The Business Blog Authority

Back end products: the secret to niche marketing

by Brian Brown (follow me on Twitter): April 17, 2008


A back-end product is something you sell to a customer after they have made their original purchase. Back-end products often result in more profit than the original purchase did, and sometimes makes the original purchase worth giving away for free.

Nicche Diabolical Gillette razors
Long ago, when I entered my beloved dormitory called "Upper Tupper" at the University of Vermont for the first time, I was presented with a box that held all kinds of nifty stuff for students. One of these super-cool items was a Gillette razor. I still remember the wood handle with notches every few millimeters that provided a steady grip under wet conditions.

Before going to college, my shaving experience included the joy of the Bic disposable razor, the elation of using a Schick disposable (because dad was out of the Bics), and the mystery of the electric razor, seemingly designed to give you a consistent 4 o'clock shadow with every shave. At my first day of college, for the first time in my life, I held a serious shaving tool in my hands, and it felt great!

The diabolical mastermind that is the Gillette marketing department has been written about elsewhere in great detail. Suffice to say that by giving me a free $7 razor, they have probably made up for their "loss" a few times over. Their back-end product, the blades for the free handles, are now like $40 at Costco for maybe 20. I mean, holy crap, they're expensive.

GilletteYet, I still shave with a Gillette, though it's now called the Fusion (not to be confused by the car...I made that mistake once and ended up with tire tracks across my face). I even buy the special Fusion shaving cream that matches the razor's oh-so-orange packaging (I swear the shaving cream is necessary for the best shave).

Back-end products and blogs
You are building an audience. Readers return to your blog because you are an expert of something they care about. Your niche is superbly defined to your market. You have your customers interested in your main product or they have already bought it. Now what?

You must keep selling people who have already proven themselves to be customers. It is so much easier to sell something to someone who has already purchased from you than it is to get someone new to buy something from you. Make use of this and don't stop until you've exhausted all the possibilities.

If you make chess pieces, sell the board, a carrying case, and then get creative. How about creating a chess clock out of the same wood the pieces are made from? How about making a checker set for the board you know they already have? Backgammon? Even Monopoly! Who wouldn't want a hand-carved monopoly set complete with a maple top hat? Your customers have already established themselves as game players who appreciate finely crafted artistic pieces that replace the ordinary. Exploit that.

I swear, if someone doesn't start a company hand carving chess pieces because of the posts I've written this week, they are totally missing out on a gold mine. I wish I could whittle!

Create the perfect products for your audience
The thing is that selling to people who follow your blog is easy. You already know what they're interested in. They are interested in what you are writing about, and who knows about what you're writing about better than you? Even if you aren't sure, you can always ask your readerswith a quick email survey, or even ask them in a post and let them answer in the comments.

Once you know what they are interested in, come up with products. And then...come up with more products. Keep selling to the people who already bought until 1) you don't get any response to a product, or 2) you retire to Vieques where you can swim with the glow-in-the-dark plankton.

[Photo at the top of this post: Line of Butts by Jeff Kubina at Flickr, used with permission under creative commons copyright.]

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