Of All the Fish in the Sea, I'm So Glad You Swam to Me

PubDev is about relationship….which involves three things: Connection, Listening, Follow-up

Publisher Development Relationships

It may be safe to assume that we all are familiar with Internet dating. That vicarious process of seeking the ‘love of your life’ by narratively detailing your personal likes and dislikes, as well as, posting attractive photographs striving to capture the eye of Prince or Princess Charming who emails you for more details. And when you do find Mister or Miss Right, you live ‘happily ever after.’ At least that is what the brochure says.

So I’m going to go out on a limb here. I think publisher development is like Internet dating. No, really. Let me explain. Everyday on the World Wide Web, there are potential ‘soul mates’ or affiliates. They are all posting their comments, opinions, reviews, stories, wisdom, instructional manuals, craft projects, and latest coupons for their readers who follow them and like them on Facebook, join their Twitter army, and increase their Alexa standing. All this information becomes part of a publisher’s very public online presence. And then the publisher waits…waits to be selected by their ‘one and only’…the advertiser of their dreams.

What do any of us really want? To be heard. To be understood. To bring value to another individual. To be in relationship. For me personally, PubDev is about relationship, and relationship in this arena involves three things:

  • Connection – securing the ideal affiliate who fits your advertiser’s mission
  • Listening – comprehend an affiliate’s needs in order to secure that connection
  • Follow-up – value the relationship by consistently checking in with the affiliate

As a PubDev Specialist, I’m scrutinizing that online presence with a very intentional lens. I’m looking at these affiliates to see if there is a connection between their focus, their readership, their mission, and their potential to generate income for my advertiser. I read the affiliates ‘About’ page on their website, see how loyal they are to their postings, how professional their profile is, and what other brands are they ‘dating’. In order words, who are the currently ‘in bed with’ and would my advertiser want to be associated with them? I’m seeking connection.

Then begins the courtship. The deliberate wooing of an affiliate via an enticing email campaign, brief Facebook message, or jovial tweet such as, “You caught the eye of the ABC agency. Consider a long-term collaboration. Let’s chat about the details.” The message must convey the desire to have them join the advertiser’s team AND the similarity in goal. I always include the advertiser’s website to the communication. It’s my calling card in this pursuit. Potential affiliates want to be heard, valued, and respected for the hard work they’ve put into their online presence

They Responded!

Yes, the inevitable (and highly desired) next step is communication, which begins either via email, Facebook message, tweet or a conference call. The latter is preferred. And this is where the relationship really sprouts – I listen. I learn so much about the personality of the affiliate by paying close attention to what is said or written. Each potential affiliate is distinctly different. Such as:

Bachelor #1: An affiliate is well seasoned in the affiliate marketing arena and is concerned about the boundaries of the collaboration. They were burned in the past and they don’t wish to get hurt again.

My response: What happened? How were they affected? What would they do differently? Get them to clearly identify their expectations before going forward.

Bachelor #2: This may be the first time the affiliate is dipping their toe into the ‘dating pool’ and is unsure about what is expected within this new relationship.

My response: Are they signed up with a network? Are they aware of the different options available? I keep reiterating that I am here to answer all questions and address any concerns.

Bachelor #3: Cannot see the benefits in partnering with the advertiser. Don’t feel they have similar goals. Concerned they will look ‘paid off’ by the advertiser.

My response: Their online presence caught my eye. It’s what I find most attractive. Continue reviewing products, posting instructional videos, and writing about their personal experiences. Honest opinions are what their readers want, and I’m not asking them to change a thing. I love them just they way there are. Be real. Seek out true connection. Listen to your affiliates and comprehend their needs. Each of these potential suitors (aka, affiliates) – wants to be heard, valued, and respected for the hard work they’ve put into their online presence but to deepen the relationship I press further by being real. I ask questions that have nothing to do with business. I inquire about:

  • their part of the country
  • their family
  • their sports teams
  • what they have planned for the weekend
  • that vacation to the coast
  • what was the outcome of their loved one’s surgery? or
  • when do they move into their new house?

And for that reason I absolutely make sure that once they agree to the engagement, the final component to this pledge is the follow-up. I reiterate that I will be checking in with them. The advertiser’s affiliate manager and I will be monitoring his or her figures every week to ensure that if there is an issue, we will fix it quickly, and keep the relationship on track. I want the affiliate to feel supported, and by doing so I earn their trust.

It’s been stated many times, there are plenty of ‘fish in the sea’, and an affiliate is constantly being approached by would-be “Prince Charmings”. But the way to stand out is to stick to the basics. Be real. Seek out true connection. Listen to your affiliates and comprehend their needs. And finally check in with them…frequently. Let them know you’re there and in it for the long run. Then the two of you can work on that ‘happily ever after.’

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