“Change is the only constant in life” – Heraclitus
Sorry to be philosophical right off the bat, but it’s true. Seasons change, weather changes, directions change, so many things change. From ITP updates, to affiliate changes, to brands adjusting their goals; change is constant and a near daily occurrence in Affiliate Marketing. It is what makes Affiliate Marketing so fun!
However, it is also what can make it a big challenge. Not only are external forces changing, but sometimes there are personnel changes – whether internal or external – that you can’t plan for or have to put things together for in a quick change. If you take a few early steps to get your systems in place, then these will become a bit easier. Luckily you don’t need a professional organizer or a dedicated person, you can start right where you are.
Create a File
You need to include anyone and anything that might be important for your affiliate program.
So, this one seems straight forward, but you would be surprised by how many people do not have a command folder on their Affiliate Program. This should hold all your most important documents – contracts with vendors, network contracts, contact info for key partners, etc.
Really, think of what someone would need if they did not have access to your email or phone, now make sure to include it in this file. You need to include anyone and anything that might be important for your affiliate program.
Great – now you have it created. Save it in a place that people in your department can retrieve it without your help. Maybe a shared drive or online file. This is now something that internal teams can reference if they don’t have you, but you can also send it as a zipped file if you have new contacts and want to make sure they are up to speed with your program!
Create a Besties List
This one sounds silly, hang in there with me.
You have built relationships with publishers, vendors, and network contacts; these people are your best friends when it comes to your Affiliate Program. You reach out to them to promote an offer, you email them to update information about your program, and they are there if you need more information on ways to get your brand out.
If you have personnel changes the next person needs to know who these people are so they can piggyback on your success. Include any applicable information such as email and phone number, any notes regarding the relationship, and websites. This way when someone else needs to take the reins they can immediately reach out to the people with the biggest impact on your program.
Plus, when you make this list, you don’t have to remember everyone you need to email when you need to get news out about your program.
Create SMART Goals
If you don’t have SMART Goals, stop here and set some.
Sure, we have all heard of SMART Goals, but do you have any for your program?
If you don’t have SMART Goals, stop here and set some. If you need help with this check out our post on SMART Goals. Without these any new people that are involved in your affiliate program won’t know which way they are headed. At some point they may change the goals, but at least they have an initial direction to head so that they are not losing the momentum you have already built.
Also, on this document make sure to include any current initiatives that are in process. Sometimes this is most helpful if you keep this in a living document that anyone can access, like a Google Doc or otherwise. This way you can constantly track where you are at against the future plans. This can take the shape of simply a forecasting sheet that shows what you project for the program for the next 3, 6, 12 months or it could be more detailed. That is up to you.
One thing that we have found invaluable as we have experienced personnel changes is to have a place where we store the steps that we take for specific tasks. This can be anything from approvals, to reports, to any weekly task that you have memorized, but someone else may not be able to do.
There are a ton of websites out there that can help you do this, or you could simply create an SOP document and include it in your program folder. Doing a step-by-step guide with screen shots to help navigate through the process. There are also plenty of programs that are free or inexpensive to house your processes. It is up to you and what you think would work best for your organization. Just make sure to have these listed out and put the login or file in the Command File you created earlier so that you or anyone else will have access to it.
Create a Schedule
Scheduling can be boring, some find it comforting, and others find it stress inducing.
I would encourage you to create a schedule of the minimum tasks that you need to accomplish on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. When you have this, add it to your calendar. This way, as a recurring meeting/event on your calendar you can always assign the meeting out to someone else so that from that point forward they can handle the task while utilizing all the great things you put together already.
Personnel changes in affiliate programs are normal. It can be on the Brand side, the Affiliate Side, or on the Agency side. The best thing you can do to make sure that the affiliate program continues to run as smooth as possible during changes is to create processes and documents that will make the passing off of projects as straight forward as possible.
Yes, the only constant in life is change, but with a little creation and pre-planning you can help to smooth out changes and make sure that your affiliate program stays on track.