Want More Business? Wall Drug Your Prospects!

In today’s world, your prospects are being bombarded with over 5,000 messages a day.

Because of this, is it difficult to get past all the noise and be heard.

What is the solution?   Wall Drug your Prospects!

For the past 14 years, my wife and I have made our annual pilgrimage from our home in Arizona to the Black Hill’s of South Dakota to the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

Free Ice WaterAbout 50 miles east of Rapid City on Interstate 90, you will find a pinprick on the map called Wall, South Dakota.

Under normal conditions, it would be one of those no-stoplight towns you would never exit for in a million years.  But the conditions surrounding Wall are NOT normal, thanks to Ted Hustead.  And because of his wife’s marketing genius, Wall is considered one of the top tourist attractions in North America with over 20,000 visitors a day!

The Story of Wall Drug

Ted Hustead graduated pharmacy school in 1929 and after two years working for other druggists, Ted and his wife set out to purchase their own drug store.

After covering the states of Nebraska and South Dakota in their Model T, they were sure of only two things:

  1. They wanted to be in a small town.
  2. They wanted to be close to a Catholic church, as they wanted to go to mass every day

The only drug store they found that met their needs was located in a small prairie town called Wall on the outskirts of the South Dakota Badlands.

The little prairie town of Wall only had 326 people, most of whom were farmers who had been wiped out by either the depression or drought.

When Ted and Dorothy got back home and shared their plans with their parents, they found them skeptical “That small town is in the middle of nowhere and furthermore, everyone there is flat broke busted.”

But Ted and Dorothy wouldn’t give up their dream. The family decided to pray for inspiration and ask for God’s guidance.

In the end, everyone felt that it was God’s will for Ted and Dorothy to go to Wall.

The Hustead’s gave themselves a five year deadline to make the store work, and if not, they vowed to move back to Sioux Falls and get “normal” jobs.  When five years was up, progress was minimal and they nearly abandoned the implausible dream.

Then inspiration struck.  Here’s the story as told by Grandpa Ted:

One hot Sunday in July, a great change swept us up.  It started quietly, in the deadening heat of an early afternoon, when Dorothy said to me, “You don’t need me here, Ted.  I’m going to put Billy and the baby down for a nap and maybe take one myself.”

I minded the empty store.  I swatted flies with a rolled-up newspaper.  I stood in the door, and no matter where I looked, there was no shade, because the sun was so high and fierce.

An hour later Dorothy came back.

“Too hot to sleep?” I asked.

“No, it wasn’t the heat that kept me awake,” Dorothy said. “It was all the cars going by on Route 16A.  The jalopies just about shook the house to pieces.”

“That’s too bad,” I said.

“No, because you know what, Ted?  I think I finally saw how we can get all those travelers to come to our store.”

“And how’s that?” I asked.

“Well, now what is it that those travelers really want after driving across that hot prairie?  They’re thirsty.  They want water – ice cold water!  Now we’ve got plenty of ice and water.  Why don’t we put up signs on the highway telling people to come here for free ice water?  Listen, I even made up a few lines for the sign:

“Get a soda . . . Get a root beer . . . Turn next corner . . . Just as near . . . To Highway 16 & 14. . . Free Ice Water. . . Wall Drug.”

It wasn’t Wordsworth, but I was willing to give it a try.  During the next few days, a high school boy and I put together some signs.  We modeled them after the old Burma Shave highway signs.  Each phrase of Dorothy’s little poem went on a 12 by 36 inch board.  We’d space the boards out so the people could read them as they drove.

The next weekend, the boy and I went out to the highway and put up our signs for free ice water. I must admit that I felt somewhat silly doing it, but by the time I got back to the store, people had already begun showing up for their ice water.  Dorothy was running all around to keep up.  I pitched in alongside her.

“Five glasses of ice water, please,” a father called out.

“May I have a glass for Grandma?” a boy asked. “She’s in the car.”

We ran through our supply of cracked ice. I began chiseling more off the block.

“Say, good sir,” one traveler said in a Scottish brogue, “We’re going all the way to Yellowstone Park. Would you mind filling this jug with your water?”

“Hey, this free ice water is a great idea,” said a salesman, sliding up onto a stool.

“How about selling me an ice cream cone?”

For hours we poured gallons of ice water, made ice cream cones and gave highway directions.  When the travelers started on their way again, refreshed and ready for new adventures, they gave us hearty thanks.

When the day was done, Dorothy and I were pooped.  We sat in front of the store, watching the sun set, feeling a cool breeze come in off the prairie.  In the summer twilight, Wall looked radiant.  It looked like a good place to call home.

“Well, Ted,” Dorothy, said to me, “I guess the ice water signs worked.”

Yes indeed—the ice water signs did work. They worked so well, in fact, that the Hustead’s added more signs.  And more.  And more still.

Wall DrugToday, Wall Drug’s advertisement billboards can be found on an approximately 650-mile-long stretch of Interstate 90 from Minnesota to Billings, Montana and have become the second most popular tourist attraction in South Dakota following Mount Rushmore!

How To Wall Drug Your Prospects

Free ice water brought the Husteads a long way and taught Ted and I a valuable lesson – “there’s absolutely no place on God’s earth (even being on the 100th page of Google) that’s Godforsaken.  That you can succeed as long as you can reach out to people with something that they NEED.”

And that your prospects need to see or hear your marketing message repeatedly before they take action and buy from you.

This is why “information marketing” is so effective.

By being there to provide free information to your prospects on a regular basis, you are building a relationship of trust.  No alarms are set off because it’s not a sales pitch; it’s a genuine attempt to educate and help.

Certified Master SEO Instructor by the Search Engine Academy and CEO and founder of SEO Training SW.
Roy Reyer
Roy Reyer
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12th August 2013 No Comments

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