4 Advertising Methods for Shaved Ice
How do you make sure customers stop by and see what you have to offer? Besides having a good location and an eye-catching vending setup, what else can you do? Be creative and think of unique ways to advertise cheaply. You should know your area and customers better than anyone else. The idea is that you want as many prospective customers to visit your establishment as possible. Below, I have listed proven advertising methods which you may use for your business.
Free Day We have tested some of the most popular advertising methods including radio spots, newspaper ads, and large roadside signs. However, the most effective form of advertising we ever used was an idea that we had on opening day in 1994. FREE DAY! So on opening day, every season, we placed colorful helium balloons all around our location. We placed a large roadside sign beside in front of our building that read "NOW OPEN - FREE SHAVED ICE TODAY". To kick off our business season, we gave free samples of shaved ice away on the first day. In fact, we gave away around 430, 6-ounce cups of shaved ice. There was a line of customers outside our stand all day long which help to create curiosity by the passing motorists. For around $40, the total cost of all the shaved ice given away on opening day, we launched our business and soon became the talk of the town. The weeks following our grand opening were crazy. Sales were great and customers were happy. Many of the customers that bought from us the first week were the same people that had stopped for a free cup of shaved ice on opening day. However, the majority of the customers were brand new. They were customers who were curious about the new business in town or they had learned about us from previous customers.
Coupons Coupons are an effective and economical way to advertise. We always had several hundred “Free Small” coupons printed to give away throughout the summer. You can have these coupons printed by a local print shop or you can make your own. Oftentimes we are approached to help sponsor a local charity event. Instead of donating cash we always offer the coupons instead as a much cheaper way to make a donation and also much more effective for your business. For example, every year we donated 300 coupons to the local “Relay for Life” cancer walk. Everyone who participates in the walk receives a coupon for one free small cup of shaved ice. Out of the 300 coupons given at the cancer walk, we had around 30 coupons redeemed. Most people lose the coupons but all 300 people get a coupon in their hand that has the name of the business on it. Hopefully, they remember us and stop next time they drive by our shaved ice stand. Other places to give away free coupons are local swimming pools, baseball and softball fields, schools and local businesses. We are sure schools in your area would love to give away your coupons to students that made the honor roll, principal’s list or perfect attendance. For the fastest and quickest results, be sure to place an expiration date on the coupon. This will encourage your prospective customer to visit you shaved ice business as soon as possible.
Frequency Cards Made famous by a national sub sandwich chain, frequency cards or club cards are extremely popular with customers. Kids, as well as adults, love to have their club card stamped for every cup of shaved ice they buy. The cards are usually about the size of a business card with around 10 squares on one side. The idea is - for every 10 cups of shaved ice a customer buys, they get one free. Usually, each size cup is assigned a stamp value. We had 4 cup sizes. For each small cup the customer bought, they received one stamp on their club card. For each medium, the customer received two stamps. For each large cup, the customer received three stamps and so on. Customers could redeem 10 stamps for a free small (8 ounce), 20 stamps for a free medium (12 ounces), 30 stamps for a free large (16 ounce) and 40 stamps for a free jumbo (20 ounces). Often customers would keep their club card or frequency card from year to year. If you would like to have a club or frequency program of your own, check with your local print shop or office supply store. They may be able to design a club card for your program. Usually, the cards will be the same size as a business card and cost around 10 to 15 cent each. In addition, your printer may be able to customize a rubber stamp to work with your frequency program. The upfront costs of this program may be a little expensive however we have found it to be well worth it.
Newspaper and Radio Ads Advertisements placed in newspapers and on radio stations can often be helpful, however, are usually quite expensive. We would suggest keeping this type of advertising to a minimum. You may want to use print or radio ads to announce your grand opening every summer or you may offer a coupon or two in the newspaper throughout the summer. It all depends on your area, your budget and how effective you feel the ads are working. You may get great results!