Should you Start an Affiliate Program?

Many companies want to start an affiliate program. Some want to do it for the right reasons, but most companies start an affiliate program for the wrong reasons. Learn how to tell the difference.

You keep hearing about how Joe Schmo is making a killing with affiliate marketing. You pause and think about it, this time you think about it with genuine interest not like before.

But you are not interested in becoming an affiliate, instead, you have a product. You want to get affiliates to sell your product or service. And you wonder, how do you get an affiliate program started so Joe will sell for you?

This is what I am exploring with you today. I guess, the first thing I would ask is not How?, but Why?

Should you start an affiliate program or not?

infographic with the word Purpose being assembled
Don't jump into the affiliate program game without a clear vision and purpose.

As with most marketing decisions, starting an affiliate marketing program isn't something to be taken lightly.

I am think that nearly every company, product or service can benefit from an affiliate program, if you deploy and manage it correctly. With that premise, it is easier for me to explain when you should NOT start an affiliate program.

You should NOT start an affiliate program...

Do not start an affiliate program as a way to save your company or as a last-ditch effort to generate revenue . If your company is in trouble and you need money, you need to fix the problems before you introduce a whole new set of complications to your business.

Do not start an affiliate program without sales statistics or brand recognition. If you are new and don't have a brand or endorsements, then most affiliates will want to see some proven conversions and sales before joining your program.

If you don't have these numbers to show, or if they're too low for your industry then your program may lose affiliates' attention quickly and then it can easily stagnate and make it hard to get traction later.

Do not start an affiliate program expecting the affiliates to do your work for you. You need to guide your program with strong direction and leadership. Even though they are selling for you, they are a type of customer to you as well.

Affiliates are a hybrid of employee, customer. You need to have strong communication channels that work for you and the affiliates. You need to give marketing materials, a good infrastructure, and most importantly, motivation and fresh campaigns to promote.

But if you think you are starting a program for the right reasons, then here is a list of a few basic things to keep in mind as you get ready to start your affiliate program.

If you think you are ready to start an affiliate program, then...

Study the best ones and most popular in your industry and overall. Study the networks, study the affiliates, study the competition, study, study, study.

Get yourself an affiliate manager with a decent track record to help you set it all up and maybe even manage it for you. You can find people and agencies that do this. You can attend local meetups and regional or national events to meet them as well.

Get your self to events with other affiliates and affiliate managers. Immerse yourself in the industry and culture so you can better understand how to work more efficiently, and effectively.

Join other affiliate programs as an affiliate and go through the experience. Did you find it enjoyable, inviting, motivating? What would you change in your program? Ask yourself questions to hone in your skills and develop a better program.

Affiliate Summit West is coming up in January and this is perhaps the best event you can attend to learn about all the different aspects of affiliate marketing also known as performance marketing. If you are serious about starting a program for your company then you owe it to yourself the due diligence of attending. Click here to find out more.