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Marketing

Challenging the ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ principle of business

While it seems like we’re going against common sense to challenge the low hanging fruit principle, there’s growing evidence that breaking out the ladder and going higher up the tree could be better for business.

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low hanging fruit

It’s that tired gardening analogy that every sales and marketing article talks about. The ‘low-hanging fruit’ principle has been written about so many times, that it is now widely accepted as canon. Who in their right mind wouldn’t agree that targeting easily attainable goals that lead to the quickest results is the best strategy for business?

Apparently, a lot of people.

While it seems like we’re going against common sense to challenge this principle, there’s growing evidence that breaking out the ladder and going higher up the tree could be better for business.

When high quality leads pay off

Take offering discounts as an example. This is a common and effective way of giving ‘low-hanging’ prospects the final push to purchase from you with minimal effort from your sales team. Your customers save some money and you get inventory moving, it’s a win-win right?

"Customers that require more nurturing are more likely to build a relationship with your business than one-off sales spurred by deep discounts."

Well, you might be the one losing out in this scenario.

Strategies to make a quick sale are a great way to generate interest in your brand and get people through the door. But while your sales numbers go up, this principle doesn’t do much to guarantee repeat business.

Of course, we aren’t ruling out the fact that some will be won over by the quality of your product and service. But it won’t be easy, given that your customers’ ultimate motivation was a price cut.

Customers that require more nurturing are more likely to build a relationship with your business than one-off sales spurred by deep discounts. While these ‘high-hanging’ leads take longer to make a decision, they become higher quality customers that are willing to pay full price for your products and services.

Looking beyond the numbers

Working on the same principle, focusing on existing customers should be a priority over acquiring new ones. After all, the numbers show that it is easier and less costly to cross-sell compared to grooming new leads until they convert.

Unfortunately, running a business is more complicated than creating a steady stream of income and hoping it stays that way. Failing to prioritise growth will cause your business to stagnate, making it vulnerable to any sudden changes. Just think of small businesses that close up shop after losing their biggest client.

Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s okay to neglect your existing customer base. But having a strong customer acquisition strategy and always working towards growing your market ensures that your eggs aren’t all in one basket, giving you a resilient business.

The danger of being too comfortable

Apart from lead and customer acquisition, the ‘low-hanging fruit’ principle can also be applied to product development. When one product or service is doing well, our initial response is to produce more and milk it for as long as we can.

But when things are going great, you should consider doing the opposite—shift your focus on developing new products or services to improve your line up.

The reason is simple. You can only increase production of a particular item so much until demand wanes and your profit margins get smaller. It’s basic economics—there comes a point where adding more inventory will no longer equate with increased sales.

But why would you burden yourself with coming up with something new, when it would be easier to stick to what’s already working?  Well, keep in mind that today’s market is extremely fickle-minded. If you don’t prioritise product development, you’ll be left in the dust when your competitors come up with the next big thing.

Choosing efficiency over ease

By challenging the ‘low-hanging fruit’ principle in sales and marketing, are we unnecessarily making things harder for ourselves?

The answer is no. Of course, there is a need to balance the need for quick wins and building for long term goals. But instead of going for what’s easy, let’s think in terms of efficiency. If long-term strategies produce better results, then maybe it is time to treat the ‘high-hanging’ and ‘low hanging’ fruit with the same amount of care and effort.

Upgrading to new technology, exploring alternative methods of reaching out to customers, constantly innovating on your products and services—these sound a lot to take on. But more than being a gamble, challenging yourself and going higher up the tree keeps you competitive, and more importantly—relevant.

Pia Rios

is head of marketing for Alltel Australia. Her expertise in digital marketing, brand, and business communications has been key in helping businesses achieve their marketing goals and bottom line. Connect with her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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