When I started studying direct marketing more than thirty years ago, I remember the newness that every new concept I learned had for me.  I was particularly interested in the mail order business. I developed some designs for roll top furniture, got a small classified ad in Handyman magazine, and waited for the orders to start coming in.  The orders did come in, but I was a bit inexperienced and my first campaign didn’t last very long. However, it made me hungry for more marketing knowledge.

I remember clearly the sense of awe I felt when I read that you should try to retain your customers and, to that end, you should develop complementary products that they may need.  I learned that it was easier to retain a customer than to find new ones.  Up until then, I had only thought of selling my designs.  It never occurred I could sell different things to the same customer, but then I realized that the mail order business was like any other business.

My eyes were opened and I began to notice businesses more.  Few stores can survive by selling one product only.  Even the electric company in my little town started selling appliances at some point.  Years later, the most incredible thing happened… Wal-Mart came to town; it was like a mini-mall without dividing walls.

Internet marketers now-a-days act like they just discovered America when they talk or teach about lateral sales, or up-selling, or one time offers.  Heck, even today when I go to Nicaragua to visit my mother, I like to see the fruit lady pushing the fruit cart calling from house to house.  If you stop to buy a mango, she tries to sell you a banana as well, and she didn’t learn that trick reading about the mail order business or listening to internet marketers.

Complementing the sale of a product with another must date back to the beginning of human trading.  But it is true that certain practices become more popular at certain times. I remember when McDonald’s began to do up-sells, “Would you like some French fries with that?” When I worked in the newspaper industry, we got the local McDonald’s to sell our newspaper as an up-sell when a customer ordered a meal.

Small internet marketers should also develop a product ‘line,’ whether you develop the product or not. My great uncle was a pharmacist; he used to bottle his own Quinine, which he sold along with standard medicine.  When his son took over the pharmacy, he wasn’t interested in bottling Quinine or Sarsaparilla, or mixing some herbs; he just wanted to sell someone else’s products.  He was extremely successful doing just that.

It is easy for a pharmacy to have repeat customers, but an internet marketer must develop his own list of customers and keep in touch with them, just like veterinarians send reminders to their patients… of all ‘people.’  You cannot have repeat sales unless you have repeat buyers. It is the easiest way to multiply your sales.

Selling on the internet is not much different than selling offline. The medium is different, but the principles are the same. However, learning how to drive traffic to your website and building a customer list is crucial to the success of any internet marketer. Learn more about developing a Customer Database and creating your online marketing strategy.
Juan J. Carcache