One of the most popular and effective ways for doing so is through a partner or affiliate program. This not only helps to create additional income for your business, it helps you build invaluable relationships and networks
, both within your industry and in other fields. After all, there is a reason they say business is all about relationships
, and this is one of many business cliches that are true for good reason. From the relationships you cultivate with investors to those you create with clients, every business interaction is also a personal interaction for small business owners.
Affiliate programs also create a great opportunity for branding and growing your business through organic marketing and modern word of mouth. The more people you get involved, the more the word spreads about your company. Also, if your affiliate program is sound and successful, it will eventually begin to grow on its own as affiliates seek incentives for bringing in new affiliates. But while the relationships and branding are crucial, most new small business owners will be most concerned with the additional source of revenue brought in by this new program.What is an affiliate program?
At its core, an affiliate program
is a network of partners or partner companies that work together towards a common end. These companies are usually in related fields and are able to share the same sort of clientele or target market. For instance, a content marketing firm may have affiliates such as bloggers, web designers, SEO specialists and others. Or a brewery may partner with bars, restaurants, taxi services and other types of companies that could share customers.
Affiliate marketing exploded in popularity over the last few years with the prevalence of blogs and user-generated content on the internet. Commonly, those with popular websites would be paid money by any number of businesses to have their site linked on the popular site. This would generate more traffic and more business to the affiliate, as well as help to grow their brand recognition and reputation within a given industry or niche.Creating an affiliate program
No matter what your small business may be, you can create an affiliate program that will lead to positive growth and additional revenue for your company. This is obviously easier if you already have a thriving business-- as more potential partners will flock to your program - but that is, by no means, necessary for an immediate impact. You have to start somewhere, and there is really no reason not to create a program that is mutually beneficial for you and those with similar business needs.
- Think of the program from the perspective of potential affiliates and build it with their business needs in mind. The positive impact for your business should come automatically, so you should keep the interest of partners in mind, especially in the beginning. What would they hope to gain from partnering with you? What incentives would drive them to bring in more customers and affiliates for you?
- Make a program that is generous to partners. Again this is even more important in the earliest stages of your affiliate program, as you will likely need to offer great gains to get things started. You should manage partner payouts according to those that create the most growth and revenue each period.
- Develop a marketing campaign specifically for your new affiliate program. Many small business owners overlook this, as they see the affiliate program as a marketing campaign in and of itself. It can be part of a marketing strategy, but you will need effective techniques to get it started and help it grow.