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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Talk to People

Talking to people could not only increase your sales, but also save you some heartache in the long run. It is very easy to talk to an affiliate company, and you can start by contacting the merchant, let them know what you are doing to promote their product and ask their advice as to how you could improve your marketing technique. Think about it, it is always best to approach a potential affiliate with a standing technique in mind as well as an outline of what you plan to do to help them. If you have the means, try it out for a while so that you can approach a merchant with solid facts backing you up.

When you ask the merchant for advice you are setting yourself in great standing with them and showing them that you understand their knowledge. After all, the merchant knows their product best right? They would also have a very good idea of the strategies that are used by other affiliates to boost sales. Don’t bother checking for this information on an affiliate site because you will not be getting to the nitty gritty of it.

By contacting the merchant yourself, you are also showing your enthusiasm for marketing their products and services and that you are working to become known as a "power" or "super" affiliate! Any merchant who understands affiliate marketing knows that over 90% of sales are generated by less than 5% of their affiliates. A good merchant will see your efforts and give you further information and resources and may even boost your commission fees as a result of your efforts and success. All of this means more money for you both!

How to Deal with Online Merchants—Creating Partnerships

When you decide to become an affiliate marketer, you are basically just asking another web host to add a link to your website to theirs which will bring your website more traffic and hopefully generate more sales for them, which gives you a commission sale. Of course, there are some things that affiliates look for in a website before they will sign you on as an affiliate. Before you even consider signing on as an affiliate, you should make sure that your website has something to offer that theirs doesn’t.

To be more specific, even if you are going to a “like” website as an affiliate, you don’t want to approach a site that is selling the exact same thing as you because that makes you direct competition with you. For example, if you are selling designer clothing of a particular label, you do not want to try to go to a site that is selling the exact same items as you, but a like site that may offer the same brand, but not the same items. That way, both sites are selling the same label, but can push each other’s sites for the items that they don’t carry.

Once you know exactly what type of website you want to run and which web companies are actually offering you the right revenue sharing opportunities for products and services that complement your web site genre, you can’t just offer to put up banners and buttons on their behalf. It is best to begin by writing up a review page of the product or service and how it will definitely help boost sales, especially if you are recognized as being knowledgeable in your field.

One of the best ways to show that you know what you are doing is to offer articles and reviews on your website about your items for sale. Keyword articles are best for getting search engine to come calling. You can also put in a brief history of the product’s inception etc. Basically just put in as much information as you can about your product or service so that visitors and merchants will know that you are on top of things and know what you are doing. Here are some more things that you should do when dealing with potential affiliates that you are trying to get in with.

GUIDELINES FOR DOING A COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

The competitive analysis section works best when it follows a format like the one that is shown below. In general, I would recommend that this report would be made about each of the major competitors. While most of this report is intended to focus on the overall analysis of the competitor, you should recognize that you are primarily interested in how this information may impact your company and, specifically, a product or product line to you affiliates

For this reason, you should make sure, where possible, to focus your information on how it impacts the markets in which your products will compete with theirs. That is how your report will stand out among the other marketing affiliates in a merchant’s eye. It should be included in your proposal whenever it is possible. I have listed the guidelines in sections to make it easier for you to read and then furthered the report guidelines for you as well for easier reading.

Please note each sub-section within a section will contain 1-5 sentences that explain the sub-section.

• General Company Information which includes name, location (headquarters, other locations of importance), website address

• Summary of the Business which includes a section that will summarize the company, business units and the general nature of the business

• Business Overview should include sections on the history, ownership structure, types of businesses, mission, strategy/objectives, and key executives

• Recent News/Developments such as important company developments within last 6-12 months (e.g., reports from news sources, press releases, financial statements)

• Financial and Market Share Analysis – includes sections on corporate performance, trends, market share for product

• Marketing in general should include sections on products and services that are offered, target markets, positioning, customers/users, pricing model, promotional efforts, sales force, and distribution

• Other Miscellaneous Issues like adding sections on technology capability, partnership arrangements, and intangible issues

• A list of your Competitors where you will list key competitors facing this company

• SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

Below, I am going to actually pin point what should be included in the market study like I did above, however in more detail and with explanation on how to write it. I am listing them in steps rather than points to make it easier.

1. The information that is provided in a market study should be based on the research that you have collected AND NOT on one’s own perceptions, guesstimates or other unsupported statements. This information should be based on fat alone! The only exception to this may be within the SWOT analysis; however, even most of this should be supported with some evidence.

2. If you are unable to find any specific bit of information it is probably a good idea to make this known so that the person reading the report would know of this potential limitation of the market study and be ready for it. Obviously you need to collect good research so you do not end up having too many of these statements.

3. It is generally a good idea to define the most important terms and concepts when you first introduce them so as not to confuse the reader. This will benefit those reading the report who may not already possess knowledge in this area. Alternatively, you can create a glossary or definition section in the Endnotes area of the report.

4. Wherever it is necessary you should explain how the research was conducted or how data was collected (e.g., explaining how survey was done). This just helps the reader to understand your methodology so that they can decide how trustworthy the information is.

5. Make note of any limitations of secondary research (research you obtained from other sources) that you used. Unless there are very any significant limitations you can generally include this as an endnote.

6. If you are investigating a new/different way of doing something with present customers, then you will need to provide a discussion of the cost/benefit of alternative options. That is, what will customer give up to use something new versus what they will get from using the new product?

7. Remember to reference as much stuff as you have to in order to get the best information. I would suggest using endnotes instead of footnotes of texts because this gives you the most accurate account. Endnotes appear next to the sentence, word, quote, number, etc. but usually not as a superscript and usually in parenthesis like this (1). The full reference would appear at the back of the report in an Endnotes section.

Once you have completed your market analysis and target audience, you will want to present it to the companies that you are looking to affiliate with. That is what the next section deals with. It is going to show you how to create partnerships with the merchants.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Marketing Study - What You Need To Know

1. Your Objective to the Research

  • Explain in one paragraph why the research is being done, what you hope to learn and for what purpose the information that you attain may be used

2. Description of the Market

This should be general like one paragraph

Who is your Target Market(s)

· Why you chose this particular market

· Get a complete profile of your market (e.g., demographics, psychographics, behaviors)

· What benefits does your market seek (i.e., what points-of-pain or problems are being solved)

· What factors can affect their decision to purchase or use your product/service

· What attitudes do they have about the products/services that are currently not on the market

· How is the product used

· Products and Services that appeal to the target market

· In general terms, what is currently so appealing to this market

· If there are no current providers, what types of products/services may appeal to this market in the future (i.e., what is used now to solve the problem).

3. Market Metrics

Get many Size estimates (current and future) for all of the following:

  • Overall market
  • Current size as it stands
  • Potential size for the future
  • Actual penetration of current products/service within the entire market

Individual market segments

  • Current size
  • Potential size
  • Actual penetration of current products/service within the total market
  • Usage rates
  • Frequency of product purchases
  • Growth estimates (current and in the future) for:
  • Overall market
  • Individual market segments

Competitive Analysis

You must include a Summary of who your Current Competitors are

Listing the competition by market share ranking (by each target market if possible) is a good way to size them up. You can also be more specific by searching for individual points listed below.

Current Competitors - full analysis of top competitors including:

  • Products & Services (e.g., description, uniqueness, pricing, etc.)
  • Their Market share at current
  • Current customers (targeted audience)
  • Positioning and promotion strategies
  • Partnerships/Alliances/Distributors
  • Recent news

SWOT Analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats

It is extremely important to focus attention on the SWOT section of this report. While most other information in this report can be gleaned from company and secondary materials, much of what appears in the SWOT section is based on the researcher’s own opinions of the competitor based on the information that is collected. Consequently, this is often one of the hardest areas of the report to write as well.

Potential Competitors (any competition in the future)

  • You will need to get an explanation (though it need not be as detailed as Current Competitors) on who they are or maybe and why they are seen as potential competitors

5. Additional

  • Extraneous Variables
    • Discuss factors that may affect this market (e.g., technological, social, governmental, competitive, etc.)
  • Market Trends and what is expected to happen in the future

If you can follow these basic tips for finding and selecting your target market, you should be ready to search online and check out the competition and their rankings in the search engines. Below are some general guidelines for you to follow in creating your competitive analysis which is the most important factor in being an affiliate marketer. Knowing your competition just as well as your audience is the key point which is going to keep you on top of the competition.

Looking For The Best Affiliate Programs

Having heard of my experiences, you can see why I would not really recommend that you hunt around and sign up without much research and thought first when finding a good affiliate program. Your time is too valuable and could be better spent creating content and updating your site. But there are some excellent individual companies offering affiliate programs out there.


What I have discovered to be very successful is to take advantage of companies like Offers Quest or Google for text link advertising. Text links are a great resource as they are bandwidth friendly, and when they are implemented properly add valuable content to your site which can also assist in search engine rankings.

The Fundamentals of Website Affiliation

Affiliate programs are an excellent way to generate income for your site or someone else’s, and it is a pretty good introduction into ecommerce, however but it's a numbers game. Basically, the more people who visit your site, the greater your chances become for creating a good income, especially if the programs you participate in are related to your site topic. Chances are you have probably come across many commercial sites that claim to offer the best affiliate program. What you will often learn is that this is simply not true.


So what exactly is an affiliate program, you might ask? An affiliate program is where a company offers to pay you a certain amount of money for either a click through from your site, or a fixed amount for a lead (where the visitor signs up for a newsletter, etc.) or a percentage of a purchase made by a visitor as a result of a click through. Even if the visitor does not make a purchase on the advertiser’s site right away, most programs will offer “cookie duration” of usually around 30-90 days.


What this really means is that as long as the visitor has the cookie in their cache; even if they return to the advertisers site one month later, you will still receive the commission from the sale however, as in all things that are business related, cookie duration is not a guarantee when you sign up for an affiliation program and is something that you need to check for before signing on.