Food for Thought: Ben and Jerry’s…Bagels?!

Food for ThoughtCherry Garcia, Chubby Hubby, Karamel Sutra and my personal favorite, Phish Food, arouse all kinds of drool in ice cream lovers everywhere. Ben and Jerry’s offers up some of the hippest, happiest flavors in pint size portions to be found in ice cream coolers. Yet Ben and Jerry’s was almost branded as a bagel company. Can you envision a world without Imagine Whirled Peace or AmeriCone Dream? I know many content writers who would be sorely amiss without this creamy, deliciousness that serves well for midnight motivation.

Ben and Jerry’s: Broke as a Joke

Back in 1977, when Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield from Merrick, Long Island first decided that entrepreneurship was in their cards, they hadn’t quite nailed down their product. Bagels, a decidedly popular New York food, was at the top of their list. As foodies with a passion for this rotund breakfast bread, Ben and Jerry took a stab at the idea. They had the genius idea of a bagel delivery service, which would have been called the United Bagel Service, a clever take on UPS. While a groovy idea indeed, they were too broke to get their bagel business established. Also in our flavor, ahem, I mean favor, was the fact that ice cream machines were much cheaper than bagel baking equipment.

The Rest of the Story

Today Ben and Jerry’s is owned by Unilever, a business move by Cohen and Greenfield that netted them more than $325 million in 2000. The moral of this story is that for any business including a web-based business to become its own, it must be open to changes and innovation. When something doesn’t stick, consider an alternative rather than driving your business into the red with sheer fortitude. How can you do this without starting over from scratch, which may very well be the best solution for you as it was for Ben and Jerry’s?

  • Look for ways to add sparkle to your product or service.
  • Open your eyes to your competition to see what is working for them.
  • Ask for advice among your audience; your customers, after all, are who you should be focused on.

The Web-Based Business

As a web-based business, your website is your baby. You should nurture it, coddle it, and then be there to hold its hand as it grows up. One of the biggest threats of a web-based business is a bad website that fails to give customers something they want to bookmark. Like a prepubescent teen who lacks in the direction and love of a parent, a rebellious website gives off all sorts of rogue messages. Links that don’t work, pages with ill-fitting content, images that look like they were shot by a toddler. Of course when you first started out, getting your website going was the biggest obstacle. Yet now that you’ve got it going, you have to continue to tweak and renovate your offerings.

Refreshing Your Web Content

One of the best ways to continually improve your web content is to hire a professional writer who is focused on content. Content writers will hook you up with fresh verbiage that is new to the scene and well-prepared in terms of search engine optimization. Not every business will become the next Ben and Jerry’s–not even close. However, with an open mind and fresh air attitude, you stand as good of a chance as anyone in keeping your business dreams afloat.

Miranda B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.


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