What Is Low-Hanging Fruit In Business?

By Sky Ariella
Aug. 11, 2022

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If you attend enough business strategy meetings, chances are that you’ll hear the term “low-hanging fruit” at some point.

In this article, you’ll learn about what low-hanging fruit is, what it means in business, and the upsides and downsides of going after the low-hanging fruit.

  • Low-hanging fruit refers to tasks that are easy to accomplish but have a less valuable reward than the more difficult tasks.

  • Focusing only on low-hanging fruit in business will keep you and your company from growing.

  • While it shouldn’t be the main focus, low-hanging fruit still has value and shouldn’t be ignored as you work toward big goals and tasks.

What is Low-Hanging Fruit in Business?

What Is Low-Hanging Fruit In Business?

In business, the metaphor of low-hanging fruit is employed to describe the series of tasks towards a goal.

The low-hanging fruits are simple tasks that are attained quickly but often are medial and unimportant. The fruits on the tops of the trees represent larger chores that require more time and commitment. However, they ultimately reap a more valuable reward.

The two kinds of fruit represented in the example of the tree are not mutually exclusive when it comes to their place in business. In fact, the low-hanging fruit in the professional world acts as stepping stones toward the higher apples and oranges when it has a directed purpose that’s useful to a long-term business plan.

When formulating larger professional goals, it’s inevitable for some simpler tasks to lead up to the greater objective.

These miniature goals are the low-hanging fruit of business.

Examples of Low-Hanging Fruit in Business

Although low-hanging fruit tasks are smaller endeavors than long-term goals, they’re still a crucial part of the process of finding business success. Below are a few examples of low-hanging fruit in business that adds up to achieving a grander plan:

  1. The reuse of a marketing strategy that previously worked for the company. When a marketing strategy has worked for a business in the past, they’ll often return to it when their sales are slipping. The thought process is that if it was effective the first time, it produces the same results when recreated.

    This is an example of low-hanging fruit in business because the company is sticking with previous ways of accomplishing a marketing goal that already worked instead of forming something new.

    Employing the same productive marketing strategy for a company once or twice over might create a similar outcome.

    However, falling into a pattern of using the same blueprint for success, time after time, because it’s easier decreases the long-term effectiveness.

  2. Focusing on former customers instead of sourcing new clients. It’s much more straightforward to target previous customers than finding new ones, which is why many businesses use this tactic. While focusing primarily on an already established customer base makes sales easier to attain, it can also limit long-term growth.

    Consider a company that has a healthy client base of 400 sales per month.

    They choose to center their strategy around catering to these individuals who have already purchased in the past. It works for a little while, but over time, customers drop off, and 400 sales a month slowly becomes half that.

    Since there wasn’t any attention paid to bringing in new consumers, the company becomes too reliant on its current clients and begins to dwindle.

    This is an example of putting too much stock in low-hanging fruit goals. If the company had put energy into sourcing new clients additionally, their numbers would’ve steadily risen instead of declining.

  3. Diving into a website’s analytics. Website analytics is a useful tool that tells a business about their online traffic. It shows information like how many people are visiting a website a day and how long they peruse the pages. Many companies look to analytics as a description of their success and use it to form their goals for the future.

    For a business that doesn’t understand anything about who is visiting their website, analytics is a perfect starting point for an online marketing strategy. While it provides companies with a wealth of information about their website traffic, boosting analytics is still considered low-hanging fruit.

    There’s value in diving into website analytics, but it’s an easier task that doesn’t result in much return unless it’s part of a bigger plan.

  4. Promoting from within to fill an empty position. When companies have an open spot on their team, they’ll sometimes turn to a current staff member to fill it. Promoting an individual within a company has some huge upsides. It shows employees that there’s upward mobility within the business and improves their satisfaction with the job.

    There are also quite a few benefits that internal promotion has for the company itself, such as saving a huge amount of time and money on the hiring process. While it’s fitting to promote an employee within certain circumstances, it shouldn’t be used across the board because it’s an example of low-hanging fruit in business.

    It’s much easier to turn to a current employee who is already trusted to get the job done and ask them to take on the position. It doesn’t require half the effort that hiring and training brand new personnel does. However, it also eliminates the possibility of finding someone even more fitting for the position.

  5. Providing incentives for referrals. Many companies turn to the referral gimmick as a long-hanging fruit avenue of boosting sales. A referral program involves offering current customers an incentive for bringing their friends in as a buyer.

    For example, many credit cards offer their clients a one-time payment for every person they get to sign up for as well. The customer acts almost like a sales rep for the company, and in return, they’re given a nominal fee, gift, or other contribution.

    This is a strategy that does work because people always want to collect incentives and know other consumers. It’s considered low-hanging fruit because it’s a simple strategy that supplies fast but often not substantial gains.

    It’s a perfect instance of low-hanging fruit that can be beneficial, in a pinch, but can’t be relied on as the entire marketing strategy.

The Difficulty With Low-Hanging Fruit in Business

The difficulty associated with low-hanging fruit is that taking on the most uncomplicated tasks sometimes doesn’t yield the valuable outcome that more complex challenges do.

While these smaller jobs aren’t going to have a revolutionary impact on a company, they sometimes work towards grandiose goals.

Successful businesses understand that they can’t put all their effort into only low-hanging fruit, and they instead only go after easy goals if they add up to a long-term objective.

The key to mastering the use of low-hanging fruit is to evaluate the purpose of small goals in the big picture. If a task doesn’t serve the greater purpose and is only focused on because it’s easy, it leads to failure.

Evaluating low-hanging fruit for its role in long-term goals is important in deciding where the company’s collective effort needs to be focused.

The Value of Low-Hanging Fruit in Business

In addition to helping you accomplish bigger goals, the low-hanging fruit in business has intrinsic value as well.

Doing the simple tasks well is what retains current customers, attracts new ones, and makes your organization more efficient. For example, ignoring customers who are ready to buy in the name of tapping into new markets will frustrate those customers and cause them to take their business elsewhere.

Similarly, letting your website get clunky or your store get cluttered will drive away buyers, as will slow customer service response times.

So, don’t skip the low-hanging fruit on your way to higher branches.

What Does Low-Hanging Fruit Mean?

The phrase “low-hanging fruit” was adopted from the metaphor of an abundant tree. On this imagined tree, there is a bounty of fruits covering its branches from the very top to the drooping bottoms.

When looking at the tree, it’s obvious that the fruits resting on the bottom branches are the easiest to reach out and grab. It doesn’t take much effort to take these low-hanging fruits.

However, they’re likely the most rotted and susceptible to the elements. Meaning, that although it’s easy to get, it probably isn’t going to be the best piece of fruit.

Alternatively, the fruits at the top of the tree are a bigger challenge, requiring a lot more effort and time to finally reach them. Once the effort to grab a ladder or scale the tree is made, it’s found that these tougher-to-reach fruits are the most unharmed from nature’s wrath and animals.

The metaphor is used to describe people’s ambitions, goals, and actions. Low-hanging fruit represents the simplest objective that someone can take on. It might not be difficult to achieve, but it doesn’t award them with much in terms of the outcome either.

The higher fruits represent goals that require full exertion to reach but ultimately provide the person with a much more rewarding result.

Frequently Asked Questions About Low-Hanging Fruit

  1. What is the origin of the phrase “low-hanging fruit”? There have been similar phrases to “low-hanging fruit” since the 17th century, but it wasn’t until the mid-1900’s that it was solidified in its usage. It was first presented in a newspaper article to represent something effortless to attain.

    Throughout the years after the first use, it was adopted in the fields of business and marketing to describe short-term, simple goals. Today, it’s accepted as a turn of phrase synonymous with others used to depict simplicity.

  2. What are the advantages of low-hanging fruit in business? The low-hanging fruit in business provides tasks that are painless to complete. Many businesses use a lot of low-hanging fruit tactics to grow profits because of their simplicity and quick return.

  3. What are the disadvantages of low-hanging fruit in business? While low-hanging fruit is often tempting for business owners because it provides a speedy gratification with little effort, it does present some disadvantages.

    The low-hanging fruit in business is usually considered easy because it doesn’t work as a long-term goal, strategy, or solution.

    The biggest disadvantage to low-hanging fruit is that it acts as a bandaid for boosting sales and productivity, but it isn’t effective as the only way to meet an objective.

  4. Is it bad to go for low-hanging fruit in business? It isn’t bad to go for low-hanging fruit in business unless it becomes the only method.

    Working with smaller goals or simpler methods that are relevant to your company is actually very helpful in climbing towards bigger targets down the line. However, relying only on the easy-to-achieve tasks to propel a business often ends in stagnation.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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