your local area to start getting more people coming in. Feel free to also join our Facebook group for ice cream shop owners if you have any questions or want more ideas.