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What The Ice Cream Van Seller Can Teach You About Marketing

It is a lovely Spring day in Birmingham today and I was walking my dog at lunchtime in the local streets watching an ice cream van seller conduct his business.

It started me thinking about..

What The Ice Cream Van Seller Can Teach You About Marketing

The Ice Cream Chimes Attract Attention

The chimes of the bell are very distinctive and in this case very loud.

They leave no doubt that the ice cream van is in the area.

I watched people rush out of their houses and form an orderly queue and it wasn’t even hot. The sun was shining but I’d guess the temperature was only in the high teens.

The Special Selection

This was a Mr Whippy / Walls ice cream van so it’s products included some of the best known ready-made ice creams and ice lollies.

But it also includes the soft serve ice cream that can be piped into a cornet and topped off with a chocolate flake, creams the exciting 99. Mum hasn’t got one of those in her fridge, bought in bulk from the supermarket.


The van stopped every quarter of a mile or so and I’m sure it would have stopped with smaller gaps if someone had moved it down on the street.

Willingness To Pay

Ice creams aren’t cheap but you don’t queue up, get to the front, read the list of what’s available and walk away because the prices are too high.

Regular Availability And Persistence

I’m astonished at how often I hear the ice cream van chimes, even on days when I couldn’t see any attraction in buying an ice cream.

But this is a great example of a moving parade. Sometimes people want an ice cream, regardless of the weather.

Other days, people need an ice cream because it is so hot.


The regular appearance of the ice cream van in the territory builds up anticipation of its arrival on days when you want and need.

I can imagine the children squeezing out promises from their parents “Yes you can have an ice cream if the van appears today.”

When the chimes ring out, I bet the kids say “Daddy you promised.”

Limited Availability – Buy Now Or The Chance Is Gone

If you hear the chimes you have to act now.

Not in 15 minutes. By then the opportunity will have gone.

The Ice Cream Van Seller Can Teach You A Lot About Marketing

Can you take some of these ideas and modify them to make your customers ready to water at the mouth thinking about your products?

  • What can you do to attract attention?
  • Can you make your product much easier and more convenient to buy?
  • Do you have your unique signature product?
  • Can you find a way to use limited availability to force an immediate buying decision?

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