Ice cream
Richard parker
This is a post by Richard Parker
Edge’s defiantly ginger strategy guru Rich is a fan of Copenhagen, Steak-frites, George Orwell and Paul Simon. Not necessarily in that order.

Surely you’d need a unique marketing strategy to cut through the noise and reach your target audience. Enter the case of MilkMade. 

MilkMade launched in 2009, the brainchild of two friends who met in college. Their idea was simple: create unique ice cream flavours unavailable at local supermarkets or convenience stores, then deliver to “members” paying an affordable fee of $10 per month. 

They began with only 50 members in New York’s East Village.
When the ice cream started to get a bit of press, the brand’s website was quickly established, and within a week, 700 people signed up for the email list.

Sure, it probably helped that they were able to secure $300,000 in seed funding. But the key to their marketing strategy was content and at the heart of this, a drool-worthy Tumblr page which would see the brand soon expand its offering to cover the entire greater New York City area, establish a national waitlist, score tons of earned media and open its first store.

Why Tumblr?

While MilkMade engages with current and potential customers across other social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, Tumblr is the ideal platform to share the full story of the brand. 

You can’t spell out the making of an ice cream flavour in 140 characters and while Facebook may provide more real estate, articles such as MilkMade’s “PintSized Escapes” featuring MilkMade members, talking about how they treat themselves, need more room to breathe. 

Couple that with some statistics about the platform such as these:

  • In 2013, Adobe’s Social Intelligence Report ranked Tumblr #1 in social sentiment towards brands.
  • According to QuickSprout, Tumblr’s traffic is growing at a rate of 74% a year. 
  • Tumblr’s audience is largely urban, according to The Pew Research Center.
  • Tumblr is most popular with the 18-to-29-year-old age bracket with 66% of all visitors are under the age of 35.
  • Tumblr’s Social Norms Study found Tumblr users were more engaged than those on other platforms with a greater number of users visiting the platform daily (+13%) and 37% more users engaging in ‘longer’ (20+ minutes) sessions. 
  • With more than 300 million unique visitors per month, Tumblr is the ideal place to spread brand awareness, particularly in the US where 31% of the site’s traffic comes from.

In a city where the largest subset of the population is aged 20 to 35 years of age, using Tumblr to drive MilkMade was a no brainer.

Closer to home, Yahoo7 and Tumblr’s Social Norms Study found Tumblr users are more likely to recall seeing branded content with 67% able to conjure up a memory compared to just 46% on other social channels. In Australia, 55% of Tumblr users believe content on the site reveals new dimensions of brands they can’t find anywhere else while one in two Tumblr users think more highly of brands simply because they have a presence on Tumblr.

A side serving of Instagram

Hunger-inducing images of ice cream such as these go hand in hand with written content, making them perfect for a platform such as Tumblr. But they also have the ability to stand on their own. That’s where Instagram comes in. MilkMade has a strong presence on the platform with more than 10,000 followers. 

The brand has even established its own unique language. Ice cream is simply known as ‘Scream. And the flavours sport quirky names from Midsummer Night's 'Scream – a lavender-pansy ice cream with a crisp crunch, to the Christmas treat, Partridge in a Pear Tree – a burnt honey ice cream with poached pear and ginger spice.

The flow on effect

The flow on effect from MilkMade’s content efforts are three-fold.

In December 2013, the brand launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for an equipment upgrade. Aptly named #Lickstarter, in less than a month, $47,060 USD was raised from 532 backers.

In May 2015, MilkMade opened its first store in New York City. The city’s popular free press publication The Village Voice named it the best new ice cream shop in its 2015 “Best of NYC” list, a boon for New York City businesses looking to attract locals and tourists alike.

Between 2009 and 2014, MilkMade generated more than 100 earned media mentions in publications such as New York Magazine’s food site Grub Street, the New York Times, and Fast Company. The brand even featured in a ‘Facebook for Business’ promotional video

Today MilkMade charges its members $35 a month, or $195 for six months. The company is also delivering outside of New York City.

Not bad for a little ice cream company started by two college friends.