Winning the Lemonade Wars with 3 little words

One blazingly hot summer day, I learned a big lesson.

My two sons decided to do a lemonade stand. But instead of setting up the usual table on the sidewalk, they made a game of it.

Both kids set out with the same red plastic cups, they stayed in the neighborhood, and (this is the key part) they sold exactly the same product: classic lemonade.

The goal was simple: Compete to see who could earn more… selling the exact same quantity and quality of lemonade.

I set the timer for 20 minutes. My mini marketers ran out the door, eager to start selling. One turned left, the other turned right.

The results of this little story gave me a big surprise, and an even bigger marketing lesson.

My younger son provided personal service: he went door to door and asked the following question:

“Would you like a glass of lemonade?”

The result: He sold 4 cups of lemonade for about 25 cents each.

My older son had a very different strategy. He set up at the corner of a busy playground and as people passed he asked…

“Are you thirsty?”

Quinton didn’t go where people were CLOSE; he went where they were THIRSTY– and had them tell him so. As a result, Quinton sold his lemonade for $5 per cup (versus 25 cents a cup).

By choosing the right question, he not only got people to tell him they needed a glass of lemonade, he got people to realize themselves that they needed it.

His results? After 20 minutes, when he walked in the front door, he handed me forty bucks and change.

On this humid, 98 degree day, Q saw that thirsty visitors would have an urgent need to buy his lemonade. He sold the same lemonade. But by asking a single tactical question, he was able to charge 1,900% more.

What question could instantly rally your audience? What could you ask your customers to understand precisely what they need from you?

This isn’t just a story about lemonade. It’s about the questions you’ll ask in your next campaign, your next presentation, your next product launch.

You don’t need the biggest budget, or fanciest product, if you understand your customer’s needs. Even if your product isn’t noteworthy or original.

When you ask the right question, you can make your lemonade (or any product) more fascinating.

Here’s to winning this year’s Lemonade Wars!

How has asking the right question improved your results?  Tell us in the comments!


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About the author

Sally Hogshead

Sally skyrocketed to the top of the advertising world in her early 20s, fascinating millions of consumers for clients such as MINI Cooper and Coca-Cola. Since then, she’s published two New York Times bestsellers on the science of fascination, and is one of only 172 living members in the Speaker Hall of Fame. Over a million professionals have taken the Fascination Advantage® personality test to discover how others perceive their communication.

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