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Omaha Steaks: Carving Out a 21st Century Sales Model

"You can also use the information to improve your business. It's like free market research. The important thing in social media is to keep a balance between a two-way dialogue and promotions. It's a great way to put something very special in front of the people that have already raised their hand and said 'We think you're special.' And we can reward our new customers," without spending a lot.

The company remains committed to the luddites among its loyal customer base: "Today, as a multichannel marketer we still honor the customer's desire to purchase from us in whatever way is more comfortable for the customer. We still have people, believe it or not, who mail orders in. We still have people that fax in their orders. Most of our customers either call their orders in or order online," Simon says. "We're fine with that as a company. We're totally agnostic."

"There's a conversation going on whether you're participating or not. So it's important that you participate," Simon says. "Our plan is to further expand both our social media and mobile commerce initiatives and focus on developing convenient, complete meals designed to fit the busy lifestyles of our customers."

Simon admits that the social media and mobile platforms aren't the largest contributor to sales, but says it's important to be in the space. Omaha Steaks does not release revenue by channel.

"There's a convergence happening between social media and mobile. At some point when those two converging concepts become fully integrated, there will be a lot more revenue opportunity," he adds.

Location, location, location

The focus on the virtual sales world shouldn't obscure the real world GPS advantage of the company. Omaha Steaks considers its location -- in the heart of beef land -- an advantage, because it can answer the growing consumer demand for "locally-sourced" products. Omaha Steaks also considers the aging of its meats -- an old-world art that requires time, patience and expertise -- another big competitive edge, Simon says.

"Most of the high-turnover, high-volume operations can't offer that," Simon says.

Most importantly, the company is in control of all of the facets that go into creating and selling their product.

"We cut our own steaks. We package them ourselves. We age them ourselves. We ship them ourselves. We own all of our customer touch points," he says. "Everything is within our control so we don't leave anything to chance. We think that's a big competitive advantage."

And while the company defines success as adapting to technological change, it defines its mission in an entirely different way. Omaha Steaks isn't a grocery store, nor does it really consider grocery stores its primary competitor. It's looking to sell high-quality steaks and other products to fulfill the "fine-dining family get together experience," Simon says.
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