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.

Reader Comments

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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Aug 2012 @ 2:22am

    So its a really good thing for him Dairy Queen didn't manage to hire Chris Dodd to shill for them eh?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Beech, 2 Aug 2012 @ 2:23am


    Maybe the problem with the $100m deal is the description is vague. Would I get a full 12 techdirtless months? Or just the rest of 2012 which is mostly over already?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Beech, 2 Aug 2012 @ 2:35am

    Another problem with the $100m deal is that you haven't spent enough time researching similar options from competing entities. I doubt the "Shutdown a site based on flimsy-to-no evidence" package from DHS:ICE costs 1% of what yours does. Why would I pay you a hundred mil when I could pay a few civil servants a couple grand apiece, maybe a new car or two, and a promise of a job in a few years?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    drew (profile), 2 Aug 2012 @ 2:51am


    yeah Mike, your business model is flawed! ;)


    Yeah but then you're just playing whac-a-mole;,, (no wait, i think that's taken), etc etc. All of these would spring up over night. Mike's probably got a trip switch somewhere ready to switch things over once someone at ICE learns how to do a search and realises what we're saying about them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 2 Aug 2012 @ 3:18am

    Re: clarity

    No I think the biggest 'problem' for the *AA's type with that offer is that they don't like to actually pay directly to shut people/sites up, they much prefer to do it indirectly, that way they can claim innocence.

    3/6-strikes, ICE, DMCA takedowns through others, all these allow them to redirect most peoples' hatred to the *AA's puppets, instead of focusing on the real causes of the problems, the *AA groups themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 Aug 2012 @ 4:52am


    Oh my, I never checked if the ICE/DOJ/Etc had such offers to close them down. I mean, imagine an year without those morons? Paradise!

    I'm gonna start a Crowdtilt/kickstarter project entitled "Close the US Govt for an year". Shouldn't be too expensive. And it'll be very good for the Americans!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Tim Griffiths (profile), 2 Aug 2012 @ 4:55am


    /how I do?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    CK20XX, 2 Aug 2012 @ 5:16am

    Isn't business ultimately built around gimmicks? Innovations are merely gimmicks that people like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2012 @ 5:41am

    No, the business model is the business model, and the marketing is marketing.

    Calling one the other doesn't make it any more true. They aren't in the business of selling trips up mountains, they are in the business of selling ice cream.

    Try not to confuse yourself Mike, you are really losing it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2012 @ 7:12am


    No, the business model is the business model, and the marketing is marketing.

    Why can't it be both? If the gimmick is part of what they sell (delivery in a green tux), then it is part of their business model. If people hear about it and search out more information about the company, it is also marketing.

    Why do things need to be so black and white? Why can't it be both business model and marketing?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), 2 Aug 2012 @ 7:55am


    "Sometimes a car is red"

    No nononoooo... a car is a car, and red is red!

    How can you confuse a noun with an adjective! TROLOLOL!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2012 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re:

    It's not a specific part of the business model, it's a method to promote the business. They are not in the green tux delivery business, are they? If they never did that again, would the company suddenly fail for lack of business? Nope.

    It's not a business model, except perhaps in the generic "be wacky" concept that so many companies have followed for generations. Go back and read "Knock your socks off service" to understand how wacky has played in the past.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    DH's Love Child (profile), 2 Aug 2012 @ 9:11am


    Really.. I thought the business model was the way you made money.. if that means selling ice cream with a trip to Africa, that's a business model.

    Marketing is a means of differentiating your product. But there's nothing that say those two concepts are mutually exclusive.

    Perhaps that kind of thinking is part of why legacy businesses that don't adapt to the marketplace tend to die long, slow, painful deaths.. well, after trying to get laws passed to artificially maintain their idyllic market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    hermes, 17 Sep 2012 @ 6:01pm

    Quite true.

    Yes, I really appreciate your arguement. I agree with your point. The business model is as important as marketing. They work to improve each other in some way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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