Social Tipping Giving Internet Marketers a New Revenue Opportunity

One of the most important job requirements that attract someone to become a marketer is the almost constant challenge of coming up with new ideas. As we discuss in our What is Marketing? tutorial, being creative is a key characteristic separating marketers from those in many other professions. Those attracted to marketing find it stimulating to be challenged, nearly every day, to come up with something new. The most obvious examples can be found in the need for marketers to continually create new products, new promotions and new pricing programs. These and many other decisions require active exploration of new ideas using research techniques including: internal marketing research methods, such as brainstorming; customer research methods, such as focus groups; and competitive analysis.

Yet, there is one area within marketing that seems somewhat limited in what can be presented as new. These are the general approaches for generating revenue. Most businesses are limited to one of two methods: selling a product (i.e., good or service), or selling space that others are willing to pay to use (e.g., website advertising space).

So it is intriguing to see this story from National Public Radio discussing what seems like a third option, especially for Internet marketers. Essentially the approach, offered by a startup company called Flattr, is a form of social tipping, where someone, who likes what a marketer is offering, gives the marketer an additional thank you reward in the form of a digital gratuity (called microdonations). With this method, once a month the marketer will receive funds based on how many digital gratuity points they receive.

As the story discusses, a reward from one person may be pretty meager, often representing just one cent. However, for a popular website, thousands of visitors offering one cent can add up to quite a nice amount of revenue. Whether there are many websites that can generate significant money from Flattr remains to be seen. But if this takes off, expect competitors to offer similar services and expect more websites to add this as revenue-producing options.