I’m a huge fan of the Side Hustle Nation podcast hosted by Nick Loper (I’ve even been a guest on the show 2 or 3 times). In a recent episode Nick spoke with Dustin Riechmann about new sales he created for an existing company in his city — a butcher shop selling a higher-end, clean-ingredient meat stick snack (this ain’t your little brother’s SlimJim!).
There were so many good lessons and application of creative concepts covered in this episode that I wanted to point out a few of the big ideas that I spotted, and recommend the episode to you (so you can catch any of the ideas I missed!).
Help others get a win
Dustin saw a local company with a great product that wasn’t taking advantage of online sales. Instead of going in and pitching them any sort of website design or online advertising package, Dustin offered to develop an e-commerce platform and sales strategy and NO COST to the company, and only asked for a small (really small!) commission on any sales he generated.
As Dustin’s efforts grew increasingly successful he negotiated a higher commission (all paid from the profits created from the new business he was generating), which culminated in him becoming a partner in the entire business.
Multiple Marketing Avenues
Too many businesses put all their eggs in a single marketing basket and are then at the mercy of “baskets”. If your entire marketing strategy is to singularly use social media advertising, or television ads, or post card mailers — you will be beholden to that advertising outlet when they change the game on you (increased rates or diminishing results or something else entirely beyond your control).
Dustin used online advertising via Facebook ads, but when the agency started charging more to manage the campaign than they were generating in sales, Dustin was in a position to kill the campaigns because he was already using online contesting, email marketing, radio advertising, and trade show events to generate leads and build his business.
Choosing an advertising medium and tracking results
I’ve been a long time fan of radio advertising. I think its (relatively) low cost in comparison to other traditional media allows it to outperform other advertising outlets and deliver a greater ROI on your marketing budget — but you have to do your radio advertising intelligently and track the results you’re getting, as well as ignore the naysayers until you can prove it for yourself (right or wrong). Dustin shared that he could tell when their ads ran because he’d see a temporary spike in site registrations and order conversions.
Dustin also used an online contesting tool that enticed registrants to share the contest in social media to earn additional entries in the free drawing. Dustin said they had a decent number of people sign-up, but once the contest got shared with the “freebie hunter” community, they ended up with a lot of contest-only sign-ups that never opened an email after the contest was over. Dustin monitored those results and was able to cull them from his list.
Swing for the fences
Whether you like shopping there or not, Walmart is one of the largest retailers in the world. If you can get your product into their stores, you have a chance to see your sales skyrocket. While most local small businesses might convince themselves that Walmart is out of their league, Dustin found a way to bypass the national approval process needed to get his product into Walmart by doing a little investigative work and learning that Walmart store managers had a certain amount of individual discretion to carry local products in their specific locations. Dustin approached the manager directly and after a minimal amount of hoop-jumping, he now has his products being carried in multiple Walmart stores. Do you think his relationships with local managers and familiarity with the vendor process will help him when he decides it’s time to go for a national deal? Of course it will!
Applying Outside Ideas
I tout this approach a lot; look outside your industry for new ideas. Dustin saw the schools that his children and the company owner’s children attended both ran fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for school activities and clubs by having the students sell popcorn or candy bars or wrapping paper (you’ve probably have kids in your neighborhood knocking on your own door to sell these items). Dustin approached the school and offered them a fundraising program for the students to sell his snack food product. He gave the school a great price and guaranteed he’d buy any unsold product back. The program was a success and the school gets to sell a unique local product and retain a higher percentage of the sales.
Dustin adapted another sales idea from the efforts of authors selling their books. You may have seen a “free book” deal online where the author promises to send you a copy of their book for free — all you have to do is pay for shipping and handling. Do you think those authors are really giving away their books? Of course not, the shipping cost they are charging covers the cost of the book (and then some!). Dustin adapted this idea for selling sampler packs of his snacks. People could receive a “free” pack of snacks if they’d just cover the shipping cost.
Because Dustin does a great job of tracking his sales conversions, he knew that he increased his ratio of repeat orders every time he got someone to try their product. Giving away these free sample packs allowed him to introduce a low-risk way for new customers to try (and fall in love with) the product.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the great ideas in Episode #391 of the Side Hustle Nation podcast. Click the link and go give it a listen for yourself (tell Nick I said hello!)