Rediscovering the Greatest Weapon in Business: Paper and Pen

I’ve been involved with Affiliate Marketing for a long time now. I was looking through a box of business cards this past week and stumbled across my first official ‘Affiliate Manager’ business card; my first venture into this ever-evolving marketing channel. That card was printed in 2003, and at that time I no idea what an ‘affiliate manager’ actually did! Needless to say I made a lot of mistakes, a few right decisions and most important fell in love with the industry.

A lot has changed for me in following 12 years, both professionally and personally. I NOW have a wife and a son, a mortgage and new hobbies and interests. I’ve had the privilege of managing over 20 affiliate programs and consulting with dozens of companies. It’s been a fantastic journey that lead me to JEBCommerce in 2014. My focus now is Publisher Development and utilizing the experiences I’ve had to build relationships and help publishers get the most out of their partnerships with our clients.

I recap all this history for a reason.

There is one thing I didn’t fully embrace over the past decade.

One thing that separated excellent managers I worked with from those who moved to a new profession.

One thing that I wish I had spent more time and effort on in the past decade.

That one thing is Continual Learning. There were times when I wasn’t a sponge, when I didn’t carry a notebook around and when I wasn’t reading books and blog posts constantly. I missed opportunities to do better work for my clients – and myself. This year I have made a commitment to grow (again). And that starts by mapping out what I know, what I need to learn, and how/who can feed me that information and experience.

We spend a lot of time at JEBCommerce working on business development. It’s half of my departments’ name! Our culture is to develop people, and that will create amazing value for our clients. When people care about learning and achieving new milestones they create excellent work. At JEB this means our clients affiliate programs grow month after month, year after year.

Every week I spend close to an hour with our CEO, Jamie Birch, talking about processes and efficiency – how can do more and not sacrifice the excellent we’re delivering? Every single week the topic remains the same while conversation evolves; building on the foundations we’ve laid before. Quite simply, it’s an hour I am LEARNING and taking notes. In the last few months I have taken more notes that the previous few years.  I keep a copy of the latest ‘Fast Company’ magazine on my nightstand so I can soak up success stories before heading to sleep. It’s a shift in resting on a resume and experience. Now I have an attitude and view that I know some things, but it’s a fraction of what I need to become the best.

Recently I sat in on a sales call with our Business Development director, Jeffery Breisch. On the call I listened as he was explained how we’re really a ‘boutique’ agency, with a focus on attention to details. Our ratio of account managers-to-programs is half what most companies relegate their managers with. Later that evening l I asked my wife a question based on the sales call I was on, I said to her ‘what do you think is different about shopping at a boutique compared to a department store?’ Her response perfectly answered a question other agencies have asked – Why do JEB clients stay years? She responded, ‘When I go to a boutique I know they are already familiar with everything in the store. They can explain the details of products and what I need.’ They know these details because they spent the time needed LEARNING them. The same philosophy is what sparked my new ambition to learn ALL that I can.

I want to know everything I can about the programs we represent. I want to be the boutique shop owner explaining the offers in detail with publishers. This all starts with the time and passion to learn these details; putting into practice the experience and newly gained knowledge I am soaking up daily.

No matter the size or lifespan of your company, you want people managing your affiliate program to think like the boutique shop owner. Experience coupled with a passion to always be better is what separates those who do excellent work from those who simply get the job done. At JEBCommerce we do don’t’ accept the job is ‘done’ until expectations are exceeded.

I feel rejuvenated knowing how much in the affiliate marketing world is still be discovered. Innovation is strong among savvy online marketers, and it’s my passion to always stay on the cusp on what leads to excellence for the programs and publishers I am working with.


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