Checks: A Dying Vertical, Very Much Alive

This “performance marketing for a niche market” article was originally published in the August, 2011 issue of FeedFront Magazine.

Feedfront Magazine ArticleAre you wanting to get involved marketing the lucrative checks vertical but afraid to invest time and resources in a “supposedly” dying industry? Let’s set the record straight.

From a Federal Reserve Press Release (December 8, 2010) we can gather a few facts about non-cash payments in the US – and see that writing checks actually has declined a few percent in each of the last four years. But the “average” person still writes seven checks a month for $24 billion annually.

Other facts contained therein, however, also “open some eyes” and explain why the online sale of checks has been breaking records for several manufacturers/merchants. The most notable being that the use of credit cards has declined (albeit, slightly at 0.2%) but the use of debit cards has increased nearly 15%. What this means is that more people are making use of CHECKING ACCOUNTS to pay bills. Every checking account has paper checks attached to it.

“But I don’t write checks any more, nobody does.” Indeed, we hear this time and again from contemporaries whom we meet at conferences. Well, neither do I – well, not many. But we (my contemporaries and I) are not Mr. or Ms. Average American. So I ask, “Do you have a checking account?” “What happens if you buy a house or move to a new apartment? “What if you get married?” “Have a child going off to college?” “How about divorced?” “Actually you need two sets!” But they get the point.

Checks are convenient for consumers to purchase online and the number of choices (images/designs) is incredibly better than at a bank. The big advantage, however, is the competitive pricing found online, especially compared to what most banks charge.

So, how do you choose a good program with which to work? There are a dozen or so checks merchants with affiliate programs. You may want to combine some to offer your readers greater choices, or you may want to focus on a niche that compliments your current site(s). Regardless, be sure to choose a merchant with a large (and growing) selection. There is a lot of markup in putting ink on paper – so you can easily find a program that starts at commission levels of 25%. Several even pay commissions on shipping, which adds to the AOV. Try to choose a program internally managed, so you are not sharing your margin with outside management.

And that’s just for the personal checks niche. There is a whole other “need” in the realm of business checks. Go ahead, give it a try – selling checks online is for real, it works and is certainly not dying.

BIO: Bill originally founded the Beaches and Towns Network and, when not flying, runs his new venture, High Noon Performance Marketing. He will soon launch a small, but personally interesting (to him) checks merchant site focusing on Zoo Animals – with checks being created from his own photography.