A Virtual Agency: Drop Servicing & Affiliate

Let’s face it, being a marketing manager or product manager can be a lot of fun. You get to find customers, create opportunities, and tap into a vast collection of corporate resources to get the job done. Oh wait, about that last part…

Just because you’re not working for a large company doesn’t mean you’re of business. We’re going to explore a few alternative business models where you can leverage all those same skills to build a services agency – without hiring a bunch of employees….

Because I really, really hate HR paperwork….

Introducing Drop Servicing

A twist on the concept of drop-shipping and white label products, where you create demand for a product and rely on others to fulfill the order, drop servicing takes the same approach to selling and delivering services.

  • You (the agency owner) puts together the offer, price, and marketing strategy
  • You acquire and manage the customer relationships
  • The grunt-work of service delivery is outsourced to a third party agency

Why is this business attractive? Simple:

  • You can set this up with no permanent payroll and minimal fixed costs
  • If you’re outsourcing to a specialist agency, you often get access to a stronger set of capabilities (talent, processes, tools) than you can personally assemble.
  • You can build a compelling service bundles if you mix & match the right vendors

This gets really compelling when you think about the potential impact of tapping into a broader talent pool than you can get outside your local market. If you’re living in an expensive city, you’re able to hire from a lower cost market. On the other end of the spectrum, if you see the client needs some help from a world class expert, you can quickly get one in the room… without a lot of drama.

You’re not just saving your startup budget, you’re able to outclass your competition.

To get your started on the idea, we’ve got an overview of drop servicing (read this first) and a couple of deep dives for specific offerings.

From a marketing perspective, the following are recommended reading:

Selling Micro-Services

You ain’t nothin’ but a product, packaged to be bought up


While our first vision of this concept was that of a virtual ad agency, there are clearly advantages to shifting from bespoke client service to delivering standard products. In addition to reducing the amount of time you need to spend talking to clients, this only helps drive efficiency in your purchasing and management processes.

While I like selling custom service packages to customers in the long run that can turn into a competition over which vendor will tolerate the most outrageous client drama. Why not simplify your life and invent the Big Mac instead, a standard “micro-service” offering you can deliver efficiently without losing the things that make you unqiue?

It turns out there is a market for such services: Fiverr. And it is a very open field in terms of what you decide to offer that crowd. We’ve got a guide to building and selling small micro-services on Fiverr.

A word of caution about Fiverr: it is home to some of the cheapest clients ever to walk the earth. Stick to your guns in terms of what you offer, selling your specific service and limiting your involvement in custom work until a client has proven their worth to you.

Look Ma, No Clients! (Affiliate Marketing / Lead Generation)

Then again, if your clients are sufficiently annoying – why not just fire them?

This is not an idle flight of fancy. This is my primary business strategy right now.

While you can apply drop servicing to a wide range of service businesses, a key component of your success will come down to being able to generate new clients. Most folks will start by personally pitching clients (because it is cheap) but at some point, you’re going to want to stand up a digital marketing operation to scale this up.

If you’re a people person, this is awesome. More people to hang out with. Have fun and be sure to get a designated driver after happy hour…

I am not a people person. Fortunately, there are options for us as well…

What if we did all that marketing stuff… found a potential client, warmed them up, and convinced them to take some kind of action…. and handed it off to someone else to go handle the messy part of managing the client?

In exchange for a lovely check in the mail.

At which point we ride off into the sunset, often getting a cut of any future business.

Same marketing skills, similar virtual agency operation, different way of cashing in.

If this sounds of interest, check out our guide to doing SAAS affiliate marketing. The same concept can be applied across a wide range of B2B and consumer services.

While many parts of affiliate marketing are very competitive (not for beginners), one area with significant potential is helping small businesses use technology effectively. SAAS affiliate marketers help connect small business owners with software and services to help them run their businesses efficiently; if you previously worked at a larger company, you have likely been exposed to many of these ideas already.

From a marketing perspective, the following are recommended reading: