There were a couple of entrepreneurs that had a great idea for a small business venture yet had zero money for marketing. A familiar story and a frustrating one, as the secret to getting it right in marketing is to test a product or idea and product testing and marketing research do cost money.
Humphry Slocombe is a 14-seater ice-cream parlour in San Francisco that has used social media to effectively test their very unusual flavours and become one of the leaders in his niche industry with customers queuing down the streets.
Sean Vahey, co-owner, says that: We started using Twitter just because we have zero money for any kind of promotion or advertising… We have a product that changes daily. Our customers were asking how do you keep us up to date on the different flavors, Twitter was the answer. As soon as we put a new flavour to test on Twitter, it moves – it’s an insane response.
With 100 bizarre flavours such as Secret Breakfast - bourbon ice cream with cornflakes, Prosciutto, Peanut Butter Curry & Balsamic Caramel, they very quickly had 300,000 followers –
far more than National Ice-Cream Vending Giant: Ben & Jerry’s.
Here is a selection of their Tweets:
We want to make you a star! Stop by the shop at 5pm if you would like to be on an episode of Unique Eats. Are you ready for your close up?
Strawberry Margarita Pops! Fresh strawberries, Sea Salt & Sauza Tequila combined to quiet that screaming in your head...for a little while.
Are you lonesome tonight? Elvis (the fat years) is here - Banana ice cream w/Bacon Peanut Brittle. Curl up with the pint that loves you back.
[Here's where it gets interesting: A journalist receives Humphry Slocombe's Tweet, is excited enough to pop down to the store, tries the new ice cream and then writes about it.]
Ginger Pineapple Kombucha Sorbet going fast but getting ready to spin more just for you!
Retweet Ex: Foodie Humphry Slocombe introduces kombucha sorbet, sells out in hours: http://bit.ly/a5vFpK N.B.: This link above goes to the prestigious S.F. Weekly.com. Their correspondent, Tamara Palmer, opens her article with:
"We hurried to Humphry Slocombe today as soon as we saw a tweet announcing the debut of ginger pineapple kombucha sorbet..."
Pumpkin Ale ice cream! Roasted Sugar Pie Pumpkin & toasted pumpkin seeds - just kicked the ass of all other pumpkin ales, muwahah.
Hibiscus Beet Sorbet today! Whole Hibiscus flowers and oven roasted beets just b*tch slapped all other sorbets.
White Miso Pear ice cream is back today. Roasted Anjou Pears in Organic White Mellow Miso. Domo arigato Jake.
Red Hot Banana ice cream is back today! Is that red hot banana or are just happy to see me?
Sundae rewind! Black & Tan Sundae (Harp and Guinness ice creams w/baileys fluff) and Hot Toddy Sundae, do an encore, just for you.
Twitter does not have the exposure of the social media giant, Facebook, but with a 100 million followers and free to use it is a effective Internet Tool that will turn product testing and research – a cost for business – into another source of income.
With tens of thousands of followers this small business receives instant feedback whenever it tries out a new product – and it costs nothing!