Journal is powered by Vocal creators. You support Heather Wilkins by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

Journal is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

How I Learned Marketing with Popcorn

There's only one popcorn shop in Saint Augustine, but some of the clients need persuasion in getting some good gourmet popcorn.

I have had some brief stints in marketing and from what some of my previous bosses I have said, I am cold and distant and cannot properly create a good channel for a customer to continue to come to them.

Since moving to Saint Augustine several months earlier this year, I originally worked at a sandwich shop and then after burning out from having to cover other people's delivery shifts, I wanted out. If the manager was not going to cut my hours to prevent me from being burned out, then maybe I can find somewhere else where I can use some of my personality and more interaction with customers to avoid any future complaints.

I tried some other places to work, but since working at this popcorn shop, I feel like Denise from The Paradise. I fit right in and I can work my magic on clients and customers that enjoy popcorn or are looking for wonderful Christmas gifts. 

Broaden Horizons

Everyone sees popcorn as some cheap snack or some easy craving to suppress. But this type of popcorn is different. Gourmet popcorn is something where cheese, chocolate, or candied bits are often seen as a luxury. Most times the pricing says it all.

But sometimes we get the usual customers who don't want to branch out because of their suspicions of getting something indulgent or something new. We offer them a chance to try the bestselling products and if they are not to their fancy, we offer our suggestions to lead them in the right direction of their own taste and interest.

Gerald's Popcorn comes with six normal flavors as well. Sometimes people will get the kettle corn or the buttered popcorn if they can't find anything they enjoy in the store.

But helping people broaden their horizons is a persuasion technique for most marketing tactics for selling cutlery, popcorn, and even girl scout cookies. I often ask people do they like chocolate on their popcorn. Do they like to have something sugary and sweet, while watching their calories? Do they want something savory or do they want something mild and tasty for a nice snack between meals?

Sampling Sales

We offer samples to get people into the door. But it doesn't help us that our neighbor across the street is a pizza joint whose pizza is more NY style than Pizza Time. My strategy is simple with the sampling and that is along the lines of finding a snack between lunch and dinner or focusing on desert. If it's early in the morning on Sunday, I like to start with Blueberry or a non-alcoholic popcorn option. If those don't suit anyone, sometimes switching between flavors also works. 

The max anyone is supposed to sample is something along the lines of four flavors. Each sampler can only do four, unless it is one of the slow nights and only two people are on the night-shift then that one person has to sample up to twelve flavors before closing.

The samples provide customers or potential customers and regulars with popcorn that we make in the store. Of course everyone asks the generic questions of does it contain GMOs? Vegan friendly? etc. (This is a town where vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are really affordable compared to other healthy eating diets).

Of course our products are mixed with dairy and we have green dots to tell which one is gluten. For those with nut allergies we have separate scoops that are marked with black ties. But if someone occasionally forgets to use a different scoop and uses a nut scoop, we have to wash it off immediately. (This has happened to me numerous times).

But the marketing strategy that occurs here includes word of mouth and mention that we are online and all the orders can be shipped through the website. We have had several orders in the past where it was all shipped through the mail. Our best options for shipping are the 2 gallon container and the Kernel's Dozen. Once people see the options before them, they usually get something in store or they go online after knowing you don't have to pop in for something trivial as popcorn.

Common items can either make or break marketing in small towns. But these little shops have ways to work marketing in their budget. All over town there's maps and coupons that are printed on a weekly basis where you can get a coupon through Restaurant times or advertise your business in the trolley books for people to see. But if that popcorn store has been there for five years, there's a guarantee that the store will be there for a much longer time. Popcorn is great for snacks, parties, and a little indulgence, even if it's covered in chocolate. 

If you like it, put a tip in it.

Tips are appreciated. I am looking to save money for a house and pay my way reasonably through a honeymoon in Iceland. But I will save the rest of the tips for licensing for real estate and general contracting because there are beautiful Victorians that need some pick me ups for their curb appeal and general splendor here in Saint Augustine.

Now Reading
How I Learned Marketing with Popcorn
Read Next
10 Employment Laws Every Person Needs to Know