Getting Started With Internet Marketing: Business Model Selection

by Darrin Kuykendall

Affiliate Marketing or Product Creation?
If you are interested in getting started with Internet marketing, it is important that you have a good understanding of how you will generate revenue to create a successful business. Generating revenue is dependent on the type of business model you select. Therefore, selecting your business model is an essential part to having a thriving web marketing enterprise. In this case, we will explore three types of business models within web marketing, 1.) Promote services, 2.) Create Services, and 3.) Outsource Services.

Promote Services
Products and services come in all different forms online and offline. Whether it is a physical product, information product, virtual product, or even a service done by a provider, all these have something in common. These products and services are marketed to consumers based on two factors, to 1.) Boost interest, and 2.) Provide value.

The Promoting Services business model is like being a department store manager. Your goal is to bring in new customers, showcase the product to customers, provide information and alternatives to customers, and make the sale. However, when promoting products and services online, you are not working directly for a specific store, you don’t have a boss to answer to, you don’t have a schedule to keep; you are essentially working for yourself. This marketing practice is called affiliate marketing.

As an affiliate marketer, you are rewarded by a business when a customer or online visitor either generates a sale, is converted from a visitor to a lead, or just simply shows up to the businesses website. In affiliate marketing, there are basically four key elements:

  1. Vendor: This is the business that holds an online presence that offers the affiliate a specific award for marketing efforts.
  2. Publisher: The publisher is another term for affiliate. A more precise term would be performance marketer. The performance marketer is focused on promoting a vendors goods or services with the main mission to achieve high performance.
  3. Network: The network is a group of publishers which have been recruited to increase the promoting efforts of vendors’ services and products.
  4. Consumer: Consumers are the end-users of the vendor’s products. Consumers in the Internet marketing industry go through phases of visitor, guest, lead, and customer/member.

As a performance marketer, this business model entails you promoting a vendors products and services, and you receive a commission based on converting visitors into customers or members. Overall, you are being paid for performance. Some online marketers are solely performance marketers only, and even call themselves super affiliates, given the high command of leads they are converting into revenue for themselves and their merchants. If you wanted to focus on just affiliate marketing as a business model, you must be sure not to focus on just one product or service. The key to being a successful affiliate marketer is to expand your promotion efforts wide and across various affiliate networks.

Due to advances in technology, many online business owners offer some form of affiliate program that will allow you to make money. You can also apply, and sign-up for affiliate networks. This will allow you to spread your promotion efforts across an array of brands. You can even create your own private affiliate program. Here are just a few affiliate networks you can use online:

  • Amazon Affiliates
  • EBay Affiliates
  • HasOffers.com: Create your own affiliate program
  • ClickBank.com: The largest digital affiliate program
  • RapBank.com: An up and coming digital affiliate program
  • PayDotCom.com: An affiliate marketplace
  • CommissionJunction.com: Affiliate marketplace for physical products
  • MarketHealth.com: An affiliate program specializing in health & beauty products
  • ShareASale.com: Shopping bargain performance network
  • Google Affiliate Network: Top brand name companies
  • Direct Vendor Websites: Many vendors have their own affiliate program or using 3rd party tools to host affiliate management.

Create Services
The next business model you may be interested in is Creating Services. In Part 1, Getting Started with Internet Marketing: Market Research, dealt with analyzing the market, and assessing the trends that are happening online. By using the market research approach I discussed in Part 1, you would use that information as a starting point for the Creating Services business model.

As a web marketer, the Creating Services business model focuses on you as the sole developer and distributor of your own product or service. This business model is the ultimate revenue producer as you have full control over an asset that can increase in value as you see fit.

As an online marketer, you can create, distribute and sell literally anything on the web. Some examples are, digital books, eBooks, providing done for you services, and virtual goods.

How to create an information product:

  1. Step 1: Conduct market research. Examine what is selling. See Part 1 of Getting Started with Internet Marketing.
  2. Step 2: Idea Development:
    1. Examine competing products.
    2. Outline your product idea.
    3. Estimate competitive selling price
    4. Estimate sales volume based on keyword research & market sizing
  3. Step 3: Product Development: Create a prototype, or sample of your product
  4. Step 4: Beta Testing:
    1. Conduct a focus group using friends, or online groups in forums
    2. Launch Beta program of your product/service in forums or to a sample of your existing customers (best to generate product testimonials)
    3. Make product additions, extractions and adjustments
  5. Step 5: Technical Operations:
    1. Quality Service Management: Use tools and applications such as ZenDesk.com, Get Satisfication.com
    2. Contact Management: Ensure you have a process and method for technical support, affiliate contacts, using web form software.
  6. Step 6: Full Scale Launch: Recruit affiliates, set up your product website, landing pages, squeeze pages, email auto responder system, etc.

Once you’ve completed steps 1 through 5, you should have enough data and information to launch your online product. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because that’s where you will get a chance to reduce your learning curve for when you create and launch your next online product or service.

Outsource Services
The 3rd business model used in Internet marketing is Outsourced Services. Rather than promoting other peoples products or creating products for sale, as an online marketer you have the option to provide your services and skills to vendors who need them. These skills could be anything from copywriting, product development, search engine optimization, graphic design, research and analysis, programming, coding and more. The key to becoming a successful outsource service provider is to simply provide quality service. By providing an extreme value to your clients, you will not only get repeat business but also you will get referrals.

There are online websites that specialize in helping you get clients as an outsourced service provider. They include:

  • Odesk.com
  • Elance.com
  • Guru.com
  • Solvate.com
  • Fiverr.com

If you are interested in becoming an outsourcer your main mission is to provide quality service to your clients. As the client isn’t looking to spend money on an outsourced staff, however, outsourcing for the following reasons:

  • Cost savings: Reduce the overall costs of hiring full-time staff
  • Allocate Resources: To have the ability to focus on core business practices
  • Increase Knowledge: To develop a knowledge base they otherwise did not have
  • Access Fresh Talent: The talent pool is a companies biggest asset
  • Speed to Market: Product development, distribution and scalability is fundamental to success

GET STARTED & DIVERSIFY
Now you have the essential elements necessary to get started with online marketing. You can choose one specific business model, or even utilize all three business models. It is becoming more prevalent to diversity and use all three, promoting services, creating products and outsourcing. One example would be a blogger who conducts product reviews on their blog (promoting services), while using their blog as a membership site (creating services), and providing SEO consulting to clients (outsourcing services). I personally use all 3 business models within my online marketing efforts, and even have taken these revenue models to a new level of focusing on processes vs. production. Where my goal is to ensure I can create a systematic process in every function of my business so that it can be automated.

In the next article series, I will be discussing what you can do as a web marketer to increase you brand presence and increase your sales. Be on the look out for the next article: Getting Started with Internet Marketing: Generate Attention and Gain Customers.

Darrin Kuykendall (@profitdoctrine) is a new media expert & publisher. He writes for ProfitDoctrine which is dedicated to Practicing the Principles of Marketing and is founder of Memento Marketing — a new media publishing firm focused on developing emerging and innovative educational courses & informational products. Their motto is “Converting The Non-Believers.” Get the Weekly Doctrine, a Free 52-Week Training Course at ProfitDoctrine.