new1A very typical phone call we receive, and probably at least one each week, is one from a new merchant looking for immediate sales through affiliate marketing.  We love to get calls from new prospects and enjoy meeting new people and learning of new business models.  It’s one of the reasons I love this industry.  There is always something new going on.  If it wasn’t like that, I’d probably would have taken that job at Jeld Wen out of college and not the “Search Engine Guru” position I ended up with .

Many of these callers have the same basic profile:

  • they have a brand new site
  • they just started selling their products
  • they need sales

Does that sound like you?  We all need more sales, and more often than not, an affiliate program is a great way to increase your bottom line.  But is it right for everyone?

The answer is pretty simply, no.  It hurts a little to say that, as an outsourced affiliate management agency, we make our living launching and managing affiliate programs.  But, we’ve been doing this a long time and have launch and managed huge programs for large brands, as well affiliate campaigns for mom and pop stores and everything in the middle.  So we’ve seen that it is not always the best thing for you to do.

When we have launched affiliate programs for companies that are brand new, with no track record, we have found a few things that stand out and helped them become successful.  I’d like to share a few of them with you:

  • Affiliate marketing was not their ONLY method of marketing.
  • Their expectations were realistic, it takes time to build a strong program.  (for more info on expectations of a new program, see our blog post titled When should You Expect a Positive ROI from Your Affiliate Program)
  • They had a long “runway” – meaning they had funds to run the business for quite a while, giving their affiliate program and other programs time to produce results.
  • Their product was not only good or clever, but really filled a need that consumers had.
  • They had active management – well us really 🙂
  • Clear and concise rules.
  • Solid standard creative.
  • They were not only willing to test new things, they had a modest budget for paid placements.
  • They could do coupons, discounts and promotions, not only site wide but also by category and individual product.
  • Great educational content for affiliates.

Those last two have been big ones.  Having a great and clever product, and one that you could offer a discount on, opened these merchants/advertisers up to many new affiliate relationships.  Offering them solid, comprehensive and unique educational content allowed affiliates to really inform the consumer about this new product and new advertiser.  Without that, you are really just relying on a banner to entice the click.

Now, the ones that had failed?  They showed some common characteristics as well.  You can basically take that list above and write down the opposite of each one.  I’m sure many of you have worked with programs both big and large, what did you find that made one successful and the other not?

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