Monday, February 21, 2011

This 9 year old is Smarter than your Marketing VP

A few days ago, I found this story from my email archives.

Chuck Mckay wrote it in the summer of 2008.

See if you agree:

Basics of Retail Marketing from a Nine-Year-Old

Nine-year-old Lindsey, who's visiting her grandmother and me, obviously has the entrepreneurial gene.

She decided on Wednesday to open the classic American neighborhood business, the lemonade stand. I suspect there are a few retail marketing lessons every business person could take from her example.


Have you ever met a nine-year-old who didn't believe anything was possible? When told “that won't work,” her response is automatically, “well, what if we did this?

I'm not recommending that anyone take on the Don Quixote role, but there's something to be said for enthusiasm and attitude.


Although the ambient temperature hovered in the mid-90s, Lindsey chose to park her table in the direct sunshine next to the street, rather in the shaded (and much harder to see) front porch.

People must know you exist if they are to buy from you. If they can't see you, you're too easily ignored.


Her question wasn't “How much can I charge to make maximum profit,” but rather “how little can I charge so that everyone will want to buy?” She settled on twenty-five cents per eight ounce cup.


Lindsey posted signs a block in every direction. She also was quite vocal. Not a pedestrian nor the driver of any automobile on Collis Avenue missed the message that she had “ice cold lemonade for sale.”


As each customer finished a cup of lemonade, Lindsey first confirmed that they were satisfied. “It was good, wasn't it?” When her customer affirmed that it was, indeed, good, she pointed out that a single eight ounce cup probably hadn't completely quenched the customer's thirst. She poured another and held it out to each customer.

Most bought a second cup.

Location, Reprised

Discovering that a crowd had gathered half a block away at a yard sale, Lindsey re-located her table to the yard sale, and offered cups of her lemonade to the hostess, and to the yard sale customers as well.

Summary: paying attention to retail marketing basics is always worthwhile. In a single afternoon, Lindsey grossed thirty-three dollars. And at twenty-five cents each, creating that many customers from scratch seems to me to be a rather impressive success.


Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who helps customers discover you, and choose your business. Questions about basics of retail marketing may be directed to

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