6 Marketing Tips from a Lemonade Stand

by Mac McLaurin, Co-founder, Director of Creative and Strategy, 15º

Sept 6

Over the course of the summer, my 10-year-old daughter, Sophia, occasionally sets up a lemonade stand in front of our house. She often rallies a friend (or if that fails, her brother) to work with her, usually offering them a fixed amount of her future earnings. But when it comes to the marketing of her business, i.e. product display, posters, pricing, and promotions, Sophia rules her lemonade stand with an iron fist, often declaring, “this is not a family business, this is my lemonade stand.”

While my suggestions about pricing and advertising generally fall on deaf ears, I am always pleasantly surprised by her results (often more than $30 in sales). Below are six things I’ve observed, which I think have consistently led to her success:

1. Exude confidence. Sophia is extremely confident in promoting her brand and she’s not afraid to disrupt the quite walk of passers by, “Lemonade! Lemonade! Hurry up and get your lemonade!” She’s fully believes in her product and is 100% certain that a cup of her lemonade is the best thing that anyone could wish for on a hot summer day. Her enthusiasm and devotion to her produce and brand are a magic combination.

2. Be patient. Sophia doesn’t expect quick and easy success and she conveys this to her staff. She’s not afraid of the occasional stretch of uncomfortable boredom, which may include no customers and limited bathroom breaks. She stays the course, commits to the day, and always in the end has favorable results (she’s also a bit stubborn, which I think helps).

3. Accentuate with brand-focused brand extensions. Sophia stays true to her core product and brand (homemade lemonade), but often expands her product line to include handmade bracelets, necklaces and potholders. She knows her lemonade is the main attraction — and her best seller — but once a customer is holding a cup of her fresh lemonade, they often become willing shoppers for other handmade items.

4. Make your product the hero. Sophia always keeps her ice-cold lemonade front and center in her stand. A clear plastic container, filled with lemonade, ice, and squeezed lemon rinds rises high above all else on the table. Her fresh squeezed lemonade is unmistakably the star attraction.

5. Don’t listen to your dad when it comes to pricing. Sophia intuitively knows the first rule of economics: the price is what the market is willing to pay. And while her dad has tried to suggest lower pricing or combo 2-for-1 deals, she’s consistently raised her prices based on her own experience. This summer she’s settled on $1 per cup and while she will occasionally discount other merchandise on the table, her core product, fresh squeezed lemonade always remains at the premium price. This strategy works surprisingly well.

6. Say thank you. Sophia, like most kids her age, has had this drilled into her head for years, but it’s a simple courtesy that’s often lost in today’s business environment. A thank you and a smile does more than encourage repeat business and customer referrals, it makes the whole world a better place.

Mac McLaurin is co-founder and director of creative & strategy for Fifteen Degrees, a Manhattan based advertising agency specializing in branding, drive-to-web advertising and digital marketing content.