Build It. They Won't Come. Plus, the Solution

Isn’t sad when you see good people make bad decisions?

I can’t stand it: Someone comes up with a good idea, and then they just murder it off.

Point in case: Back in April, a friendly couple here in town decided to start selling soft-ice on the beachfront.

By all standards, a great idea: Tropical coast, summer, tourists, soft-ice. Spells profit, doesn’t it?

Sadly, it didn’t.

When I first heard of their plans and was introduced to them, I had serious doubts.

I asked – of course – my favourite question: How are you going to sell that stuff?

The owner blinked at me. Was I stupid?

Hello, Martin? Ice cream on the beach, in summer… it’s going to sell itself. Right?

Nope, it won’t, and it didn’t.

These two people spent a small fortune getting expensive equipment into their shop.

After that they spent the summer languidly staring at the streams of people passing by.

Some sales, but not enough. Nowhere near enough.

I’m not surprised at all, because they did no marketing whatsoever.

One day I stopped by to chat and they seemed a bit down. No surprise.

So I said: “You know what would be really good?

You get a sign, like 1,5 metres tall, showing a colourful icecream cone.

That way, everyone will see that you sell soft-ice, many metres before they even get to your shopfront.

Because look, you have it more difficult than a regular icecream parlour: You don’t have the visual effect of a whole row of colourful and succulent tubs of Italian icecream.

Your product comes from a machine, which means people simply don’t recognise you as an icecream seller.

I guarantee, if you just put up a sign with a strong visual hook – a large cutout of your product image – you will get far more business.”

“Oh yeah, that’s a good idea. We’ll think about it.”

Which they maybe did, but they never put it into practice.

They did put up a sign, but it’s just a blackboard, with the words ‘soft-ice’ and ‘helado’ wirtten on it.

Which doesn’t really work, and here’s why: Parents walking by, seeing the sign, will very likely hope that their kids don’t notice – it costs money, and it’s usually a messy affair.

So you want the kids to register ‘icecream!!!’ and then start asking the parents for it.

And there’s the problem: up to a certain age (the perfect demographic for icecream sales) kids don’t read.

So the sign does them no good because it tries to sell to the parents, when it’s actually the kids who are the customer.

So these people, they built it, but nobody came. Sad but true. Kind of dumb, also.

The solution: Tell people what you do. Invite them to check you out.

Be open, transparent, instantly recognisable. Be the very definition of your product.

Build it. Invite them. THEN they’ll come.

Of course, getting that right can be tricky, but there’s help, and it’s called stellar copy.

If you’ve built it but they’re not coming to buy, get in touch and let me help. More information here:

Talk soon,


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