Will Pay-for-Performance (P4P) Marketing Work With a Low-Price Product or Service?

Businesses regularly inquire about partnering with Skyworks Marketing on a Pay-for-Performance (P4P) basis for leads or sales.

A number of variables are evaluated to determine the potential for a win-win partnership with such inquiries. One aspect that can work against a business seeking such a partnership is having a low-priced product or service, especially without a profitable upsell or continuity sale opportunity. You see, even with a high margin, particularly in a competitive market, such as weight loss, health, finance and insurance (as well as many others), there is not enough mutual opportunity.

Now, don’t get me wrong, competitive markets, per se, are not unattractive. In fact, the reason they’re competitive is because a lot of money is being made in that space. It simply takes more time and/or resources to compete in such an environment. Hence, many smaller businesses who compete in this space have a long runway ahead of them to gain profitability due to the tremendous amount of competitive ads vying for public attention.

For example, a product that costs less than $20.00, even if it has a 90% profit margin, is not going to make enough profit, after the media buying and labor, to make an attractive partnership — unless the advertising is at highest enough scale, which requires more ad dollars.

Of course, this does not suggest that low-cost products cannot be successful. The world is full of them. However, if your product or brand is not well known then it’s more expensive to get a sale.

  • One way to introduce a new product is to offer it as a loss-leader, with a purpose to generate further sales from other related products.
  • Another way is to offer it as an upsell to another product that is already profitable.
  • An additional way is to simply give it away, as in a free sample Of course, you need to be well capitalized to do this. But if you have an excellent product that people will continue to purchase (such as vitamins or other health supplements), then getting the product into consumer usage is the best way to generate a strong sales base for the future.
  • Additionally, if you can find an affiliate who specializes in your market who might be willing to test your product out, it can be a great partnership if it works out — as long as the sales remain high enough for the affiliate to support it.

Note: Skyworks Marketing is not an affiliate. We do full-funnel, multi-touch marketing, advertising and sales.

In my experience, to rise above the noise in a competitive market in a reasonable amount of time, ongoing media buying is what’s going to make it happen more predictably. (And even so — it’s still not guaranteed!)

A low-cost product or service means that advertising will eat up most or all of the profit, especially in the early phases. In fact, it will likely not be profitable until/unless a critical mass is reached whereby enough sales are being made on a big enough scale, which drives the media costs down and/or consumers are referring others en mass.


To underscore how to make such a low-cost product profitable via advertising, it’s a best practice to offer another product that would also be purchased by the buyers as an immediate upsell, or later on. That’s a tried and true model to sustain the business via advertising.

In such a case, it’s important to calculate the value of a new customer or client to determine workability. For example, if 30% of your buyers purchase an additional product or service within a certain amount of time (say 90 days), then that additional 30% could potentially become the actual profit stream.

It’s not unusual for some companies (particularly in the infomercial world) to lose money on their upfront sales (the sales that directly result from the infomercial). They simply make their profit on the upsells and follow-up sales (backend).

Regardless, there’s still a split-testing evolution involved to establish proof of concept. And whose going to do the testing?

If you present the idea to a Venture Capital firm, or a Pay-For-Performance partner, like Skyworks Marketing, the merits of your idea will be weighed against a number of variables, which all boil down to risk vs. reward. The better a case can be made that your business is a low-risk, high-reward opportunity, the more likely you would be funded by a Venture Capitalist or that you might be deemed a desirable Pay-for-Performance partner, in which we would invest resources.

The reality is that in many cases, the great idea that you are proposing to gain support and resources for your business, is probably not as low-risk, high-reward as you might envision.

This article is not a suggestion that a low-cost product cannot be driven to produce big revenue in any other way than buying media. There are definitely other ways to achieve that, such as organic social media or investing heavily in SEO. But it will take longer and is less predictable.

Wishing you much success!