If there’s one thing to learn from living through a global pandemic, it’s that a lot can change in a year. In 2021, which McKinsey called the year of transition, necessity will indeed be the mother of invention. As many SMEs shut down in the aftermath of the pandemic in 2020, businesses that will dig their feet into the sand and double down on innovations will survive the storm this year.
If you are an Indian SME, the traditional ways of doing business may not be relevant anymore in the new business environment. Opening up to newer revenue streams like affiliate marketing will not just get you to the next level of business growth, but also future-proof you.
Three Ways to Generate Newer Revenue Streams for Your SME
Let’s face it: being a sustainable SME is not easy! You need quick and recurring sales to stay afloat. This means, not only do you need loyal customers, but also a regular flow of new customers.
How can a business achieve this delicate balance? There are actually multiple ways to do this:
Crowdfund for Ideas from Your Existing Customers
Are you really selling exactly what your loyal buyers need? This is a difficult question to answer by yourself. The only person who has the right answer to this is your customer.
Your existing customers know your product, and their feedback will tell you what more would they and other buyers like them would want from your business in the near future. This could mean changes in your existing offerings or building a whole new product too. Listen to them, and work on quickly building the new ideas to increase the probability of success for your newly created revenue streams.
Pros: By going to the horse’s mouth, you are ensuring that the solutions will at least satisfy your existing customers, if not the new ones.
Cons: By essentially putting your customers in the driver’s seat, you lose control of the speed of the implementation.
2. Aggressively Approach Going Digital
If your business isn’t online yet, now is the time to begin. Taking your business to the web will almost immediately take the reach of your small business to a larger audience. (from local to national and from national to global). Why not? You already have all the required conditions for these transformational steps.
Pros: Selling to a larger audience will definitely generate more revenue.
Cons: You might have to make a significant investment in the infrastructure overhaul for the long term.
3. Go for Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based revenue creation technique. In the simplest terms, affiliate marketing is a way to earn money through commissions by recommending products you are affiliated with to your audience. You can use your existing properties to advertise or promote affiliate products and earn a fixed commission only when your buyers complete a purchase. Essentially, you are sharing revenue with your affiliates.
Just make sure that the products and services your business will promote is relevant to your customers and will add value to your current offer.
Pros: Affiliate marketing is low-cost, flexible and convenient.
Cons: Although an avenue for steady income, there is no guarantee on how much it is.
Why Affiliate Marketing is the Safest Way to Start Building Alternative Revenue Streams
It’s Tried and Tested
According to Forrester, today more than 15,000 advertisers rely on affiliate marketing to generate part of their revenue. As more and more users demand compelling and relevant content, affiliate marketing is emerging as a key tool to engage consumers with compelling products.
Low-Cost and Hassle-free
The best part about affiliate marketing is the low barrier to entry. As an SME business, it just comes down to choose a compelling product to market to your current and potential customers. Simply sign up for your preferred affiliate marketing program, and you’re all set!
The operating expenses are also almost non-existent. Apart from time spent in collating merchant creatives to employ for product promotion and creating landing pages, the only other investment is on managing the commission earnings every month. This means affiliate marketing will not cost you extra on staff, customer service or other inventory.
It’s Convenient and Flexible
If you’re testing out affiliate marketing for the first time, you can technically create multiple campaigns across several landing pages to test which products work best for your audience. You can then abandon the poorly performing ones and optimize the successful ones.
You also don’t need to stick to one affiliate marketing program. Select a few products that work well with your business perspective and promote them on a daily basis.
For example, if you are an Indian business that accepts online payments, you can join the Razorpay Partner Program and start promoting a whole range of online payment offerings. Attaching your brand with India’s leading B2B payments solutions will also enrich your brand’s portfolio. This way you also add beautifully diversified products to your affiliate marketing portfolio, and one can outperform another while you monitor them every month.
If one product proves to be difficult to sell, the other might be much easier, more profitable and act as a solid backup. And no one tells you to stay on a sinking ship; if a single program doesn’t work for you, just drop it.
The best part? When done well, affiliate marketing eventually develops into a self-sustaining business model, giving you space to move on to building other revenue streams for your business.