One of the reasons I love affiliate marketing is that our industry is constantly evolving, with new publishers entering the market on what seems like an hourly basis. Some of these publishers are revolutionary while others are slight twists on well-known business models.
Regardless of whether publishers are cutting edge or playing it safe, almost all new publishers face the same dilemma: how to capture advertisers’ interest and compete with the established ‘superpowers’ of our industry.
In most cases, the publisher has already provided the biggest piece of the puzzle themselves: they’re proactive and enthusiastic. Many advertisers are actively looking to diversify their affiliate programs; which means that providing them with a quality alternative is instantly going to pique their interest.
However, where most new publishers fall short is the package: the polished sales presentation and demonstrable tangible benefits which their more established competitors have had years to perfect. Therefore, most of the advice I provide is focused on how to bundle all of a publisher’s ideas into a story that resonates with advertisers.
Here are my top five tips for capturing an advertiser’s attention.
1: Design counts
It may sound shallow, but appearance is important. For new publishers, whether web, mobile, technological or social, the finished product needs to look clean and professional. I’ve seen some of the best ideas fail due to a lack of visual appeal while some of the worst ideas, smartly designed, have been instant hits.
Taking your time with the aesthetics of your proposition is an important step towards future success. How professional you look directly impacts advertiser perception of how professional you are. Ensuring you have an easily recognisable identity will go a long way.
2: Your elevator pitch is as important as your presentation
As a general rule, I advise publishers to have two presentations for advertisers: a full sales deck and an abbreviated ‘elevator pitch’.
A full deck is important later in the sales process when you reach the meeting or conference call stage. However, to get your foot in the door, it is always a good idea to have a shorter, punchier intro deck which is easily digestible by network staff, agencies and advertisers.
It is important to remember that you may need to convince a number of people as to your suitability for a particular program. These individuals are often time-poor and a slick elevator pitch is crucial if you’re going to entice them to meet you or review your full sales presentation.
These shortened ‘sweeteners’ can take many forms, but I always advise that they are short (no more than two pages) and contain a balanced amount of text and imagery to appeal to a wide audience.
3: Know your limits but back yourself
Part of the beauty of affiliate marketing is that almost all of the activity is voluntary. Publishers don’t have to promote advertisers and, likewise, advertisers don’t have to allow publishers to promote them.
Once you have struck a chord with an advertiser though, the best approach is to be honest about expected success. ”I don’t know” is a perfectly reasonable answer and advertisers will appreciate the honesty.
The worst mistake a new affiliate (it doesn’t matter whether you’re new to the industry or just the program, you’re still new to the advertiser) can make is to promise something they can’t deliver.
As already stated, advertisers are often looking to diversify their affiliate programs; more eggs in more baskets if you will. If you can prove that you can work with the advertiser and that you’re a safe pair of hands, you’ll undoubtedly benefit in the long run. On the other hand, while it is always advisable to under-promise and over-deliver, advertisers may feel like they’re not getting the most from you if the discrepancy is too large. Perfecting your proposition and achieving results which are as close to estimate as possible will stand you in good stead for future opportunities.
4: Have an aftersales process
This is possibly the single most overlooked area for new publishers. Many new publishers spend so much time on gaining traction with new advertisers that they forget about the activity they’re currently running.
Having a review process after a promotion has ended is imperative to understanding successes (this is the tangible benefits bit I mentioned earlier) and, more importantly, failures. Failures help you improve more than the successes do.
Being able to share this information with advertisers is key to growing a partnership. Not all promotions will succeed but learning from the mistakes and being prepared to try something new will be a refreshing change for an advertiser.
5: You have more resources than you think
Use the resources at your disposal and by that I mean all the resources. New publishers to the industry, a network or a program have an important resource at their disposal, namely the network staff.
If you’ve packaged your proposition well, identified your target list of clients and need some help getting in front of the right people, push your network to open the doors for you. They should be working towards the same goal as you are: adding more value to their clients and increasing revenue; so they should be all too keen to help.
Most networks have the majority of their employees in client-facing roles so use the account managers and publisher managers to help you lighten the load.