Putting the Affiliate Back Into “Affiliate Management”

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By: Jeni Rogers

If you were to fill a room with online entrepreneurs, the atmosphere would quickly become filled with innovative ideas and differing stances on tactics for success.  A word that could be heard in nearly every conversation taking place in the room, though, would undoubtedly be “Affiliates”.   Affiliates are undeniably a vital piece in the puzzle of product success.  For this reason, creating and managing a successful program designed to support and grow affiliates, will in turn generate more success in your own business.

An important, but often overlooked, component of creating a successful affiliate program is building lasting relationships with your affiliates. Just as with other personal relationships in life, business relationships formed with the affiliates so integral to your business should be carefully maintained, supported, and fostered for growth.

Relationship building is not just an extra warm and fuzzy to serve on the side in an affiliate program.   Instead, lasting relationships should function as a central theme to your affiliate business, and should be managed by someone dedicated and passionate about committing the time, effort, and resources to making sure that affiliates are seen as people, and valued as partners. 

To make your affiliate program unique, your affiliate relationships enduring, and your business more successful, keep the concepts below in mind as you structure the relationship-building in your affiliate program.

Cultivate Your Interpersonal Chameleon: Let’s go back to the room filled with online entrepreneurs.  In this industry especially, you will encounter people with vastly different backgrounds, cultures, lifestyles and communication styles.

In order to build a successful affiliate program, be sure that the person managing your affiliate program is someone who has excellent interpersonal skills, is perceptive and adaptable. Be sure they can embrace diversity and still communicate effectively regardless of the age, gender, and cultural differences that may exist between themselves and others.

Be Professional, Not Corporate :  It is vital to connect with affiliates in a way that is professional, but also warm and engaging.  Being too casual or whimsical in your interactions can diminish the productivity and credibility of your business. Showing people genuine interest in their lives and businesses ensures a very productive relationship your affiliates will want to perpetuate and grow.  Maintaining a balance of warmth and professionalism in your affiliate relationships will create a partnership that is both profitable and personally enjoyable.  Also, if people both like and respect you, they will go out of their way to help and support you.

Connect Personally, and Do it Often: Maintaining frequent personal communications with your affiliate base is very important to the health of the affiliate relationship.  It will also make affiliates more receptive and responsive when you let them know about new products, promotions and opportunities, because they will feel connected to you as an informed partner in your business.

Always, Always, Always Keep Your Promises: Simply put, don’t be a flake. Be a reliable and trusted partner.  Do what you say you’re going to do. Always follow through on your word. Show up on time for preplanned meetings, and make yourself accessible and available if affiliates ever have needs or questions.

Light Their Fire with Yours: Be passionate about your business, and share that excitement and passion with your affiliates as valued partners in one another’s success.   

As you read through the list, if at any point find yourself thinking, “This is not something I like to do.  This is not where I excel.  My time would be better spent elsewhere to grow my business” – don’t dismay.  This just means that your time and efforts will be spent focusing in the areas in which you excel and that you enjoy.  If this is the case, consider hiring someone whose skills and desires are well suited to relationship building.