By identifying other needs your customers have, you can actually buy and resell products to serve them. Take Tony Gyke. Tony needed more than promotion to jumpstart his small business, Skip’s Propeller Service. Tony had built a solid reputation as the leading repair service for in Western Pennsylvania, focusing on repairing the propellers on outboard motors. It was a good business during the summer, when people used their boats. Unfortunately, between fall and spring, sales were dead.
Tony considered a number of options. He could advertise in other markets and have people sent their propellers for repair by mail. But a review of the competition in other markets led him to conclude that would be a high risk undertaking. What else could he sell to his existing customers? What were his customer’s needs? He knew that they all had boats. Tony figured that if he had products they could use for their boats, they would just as soon buy from him as anyone. And he was right.
He started with ropes, bumpers, cushions and tarps. After one season, he had doubled his sales, just by selling more boating supplies. Then, he had a breakthrough. Someone asked him if he carried water-skiing supplies. What he found, by talking to his customers, that 80% of them were using their boats for water-skiing and wake-boarding. He bought a few wakeboards, some water-skiing supplies, some wet suits, and doubled his sales again. Then, another breakthrough. He found out that the wakeboarders had other passions. In the winter, they did snowboarding. And, when they weren’t on the water, many were skateboarders. So he bought some snowboards. Then skateboards. Sales doubled again. He had increased sales EIGHT TIMES in three years by just listening to customers.
Tony discovered something else: his customers had friends. They told others about the wakeboards, skateboards and snowboards, so he was getting customers he never had before. Summer, fall, winter and spring. He created a website so people didn’t even have to come in. They could buy from home. He gave “Ultimate Edge” Points to people who sent him new customers, and pretty soon, old customers were actually looking for new ones. Business doubled again.
Tony still sells propellers and repairs them, too. But his growth is in a new category, created by leveraging his customer base. By understanding the products they needed that are related to their existing needs, he both served them better and created an all season business. He created more revenue from his existing customers and leveraged them to get new customers. All without advertising, new product development or salespeople. Ultimate Edge uses the ultimate marketing weapon: customer leverage.