A chamber board member once quipped, “Marketing doesn’t cost. It pays.”
The realtors on the Gillian Baker Team have taken a creative approach to marketing for years now, and their latest tactic was to work with Connie Brown to concoct a new ice cream flavor to use in their marketing and fundraising. When you look for a flavor to try in the Brown Cow freezer, the new addition will be labeled “Home Sweet Home” and the label will include a credit to the realtors.
“It is a vanilla-based ice cream with a caramel ribbon, sea salt, and chocolate-covered potato chips,” April Baker explained. It is the perfect blend of salty and sweet, and is delicious … if we do say so ourselves!”
The idea for the innovative tactic was borrowed from another realtor. “A friend and fellow realtor shared this idea,” said Baker, “which he has successfully implemented in his area. We love working collaboratively with our peers. It’s good business to engage our clients, and a bonus that we happen to have become friends with most of them!”
One aspect of collaboration is working with business owners in the same field. Another is teaming up with complementary businesses. Dorothy Gillian and April Baker pitched the idea to Connie Brown who has been running her ice cream parlor, Brown Cow, for almost 20 years.
“Connie Brown brought our ideas to life after a brainstorming session,” said Baker. “She created eight different flavors, including chocolate-covered bacon ice cream, and the one we call Home Sweet Home was clearly the winner.”
“The Gillian Baker team,” Brown noted, “is the first business to sit down and create a flavor. We make 15 gallons of ice cream at a time which fills six of the 2.5 gallon tubs you see in the parlor’s freezer. One tub makes 18 pints, which Dorothy and April used for marketing, and the other five tubs we will have up front for patrons to enjoy until we run out.”
For Gillian, Baker and Brown, it’s never “just business.” For example, the Gillian Baker Team website declares, “To us every day is an investment in not only our clients, but also our communities.”
Likewise, the Brown Cow websites states, “Our business is committed to sustainability, diversity & inclusion, empowering our teams, giving back to the community in which we work.”
One example of how these women entrepreneurs walk the talk is that both Baker and Brown are board members of the 209 Together Scholarship Fund. On Aug. 9, they hosted an ice-cream tasting party for 70 clients and friends. The fundraiser included opportunities to donate and to buy ice cream to take home. What’s more, all proceeds from the sale of Home Sweet Home in the parlor will go to the scholarship fund as well.
“This particular idea,” said Baker, “is the best of all worlds as we got to engage our clients and friends at a Forest Park business all while supporting 209 Scholarship, which is a non-profit near and dear to our hearts.”
Other creative tactics used by the Gillian Baker Team include their annual pie giveaway which last year was held at Fiore; a happy hour last year at Fat Duck combined with fun at Escape Factor next door; branded giveaways like wine; and sponsoring Forest Park events like the Historical Society’s Garden Walk and the Casket Races.”
Connie Brown added, “We made Kiwanis Peanut Day Ice Cream, which we sold in pints during June with all proceeds going to the Kiwanis Club as they celebrated their 100-year anniversary.”
Giving to the community has been reciprocated by the community giving to the three women. For example, when COVID-19 shut down her business, Brown made lemonade out of lemons, so to speak, by converting the back part of her store into a creamery and bakery, which required an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“I made the investment,” Brown said, “and the community helped by donating over $60,000 in a Go Fund Me [campaign] which helped me pay for one of my machines.”
If you would like Brown Cow to make a custom run of ice cream with your label attached, write a check for $500 addressed to Brown Cow and she’ll make a batch of 15 gallons for you.