Today, brands can partner with just about anyone on a performance basis via an affiliate program.
How? Because of the affiliate model’s unique ability to simplify tracking, reporting and payment to partners.
What’s more is that, via an affiliate program, you’re paying these partners on a performance basis – in other words, after they’ve delivered a pre-determined action (e.g. a sale, new customer, lead, etc.).
Taken together, this makes forming new, multifaceted marketing and business partnerships far more efficient, scalable and cost-effective.
In addition to benefitting your affiliate program, these partnerships can also add value to other teams within your organization, including: Customer Service, Business Development, and PR and Social teams.
Challenge: Almost every established company has a customer service team. These teams get various requests throughout the day ranging from customer questions and issues to inquiries from content creators (influencers or bloggers) looking for free products to review. Or, perhaps they want to engage with your brand through a sponsored giveaway or unique discount for their readers/followers.
If the only response your customer service team can give to these content creators’ request is “no,” that can leave that influencer or blogger with a negative perception of your company and brand.
Solution: Provide your customer service team with a script for this exact purpose. Something that conveys that your brand would love to work with these content creators and that you value that they are a fan of your company, products or services.
Here’s an example: “We’d love to work with you! The best next step is for you to sign up for our partner program. This way you can earn when you promote our brand. Once you’re an established partner, there’ll likely be opportunities to partner on giveaways, product reviews, etc.”
Instead of saying “no, we can’t offer you a free product to review or a special code for your readers/followers,” you’re saying “Yes! We value you, we want to work with you and here’s the best way.”
This allows high-value – potentially game-changing partners – to connect with your brand.
It also helps the customer service team feel like they are giving someone an answer and resolving an issue without saying “no.”
Taken together, this helps your brand grow in a low-cost and efficient way.
Challenge: Similar to customer service teams, business development teams tend to receive a lot of inquiries from potential partners wanting to engage with your brand in different ways. However, the business development team often has to turn the majority of these potential partnerships away, usually due to the size of the opportunity.
While every business development team is different and uses various metrics for determining whether an opportunity is worth their time, effort, resources, focus etc., the reality is that creating and setting up strategic partnerships – of any size – can be very time-consuming and resource intensive. As such, these teams tend to prioritize the larger partnership opportunities and decline the small and mid-sized opportunities.
Although understandable, this can often mean that companies miss out on opportunities with partners that, while smaller, have the potential for being just as high-value as a larger partner.
Solution: Bring your affiliate marketing and business development teams together so they can establish an understanding for how a “minimum opportunity size” is defined and how the business development team determines whether to move forward with an opportunity.
Once that’s established, then a collaborative process can be created to identify when and how to move those opportunities that fall outside of that minimum opportunity size forward through the company’s affiliate or partner program.
Instead of saying “no” to these potential partners and turning them away, the business development team can now say, “yes, we’d love to partner with you and can do so via our partner program.”
Another area where the affiliate model can add a lot of value to the business development team is when there are partnership gaps. Business development teams will often establish a number of different strategies and opportunities they want to tackle, but they don’t have time to pursue them all.
When these time/resource gaps occur, the affiliate marketing team can step in to support these partnerships by bringing them in via the affiliate program. This allows the partnership to be tested out within a controlled, efficient environment and then evaluated with careful tracking and reporting.
This structure opens up a whole new world of opportunities for business development teams to test new types of partners and ensure valuable results can be realized before more time and energy is allocated to scale the partnership.
PR and Social
Challenge: Similar to the customer service team, PR and social teams also regularly receive inquiries and partnership requests from influencers and content creators, many of which the PR and social teams are unable to accommodate due to time, resources and bandwidth limitations.
What’s more is that most of these partner inquiries simply aren’t going to give your brand the return that you’re looking for. As such, PR and social teams tend to turn these influencers and content creators away.
Similar to the customer service team situation, this rejection can leave these potential partners – who are also likely to be your customer— with a negative perception of your brand, which is never good.
Solution: Instead of turning these influencers away, your PR and social teams can suggest that they join your affiliate/partner program. In having them do this, your company is able to gain all of the abovementioned efficiencies and streamline the operational aspects of the partnership, including tracking, payment and reporting.
Since influencers are accustomed to receiving a flat fee, a sponsorship fee or something similar in exchange for creating a blog post or social post, it may make sense to structure their compensation on a performance plus basis. This means that you may pay them a commission or flat fee for a desired action (performance), but then you’d also give them something extra, perhaps a free product to test out as well. That’s the “plus” element.
It’s also important to keep in mind that influencers are top-of-funnel and will likely need additional support from the brand, whether that be through content or promotions, to drive those down-funnel actions.
The potential for these types of partnership arrangements is significant. As your company grows and as the influencer’s following grows, the influencer typically ends up earning more than they would have with just a flat fee because they’re also receiving a commission. This mutually beneficial partnership structure ultimately incentivizes them to focus more on promoting your brand.
For greater detail, insights and examples into how the affiliate model can be used to scale and streamline virtually any type of marketing or business partnership – and the three teams within companies that can play an essential role in helping make that happen – check out the episode on our Outperform podcast titled, “3 Teams Within your Company that Can Expand your Affiliate Marketing Partnerships.”