The Museum of Ice Cream is a pastel paradise — a location where you can dive into a pool of rainbow sprinkles, immerse yourself in colorful art installations, and indulge in a shop full of pints and ice-cream-themed merchandise.
At first glance, you might not think that the museum and event venues have much in common.
You would be wrong.
Madison Utendahl, Head of Content and Social at the Museum of Ice Cream, recently spoke at HubSpot’s Inbound conference in Boston about how any business can drive sales by telling stories, focusing on common interests, and creating the right content that inspires them to take action.
“You can find a connection with almost anything if you strip it back and look at the qualities of why people like something,” Utendahl said. “If you create your own rules and you think about stories … ice cream brings people together.”
It’s true. The Museum of Ice Cream team posted images and stories in their online marketing in the weeks leading up to their opening that shared the common interest of ice cream, and something amazing happened: they created a community that was eager to take action.
“We sold out without sharing an image of our experience,” Utendahl said.
How can event professionals, restaurants, venues, and hotels take advantage of the Museum of Ice Cream’s success and using marketing to drive business? Here are 3 tips:
1. Build a content bible
Utendahl suggested that businesses start with a content bible that sets your brand guidelines. Write down what each piece of content — whether it’s a blog post, email newsletter, social media image, or livestream video — should say about or do for your business.
The Museum of Ice Cream’s content bible states that every piece of their content has to follow these guidelines:
- Create the rules — post what works for your business. For the Museum of Ice Cream that means sharing content that educates and informs, has color cohesion, and empowers or shares the creative work of others.
- Inspire through imagination and creativity. The museum uses rainbow colors and symbolism to inspire, images of desirable locations to motivate customers, and aspirational content to share achievable moments.
- Uplift the community. The musem creates content that highlights what’s unique about everyone in the community, their self-expression, individuality, and accessibility.
2. Create an experience
At the Museum of Ice Cream, “we use the emotional sentiments, the connections, and the qualities of ice cream to create an experience,” said Utendahl. Events are experiences. Everyone has attended an event. Everyone has a favorite food or food obsession and opinions on decor, atmosphere, and activities. Tap into those universal truths to create experiences and appeal to prospective customers by talking about, writing about, and posting photos and videos of the emotions and details that describe what makes your venue unique. It’s also important to make sure those experiences can be captured and shared by your customers.
“You can’t build out experiences that are made to capture if you don’t think about the content that goes with it,” Utendahl said.
One of the Museum of Ice Cream’s most talked about experiences is their sprinkle pool, where guests dive, float, and pose for selfies in a swimming pool filled with plastic sprinkles. The sprinkle pool speaks to a love of ice cream, the feeling of being a kid, and the joy of play. It’s something that’s inspired endless amounts of content creation by the museum and its visitors that can be shared everywhere to spread word of mouth, including blog posts, videos, and photos.
3. Tell the stories of everyone who has a role in your business
People love talking about themselves and they love learning about other people. That’s why the Museum of Ice Cream regularly shares the stories of the members of their staff and their visitors. These stories are a huge hit and get a lot of engagement on the museum’s Instagram account.
“I believe that storytelling is the way we all connect as people,” said Utendahl.“We like to show that we are humans and we are figuring it out.”
View this post on Instagram
“Fashion & makeup are outlets where I can let my personality and individualism come to life ✨ I don’t limit myself to one set style because we are so much more than just one thing. Wearing fashion or makeup that I feel connected to gives others a glimpse into who I am as an individual… And sometimes you just know the day is going to be a grand time purely based on the amount of glitter you’ve poured onto your face that day!” 💕 @aristrawbari _ Every day members of #TEAMMOIC add fun, style and flair to their uniforms thorough personalization 🍦 We spoke with Team MOIC SF Guide @aristrawbari about what STYLE means to her and how she expresses herself through makeup and dress. Ari, we love your ability to express WHO you are through your uniform. Keep on slaying them with SPARKLES! 🎉🙌 #museumoficecream #MOICtastemakers #icecream #sanfrancisco
Telling the stories of who involved with your business helps customers and prospects get to know you as people and start to form relationships with you. They feel a connection. They can relate to your business. And that helps to establish a community around your business. In the museum’s case, their online community consistently leads to more offline sales.
Marketing drives action
Event professionals, restaurants, venues, and hotels can find success and increase sales by introducing the right mix of marketing to their business. Start with creating your content bible so you have the rules in place. Next, you can design experiences that speak to the common interests that bring you and your customers together. And then create community by highlighting the people who show who you are and what you do. Pay attention to what’s driving sales and focus on the marketing that’s working for you. In time, your marketing will become more focused and develop into a reliable source of revenue.