March 13th 2019
Performance Partnerships 101: Real Relationships

"If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business." - Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing

Affiliate marketing is often anonymous. As noted in our Performance Partnerships 101: Transparency post, it was not that long ago when it was common for companies to pay affiliate partners for thousands of leads or sales without truly understanding where they came from.

And when you don't know what partners are in your affiliate program, how can you develop a transparent, trusting relationship with them?

This is why a third essential component of a Performance Partnership® is Real Relationships.

To unpack this a bit, this means that all parties involved – the brand, the agency, the technology platform, the affiliate partners – know and trust what everyone is doing to build and grow the program.

It's a real relationship, not a transaction.

By redefining their affiliate relationships and seeing publishers as a true business and marketing partner, companies are realizing exponential returns, growth and scale within their affiliate programs.

Affiliate Marketing or Business Development?

The lines distinguishing affiliate marketing from business development are fading. Both disciplines adhere to the principles of finding, engaging, and nurturing partners and paying them well when they bring in new business. In other words, a high-performing affiliate program has one foot in the marketing sphere and one in the business development sphere.

Example 1: Tiny Prints was contacted by hundreds of professional photographers who were interested in producing holiday cards for their clients. Managing all these partnership requests one-on-one was not feasible, however, managing them through an affiliate program was.

Tiny Prints gave each photographer a unique affiliate link and co-branded landing page to drive their clients to. Then, when their client ordered prints through that landing page, Tiny Prints paid the photographer a commission from cards sold. This marketing partnership left the photographer free to focus on their primary business of taking photographs and drove substantial business to Tiny Prints.

Simultaneously, Tiny Prints and Shutterfly had dozens of schools that wanted to raise funds during the holiday season. The same performance partnership framework allowed parents of schoolchildren to become affiliates and direct a commission to the school for every card or photobook sold through the site.

From the merchant's perspective, these were ideal marketing and business partners. They were enthusiastic, worked hard to raise awareness of Tiny Prints and Shutterfly's products, drove incremental sales, increased loyalty, and were supporting a great cause. The company was excited about these new relationships and so were their partners.

Example 2: Red Ventures is a large, fast-growing, yet relatively unknown company operating out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Leveraging their own marketing teams, call center and lead scoring technology, they partner with large brands and take over entire portions of the brands' online marketing portfolios. The company is paid purely on a performance basis to deliver new clients and incremental revenue. Soon, Red Ventures may be the largest de facto publisher in the world.

They are a great example of the entrepreneurial flair and innovative ideas that affiliates bring to the table. Those with creativity and persistence can now take their talents to some of the largest brands in the world. If their methods are transparent and there's good communication flowing between them and the brand they are promoting, it's a win-win partnership that can deliver considerable rewards.

For even more performance partner examples and resources, explore our Publisher Development page or chat with one of our incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and resourceful publisher development team members.

Next Up: Performance Partnerships 101: Technology.

Performance Partnerships 101: Cost Per Action

Performance Partnerships 101: Transparency

Are you looking to grow your business with high-value partners? We can help! Reach out to our team for more information.

Author: Lenox Powell