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The Shot Glass Technique: How to Upsell for More Conversions

In 2011 the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore sold merchandise to crazed fans and tourists. It was reported they sold nearly 500,000 shot glasses in one summer, which Adweek says helped Viacom (the guys who own MTV) seal off a $2.4 billion year.

These kids who loved nothing more than “gym, tan, laundry” used an advanced technique of upselling – the art of selling a bit more to an already interested costumer – to make millions during summer 2011.

When I heard this story on the news, I had one of those “wait, our blogs can do this too!” moments that I think you’ll want to read about.

P.S. And make sure to watch the hilarious video at the end.

Marketing Wizardry? How They Got Sales

The Jersey Shore was a lifestyle show.

Parties, drinks, excess, more drinks, hot tubs, hot hoagies, and more. And the American public wanted in on it.

See, while the Shore featured rather dense Italian kids, it was run by marketing wizards. The marketers knew people would buy merchandise to get a piece of this awesome lifestyle. And so, at every cash register in “Shore Stores” was a stack of fresh shot glasses.

Simply put, the cashiers asked every customer,
“Would you like a signature shot glass with your order?”
And nearly everyone said,
“Yes please!”

This little extra purchase was irresistible to a costumer who already loved the show. And what’s a few bucks more when you’re already shelling out $50 for a rhinestone T-shirt.

It was all about upselling, the art of asking an already interested costumer if they want a little more.

Remember how McDonald’s used to ask “Would you like to Supersize it” to everyone, before that became illegal? Same exact principle.

So what’s my New Year’s Resolution?

All you guys who navigated here through my Newsletter congrats! You now get to find out my resolution: It’s simply, to ask for more this year.

Huh?

I mean I plan to ask for a bit more, be bolder, and try despite my often inhibiting shy and polite tendencies to get a bit more out of each interaction.

Sounds like fun, huh? Now keep reading for the how part of this strategy…

It’s a Simple Marketing Strategy

…And one that works. I’d like to show you who else upsells in our daily environments before I go into how to do this on your blog.

Who else upsells to us? Let’s see:

  1. Restaurants
    When a waiter asks us if we’d like some wine with our meal, or a bit of dessert after, that’s an upsell. Usually we say yes and end up spending more, though we might not realize it.
  2. Hotels
    Receptionists are trained to ask if we’d like access to the pool, a premium movie service, or a nice bit of room service. If you’re already staying in a hotel, why not indulge?
  3. Cable Companies
    They are perhaps the best at it. They throw package offers at us like optional Tivo, On-Demand, ShowTime, Sports Packages, High-Speed internet, you name it. I honestly don’t even know everything I pay for in my cable bill because there are so many ridiculous addons.

As you can see, the upsell is nothing new. Companies have used it for centuries to jack up their earnings from these already interested costumers.

How to Upsell and Take Advantage of Hype

The shot glass sales from Jersey Shore were a result of hype.

At some point a J-Shore team member realized they could either not offer the shot glasses and make a lot, or offer them and make a TON.

But, can you imagine how many shot glasses would have sold if no one had heard of Jersey Shore. Probably less than 100. Like I said above, the shots were a “little bit more”. Of course an already interested customer would opt-in and buy one, why not? It was almost as if they stood to lose by not getting one, because everyone thought they were so darn cool.

Now, let’s move focus to your blog. You may never have heard of upselling, but you surely know about asking readers to subscribe by email, post blog comments, and do other simple tasks if they like your work. So how do you know if you have “interested costumers?” Well, these can be people who are simply on your blog!

If you have blog hype you can use direct calls to action to get:

  1. More email followers:
    I place a subscribe form below my posts that operates at around 2% conversion rate. Not amazing, but I figure if someone has read the whole post they like me enough to opt-in.
  2. More comments:
    I put clear call to actions for comments in post intros and in the conclusions. Sometimes people forget they even can comment and it helps to remind them. Plus I just love comments all around.
  3. A much larger following:
    Again, if you’ve generated enough interest in a post a reader probably won’t mind following you. I find my sidebar is the best place to tell readers then can get a little more from me on Twitter and Google +.

Why This Stuff Works…It’s All About The Reader

Most of us take individual readers for granted and it’s hurting our blogging.

We want 1000 readers. We want sky-rocketing traffic. But in wanting this we take for granted the few readers we do have. Honestly, having just 5-10 loyal readers on your blog is amazing!

As a writer and blogger, you’re just one person. So to really execute an upsell, you have to put yourself in the reader’s shoes and understand they too are just one person. They have needs and wants just like you. If your writing satisfies their needs (and this isn’t easy to do) then you have every right to upsell.

And when you upsell for comments, subscribers, and followers like I indicated above, you really stand to grow your blogging empire over time. More will join in, and your efforts will snowball because more comments beget more comments, and same goes for subscribers and followers.

Think about how quickly Darren Rowse’s fan club grows each day. It’s exponential at this point, and it works largely because he asks readers to give a little more and join in.

Landing Page Strategy

If you saw my post on landing pages that REALLY convert you know that a serious upsell requires, well, a whole page.

And we call them landing pages.

If you create a landing page that generates serious hype, readers will have no choice but to join your offer. Want some examples? Well, Glen Allsop, Darren Rowse, and even young Alex Mangini do this really well, all with different types of offers of course.

Affiliate Marketing and My 2013 Guide (out soon!)

You might have guessed that something more valuable existed in an upsell aside from some measely blog comments and Twitter followers.

Well if you wondered this, the answer is affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is an upsell in the truest sense – you attract someone’s following and interest via a great blog with detailed reviews, then ask hey, “want to try this product I’ve used?”

If your reader actually needs the product and likes you enough to click a link, you’ll earn a commission.

I won’t say a lot more, because I have an Affiliate Marketer’s 2013 Guide coming out soon on my friend Marko’s blog that you’ll want to read right away.

Just know that affiliate marketing is a great way of asking for a bit more.

Conclusion: Is Upselling Bad?

I’d like to present you with these neat video from Coke Zero on asking for more. It’s actually one of my favorite commercials ever.

The guy dominates life by asking for a bit more. Neat, huh?

Given how upselling is used to get more out of a costumer, sometimes when they don’t know it, do you think it’s bad strategy? Are you morally against the upsell, or will you try it out? Might you ask “And?” too ;)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on upselling and asking for a bit more in the comments.



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13 comments, add some wisdom...


  1. Sid says:

    Wow, it’s kinda fresh monetisation technique and I’ve never tried this before on my blog. Let’s see what happens. Awaiting for your eBook. Thanks for sharing Greg.

  2. We just started using upsells by asking customers if they wanted a greeting card with their gift basket. They can personalize the card. We get 57% purchase as it is something they want. We also offer a bear for baby baskets. This is only successful 21% of time which is still pretty good.

  3. Elena says:

    To earn with direct advertisers you typically need a lot of traffic. When you need a lot of traffic in order to earn you depend on Google and its a horrible place to be in. That’s why I say it’s terrible.

  4. Elena says:

    It depends on website. I have a women’s magazine and despite it has the highest traffic from all my websites, it doesn’t do well with affiliates. Adsense and direct advertising works best there – horrible, I know! And another one, home decorating, pretty much the same.

    I like my tech blog (which is not really a blog, it’s’ more tutorial oriented) where I can pitch something I use and know really well. There is a great power in helping people solve real problems. They will make an effort to make sure they buy via your link. It feels much better to be yourself and do what you love.

    • Greg Narayan says:

      That’s cool to hear about your sites Elena. I totally agree, folks will navigate back to your pages to hit a link before buying if they like you.

      I bash Adsense a lot, but what’s wrong with the direct ad method?

      Helping people solve real world problems…hmm, I like it! Haha ;)

  5. Elena says:

    Great post Greg. I definitely have a problem with asking for more. Partially because I am shy, and partially because I earn mainly by selling advertising, Adsense and affiliate commissions (I have several websites). I will focus more on affiliates in 2013, so hopefully I will have more chances to practice this subtle art.

  6. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Wow greg,

    I have never heard about upselling and how It works, but you gave a helpful guide. This is what I have already been doing on my blog and this is a great strategy too.

    I’ll be waiting for your affiliate marketing 2013 guide :)

  7. Shahzad says:

    Greg, Just great.
    At first I thought, dearblogger is going under a transitional stage. Earlier we found some basic blog tips around here but now its like you are changing your voice, going like EJ (entrepreneurs-journey.com) style. Comparing blogging with real life incident is great, really great. What I would like to say is to keep going…

    About upselling tips I’ve learned here… After pushing the submit comment here, I’ll head over to my blog now and will start implementing it.

    Waiting for your next post :)
    Take care

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