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AFFILIATE MARKETING

How to Launch a High-End Small Business

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Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Building a new high-end brand is a nuanced art that luxury brands have achieved over the centuries. Think about the French crystal manufacturer St. Louis, over 250 old, the leather goods Maison Hermes, 180 years old and fashion house Gucci, only 100 years old.

All luxury companies have one thing in common: They have key features that give them the allure and mysticism required to command respect, attention — and pricing power.

But how can you build something iconic given the exclusive position occupied by these companies in the market? How can you achieve higher brand value and pricing power if you are a startup?

Forget conventional wisdom, marketing strategy and management practices

Conforming to standard business practices doesn’t work if you aim at launching a high-end brand. The reason lies in the purchasing mindset of the luxury consumer. Affiliate marketing, deep discounts and other sales tactics don’t convince the affluent.

The value you create and the delivery needs to be tailored to this niche clientele. Analyze how your ideal customers live, work, entertain and vacation to conduct a study similar to how an anthropologist studies a culture.

Your message at a brand level must resonate with their lifestyle. Only this way, the brand connects on a deeper level with the luxury consumer.

Most importantly, you want to offer them a new universe that enables a transformation in their lives. Do not aim at solving problems. Create a dream instead: A new space to discover and experiment.

Embrace your weirdness and secure your brand identity

If an iconic brand inspires emotions, then the inspiration behind your business idea might incite wonder if unique to you as a person.

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Think about the impact of the combination “weird + wow”. Everyone has quirks and insights unique to themselves. Do not hide these things. They are what makes you interesting and can make a niche in business.

Identify your story, create it and sell it. The story of you as a founder or something that makes it unique. Luxury consumers value authenticity above all.

Get ready to lose sales

Launching a high-end brand and being successful is not everybody’s cup of tea. Creating exclusivity means resisting the urge to discount and respond to rising demands. In other words, what matters the most is what you leave out.

Are you willing to build a gate that only a selected elite can access? Are you ready to say no to some clients requesting a break on the price?

My experience in the luxury industry taught me that some are tempted to be ok with discounts to secure the sale. They do not realize that earning the respect of high-net-worth individuals means to say no to them. A luxury brand has the power to say no to customers.

As a startup, emphasize exclusivity from the beginning: Most luxury consumers want high-end brands precisely because they are not easily accessible. They value the thrill and delight that we associate with luxury purchases.

Consistent delivery on the superior brand promise

Among the challenges high-end startups face is delivering on the brand’s promises consistently. Luxury customers buy the product and everything the brand represents. Superior quality must permeate all aspects of your business: Think about your product experts on the sales floor, the team of brand curators in the marketing office, your suppliers, your collaborations and your partnerships.

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AFFILIATE MARKETING

How Brands Can Use Affiliate Marketing to Increase Their Marketing ROI

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How Brands Can Use Affiliate Marketing to Increase Their Marketing ROI


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Getting a strong return on a marketing investment: It keeps a lot of people up at night. How will the money spent on that PR firm translate into sales dollars? How will that huge advertising campaign that cost a million dollars impact your brand? For most marketing initiatives, determining ROI is an unpredictable waiting game with no guaranteed outcome.

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There’s one marketing model that plays by a different set of rules, however — rules based on paying for performance after results have been driven. Affiliate marketing, once viewed as a shot in the dark, is driven today by sophisticated technology, transparency between partners and compensation tied to specific, measurable results.

Related: How This Affiliate Marketer Learned Enough About His Craft to Strike Out on His Own

That said, a successful affiliate program requires the right experience and partners. Whether you’re looking to start an affiliate program or take an existing program to the next level, you need a strong team behind you. Here are the five players you need to ensure you’re driving the affiliate ROI you want:

1. An Agency

Unless your company has the resources and bandwidth to build a team of several people with extensive affiliate marketing knowledge and experience, hiring an agency is the best option. Agency marketers are experienced at handling the multifaceted complexities that come with building and growing a high-performing program.

Make sure you’re clearly looking at the agency’s setup, ensuring it’s based on performance. I once saw a speech by Robert Glazer, the CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global affiliate marketing company. He wrote a book called “Performance Partnerships,” which focused on aligning any affiliate program with performance. It’s easy to fall for the trap of working with a company that says it will bring you sales, but make sure it puts its money where its mouth is. If it doesn’t deliver in the short term, chances are high it might not be able to meet long-term expectations.

See also  There's Never Been a Better Time to Start Your Affiliate Marketing Side Hustle

2. A Scalable Network or Platform

Whether it’s an affiliate network or SaaS platform, all affiliate marketing programs need a technology platform to run on. Your platform should be able to support your growth plans and offer you the right features and geographical coverage, particularly if yours is a global brand.

Awin is an example of this type of platform. The firm provides technology that helps address industry challenges, such as third-party tracking, data light tracking, attribution and advanced commissioning. These types of data weren’t available years ago, but with new tech advances, you can identify what works, as well as when and why. It’s not just valuable for the affiliate program, but for also learning what works so you can apply that knowledge to different sales channels.

3. Loyalty Partners

If you want to scale your program quickly, you’ll need to partner with players who are focused on establishing loyal customers. Ebates is one of the bigger players in the loyalty sector operating on a performance basis. The brand is actively expanding its markets and its categories beyond retail to include travel, dining and ride-sharing for cash-back rewards.

It’s important to determine whether these types of partners will truly create loyalty or attract the wrong types of customers. If you pick the right type of loyalty partner, it can result in the strong, loyal customer base that’s key to long-term brand survival.

Related: How Loyalty Programs Are Emerging as Effective Marketing Tools

4. Mobile Partners

Customers are increasingly spending time on mobile devices and apps, so it’s imperative to have partners within your affiliate program who dominate the mobile ecosystem.

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Ibotta is an example of one of these apps in the U.S., connecting consumers with grocery, retail and lifestyle brands and rewarding them with cash for buying things they need. I used the app pretty easily when I was standing in line with customer service after a purchase. I simply took a picture of the receipt, and the app applied the cash back to my account. With a lot of mobile user growth, it’s good to look at partners who have developed a mobile user experience that makes things easy and accessible for the customer.

5. Tech-Driven Publishers

The affiliate space has grown well beyond coupon and deal partners. To drive incremental revenue on a performance basis within your program, consider partnering with publishers who are advanced in e-commerce technology, including deep website integration and artificial intelligence.

RevLifter is one example: The company helps brands deliver more conversions, incremental sales and customers by personalizing deals for advertisers across marketing channels. Available worldwide on a pay-per-performance model, it uses AI to understand real-time signals from users’ on-site behavior and deliver the right deal to the right customer at the right time.

Related: Partner Programs Turn Competitors Into Collaborators

Whether you’re new to affiliate marketing or simply needing to step up your game, checking off these boxes will help you develop a strong affiliate marketing program. ROI is hard to manage when you’re running a bevy of marketing programs, but the right team can help you take the reins — and get the outcome you want.



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AFFILIATE MARKETING

This $19 Course Demystifies Affiliate Marketing in Two Hours Flat

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This $19 Course Demystifies Affiliate Marketing in Two Hours Flat


Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Fire up your go-to social media feed, and there’s a good chance you’ll scroll past at least one promo code or coupon being promoted by an influencer you follow. Without even trying, you’ve been exposed to a new brand, as well as an incentive in the form of a free trial or discount that might just get you to convert. That’s the magic of affiliate marketing.

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Companies big and small are leveraging affiliate marketing to drive brand awareness and conversions, and affiliate marketers stand to make a pretty penny for their services. Of course, the field can be a bit tricky to crack. but that’s what the SEO Affiliate Domination course is for. Now only $19, this course can help you make a killing in the affiliate marketing scene; and for 90% off what it would usually cost.

In just two hours, this course offers a detailed look into the lucrative world of affiliate marketing. Jump in, and you’ll discover important strategies for e-commerce, affiliate marketing, SEO, and video marketing; and you’ll emerge with a greater understanding of how to build brand authority.

Normally $199, the SEO Affiliate Domination course is on sale for only $19, a whopping 90% off the usual price.



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AFFILIATE MARKETING

Pick a Marketing Model That Lets You Pay for Results, Not Potential

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Pick a Marketing Model That Lets You Pay for Results, Not Potential


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In an era of caution, companies need to invest in marketing efforts that lead to a direct payoff and don’t require more than they can afford. Over the past week, I’ve had to evaluate all the things I’m doing at Calendar to see what’s really moving the needle. It’s astonishing the things we’re spending money on that aren’t actually driving revenue to our bottom line.

Visual Generation | Getty Images

As today’s environment forces drastic behavioral shifts in our daily lives, companies of all sizes and in all industries are evaluating the changes they need to make to stay nimble in our new economic reality. As businesses adapt to the stay-home economy, they’ll be focusing on which investments drive the best possible outcomes.

Businesses are used to pouring money into marketing channels that require upfront, flat-fee investments for promised inputs and potential outputs. Rather than invest in these marketing channels, companies can leverage affiliate marketing, which only requires them to pay partners once they’ve achieved the desired result.

Related: How to Build a Reliable (and Profitable) Affiliate Network From Scratch

What is affiliate marketing?

When managing their marketing budgets, companies should invest in channels tied directly to outcomes and avoid unnecessary risk. After all, if they pour all their funds into marketing but see no payoff, how will they afford to develop their products and services further? 

Affiliate marketing (often called “partner marketing”) is simple: A brand partners with a publisher, or an affiliate, to market a product or service to its audience using a tracking platform. Unlike marketing channels that require upfront payment, brands pay publishers a percentage-based commission for each sale generated through their content. 

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Forrester predicted that by the close of this year, U.S. ecommerce sales would total $500 billion. Combine that with predictive analytics firm Custora’s prediction that affiliate marketing will influence 14 percent of ecommerce purchases in the U.S., and that means affiliate marketing will impact $70 billion worth of sales. Pepperjam’s Adobe Summit 2017 Survey revealed that only 4 percent of are investing in affiliate marketing, meaning there’s a big opportunity. 

Related: Three Trends That Will Drive the E-commerce Sector In 2019

How affiliate marketing pays off (in more ways than one).

Affiliate marketing offers a cost-per-action (CPA) payment structure instead of a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) structure. This creates a sustainable, competitive advantage because businesses only have to pay for converted sales and leads after the publisher finalizes them. Even during tough times, brands should always want to pay for incremental revenue. It prevents businesses from throwing good money after bad — they don’t need to invest large amounts of money into marketing campaigns or ads that turn out to not convert as expected.

Instead of continuously investing money into Facebook and Google, hoping it leads to conversions, affiliate marketing enables brands to broadcast their product to a wide audience of potential customers with a pay-for-performance pricing model. It also enables them to be more hands-off, allowing their affiliate partners to use their brand standards to do the work themselves. Affiliate programs can even include partners who will share the brand via Facebook or Google; unlike traditional methods on those platforms, these will be paid based on those campaigns’ performance, allowing a low-risk entry to these channels. 

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Related: How Much Should You Spend on Social Media Marketing?

Even in an uncertain economy, this framework can scale. Because the marketing investment is only a portion of the revenue the partnership brings in, businesses just have to figure what they’re willing to pay for each transaction or new customer. They don’t have to worry about pouring excessive budget into a single channel. 

In a precarious marketplace, businesses need to stabilize their immediate future by investing in channels that they know will drive profit. Affiliate marketing is the model for this moment: It’s built on transparent and trusting relationships, where brands and partners set clear expectations and companies only have to pay for the outcomes they get.

People are at home, and that’s where affiliate marketers can capture their attention. Companies can stay ahead of the game by using affiliate marketing to maximize their ROI and make sure they’re paying for outcomes, not inputs.



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