Sometimes The Business Model Is The Marketing
from the and-that's-not-a-bad-thing dept
When we talk about cool new business models, one thing we often hear from critics is the attempt to dismiss some of the more creative ideas as mere “gimmicks.” I think that severely misses the point. For new business models to work, they need to also reach fans/customers in an effective way. And, sometimes, that means that the business model is part of the marketing campaign. In fact, I’d argue that much of Kickstarter and its success stories is based (in part) on this premise. The business model and the marketing campaign bleed into each other — which is why it’s often useful to have parts of your business model be things that will get people talking about you. It’s also why we have a $100 million offer in our (soon to be relaunched!) store. While no one bought it (yet!), it was definitely the item people spoke about the most.
And, of course, none of this has to be purely digital. My friend Tom sent over this great story about Neal Gottlieb, who runs an ice cream business that has some stores and a factory — most of which involves your everyday ice cream sales. However, he’s also got some offerings for some… higher end clientele:
Q: So what’s the deal with the $3,333.33 banana split you have on the Napa store’s menu? Are you out of your mind?
A: I put it up not really as a joke, but for something fun for people to read while they’re waiting in line.
I really hate the most expensive (dot dot dot) when most of the expense is for the serving dish, like the most expensive cocktail that comes in a crystal chalice. We serve the most expensive sundae, but the food cost is one-third of the price. It’s three scoops of organic ice cream; a banana, organic of course; and is topped with three syrups made from three extremely rare dessert wines – a 1960s vintage Port, a Chateau D’Yquem and a German Trockenbeerenauslese. It also comes with a cellist who will play anything you want while you eat the sundae.
Ah, yes. Don’t forget the cellist. Though, I’d argue that if his complaint about others is the price of the serving dish, there may be a valid complaint when part of the cost is the musical accompaniment. That said, this is not the most expensive item on the menu:
Q: What other expensive ice cream packages do you offer?
A: We offer a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro with a real guide and me. Once we climb the mountain, we will chip away at the glacial ice and carry it back to camp, where we will churn as much ice cream as the customer can eat. The trip includes first-class airfare, five-star accommodations, a $10,000 donation to a nonprofit African environmental charity and a souvenir T-shirt for $60,000 for one and $85,000 for two.
So far we’ve had no takers.
However, one person has purchased our “100 pints personally delivered.” That’s when I wear a green tuxedo and deliver the ice cream anywhere in the U.S. for $3,333.33.
The full article has a bunch more details and is well worth the read, so go check it out.
Now, of course, some people will (again) say that this is merely a “gimmick.” And perhaps you can dismiss it as that. But I think it goes much deeper. It’s showing how the business model itself can be both a part of the marketing and how you connect with fans and customers. In this day and age, part of succeeding is in standing out. Doing the same thing that everyone else does won’t get you that far, so why not innovate and be creative on the business model side of things as well? I’m sure Gottlieb makes great ice cream (I’ve heard good things, though I haven’t tried it), and so our usual critics will insist that he absolutely must only focus on that and that alone. But I think most sensible people realize that you can create a great product and do a good job marketing it while also being creative with your business models. And none of those things take away from any other part.
Anyway, should anyone decide to take us up on our $100 million offer, I plan to use some of the money to go to Mount Kilimanjaro with Mr. Gottlieb.