Sramana: How do consumers find out that you have this consultative phone selling option when they visit your website?
Mercia Tapping: When consumers go to the product page and they press an expert review tab or scroll down, they will find that information. We also get a lot of word-of-mouth advertising at this time. People refer us to their friends and tell them about the consultative phone experience.
Sramana: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Mercia Tapping: The only advice I have for newer entrepreneurs is that it always takes longer than you think it should take. Realize that early. It takes more money than you think it should. One has to be incredibly persistent. The Internet is fascinating, but it is a fast-moving business. Like every other company, we are dipping our toes into social media. Entrepreneurs have to be flexible.
I am always advising my staff that just because something worked last year that does not mean it will work this year. You have to think outside of the box in order to stay in the game.
Sramana: It looks like you have a business that has found its stride. What kind of growth rate are you experiencing, and what kind of growth rate do you think you will be able to achieve ?
Mercia Tapping: To be perfectly honest, with the recession of the past few years our growth rate has slowed considerably. What we are experiencing at the moment is frustrating. We can see that our traffic is up. The total number of orders is up 20%, but people are spending much less money per order.
We have a growth rate in the low single digits, whereas before we always enjoyed growth rates of well over 20%. I am assuming like everything else that ‘this too shall pass.’ I think that we need to keep looking for new products and keep pushing forward. When consumers spend more, we will be doing extremely well.
Sramana: I think it will take time for consumers to feel comfortable to spend more. Part of that is credit.
Mercia Tapping: I completely agree. In some ways this is not the most exciting part of the company’s growth, but since we have managed to increase the number of orders by a considerable amount I think that if we had not done that, we would be in trouble. We are still able to keep our heads above water and our staff in place. I am the person who sources the new strategy. I always carry a memo list which I call my rabbit list because I am not sure where I will pull the rabbit out of the hat next year. I am always looking for new ways to make money, and I believe that a good entrepreneur can do that even in a down economy.
Sramana: This was very interesting; thank you for sharing your story.