The concept of affiliate marketing is terrific and has changed the lives of many, including me. However, fundamentally it’s earning commissions on referring people. It’s a referral business.
A different way of looking at is affiliates are results-based sales people for merchants and services.
When you consider the fundamental nature of affiliate marketing, the possibilities are endless.
Introducing Local Affiliate Marketing
Local affiliate marketing is taking traditional affiliate marketing to the local level.
It works like this. You refer a new customer to local business X. Local business X makes the sale. You, as the referrer earn a commission.
In fact, at the local level, you don’t even have to refer. You can be the sales page; this is what I do.
Local businesses don’t care how they get new business, as long as it’s legal and in line with any governing authority. Therefore, instead of referring people, you can create a website in the likeness of a local business (with their permission of course) and drive traffic to that site and generating sales.
The reason you can drop the “referring” aspect is that sales are generated via telephone calls and/or contact form inquiries. Your job is to acquire as many leads as possible and let your local business client make as many sales as possible.
Other advantages to local affiliate marketing
1. SEO isn’t that difficult
In most towns and industries, ranking on page 1 isn’t terribly difficult. The competition is less fierce than in most traditional affiliate niches. Moreover, because your site is in the likeness of your client’s business, it’s not an affiliate site, but instead a real business website selling services.
2. Adwords works
If, as an affiliate marketer you’ve tried using Adwords, you know how difficult it is these days. Adwords doesn’t like bridge pages. However, with local affiliate marketing, because you aren’t “referring” in the strict sense, and because your website is a real business website, you can buy as much traffic as possible with Adwords. As long as your commissions/lead fees are high enough, you can earn excellent profits.
3. No competition
Other than other local businesses in the same industry, you don’t have competition. There’s no affiliate competition whatsoever.
4. Focus on promoting
Because you earn handsome commissions/lead fees, you can focus on promoting your partner like crazy. Most small local businesses don’t have the time or the budget to really crank up an online marketing campaign. But if you’re well compensated, you do have the time, knowledge and ability to out-promote every other business in the town/region and industry.
How do you get clients?
It’s pretty easy actually. The best approach is to set up a website that already has traffic. Once this is done, approach your target businesses and explain to them that you can send them new business and they pay you only when a sale is made. Be prepared to negotiate over the commissions. You want to negotiate for the highest possible commission, which will vary from industry to industry.
I’ve landed a client in the coffee shop. I landed my first client with one phone call. The issue isn’t whether small local businesses are interested. The issue is how much your commission will be.
Choosing an industry
Local affiliate marketing isn’t ideal for any local business. You should target businesses that have what I call high-value services. High-value services cost at least $1,000 and ideally $5,000 or more. The lifetime value of the customer can certainly be considered; after all many local businesses thrive on repeat customers such as dentists, massage therapists, chiropractors, etc.
In the event of a repeat customer business, you can structure the commission as a one-time large commission or based on a percentage of recurring revenue generated. If you can negotiate for both, that’s fantastic.
Moreover, you should avoid seasonal businesses. You want to earn consistently throughout the year.
Tracking leads is simple, which is why lead generation is more popular. The marketer simply tallies up the number of phone calls and contact form impressions each month.
However, tracking sales is more difficult because you must track names. With contact forms it’s easy. Wufoo forms (free for 3 forms) places all form data into a spreadsheet.
Telephone calls are more difficult. What I do is hire a call center that provides me a toll free telephone number. I use this telephone number instead of my clients’ telephone number. When a visitor calls my toll free number, my live reception answers the call. They answer as if my client. They ask for name and then forward the call to my business. It’s a small expense, but since most sales are via telephone and the commissions are high, it’s a worthwhile expense. In fact, it’s a necessary expense.
Set it up and let it run
Because there is some set up involved (building the site, getting traffic, hiring a call center and landing a client), most marketers don’t bother with this opportunity. However, once it’s set up and you have traffic from the search engines and your PPC campaign is running profitable, it more or less runs without your involvement.
Scaling up local affiliate marketing
This is simple to do. once you have a profitable campaign for one type of business in a location, you can do the same campaign for other businesses in other towns. You can jump into other industries, or stick with the same industry. Moreover, once you have one happy client, it’s not hard to get more clients in other towns on board.
Local businesses need your help
The fact is many local businesses simply don’t know how to market online. Many don’t have the resources to hire quality marketers and don’t have time to learn and do it on their own.
Also, many have been burned in the past paying for shoddy SEO, poor leads, ineffective PPC campaigns, etc. If you offer results-based marketing services, you not only help local businesses, but you’re able to build a thriving business for yourself.