Selling Your Products Through Affiliates ... Differently
By Rok Hrastnik

Although affiliate programs are overwhelming the market and loosing their effectiveness, building marketing partnerships and offering others a percentage of the sales they generate marketing your product is still the way to go - if you do it differently then your competitors.

When planning the promotions for an e-book, The Millionaire Mindset, targeting a very broad audience that is willing to spend $39.95 on a success e-book, we discovered a different approach to mass affiliate marketing.

Face it - no one needs another affiliate program to join and making yours successful requires standing out from the crowd.

1. Do not offer an affiliate program at all when starting to market a product.

Start by testing your copy and direct marketing strategies, generating satisfied customers and building your e-zine subscriber base. Do not even mention planning an affiliate program at all in your e-zine or anywhere else before you launch it. This will help you retain a feeling of exclusivity later on.

2. Offer the partnership program to your customers and subscribers first, without advertising it anywhere else.

Start when you generate at least 1000 satisfied customers and 2000 e-zine subscribers. Send them an e-mail explaining how you are now ready to prerelease your marketing partnership program (do not call it an affiliate program - it will help you look different), but only to the first 25 people that qualify. The small number of available slots and the exclusivity will increase the perceived value of the program and help it achieve its USP. Treat your program like a small marketing circle of a closed group of partners and tell them so.

3. Build personal relationships with your partners.

Do not use sign-up forms or autoresponders to accept applications - give people an e-mail address that a real human will respond to. Ask the candidates to send you their applications with an explanation of why they think they should be chosen. You are bound to receive many questions and comments; respond to all of them with great care and start building strong relationships.

4. The affiliate offer.

Whether your program succeeds is also going to depend on the offer: we got the best response when offering 50% commissions and requesting no payment to become a partner.

Using this complete approach we received 127 requests (using a database of a little over 1000 customers) in just one day; and then put them in three groups of 25 people that were able to join our program over three weeks.
They all received a personal response from our staff explaining the situation and giving them further instructions. Since they were already convinced of our product's quality they immediately started to generate sales without us having to convince them of either the product's or the program's quality.

Furthermore, to help them achieve maximum success we gave them a week to promote the e-book with additional exclusive bonuses that were no longer available even on our web site.

5. Retaining your partners by constantly giving them a reason to promote your product.

The best way of retaining your partners is gradually sending them new promotional tools and materials, such as promotional articles, an offer to use a personalized viral promotional e-book, additional ads and sales letters, etc., while still keeping all communication on a personal level.
Constantly create new techniques they can use to achieve better success, but never give them everything at once - rather prepare a marketing plan for them and help them implement it one step at a time.

There's no use in having an affiliate program no one joins or having thousands of affiliates that sell nothing. Use these 5 steps and your program will be different.

Some final comments:

· Although we started the program when we reached 1000 customers, we had before offered it personally to a select group of e-zine publishers to get immediate results and create a strong database for further promotions.

· Do not use a two- or more tier program giving your partners a chance to get new partners in turn for getting commissions on their sales as well - instead of promoting your product they are going to promote the program itself, which in the long-run will not bring you sales.

· Up to this date we have still not created an "official" partnership program or advertised it anywhere else than in our e-zine and to our customers.

Author Byline

Rok Hrastnik is the agent of Vene and Grubisa who wrote The Millionaire Mindset: How to Tap Real Wealth from Within. Find out why this book is changing lives and creating miracles; why it sold out in 15 days in EU and why 5 publishers wanted to publish it 3 days after we released it in U.S.