In our line of business, an affiliate program management agency, we are often asked the same question by advertisers kicking our tires.  One we get quite often is whether or not we can offer recruiting services only.  Recruiting, although a very important task that we execute for all our clients, is merely one tool within our toolbox that we use to grow our clients’ program substantially (Some of our clients saw 1000% growth this year).

But it isn’t the only tool, nor should it be.  There are some common pitfalls, and reasons why we very rarely offer recruiting only services to our clients.  I’d like to unpack those a bit more today.

Often, advertisers want recruitment services for their affiliate program because they don’t have the resources to do it themselves, don’t have the budget to pay for full service from their agency of choice, or they simply feel that that is all they need.

What we encounter the most is the idea that all you need is recruitment.  I think the easiest way to explain the problem with this idea is to use an example.  Imagine you own a tire and auto repair shop.  A local direct market has approached you with a killer way to reach all 20,000 drivers in your town with a solid message sure to bring them to your door.  So, as any smart businessman would, you take part.

The campaign is mailed, 500 customers call, stop by or bring their cars in, but you only get 2 new paying customers.  It was a disaster and you vow to let that direct marketer have a piece of your mind.  He sold you garbage and those two customers cost you $1,500 each to acquire!  To you, this was a horrible campaign you will never do again.

But there are problems in your shop.  One, your location is way out of the way.  People called to get directions and decided not to come in.  Those that didn’t call used Google Maps and decided to go somewhere else.  People simply don’t like driving 15 miles to get their oil changed.  You also have no one working the front desk, so when customers do walk in, they have to wait 20-30 minutes for you to finish with that last car and assist them.  Many of them simply left.  Your personal customer service is marginal at best, and the other mechanics in the shop aren’t any better.  You would have had another 10 paying customers, but they didn’t like the attitude and walked out the door.

Conversion rate overall was so far below one percent it’s not even worth it.

Can you see the destination I’m driving to in sight now? Recruiting is important.  You always need new affiliates.  But, having a partner join your program and say “yes, I will promote you” is only a part of the process to getting revenue production from them.  It’s a big part, but activation, optimization, relationship building, product education, placement negotiation and generally understanding what they need to be successful takes much more time then simply getting them to join.

If they join, and you have poor or nonexistent customer service, you offer no education tools, spend no time building the relationship and understanding what they need, and even less time prompting them to activate and optimize their marketing on your behalf, you can have a million affiliates and not a single one producing sales.  And when that happens, most deem the recruitment campaign as a failure.  Identifying great partners and getting them to join your program, as GI Joe used to say “is half the battle”.  Getting them to be producing partners, takes time, attention, education and service.


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