Have you ever thought that people might pay to watch you work? I’ve paid to see plenty of people work in my time, and you probably have too. Factory tours and skill demonstrations are examples of instances where both individuals and companies earn an additional income by allowing the public behind the scenes to see ‘how it’s done’. Might your business or field of expertise be something that people would be interested in viewing up close? If so, it could provide an additional source of revenue either through paid for guided tours, or free tours culminating in a product sales pitch.
Only you will know what relevance this has for your situation, but don’t sell yourself short. Just because what you do may seem mundane and uninteresting to you, doesn’t mean others will feel the same way.
Large companies are increasingly looking for new ways to link up and engage with their customers, and when they do, it can throw up some interesting ideas.
Heinz recently ran a campaign via their Facebook page in which customers could sign up to send a personalised can of Tomato or Chicken soup to a friend who was unwell. The idea was that this would be a sort of edible ‘Get Well Soon’ card. The cans were delivered within three or four days, adorned by a Heinz style Get Well label bearing the recipient’s name.
Apparently the campaign was a big success when measured by the amount of activity it generated on Twitter and other social media sites. You may not manufacture soup, but the obvious question to ask yourself here is whether there is some way you could produce a personalised version of your product which customers might pay to have sent to friends. If there is, it could generate both revenue and valuable PR.
Paying the same price and getting half as much doesn’t sound a promising business model, but when you look a little more closely at Halfsies, it starts to make sense. Halfsies is a dining experience with a difference. It’s a concept which helps people lose weight, reduces waste and fights world hunger at the same time. So hopefully, everybody wins.
At the moment, Halfsies is a social initiative based in Austin Texas and New York City, which aims to team up with local restaurants. Those who participate choose a set of meals on their menu that comply with the programme and are designated with a special symbol. The customer receives a half portion of the meal while still paying full price. Ninety per cent of the proceeds go to support the fight against hunger with the remainder going towards running the Halfsies operation.
This idea seems to have great potential and could certainly be imported to the UK. Many diners are keen to lose weight and happy to support charities fighting world hunger. The challenge seems to be balancing this off against the need for restaurants to make a profit in difficult times. I see no reason why this can’t be run in a way which enables the restaurant and organisers to make a profit while helping the good cause at the same time though.
Subscription based businesses provide regularity and continuity of income. If you have a subscription-based business, you start each month knowing that you have some foundation income you can rely upon. So what makes a good basis for a subscription business? Well in a nutshell, the subscription business model tends to lend itself to products which are needed regularly and consumable. Two UK businesses I came across recently fit the bill nicely.
‘Kopi’ send its subscribers a different gourmet coffee each month. The company place great emphasis on the quality and freshness of their product, and the fact that each blend is carefully selected by experts. Trinkets offers something which fits the regularity and consumability criteria just as well – if not better. Tampons. Customers get the choice of 3, 4 or 5 week delivery cycles (no pun intended) depending on their personal requirements.
Although the consumable/regularity criteria are in place for both businesses, each has an additional and separate advantage. With Trinkets, it’s the convenience of having something necessary delivered to the door without having to think about it. With Kopi it’s the pleasure and excitement to be had from getting something new and different delivered each month.
I’ve looked at a lot of subscription businesses over the past year or so and I’m sure there are many more lucrative opportunities out there. Think in terms of the key criteria and you won’t go far wrong.
According to the Craft and Hobby Association in America, the US craft and hobby industry is valued at $29 Billion. One company taking advantage is ‘For The Makers’, a New York based company that sends out kits containing materials and instructions for 4-6 craft DIY projects each month.
The kits are despatched in return for a $29 per month subscription and subscribers also get access to online instructions and support together with a facility to share photographs, experience and advice with other subscribers.
This is yet another example of a subscription based business model. The advantages are well documented – reliable, repeat business each month with no additional marketing required.
Is this something you could copy here in the UK? The company only deliver to the US at the moment. If it’s not for you, what about the wider market? Based on the US figures the UK craft and hobbies market is probably worth at least £3 Billion. What else might ‘hobbyists’ be prepared to buy on subscription?