42 ways to generate revenue

Ways to Generate Revenue
Photo by Surat Lozowick.

Despite a fair amount of Googling, I’ve not found a single, go-to resource on the multitude of ways a company can generate topline sales. So I’ve decided to start one.

A couple books stand out from my MBA program that thoroughly cover marketing and business models/revenue streams, but even those resources lack a quick list of tactics for generating topline revenue. Small business owners need such a list. An exhaustive one.

I do this primarily as an exercise for small business owners looking for new ideas to drive sales and profits beyond their current sources in these challenging times. You may be putting all your eggs in one basket, while neglecting some tried and true forms of sales generation.

I’ll start you off with 42, but this post will be a living document. You can add to it via the comments and I’ll update it as more ways cross my mind.

(If you’d like to contribute to this fledgling project, complete my contact form with “revenue” in the subject line. We’ll connect off-the-clock.)

More importantly, the goal is to identify, then breakdown through examples and case studies in future posts, each of the relatively simple means by which companies can generate revenue, with pros and cons.

One last note: the reality is, your market may not bear implementing these fees or revenue sources, however excited you may be about them. Keep that in mind. And I share these knowing full well that the buyer in each of us hates paying some of these additional fees, as they really represent an unmeasured form of inflation. Nevertheless…

The inital 42:

  1. Buy a tangible product, mark it up, sell it.
  2. Sell your own tangible product direct to customers.
  3. Sell your tangible products through distributors/resellers.
  4. Rent or lease your product to customers, instead of selling it.
  5. Sell add-on, premium features to your existing base product.
  6. Sell digital information via CD or DVD.
  7. Sell digital information via PDF.
  8. Sell digital information via MP3 (audio) or MP4 (video).
  9. Add a setup or installation fee.
  10. Sell certification training on using your product correctly.
  11. Sell certification training to create an army of independent support consultants.
  12. Sell your product only after a low-cost trial or sampling period.
  13. Sell training on others’ products related to yours.
  14. Sell your product or service as a weekly, monthly, or annual subscription.
  15. Sell premium website access on a monthly, recurring subscription basis.
  16. Sell services related to your products on a billable-hour basis.
  17. Package similar products into a kit or bundle.
  18. Turn your expertise into a kit for other licensed partners to sell.
  19. Package individual products into bulk form.
  20. Break items often sold in bulk into individual units.
  21. Add a service charge.
  22. Sell an extended warranty.
  23. Assess restocking fees on returns.
  24. Add a below-the-minimum charge.
  25. Sell imperfect versions of your product at a discount.
  26. Sell old versions of your product.
  27. If you sell a web service, make it available for installation on customers’ servers.
  28. Sell membership to an elite club of your product users.
  29. Sell sponsored versions of your product at a lower price.
  30. Sell an upgrade to existing product users.
  31. Write and sell a book about your area of expertise.
  32. Sell your product or service via giant sites such as Amazon or eBay.
  33. Change your product to a service.
  34. Sell advertising space on or in your product.
  35. Sell advertising space on your company website, blog, or email newsletter.
  36. Sell replacement parts to your product.
  37. Sell training workshops to teach people how to select the right product in your industry.
  38. Sell advanced training on your product.
  39. Sell and host webinars on information or legislation tied to your product or industry.
  40. Add freight charges.
  41. Sell your employees’ skills on sites like elance.com.
  42. Add handling charges.

There are more. We’ll add them over time. This will get you brainstorming on your own. And follow-up posts will break each of these down with specific how-tos and examples of who has succeeded with this model.

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