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Building Internal Support

By Shawn Collins
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2004

So, the boss has been reading all of the great things about affiliate marketing, and the next thing you know, you've been anointed as the affiliate manager. You pick a solution provider and things are ready to roll, right?

Not exactly. If you are going to run a successful affiliate program, it is vital that you build internal support and it comes down to three basic tenets: activate, educate, and organize.

Activate the program

Before you can manage your program, it has to exist. Your first move should be to make fast friends with the IT folks. They've got a lot of stuff on their plate, so if you hope to get proper attention during the implementation process and after the program has gone live, you'd better have an in with them.

They're people just like you and me… they get hungry in the middle of the day. So offer to take them out to lunch to discuss your technical needs. You know how Milton Friedman said there is no such thing as a free lunch? Well that's not strictly true, especially when you're trying to get your program up and running.

You will also want to establish a rapport with the finance department. After all, they are going to be cutting the checks to pay your affiliates. Whether it is asked of you or not, create an aggressive budget that covers commissions, service provider fees, education and marketing for your program. The finance crew does not like surprises.

And write up a detailed plan with the short and long term goals for your program. Just how are you going to produce all of those amazing results? What methods will you be using to market your program and acquire new affiliates? If you want the VP of Marketing to take your program seriously, they have to be able to take you seriously.

Educate yourself and your co-workers

Odds are that the majority of people in your office do not have a clue about affiliate marketing. By the way, how much do you know? One of the best ways to learn about your affiliates is to become one yourself.

No excuses. Even if you don't know a thing about creating a Web site, you should create one. Domains are cheap these days and you can get free hosting all over the place. There are tons of free HTML tutorials available online, or you could use a WYSIWYG software like MS FrontPage to create your site without any knowledge of HTML.

After you have figured out how to set up a site and joined some affiliate programs, make an announcement in your office that you are willing to help any of your co-workers to do the same. By helping your co-workers to set up their own sites and instructing them about affiliate programs, you will be establishing more awareness and support for your program.

You should be publishing a monthly newsletter to your affiliates that includes mission critical news, tips, success stories, and co-marketing plugs for complimentary affiliate programs. Send your newsletter to every affiliate, as well to all of the people in your company (if your company climate permits).

Organize the company behind your program

The results for your affiliate program will be very tangible, so show that qualitative and quantitative information with everybody. Don't be shy about tooting your own horn, because nobody else is going to do it for you.

Broadcast those affiliate milestones to your company at staff meetings and make them ask themselves, "How did we ever operate without the affiliate program?" When you get positive feedback about the program, share it with everyone. As Oscar Wilde once said, moderation is a fatal thing, nothing succeeds like excess.

It's impossible for you to find every site that may become your next great affiliate. So ask around the office for co-workers to refer potential affiliates to you. Their job is also to work with Dot Coms in your industry, so they likely know some gems that you have not come across.

Also encourage suggestions about the overall program - send details of the program to everybody from the receptionist to the CEO and ask for feedback. Voila - you've got the company interested in your job and you've got some additional questions for the affiliate FAQ.

You will find that internal support is imperative to the success of your affiliate program. Not only will it make your life and job more pleasant, but it will also assist you in perfecting your program.

About the Author
Shawn Collins
ClubMom Affiliate Manager


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