The Power of Affiliate Marketing for Small Businesses

By July 24, 2017 General

If you are a small business owner who sells their products and services online, then you know that it can sometimes be helpful to have someone else working for you to help you to get more customers, more sales and of course, more profits. This person is an affiliate marketer.

How does Affiliate Marketing Help a Business?

The affiliate marketer is a kind of sidekick to the business owner with the role of helping to grow the business. Your business can grow quickly with  affiliates promoting and selling your products or services in exchange for a commission on each sale. Since this is a very targeted approach, it is a great tool for a small business owner to reach potential clients for a minimal investment.

Affiliate marketing is cheaper than most forms of marketing and sales because the small business owner doesn’t have to pay the affiliate anything unless they make a sale. In effect, the business owner is paying for sales instead of paying for advertising and hoping for sales. The affiliate  gets whatever percentage the small business owner has contracted with the affiliate. The affiliate is the one doing all of the advertising, promoting and selling of the product and is the one taking more risks than the small business owner. As long as the small business owner has set the percentage earned by the affiliate at an amount that isn’t going to hurt his own profits, then the deal works well for both parties.

Best Strategies for Using Affiliates to Help Sell Products

It’s vital that the small business owner and the affiliate marketer form a solid team and are able to work together to promote and sell the products and services. For example, the business owner could use direct mail to mail out a flyer to potential customers on his list announcing a big sale or other special event. The affiliate could promote this opportunity on their website and could show it off on social media. As long as these teamwork campaigns are properly targeted to the right set of customers, it can work very well to help both the business owners and the affiliates to make a profit on sales.

Both parties must be willing and able to use a selection of different tools or technologies to promote and sell the products and services. For example, in the past few years mobile marketing has become crucial in the success of business owners. With the increase in mobile phone owners, it opens the door for businesses and their affiliates to have access to many more potential customers.

Affiliate programs need to be monitored and tracked

Another vital task in a partnership between a business owner and the affiliates is to keep track of affiliate sales. The business owner needs to ensure that the affiliates they employ are doing a good job and bringing in the sales in the amount desired. If not, it’s time to find some new affiliate partners.

What Kind of Affiliate Marketer Should You Choose?

To identify a good affiliate marketing partner, look to the target audience for the business owner’s products and services. The potential affiliate should have a list of similar people to the business owner's ideal clients, otherwise, they won’t make many sales. Affiliate products must be offered to the right audience to generate strong sales.

The affiliate you choose should also be familiar with your product and its niche. Experience with your market makes it easier to work together and get people to buy your product or services. You don’t want an affiliate who is clueless about your niche, as they won’t know how to come up with good ways to target potential customers.

You also want an affiliate who does this for a living and not just an amateur who is trying to make some part-time cash. An affiliate who does this for a living has much more invested in this partnership and will work harder for you since he needs the income and wants the sales as badly as you do.

Pros and cons of affiliate programs

Affiliate marketing has its pros and cons for both parties as well. These may include:


 With an affiliate marketing partner, you have a sales team working for your business that only has to be paid when they make a sale, plus they make only the percentage that you both have agreed upon in your contract with them.

 Affiliates can boost your sales, as well as help you to grow your brand.


 Affiliate marketing is very competitive and relies on the affiliate being successful in promoting your products and services. If they are not successful, then neither party makes any money.

 If you end up with a bad affiliate, they may hurt your business if they use dishonest tactics like spam or false advertising. Therefore, be careful who you partner with to be an affiliate.

All in all, affiliate marketing can be a great way for a small business to attract a larger audience of potential customers and make more money.

Elaine Starling

About Elaine Starling

Elaine Starling is the author of “Why 5% Succeed: The 5 Principles of Predictable Profit” and the host of the “Why 5% Succeed” show and podcast. Elaine is an acknowledged thought leader and marketing master, generating over $100 million for her clients by creating innovative programs that increase participation, process improvement, positioning and profit. Elaine serves on the Board of Directors for Women Impacting Public Policy, a bi-partisan organization representing 70 professional women’s organizations and over 8.3 million women business owners. Elaine also serves on the Advisory Board for Enterprising Women, an organization supporting women entrepreneurs around the world.