Why Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

NOTE: the Link Roundup is beneath this post.
This is a guest post from digital marketing strategist Rohan Gandhi. You can learn more about him at the end of the post.

Why Are You Leaving Money on the Table?Superstar millionaire rapper Jay-Z said it best: “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business…man.”

You see, he doesn’t just sell music. Instead, he’s created a rock-solid cash factory with many different revenue streams. Multimedia, brand partnerships, and a slew of other pocket-lining activities make up an empire using music as the foundation.

Multiple Revenue Streams

This is something larger organizations do all the time. Take online magazines, for example. A widely-read trade website (like AdvertisingAge, or similar) creates one product: online content. But they make money off of that in so many different ways! They sell:

  1. Premium subscriptions to readers,
  2. Ad space on the website, and
  3. Sponsorship of their email marketing programs.
If your small business doesn’t take advantage of multiple revenue streams, you’re leaving money on the table.

There you go – 3 ways to make money off of one product. If your small business doesn’t take advantage of multiple revenue streams, you’re leaving money on the table. And it could be a lot.

The great news is that nothing can stop you from tapping new revenue opportunities. In the business world of old, you needed mammoth resources (read: million dollar budgets) to sell overseas, publish and deliver content, and create world-class customer experiences.

Not anymore.

There are so many accessible online tools of which small businesses can take advantage. Add in the fact that customers seek to satisfy every need and urge via the web, and you’ve got some great opportunities.

Time to dive in and explode your small business revenue.

Exist Locally. Hustle Globally.

You’ve got a strategic advantage over really big companies. And that is that you can stay small even while you create big extra revenue opportunities.

Nothing says you have to lose what makes your business special. Whether it’s outstanding service, expert knowledge, or a warm family-like vibe, thinking bigger doesn’t have to mean selling your small business soul.

Thinking bigger doesn’t have to mean selling your small business soul – and the payoffs could be huge.

In fact, you should think of the situation in the exact opposite perspective: How can you bring all of those things that make you a great small business to the national or even global stage?

While it takes some work, the payoffs could be huge. And with a booming cloud-based software market aimed at helping small businesses grow, you don’t have to create any of the technology from scratch.

They Built It. You Should Come.

Right now, as you’re reading this, there’s some hot-shot programming genius developing the next great line of software code.

You don’t need a huge budget or crack programming team to build online business and marketing platforms.

Just like you started a small business based on your passion to help customers, software entrepreneurs are out there building affordable (sometimes even free) applications for you. You don’t need a huge budget or crack programming team to build online business and marketing platforms – someone else is taking care of that part.

If you can dream it, chances are there’s a company looking to help you do it.

The challenges now are:

  1. Figuring out the best opportunity for your business, and
  2. Planning and executing that opportunity in a profitable way.

3 Ways to Explode Your Online Revenue

Because the web makes everything so accessible, it’s tempting to spread yourself thin without much of a plan.

Fight that urge. Really think about what opportunity makes the most sense for your particular business. Some are gong to lend themselves better to certain situations, and it’s important to fully understand what goes into each model.

Here are 3 suggestions to consider for new revenue opportunities.

1. The Subscription Service Model

Lots of forward-thinking startups have identified passionate groups of people to serve with subscription businesses.

Everybody loves getting stuff in the mail, even when we send it to ourselves. And lots of forward-thinking startups have identified passionate groups of people to serve with subscription businesses.

How it works:
Customers sign up to receive recurring shipments of something, anything, and it could be in different formats.

It could be a constant supply of something you need regularly (razorblades for shaving, for example).

Or, it could be a category for which you receive a curated selection of products that’s different every time.

Successful examples:
Manpacks keeps men in steady supply of basic necessities like underwear, socks and razors. Birchbox sends monthly packages of beauty product samples so women can constantly discover new items.

Can you apply it to your business?:
Do you sell smaller products that lend themselves easily to this model?

If your business is known for stocking the newest and coolest (or quirkiest and most obscure) products in a certain category, maybe you can build a subscription business based on that. Coffee and teas, greeting cards, beauty products, socks, ties, nail polish, books…the possibilities are endless.

A tool that can help you do it:
Memberly – An easy-to-use platform that helps people build subscription businesses.

The catch:
You’ll need to offer compelling value and a product category that works on a shipping schedule. Things that people collect or use constantly make good candidates, and there has to be a good reason to buy from you over another provider.

2. Straight-Up E-Commerce

Plenty of small businesses are not taking their inventories online in a compelling way.

Plenty of small businesses are not taking their inventories online in a compelling way.

You have something great to offer, and you’re selling from your physical location, so why not offer your wares to people across the globe?

How it works:
Start an online store, sell via the web, and ship the products to your buyers.

Successful examples:
There are tons of great online stores operated by small businesses with physical retail locations. There could be some in your town.

Joe Coffee, a small but well-known coffee company with several locations, sells their beans online. C.H.C.M. is a retailer of fine menswear based in New York City that does a brisk e-commerce business.

Can you apply it to your business?:
As long as customers are searching for it, you can ship it and it’s legal, you can probably sell it online.

A tool that can help you do it:
Get Started Selling Your Products OnlineTake your pick! Shopify, Bigcommerce, Volusion. There’s no shortage of affordable services that can help you get a slick-looking online store up and functional in no time.

The catch:
You’ll encounter plenty of competition for anything you sell, but that didn’t stop you from starting a business in the first place, right?

Build a great experience, and maybe your first online customers can be local customers that have moved away or live a considerable distance from your store.

Beyond that, you’ll have to engage in digital marketing activities designed to drive traffic to your online store.

3. Newsletter Model

Some have proclaimed the death of email. I say that’s total bunk, and I’m not the only one.

Email isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and if you can provide amazing value through a targeted newsletter, there are ways to profit from it.

How it works:
Newsletter models are built on the back of amazing content. If you can supply a target market with really valuable information on a consistent basis, and cultivate a following from the resulting trust, you can build a newsletter arm to your business.

Successful examples:
While they may not be attached to small businesses, Thrillist, DailyWorth, and Red Tricycle all have found success using the newsletter model.

Can you apply it to your business:
Are you in professional or business services? Consulting, coaching, marketing – if you have expertise to share, the newsletter model could be a good fit for you.

As for how you can turn it into a revenue stream, there are a few possibilities. You could:

  1. Charge a subscription fee,
  2. Sell premium content ebooks or downloads through the newsletter, or
  3. Charge complimentary businesses to advertise in your stream.

That may sound funny, but think about it. If you sell direct mail services, you could let a search engine marketing company advertise in your email stream for a reasonable fee or on a revenue-share system.

A tool that can help you do it:
Again, take your pick! AWeber, MailChimp, Constant Contact, and a slew of others have simple email marketing tools. If you want to incorporate pay-per-click advertising in your e-mails, check out HeyAmigo. And you can use any popular blogging platform to host your content.

The catch:
It can take time to build a valuable email list. And furthermore, it takes time to publish super high-value content. But once you do, the newsletter model can be a top performer considering it has a very low associated operating cost and a potentially large revenue margin.

Keep in Mind

Remember that the concepts of great marketing still applies to all of these models. You should absolutely explore ways to multiply your revenue without changing the core of your business, but it’s going to take effort.

The best part about these additional revenue stream options is that they generally require little in terms of financial investment.

Whether it’s a product subscription service, an e-commerce store, or a newsletter, you still need to create an amazing experience. And you’ll need to market it, too. No business model exists in a vacuum – they all require us to go out and find our customers.

The best part about these additional revenue stream options is that they generally require little in terms of financial investment. You’ll have to pay for one or two online services, and devote some time to building your program. But the extra income  generated could be big business.

Now get out there and explode your revenue!

Rohan Gandhi is a digital marketing strategist based in the NYC area. He’s toured in a band, worked in New York’s advertising/marketing agency world, and managed global digital strategy at a Fortune 500 company.

Rohan writes about marketing, brands, and the intersection of culture and customer experience at http://whoisrohangandhi.wordpress.com. He has also written for American Express Small Business Exchange and for pbSmartEssentials.com.

Weekly Link Roundup

Weekly Link RoundupEach week, I collect the 10 best posts that I’ve read and share them with you here.

These posts focus on web-based solutions, online resources and up-to-date news for small businesses.

Enjoy!

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Local Digital Ads Take Center Stage for SMBs: Mobile marketing is making real inroads in local markets. See the numbers to learn just how much.

HOW TO: Get Your Facebook Community to Leave You Positive Reviews: Positive reviews drive conversions so the more you can get, the better. Here’s an approach for getting more on Facebook.

David And Goliath: Tips to Create Competitive Content: Great perspective in this post.

Why It’s OK to Fail at Kickstarter: Love this frank case study about the benefits of using Kickstarter, even if you do not reach your goals.

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  1. BizSugar.com says:

    Why Are You Leaving Money on the Table?…

    If you’re not taking advantage of multiple revenue streams, you’re leaving money on the table. Learn three ways you can increase your business income using the web….

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