Earlier this summer, I wrote about an ice cream truck rolling through our neighborhood at 10 p.m. At the time, I thought it was a little odd and annoying.
I changed my tune a week later when I actually tried product from that particular ice cream truck. Wow, I thought, if the ice cream is this good, it can come around at any hour it wants.
Almost two months later, my attitude toward Mr. Softee is completely different than it was that initial June evening when I watched it drive by our cul-de-sac at a very non-traditional ice cream truck time. In fact, my opinion on Mr. Softee is even more accepting than it was after I was converted on the quality of the product alone. You see, it isn’t just the ice cream I like – it is the entire Mr. Softee marketing operation.
For many of you who are probably unfamiliar, Mr. Softee is an ice cream truck franchise that originated in the northeast. Although it has been around since 1956, it hasn’t aggressively expanded its number of trucks until recently. Even now, you can only find Mr. Softee in 15 states. Luckily, South Carolina is one of them.
Mr. Softee started riding through Myrtle Beach streets just a few months ago. However, thanks to the way franchises do business, it made an immediate splash.
Mr. Softee offered something that “the other guys” didn’t – soft serve ice cream. We aren’t talking ice cream sandwiches and fudgesickles stuck in a freezer all summer long. Rather, what the new guy on the block brought to the table was a creamy, rich, and fresh product that had Myrtle Beach residents hooked from the first taste.
With actual ice cream on the menu opposed to a processed frozen dairy concoction on a stick, Mr. Softee was already a winner. But was that all? Hardly. Mr. Softee had enough marketing tricks up its sleeve to make an all-out assault on other ice cream trucks.
An identity is so important to any brand. On any given summer day, I can hear random children’s melodies playing outside. Oh, just another one of the numerous ice cream trucks in Myrtle Beach. Not with Mr. Softee. Every single Mr. Softee truck in all 15 states at all times plays the same jingle. There is no switching back-and-forth between songs when the driver grows tired of hearing one. By now, the Mr. Softee jingle is cemented in my brain (along with everyone else in Myrtle Beach) and when I hear it I know that delicious ice cream is not far away.
The perception of being unique is coveted by any company or franchise that is worth a damn. I have already made it clear that Mr. Softee offers an ice cream product that other trucks don’t. But it stands out in a couple of other ways too. You know how I initially bashed Mr. Softee for keeping late hours? Shame on me! The non-traditional schedule satisfies the large Mr. Softee adult fan base while at the same allows it to reach more customers and sell more ice cream. Mr. Softee is the “cool” ice cream truck that will remain on the streets when the sun goes down, outlasting the other trucks by hours. The franchise also accepts debit cards, hands out business cards, and will pull up to random block parties.
Nothing is more vital than effectively advertising your business. Not only does Mr. Softee thrive at this, it does so at a low cost. Social media, like many food trucks, is the major advertising vehicle of Mr. Softee (at least the Myrtle Beach franchise). Do you want to see Facebook engagement at its best? Watch what happens when the Mr. Softee page simply posts who wants ice cream? Hundreds of people will respond, creating enough leads for Mr. Softee to be busy for about 20 years (and that is just from a single post). There is no doubt about it, Mr. Softee has developed a unique social media voice with an extremely active audience. It is a money-making marketing machine.
Good PR can only help one’s marketing efforts and Mr. Softee has this covered as well. The truck will show up at community events, offer discounted prices for fundraisers, and even stop at local lemonade stands. This is all chronicled on the Mr. Softee Myrtle Beach Facebook page.
Yes, Mr. Softee became a sensation on the Grand Strand this summer. The franchise has generated media coverage, won over avid fans, and established itself as the best ice cream truck in Myrtle Beach. Congrats to the franchise on its success and I hope the truck drives by our street soon. Don’t Blink.