DC Tree Delivery is my first attempt at a seasonal business. I think it's a perfect side project because a) it has a defined time frame (Now - Dec. 2015) b) has minimal startup costs, and c) can be handled completely as a side project.
Idea: Home delivery, fresh-cut Christmas Trees to residents of greater Washington, DC.
Problem That Exists: Getting a Christmas Tree in the city is difficult. If you don't have a car, it's nearly impossible to get a tree home. If you do have a car, driving to a tree farm, getting sap everywhere, and setting it up in your house is a hassle.
Solution Provided: Deliver fresh-cut Christmas trees including a tree stand and setup so that setting up a Christmas Tree is as simple as ordering take out.
Target Market: Families that have purchased trees in the past but want a simpler solution this year (have car) or young professionals with disposable income who are living on their own for the first time (no car).
First Steps: In order to validate the idea, I spend the weekend talking to people outside busy subway stations. About 50% of people where interested in getting a tree delivered while the other 50% either had a fake tree, didn't celebrate holidays, or weren't interested for various other reasons. Generally, anyone interested in tree delivery wants a solution that was is as "out of the box" as possible. Most people wanted a tree stand and set up included. Since I felt like I had enough early validation, I wanted to get a broader understand of our potential customer base.
I crafted an email to friends and family with a very simple ask: take a short survey. I used Mail Merge to send 100 email but was hyper-aware about my sales funnel (more on that below). Here's the copy:
Hi <<First Name>>,
Thanks for opening this email! If you could please take a few moments to read it before deleting or clicking any links I'd really appreciate it!
A friend and I have been working on a concept that we think is simple, attainable, and has the potential to bring joy to hundreds of people in greater Washington, DC. Our idea is to sell, deliver, and set-up real Christmas trees to DC residents this 2015 holiday season, but with only 83 days, 22 hours, and 15 minutes till’ Christmas we’re going to need your help!
We'd love if you could help us by doing just 2 simple things:
1. Fill out a very short survey and sign up for our mailing list.
2. And if you're considering getting a tree, please buy one from us :)
Thank you for your feedback and support! Your input will go a long way in better serving our customers. As a special thank you, anyone who joins the mailing list will receive a holiday "GIF-Box" that's perfect for your inter-office email plus a 10% off early purchase promo code.
We hope to see you this holiday season!
Since I knew most of the recipients, I wanted to give them something for their time. Offering something free like a "GIF" box and coupon code was low lift and could increase conversions and initial sales. I was also hyper aware to make sure everyone that opened the survey also liked my Facebook page and signed up for a mailing list.
For the survey I used Typeform rather than SurveyMonkey because upon finishing the survey you can redirect users to a different page. After survey submission, I directed users to Wishpond where they are greeted to "like" our Facebook page and sign up for the mailing list. This helped keep people within the "sales funnel". I was pretty happy with the results:
100 emails sent
54 emails opened
53 surveys opened
53 surveys completed
29 Facebook likes
35 mailing list signups
At the end of the day, it would have been great to get more mailing list signups but looking at the email addresses, all of them were interested in purchasing a tree (aka our target customers).
Results: The sales funnel resulted in close to a 35% "close rate" which I was pretty happy with from an initial test. I discovered that most people interested in purchasing a tree were 1) women (65% were women vs 35% were men), 2) had purchased a tree in the past 3 years, and 3) would pay extra for a tree removal service.
Next Steps: Now that I know the target demographic via Facebook and email, I am going to run some targeted ads pushing people through an updated survey (still directing people to the Facebook and email list sign up).
I also did a huge amount of work on the wholesale tree market and will define that processes in a separate update.
If you're interested in providing some feedback (or getting a GIF-Box) the survey is here!