Affiliate programs – it’s the beginning of a wonderful friendship
In the last post I covered how to acquire new partners/affiliates, and from my post before that, we learned about who is facing us on the other side of an affiliate deal. By now, you are probably looking at this long race and thinking it’s almost over, but I’ll tell you a little secret … it’s actually just begun. If you think for a moment that once we’ve found a partner/affiliate, closed a deal, agreed on an ad campaign and the customers began to arrive that everything is done… think again.
It always starts with closing the deal, and this is a topic I know down to its core… The partner has already given his consent, and if he doesn’t back out at the last minute (trust me, it happens) then you can go to the next step. I personally recommend paying close attention to every detail at this stage, because everything you do now will have an even greater impact down the line. We are at a point where we have grabbed the attention of the partner/affiliate, held long conversations with him, even went so far as to understand who and what he is all about. We have gained the confidence, exhibited curiosity, expressed interest in what he/she does, and now we are left with some finishing touches, A” guided shot” is all that is needed to complete the initial effect of all the good we did, so what do we do next?
First things first, pick up the phone and thank him while simultaneously sending an e-mail that summarizes the important terms of the deal. (There will always be mistakes here … it’s inevitable! Don’t let there be a situation where he claims something that you never agreed upon.) The e-mail will be personal and will also express your “excitement” now that you are beginning this activity together (do not forget to tell him to inform you of the campaign costs, of course).
We attach our full name to the e-mail, along with our full phone number and our user names on msn, skype and/or ICQ. We tell him that we are available to answer any question or request for help – You cannot underestimate how important this is. Be always available!
Next, we send over all of the relevant promotional material for a new account and add him to the system. (Don’t forget to send him his username and password.) Do not let them do this alone. (although in some programs affiliate approve a set of terms and conditions it’s important to do it together with the affiliate and that he didn’t quit the registration process) Sometimes the sign-up process can be unclear or complicated.
All in all… everything should be served on a platter of gold.
I’m a great believer in service; I think that good service is the most significant difference between me and my competitors. Good service that is offered at the outset of a deal will lead to a long lasting positive relationship. Creating a positive initial impression will play a significant role in further negotiations. We must not forget that we are “partners” in every sense of the word. We stand at their beck and call 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and believe me, it makes a difference. Our partners are human beings, and as I mentioned before they come in all shapes and sizes. Some are emotional, some are apathetic, some are short-tempered, and some are sharp-tongued. Some are even kill-joys and some will talk you to death. In any case, they are our ambassadors, and our goal should be clear.
Setting up a network of partners is a time consuming process. It is a something to cultivate over time – demanding quick results will bring only dissonance. It is important to understand that we work in a competitive environment and that we maintain a dialogue with our partner while he is making dialogue with others (loyalty is not a normal attribute here; he can’t afford it). Do you remember that sentence I asked you to think about in my previous post?
“Speak with them even when you do not need them
So when you’ll need them they will listen to you …”
From the first second our advertising campaign begins on the partner’s site, then, and only then, has the relationship begun. This is a two way dialog, and it always brings some hard labor pains with it. The banner might not sit in the right place, our content might not in the right place, or our tracking link (from where our traffic should come) could lead to an error page. It could also be that our partner can’t see the traffic in his reports, that he lacks “creative” materials, or that the deal is not updated on his accounting system. In essence, no matter how well you planned it and how well you tried to get things to go smoothly, something will always go wrong, either on your side or the partner’s. The first thing you need is patience.
You need to respond to all questions, even those he has not yet been asked; you will be available for any need, especially in the beginning.
So, we try to be there when he needs us; we try to initiate and surprise (the sky is the limit here folks). We can call him on his birthday, we can ask about his family, we can ask about the last holiday, about an important event in his life that he had told you about earlier. We can even reward them when necessary – set up an affiliate club, rewarding them when they perform better (incentive plan) – just like employees. I’m still in touch with a number of very close partners/affiliates I have acquired in the past, although today we are not about the business so much as the friendship. You should take your best partners out to eat, show them around the town, invite them to visit the company offices (even if it includes purchasing a plane ticket and hotel for them). Throw a party for the launch of a new product – and invite them. Include them in the decision-making processes – consult with them, listen to them – even if their ideas are terrible, they will still feel that they are “partners” and that’s what counts. They should feel as though they are a part of the team.
This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship …. Go get ‘em!