how to market while selling

The subscription box service is a popular trend has spawned a consumer movement. There are subscription boxes for all sorts of trinkets, from snacks to socks, and the concept is very simple: a folding carton containing random goodies each month. It arrives at the buyer’s doorstep without prompting, a kind of set and forget sale.

These crates caught on because the surprise, the packaging and the allure all help sell the idea. These products manage to market by selling: utilizing what they do and making that a part of how they sell. Here’s how you can employ that kind of strategy in your own venture.

Upselling from the Box

The first step to take is to try upselling from the box. Many companies will include their web address on the invoice templates, but you can be even more direct. Including a phone number, product registration paperwork, and a colored brochure advertising related products are all potential solutions that might drive sales.

The challenge is to target the right consumer. Packaging fliers isn’t an exact science, so you may wish to incorporate some digital elements into this equation. It helps to understand your customer and their needs. If they’ve bought a product to solve an immediate problem, are they open to buying something else related but of lower priority?

Sales are always going to be a variable, but you can try and upsell better if you consider what your customer is willing to spend and why. Explore ways you can email customers additional information, but make sure they double opt in to receiving this promotional email if you don’t want to be marked as “spam”. If shipping physical products, consider packaging brochures with a few products listed along with pricing specials that are relevant only to repeat customers.

Coupon codes can also be a useful way of upselling from the box, and it’s common to see an additional 15% off the next order packaged in a box with existing orders. The key for coupon usage is timing, too soon and the customer won’t buy. Too late and they forget they have the coupon and lose it.

Consider Complimenting Ideas

Building on the idea of what a customer is willing to purchase, consider how your upsell products relate to what the customer just purchased. Can you think of some other way you can complement what they just bought with something else you sell?

Sometimes, a product that solves one problem creates another. A knife is an excellent example. Expensive knives are very sharp and require some form of storage to avoid cutting and hurting oneself. These same knives also require a sharpening stone or stick to keep the blade sharp. In addition, a cutting board is needed if you want to avoid re-sharpening your knife after using it on a hard countertop.

The more your upsell relates to whatever the original product is, the better your odds of closing that extra deal. Amazon and major retailers online have this entire process automated because they have years of data to review and make conclusions on what customers might want. Smaller retailers will need to rely on market trends and research, but the end result is the same.

Create a Rewards Program Encouraging Repeat Purchases

The rewards program is fairly ubiquitous today, as most big brands have one, but even smaller brands can get in on this strategy with some success. A well-designed rewards program pays for itself but rewards the customer by buying the things she was already going to buy from you.

Many restaurants use rewards programs to encourage customers to spend a certain amount of money or to buy a certain popular entree. Retailers use them to offer free products or to knock a certain percentage off a purchase.

Yours can take several forms:

  • Reward customers who join a list: Provide exclusive access to deals and coupons through a mailing list of some kind. Only those who give their information have access to it, but you get the advantage of selling to more motivated buyers.
  • Reward customers who share your brand: Social media contests encourage your existing users to share your brand in exchange for the chance at something free. You can also offer referral rewards directly to some of your most loyal customers.
  • Reward customers who order in bulk: offering bulk discounts on a website, or in-store, with clearly marked pricing, is a great way to encourage customers to spend more money than they otherwise may have.

More complicated rewards programs take the form of credit accounts offering cash back incentives for shopping at a certain place. These kinds of programs take a long time to finalize, but can be worth it if you can partner with a creditor.

Thoughts on Pricing and Choice

The final tip is to try and keep proportions in mind when pricing your upsell. Selling a product for $20, and then upselling for $90+ doesn’t really make sense. It’s a turnoff for the consumer, who is probably expecting to spend only a little bit more than he spent to begin with.

Try and keep 20-30% proportions in mind as you price your products, and don’t be afraid to test and figure out what the market will bear.

Also, don’t forget about cross-selling opportunities. Maybe you don’t sell a product directly but can find a way to get a commission on it. This is similar to an affiliate deal, where you bring someone a customer and they pay you for it. Cross selling allows you to expand your product offerings, and could lead to profitable partnerships as well.

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