How Thinking Out of the Box Is Changing 21st Century Business
For centuries, it was believed that there were established ways of making a living. Depending on the country, era, traditions, commerce was hampered by barriers associated with socioeconomic class, trades, charters, and careers.
Now in the 21st century, we are beginning to come up with unique ways to earn a living without belonging to a particular group, following a career path or even holding down a job. This option has been made possible because of the internet, which makes it easier to create different revenue streams.
Technology, hardware and software offer many unique ways small business can increase revenues.
Let’s look at 3 examples of out-of-the-box ways of increasing revenue that leverage the power of the internet.
- Affiliate marketing.
Think of affiliate marketing as the online version of selling a product for a commission. Just as an encyclopedia salesman does not publish an encyclopedia set, but merely represents its value to prospects, so too an affiliate marketer does not write an ebook or create software, but merely agrees to sell it for the author or developer in exchange for a commission.
The advantage of this way of making a living is that it doesn’t require knowledge, experience, or resources to develop a product. Nor is it necessary to develop the platform to present and deliver it. There is no need to build a website, a blog, a social media channel, a shopping cart, or a product delivery method. The merchant takes care of creating the product and the virtual infrastructure to support it.
However, while affiliate marketing is analogous to an offline sales job, it offers some unique benefits:
- You can sell someone else’s products as a backend to your own unique product to increase your revenue stream. For instance, if you create a video-based course on how to become a freelance writer, you don’t have to keep on creating more courses for backend sales. Instead, you can sell other people’s writing-related merchandise to your existing client base. For instance, you could sell a software service that helps clean up grammar mistakes or a marketing course on how to get more clients. These complement your original product, but don’t conflict with it.
- You can sell multiple products from different merchants rather than simply limiting yourself to one line of products like a regular salesperson would when working for a corporation.
- You can sell much more than a regular offline salesperson because you are not limited by traditional constraints like time or location. For instance, you could have an affiliate website where you feature a variety of products from different merchants or you could advertise on Facebook or use Google PPC to direct people directly to merchant’s website.
- Integrated Marketing.
When the internet first started, there were clear lines drawn between an offline business and an online business. Now out of the box thinkers have blurred those lines. Most offline businesses have an online presence even for things that can’t be sold online. For instance, a restaurant will have a website to describe its menu and give directions, although, of course, it might not be cost-effective to provide a food delivery service or dropship orders to non-local customers.
Similarly, online businesses are beginning to create offline business opportunities. For instance, someone who produces an information course on how to do internet marketing, which consists of .pdf files, audios, and videos, products that can be delivered digitally, may also offer live event seminars and workshops to teach people in person.
- Combined Marketing
In the past, there were clear lines of distinction drawn between marketing and sales. Marketing was considered a way of raising awareness of a product to generate leads while sales was considered the process of converting prospects into customers. Now many marketing and sales managers are working together to create synergistic campaigns that focus on building better relationships with customers. In fact, there is even a word for it, coined by Hubspot; it’s called “smarketing.”
Working together can be done in a variety of ways like creating a mutually agreed upon customer avatar and collaborating on product reviews, gathering testimonials, and developing case studies.
What Is Thinking Out of The Box?
These three examples illustrate how thinking out of the box works. It’s not necessarily about coming up with new product or service ideas, but coming up with innovative ideas for marketing and selling them more effectively. Out of the box thinking might take an idea that works in one industry and apply it to another, like salesmanship and affiliate marketing, or it might combine two distinct things to create a synthesis, like offline and online marketing.