How much easier would business be if you had an army of salespeople who promoted your products or services, but didn’t ask for a single penny in compensation from you until you made a sale from their efforts? As a business owner, doesn’t that sound almost too good to be true? So what is this magic customer-acquiring method that doesn’t cost anything until you make a sale?
It’s called affiliate marketing. You may have heard the term “affiliate marketing” before, especially if you’ve been around the Internet marketing world at all. But even if you have some knowledge of affiliate marketing, don’t skip over this article because we are going to talk about local affiliate marketing–a type of affiliate marketing almost no one is doing and nearly every business could be doing to increase sales.
Let’s start by defining affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing where a business rewards an affiliate for getting a new customer or visitor to take a desirable action (like buying something).
When most people think of affiliate marketing, they think of the Internet where company A sends an email to some or all of their customers offering a product that is sold by company B. For each sale company B makes, they give a percentage or set dollar amount of that sale back to company A. Local affiliate marking works a little differently.
How to Make Affiliate Marketing Work on a Local Level
The first thing we need to do is identify other businesses that have customers that are similar to the types of customers we have, and no I am not talking about your competitors here. Let’s use dentists as an example. Most other businesses have customers who have teeth, so in theory, ANY business could make a good business to partner with. Unfortunately, “people that have teeth” is too broad a market. So let’s narrow it down to “people who have teeth, have a household income of $75,000 per year or more, work in white-collar jobs and have kids in the house.” With this definition, you can now narrow down the types of businesses you want to target. A few businesses that likely have similar customers would be a Dry Cleaner, Chiropractor, Cosmetic Surgeon, Day Spa, etc. All of these businesses have customers similar to, or better than, the type of customer our dentist is looking for.
Now we need to create two types of offers. One for the affiliated business owner (the Dry Cleaner, Day Spa Owner etc.) and one for the customer of the affiliated business owner. The offer for the affiliated business owner is simple; you are going to offer them an affiliate commission for each new patient they send to your practice. The harder of the two offers to come up with is the offer you are going to allow the affiliate to give out to their customers. When coming up with this offer, you need to make sure this is not the same type of offer or special they can get from you or your competition anywhere else. This offer needs to be a premium offer. If you were a dentist, you might offer a free exam and full mouth set of x-rays for the whole family. That is an offer that you don’t see advertised everyday.
One common mistake people make when coming up with offers is they are too cheap.
The annual value of a good new dental patient is between $900 – $2100 dollars, depending on your practice and part of the country in which you live. Offering new patients a $10.00 gas card for coming in is not going to move very many people. You need to have an aggressive offer. The same goes for your affiliate, don’t be cheap. In fact, I challenge you to be the exact opposite of cheap. When you are trying to come up with your offer, figure out the absolute maximum you would spend to get a new customer in the front door and to make a purchase. Now take that maximum number and add 10% to it and make that the amount of money you offer your affiliate. I know it feels like it’s going to hurt a bit, but no one will refer new business to you if you are too nominal in your offer.
Now, simply contact the other business owners and sign them up as affiliates. You do this by telling them you want to give them a Thank You gift card that they can give to each of their new customers. Let them know that you will provide the gift cards at no charge to them or the business. In addition to giving them the gift cards, and as your way of saying, “Thank You” to the business owner, for every one of their customers who comes in and uses the gift card, you will give the business owner a check for $100 (or whatever your affiliate commission is).
If you think about it, this is really a no-brainer. The business owner gets a free valuable gift to give to their new customers as well as some extra cash and you get a new customer/patient. This truly is a win-win for everyone involved and will allow you to only pay for a new customer after they come in and do business with you.