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A Brilliant Marketing Lesson from a Christmas Tree Farm

Most folks know that to get more revenue out of their customers, they should sell add-on products. However, some well-crafted add-on products not only give you more revenue at the time of the sale — they practically GUARANTEE that you will get more repeat business.Here’s a perfect example.

Author: Jeremy Harrison

December 22, 2008

You probably know that to get more revenue from your customers, you should upsell additional products at the time of the sale.  However, some well-crafted add-on products not only give you more revenue at the time of the sale — they practically GUARANTEE that you will get repeat business year after year.

Here’s a perfect example:

In our 9 years of marriage, my wife & I have always bought a real Christmas tree.Old tree stand with the threaded screws that never work

Once we got our tree home, I would always have a 90-minute wrestling match with the tree, trying to get the old-school stand attached to the tree, while my fingers were going numb in the cold. I was always exhausted and ticked off by the time the tree was finally standing in our living room.

Then 4 years ago, we wandered into a local Christmas tree farm for the first time and everything changed.

Upsell tree stand displayThey were selling the “Stand Strait Tree Stand System” — a Christmas tree stand that would supposedly eliminate all the things I hated about setting up my tree.  I probably paid about $25 bucks for the stand, but I didn’t care, if it would actually work the way they said it would. 

Before putting my tree in the truck the folks at the tree farm drilled a tapered hole in the trunk of our tree, using a special machine they had, which allowed us to get the tree standing perfectly straight before they drilled the hole.

When I got home, it worked exactly as promised.  I just slid the base into the tapered hole, attached a few legs, and my tree was standing, perfectly straight in about 60-seconds flat. 

Before this starts to sound like a pitch for a Christmas tree stand — let me get to my point.  

This is BRILLIANT marketing. Here are 3 reasons:

  1. new tree standThe Christmas tree farm addressed a major need & frustration that customers had when buying a tree.  This made the add-on product (the $25 stand) much easier to sell.
  2. The product placement was perfect.  If they tried to sell these in a department store, it would be much less effective.  But selling the stand while buying the tree made it hard to refuse.  I liken this to selling ice cream scoops and chocolate syrup on a rack in front of the ice cream freezer at the grocery store.

    Here’s the most brilliant part…

  3. This is the simple machine they use to drill the hole in the treeSince the product actually worked as described, the tree farm GUARANTEED return business from me and hundreds of other customers who bought the stand.  Why?  Because they had the machinery to drill the tapered hole.  Sure, I could buy a tree somewhere else, and go out and buy a tapered drill bit.  But I won’t.  Their system worked perfectly, and changing it could create another headache like I experienced before I bought their stand.   As a result, we have returned to the same tree farm the past 4 years, and will continue to buy from them as long as they keep drilling the hole in the tree for us.  Do other farms offer the same service?  I’m sure some do, but I won’t waste time going anywhere else, because I already know where I can find this service.

Here’s what we can learn to have similar success & get more repeat business…

First, whatever products or services you sell, identify the headaches that people associate with the product or service. 

Next — find a product that can help eliminate the headache.  Something has probably already been created.  If so, work out a partnership to sell that product as an add-on while selling your products or services.  If you can’t find a product that eliminates the hassle, then you have an even better opportunity to invent one — but we won’t get into that here. 

Finally, up-sell that add-on product EVERY TIME you sell your product or service.  If possible, find a way to combine a service of your own to make the product more convenient for your customer.  (In my example, drilling the hole in the tree was the service they offered to accompany the add-on product).

Do this consistently and you will not only get more add-on sales up front, you will also ensure that people keep returning to you to buy products and services for years to come.

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