As a business owner, I can’t tell you how often I get approached with the opportunity to make an extra buck or two on affiliate revenue. If I will just use my clout to hock their wares, they’ll pay me money. And, after all, as long as someone pays me money I’m motivated to do it… right? Wrong.
If you’re hell-bent on building an affiliate-based sales model, save yourself some time and go to where the affiliates are. Clickbank, Commission Junction, or the like. And, I’m not knocking that model. It works. It’s profitable. And there are individuals who are skilled and interested in that sort of opportunity. It just so happens that they aren’t always one-in-the-same with successful business owners with profit-generating companies of their own.
For various reasons, often having to do with brand image, affiliate sales might not be what you’re looking for after all. While it can get results, it can come with a reputation. If you don’t want to see your product hocked on hundreds of different squeeze pages with hyped long copy, pushed out in twitter streams chock full of affiliate links, or spammed to millions of people — all with your name on it — then you might consider a different approach.
The challenge, then, is how do you get “reputable” businesses (and I use that term hesitantly, as I don’t mean to imply that affiliates are categorically of ill-repute) to represent your product in more conservative business fashion? The answer: find what motivates them.
As Douglas Karr pointed out in a recent post, citing one of my favorite viral videos, money isn’t always the answer. In fact, it rarely is. In fact, it’s the very offer of money, and nothing more, that actually dissuades me from considering affiliate offers. In effect, it insults my own worth, my sense of who I am and what I do, by presuming I could be distracted from my already all-consuming business ventures with the simple allure of money.
So, how do you build what I call “Channel Sales”–an indirect distribution model that’s more complex (yes, more sophisticated) than affiliate? How can you know what will actually motivate a business owner you wish to partner with? Simple: it’s their business.
Entrepreneurs toil endlessly growing their companies. They have dreams in mind — some monetary, some altruistic, and some just plain fun and rewarding. If you want to tap into that passion and use it for your sales growth, you have to align the two. Figure out how joining your channel will not only add a few bucks of commission to their bottom line, but will actually help them drive their business on to what they most desire.
You can see this principal employed in many of the successful channel sales models today. Ad agency, for example, is a model where publishers seek to fill insertions, but they recognize the agency’s passion is for the creative solution. Savvy publishers find ways to augment that goal. My first job was selling software for a local Autodesk VAR. I was baffled as to why Autodesk charged double the standard rate for services, until I realized that they wanted to encourage customers by whatever means possible to engage the local VAR for services. Even my own Partner Provider program is built on what I’ve learned from these pros, and others.
Building a sales channel isn’t easy, and it is very rarely a fast process. If you want fast and easy, get the affiliates on your side. If you have more on your mind than money, then recognize that so do we.