cross-sell

Lessons From The Side Hustle

I think it’s safe to say that both Kassie and I are addicted to Side Hustle School, a podcast by Chris Guillebeau. I started listening because I thought it was interesting to have this short podcast, non-interview format. Most podcasts are 20-40 minutes with an interview and this one is typically 5-8 minutes with Chris being the only voice. I was curious how he’d keep it interesting… not to mention learn from the kinds of businesses he profiles.

The idea of the side hustle is it’s something you do outside your day job to earn a bit of extra money. Sometimes it becomes a full time thing of course (ex: the company website this blog post is on started as a side hustle while I worked at a newspaper). Mainly though, a side hustle is just that a fun, income generating, part time project.

I’ve conservatively listened to 75% of the daily episodes so here’s what I’ve gleaned so far.

Build it as they are coming (or even only build it if they pay you up front).

In a lot of cases, marketing for the side hustle started WAY before it was ready. In one case, a woman began collecting email addresses before her cookbook was even ready… so when it came time to sell it, she had an audience waiting to buy. In another (which I can’t seem to find on the site) a guy studying for some kind of exam given to doctors made a landing page where people could pre-buy his study guide. He didn’t make the study guide but when enough people were interested, THEN he pulled it together.

So get your marketing ready even before your product or service is ready so you can start building excitement… and collecting potential customer contact information.

If people keep asking for it, it might be an upsell.

If people keep asking if you deliver your homemade cookies, chances are you may be able to upsell a delivery service with your cookies.

You want to look for this feedback coming from different places, not the same group of friends. For example, when our web host friends, web developer friends, and clients started complaining about how annoying it was to keep Wordpress website software up-to-date, we started a Wordpress Insurance service for $25/month.

What are your customers complaining about or asking you for? This might be a place to start.

Controlling as many things as you can keeps things in control but it does limit your profit/scale.

One of the companies profiled was a cleaning service created by a student. There was a point in business growth where he realized he’d make a lot more money if he worked with other reputable people who helped clean the houses… but it also meant he had to create systems and other ways he could control the quality of work being done by other people. Keeping things in house, like if you are manufacturing your own candy hearts with custom messages, you are limited by how many you can stamp out in a day… but that might be ok. Just know there are tradeoffs, always.

If it doesn’t work the way you want it to, be flexible.

There are certain kinds of businesses that seem sexy to open: bars, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. The problem is most people can’t go from zero to their own cafe, financially or otherwise.

When two friends wanted to open a distillery and saw all the regulations, they decided to make homemade gin kits… and were a success. If they had been inflexible about how they were going to get artisinal spirits to the masses, they would have lost out.

Most careers, if you really think about them, have a way that you can step into them… because the idea with the side hustle is…

Risk as little as possible.

Yes, you should spend time building or trying things,  but don’t sink thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours into something. Look for a quick win, even if it’s small, which can encourage you to stay on the right track. For example, an orthodontist as an experiment spent $500 on Facebook ads but rather than just ‘boosting’ them to make more of his friends see them, he used them strategically to attract patients seeking braces with a $400 off coupon. He didn’t build a whole new section of his practice or do anything crazy; he just tried something small and when it was a win, he could adjust other things accordingly and move onto the next win.

If you’re interested in small business development, making extra money, or just hearing people with cool ideas, listen to Side Hustle School. Whether you have never had a business or run several, I guarantee it’ll give you ideas for moving ahead.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Would You Like Fries with That? Cross-Selling 101

Back in January and December, I was spending a lot of time on Amazon trying to create a Baby Registry.

As a first timer whose Mom didn’t necessarily use the internet to create a baby registry, I was on my own figuring this out.

Fortunately, hundreds (or thousands) of moms-to-be in recent years have used Amazon to create a registry, so Amazon has plenty of guides for people creating a registry from scratch.

One of the helpful tools that Amazon has as you are viewing a specific product is “Customers who bought this also bought…” (and “…also viewed” and “Sponsored Products related to this item”).

 

As someone who needed a little bit of handholding during this process, this feature was greatly appreciated. It’s also known as “cross-selling,” or selling a different product/service to an already existing customer.

If I was shopping on a specific brand’s website, cross-selling would look  a little different. Say for instance I’m looking for a crib. Common cross-sells would be crib sheets, a blanket, and maybe a mobile. Other times you may have seen cross-selling in action include “Would you like fries with that?” and “Who wants to see a dessert menu?” (Guess where my brain is at today?).

Your business may not be quite as big as Amazon, but you can still implement cross-selling techniques on your own website.

General Facts About Cross-Selling

Since it involves selling to someone who is probably already a customer, or even in the middle of a purchase, cross-selling really is a “nothing to lose” scenario. In order to get the most out of your cross-selling , there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

First- cross-selling is relevant. If someone is buying a baby stroller, Amazon doesn’t offer a Keruig as a suggested purchase- they offer other baby products and/or different baby strollers by other brands. While you could argue that a Keruig is sort of related to someone gearing up for a baby, that’s too much of a stretch for a good cross-sell.

This article suggests using “you” in cross-selling pitches, because it feels more personal. Amazon does this using “Recommended for You,” or in some cases, “Recommended for [your name].” My advice is to go with your gut on this one- during an in-person transaction, I’d probably feel closer to the sales-person and more likely to make a purchase if they were using my name, but knowing that a website is using an algorithm to produce my first name doesn’t elicit that same response (and some people are creeped out by this). Sticking with the general “you” might be the safer way to go.

Shopify also offers the suggestion of adding products that people would generally be familiar with as cross-selling options, because it’s more likely more people will make a purchase if they know what the product is.

Another tip- keep the cost of cross selling items relatively low. The actual suggestion is to keep the overall cost of the order within a 25% increase of the original order (i.e. whatever the customer was planning to order before adding on), while Forbes suggests 35%. Either way, that’s more money than you would have made otherwise.

Cross-Selling Before/During Checkout

Odds are, your website is not as robust as Amazon (the idea of creating that website makes my head spin). However, depending on what type of cart software you have, you may have the ability to add cross-selling into your cart.

Woocommerce comes built with the ability to add cross-selling options to your cart, whereas Shopify requires you to get an add-on app through their website. Investigate the software you use for ecommerce- it may require an add-on or already be built in, but it’s usually fairly simple to set up afterwards. This requires some data entry and thoughtfulness on your part, as you go through your products and think of relevant recommendations (remember- you don’t have to have a cross-sell option for each one of your products- just where they make the most sense).

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box here, either- you can cross-sell services for your products, too. For instance, if I were purchasing a crib, maybe the cross-sell service would be delivery + assembly for people who live within 25 miles of the store. Other examples of services you can add to products include 24 hour support, 1 year warranty, insurance, and so on.

Even if you don’t have a product/service on your website that you’re trying to sell, you can still offer something similar. A lot of the blogs I read will offer suggested posts based on the one I’m currently reading, and they’re usually related to the topic at hand (it’s also a great way to remind people of your older content). If you have a Wordpress website, WP Beginner suggests these 5 “Related Posts Plugins” that can set this up for you.

Cross-Selling After the Sale

Although cross-selling typically happens as a person is shopping or as they are checking out, there is still a chance that they’ll be interested in a cross-sell after the fact. This can double as a customer service follow-up after a purchase.

For instance, if someone buys a lawnmower from you, sending them an email newsletter following up about the quality of their product is never a bad idea. You can include some cross selling items in that newsletter, such as a bagger that stores the cut grass as you’re mowing. Maybe at the time of purchasing the customer didn’t see a need for this, but after a few weeks and seeing the email they will think, “Hmm, I have had to spend a half hour raking after I mow, this could really cut down my time…”- in other words, the value is now apparent.

This isn’t quite the same as a checkout cross-sell, but you get points for customer service follow up and it’s a good chance to get customer service points, and you may make another sale.

Stay tuned for more posts about selling more online this month!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Selling Stuff Online: Products

SellingShizOnlineLast week, we talked about some basics you needed to be ready to sell things online. The next few weeks is the fun part: what you actually sell!

The most normal thing to sell is physical products. Physical products being things that have dimensions, weight, and possibly variables for people to select from (sizes, colors, etc.)

Selecting a shopping cart software: part science, part art. 

We’ll get into selling other types of things next week but you don’t need me to tell you that buying a seat in a stadium for the next Britney Spears concert you are going to is different than buying a black t-shirt. So different cart software is built to sell different kinds of things. You may also want to ask yourself these questions as you start your research to find a cart you like:

1) What integration does my cart need to have? If your cart needs to interact with your POS system or Quickbooks, that’s a good way to cross off a lot of options up front. Note the word ‘need’ here, you may be smitten by some swoonworthy features but knowing what you need will keep your eyes on the prize.

2) What payment gateway do you want to use? Some software only works with one or two gateways, some work with lots more. If you don’t have passionate views on payment gateways like some of us do, enter into this research knowing you’ll be flexible.

3) What are you planning on selling? And how many? See concert tickets versus black t-shirt example above. Also some cart software charges you by the quantity of items you list. So get a clear idea of what you want to sell first to help you evaluate options.

Once you have your cart softwares narrowed down to two or three options, start reading online reviews and looking at examples of each. This will give you an idea of customer support and whether you like the way it looks. For example if a cart promises to be ‘responsive’ and looking at the 4-5 examples listed on the website none of them seem mobile friendly, you may want to ask yourself why. Or you could just hire some nerd to do this nerdy research project for you. Seriously, there is a reason I can’t find a fun picture to go along with this.

Care about the little things.

The more information you give to customers, the better. Things like dimensions and weight not only help them figure out how that item will look in their living room but help you figure out how much to charge for shipping. When possible, fill out all available fields for each item in your cart software… and be consistent product to product.

Decide on shipping.

The below chart shows why you need to decide about shipping:

shipping-study

You have a few options when it comes to shipping: free, calculated, or flat rate. Rather than saying the same thing this article says, I’ll link to a nice blog post from Shopify about the differences between these three. 

In short, we’ve seen free shipping is quite motivating for a lot of people… and most consumers understand the idea of the minimum order amount to get it:

someecardfreeshipping

 

Cross-selling and Upselling: Helping People Buy More

So now you have what you’re going to sell, a cart you’re going to sell if from, and some idea of how you’ll handle shipping.

Now it seems a little sad we’re already thinking of how we can get your customer to spend MORE money with you but why wouldn’t we be? Your favorite brands cross-sell and upsell to you all the time.

Cross-selling: If you like X product, you may also like Y, Z, and A products. Or customers who bought X also bought… you get the idea. Many cart softwares will let you cross sell.

Up-selling: Getting someone to buy a higher priced version of what they were going to buy.

This is the best visual example for this I have ever seen. And the blog it comes from is super useful and you can go read it: http://blog.flowify.net/up-selling-and-cross-selling-how-to-increase-your-restaurants-revenue-using-resources-you-already-have/

UpsellingInfographics

 

Luring Them In With Bargains: The Allure of the Coupon Code

Now there may be points in the life of your online cart where you either need to move some inventory (to make way for new stuff) or you want to experiment with pricing. Coupon codes are something you can typically issue for either a dollar amount or percentage off either all the items in your cart or just certain items. For obvious reasons, they typically have an expiration date.

What coupon codes allow you to do is measure if/how purchases change while it is in effect. Most cart software will let you make them.

Then you distribute the codes (or perhaps different codes) via direct mail, email, social media, print and online ads, etc. to get them to your customers.

Old-Navy-THANKYOU-376x300

 

So I hope that is helpful as you sell physical products in your online store! Next week, we’ll talk about selling event tickets and things you may want to think about related to that. Stay tuned.

 

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.