I recently attended FinCon, the world’s largest financial content expo. This was not only my very first conference as an affiliate marketer, it was also a first for our AP client services team. A few of us decided to attend as we felt that FinCon would be a new way for us to connect with a segment of potential affiliates that our clients are interested in working with.
Increasingly, financial services companies are entering the world of affiliate marketing and, as such, have approached AP about managing their affiliate programs. While it’s always important to attract high-value, brand-aligned partners to a program, this is especially important for financial services companies.
You see, financial service companies are held to a more stringent marketing standard than say a retail or consumer services brand. Therefore, when recruiting affiliates for these types of companies, it’s essential to ensure they understand and will adhere to financial services marketing regulations. It’s also crucial to monitor their marketing efforts to verify that they are accurate and in compliance.
As I and two other APers descended on Dallas, TX in late October, we did so with these considerations in mind as well as enthusiasm about connecting learning and engaging with financial community leaders.
Here are a four highlights, insights and takeaways from FinCon:
1. Know Your Audience: “Affiliate” vs. “Partner”
When attending any event, it is important to know your core audience but also be open to adapting the conversation to whomever you’re speaking with. As FinCon is not an affiliate-specific event, we surmised that most of the attendees were not necessarily familiar with affiliate marketing.
Instead of approaching them with, “We’re looking for affiliates to join our clients’ programs,” we knew that we needed to use language that they could easily understand and relate to.
As such, our approach was to explain that we were looking for content creators to partner with our brand in exchange for a commission. In addition to using terminology they relate too, we also found “partner” to be a much friendlier term and a more apt way to describe the relationship we are hoping to build. And, since these content creators were all about monetizing their content, it was significant to explain that commissions were involved in the partnership structures we were looking to develop on behalf of our clients.
The more people I spoke with, the more I found that, although they were relatively familiar with affiliate, using more partnership-focused terminology moved the conversation forward a lot quicker.
2. Keep an Open Mind
Just as it’s important to be adaptable in your networking conversation is, it’s also advantageous to keep an open mind when looking for new publisher opportunities or events.
FinCon, for example, featured a wide variety of people, most of whom hadn’t worked within an affiliate model before, although they were familiar with it. What was key for us is that they were all content creators within the financial vertical, which is who our existing and prospective financial industry clients want in their programs.
By embracing this new “out of the box” opportunity, we were able to have very productive conversations with a huge audience that we hadn’t spoken with yet. Doing so only required an open mind to see the opportunity.
3. Define Success in Advance
Before putting in the time and resources to attend an event, it’s important to define success. Is it gathering a certain amount of leads? Getting new publishers signed up to the program on the spot? Whatever the goal, everyone on your team who is attending the event should be aligned with that success measurement.
In our particular case, we were aiming to connect with new partners we hadn’t talked with before and who would be successful in the program. This meant first asking these content creators about their website or content focus and then tailoring the conversation based on whether they were a fit for our clients’ brand. This approach allowed for more time with potential brand-aligned partners and less time with those who weren’t.
4. Track Conversations
At FinCon, I personally spoke with over 100 people a day. No exaggeration. It is impossible to keep all of those conversations and people straight if you don’t have a solid tracking process. A few tracking tricks we used were:
• Asking for a business card and then write a quick note on the card to remind us of the conversation.
• For those without a business card, we had them fill out a quick form with their contact information.
• In addition to the first two tips, we gave out our business cards and a one-sheet overview about our clients’ programs.
Those who are motivated will likely reach out to you first, making the partnership build process that much faster and productive.
FinCon provided a unique opportunity to talk with potential partners face-to-face—partners that we may have been unable to reach otherwise. At the very least, it was a valuable new experience to try something new and build non-traditional partnerships for your performance marketing programs.
You can learn more about our affiliate program management capabilities for financial services companies at http://www.accelerationpartners.com/capabilities/affiliate-program-managment/financial-services/.