Four Ways to Increase your Sales Speed Limit

What are the factors that limit your ability to grow your business and increase revenues? Do you give more credit to the dodgy economy than it deserves?

There is no question that luxury good products, like specialty foods, get hit harder in a slow economy, but jumping to the conclusion that lowering prices is the only way to beat it is a bigger mistake than you might think – because while you might gain a short-term boost, you will wreak havoc on your brand position and long-term profits.

There are at least four other things you can do before offering “blue light specials” – especially for high-end products like extra virgin olive oil when the news cycle is teeming with more stories about product fraud than health benefits. Rest assured, the pool of customers willing to pay top-dollar for the very best products is still out there.

1.    Use bad news. If stories about fraud have customers wary of brand choices, give them good reasons to separate you from the pack. Speak honestly about provenance: where the olives are grown, when they were picked and processed, what systems you have in place to protect product quality. And don’t gloss it over with just romantic imagery – romance is not a market differentiator in the olive oil business.

2.    Shrink the repurchase cycle. Think about the popular “green” movement: reduce, reuse, recycle. Reducing the time between repeat purchases is the fastest way to create a shorter purchase cycle pattern. Use any social media tool like Facebook, Twitter or Groupon and test it with a time-sensitive offer to your base.

3.    Let them play with their food. How many ways can you think of to use olive oil? Hundreds. Do your customers know all these ideas? Probably not. Can you create a mini-column in your newsletter to suggest three new ideas each month? Sure you can. Do you offer “chatback” for them to offer their own suggestions? Get 2-way conversations going. They will increase use, I promise.

4.    Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repeat business is your least expensive sale. And offering your best customer something exclusive will keep them in the fold. Can you supply tasting notes for your subscription customers that they wouldn’t receive otherwise? Can you send them a 2 oz sampler of a new product just for being a great customer? Hint: the sampler, of course, will introduce them to yet another product they’ll want to stock up on. It’s far better than a coupon for cash off.

There are lots of marketing approaches that might deserve your attention, but if you are having trouble getting going, just start in the slow lane with one or two. You’ll be passing up other brands in the fast lane any minute.

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