Part I – The Envelope Please…
How many times have you read articles and listened to speakers spout the ‘same old stuff’ — ideas and tips that you’ve heard over and over. You think to yourself, “This is a waste of time — I know this — it’s sooo basic.” To this I say, “Sure you do, but are you actually DOING it? And are you taking these basic concepts and BUILDING on them?”
As a direct marketing professional for the past 20 years, I sometimes feel I’ve built my career on the ideas of others. That said, I truly believe the keys to my success have been the following:
- The ability to recognize good ideas and actually implement them.
- The ability to take ideas to the ‘next’ level.
One of my business mentors was a Swedish entrepreneur who built a one billion dollar international direct marketing business. His most favorite expression was, “There are no good ideas unless you use them.” The translation is a little awkward, but I think you get the gist.
Here’s my ‘next level’ tip for this issue:
PAY AFFILIATES ON TIME
Sure, everybody’s heard this one, but are you really doing it? Are you the FIRST program to pay commissions from the previous month? If you are, you surely will be noticed and will most certainly be rewarded with greater exposure.
And how about this… Are you using this very positive contact with your productive affiliates to your advantage? After all, what’s better than getting a check – and these folks probably represent your top 5%! Plus, the sad fact is that most of your email promotions are not read. And many of your affiliates, including productive ones, have opted out from even receiving them. This contact may be your best opportunity to regularly communicate with your productive affiliates.
So make use of this opportunity and include other material that supports and builds on your relationship. When an affiliate receives their first commission check, I like to include a letter of thanks and congratulations that is hand-signed by the President or CEO. There should also be a letter from you, the Affiliate Program Manager, in every commission check envelope. This should include many of the things that you typically find in affiliate newsletters, like what are the current hot sellers and special promotions.
But the key here is to make your productive affiliates feel truly special. Therefore, it’s important for you to include something just for them (not offered to non-productive affiliates). This can be a free gift or a gift certificate for your site (and I mean a real gift certificate, not save $5 when you purchase at least $20). Or extend a special, private offer that increases their commissions. Structure it any way that you feel comfortable with, the important thing is that you recognize and reward their performance.
And don’t forget to continue to educate your productive affiliates about your company. Periodically, include brochures or even an annual report, so they gain an appreciation for your company’s mission. Productive affiliates are your most valuable asset — make them feel like they are your partner.