I was personally surprised that the search term for selling succulents was so popular. When I think of succulents, I think of a cactus, similar to the ones I’ve seen on long drives through the desert. But they are so much more! Melissa Murphy started Succulent Studios in her backyard and they carry 180 different varieties of those fleshy, juicy plants. In just three and a half years, they have grown their business selling succulents to shipping out over 60-75K orders monthly. That’s a lot of plants and a lot of shipping!
It was inspiring to hear Melissa’s story because they are still very grassroots and self-funded. In this way, she and her husband have bought their freedom and kept the fun factor intact. However, they have a very workable system and as a SaaS company (subscription as a service,) they grow and rotate plants on a 1 ½ to 2-year cycle. Their low entry price-point and flexibility keeps customers coming as they can’t wait to receive their monthly baby succulents!
There are many steps involved in selling succulents as a business, from choosing plants, growing the plants, finding your ideal customer, then actually shipping the plants. Also, when setting up a SaaS system, you have to have the back-end support for all the labels, orders, cancellations and changes. There were some basics I took from our interview that I feel are important for any business, some with an interesting twist. I will cover three of those here that may just help you stand out a little more from the others in your field.
One: Know What Sells
I gained a really valuable idea from interviewing Melissa for Women at Halftime Podcast. She takes on the mindset of a serial shopper. By doing this, she knows what gets her to buy. If you take on this attitude of looking at products for several days in a row, you can discover what works and what type of products are selling. The items you see may have nothing directly to do with your product, but the type of feeling you get from the marketing and the ads have everything to do with how you portray your product.
Some would just call this marketing, but it’s more than that. Taking stock of the type of products that are selling and are being marketed aggressively is very valuable information. When another company is willing to pour money into marketing a particular product, they are taking the risk with a given demand. Borrowing marketing ideas, graphics and even some of the copy, put in your own words, is extremely helpful. I’m not talking about plagiarism here but merely creating your own version of what is working!
As an interesting side note, music composers have done this for years. Elton John studied the Bach Chorales and used many of the chord progressions. Going back further, Bach based many of his chorales on traditional hymns. Many of the hymns were taken from drinking songs in the local pub. It’s a practice that goes back centuries! Study the market like a serial shopper and figure out what you’d like to buy. That will give you a clue on what will sell.
Two: Ability to Customize
Most small business owners know the value of keeping a customer. It can cost up to 5x more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing customer, according to an Outbound Engine article. Your customer’s needs will change, guaranteed. Creating a great system for customer service and for easy reorders with your products and offerings keeps your name fresh in your customer’s minds. Especially in a crowded marketplace.
The biggest jump I’ve noticed in the marketplace in the past years is the migration to a SaaS system for many businesses. If set up correctly, consistent emails will be sent, products will be renewed or added and there is a greater chance for customer retention. The system I have set up on the back end of my products is Digital Access Pass, a membership platform. Along with a couple other software platforms, (including Thrive Themes) I create dripped emails, lead magnets and online programs. Doing all this takes work on the back end with a system that will work for you.
Succulent Studios has a system that customizes the ability to ship anywhere with a basic subscription. This means you can gift one of your months. This is extremely valuable in corporations wanting to gift a client or employee and has kept their emphasis on keeping a forever customer. A customer is never deleted from their database and even if not ordering, will receive information from time to time. With succulents experiencing a cold weather hold at certain times of the year in different locations, they have to maximize their sales during times they can effectively ship live plants. All of this takes customization in many areas and is a good principle for anyone in business.
Three: Willingness to Fail
One of my main questions for Succulent Studios was if they were going to offer larger products and packages in the future. Their entry cost point is very low and with already shipping 60,000 units a month, I wondered how Melissa saw their future growth. Her reply was to expand with other businesses under their main selling succulent’s business entity umbrella. This means she has to be willing to fail.
In fact, failure is one of the greatest measuring sticks for what doesn’t work. As a creator of many projects, I have experienced this quite a bit in my business! But that doesn’t mean I quit! I have put a system in place to tweak and slightly change messaging, products and timing, both in speaking and music products.
Many entrepreneurs are not prepared for failing fast on their watch, especially when coming from a day-job environment. (see article: Day Job) In the book, Fail Fast, Fail Often by Babineaux & Krumboltz, they conclude that happy and successful people tend to spend less time planning and more time acting. In doing so, they benefit from unexpected experiences and opportunities. This is not to discount planning, but the important takeaway here is to not be afraid of failure and to also learn from the experience, with a willingness to change, fast. For any of you creatives out there, this is super-valuable advice! I look forward to hearing of your progress! Get these articles weekly in your inbox here!
Interesting Succulent Facts
Creating a great system for customer service and for easy reorders with your products and offerings keeps your name fresh in your customer’s minds. Especially in a crowded marketplace.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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