What is Affiliate Marketing? Who Was It Who Came Up with the Brilliant Idea
If you are totally new to the online marketing world and haven’t heard about affiliate marketing, please give me the exciting privilege to be the one to explain it to you. I remember the first time I read about it, my brain just went into full-on overdrive at the incredible possibilities.
The concept of affiliate marketing has been around before the creation of the Internet. The idea is that a business or product creator shares a portion of sales made when you refer the customer who made the purchase. The genius behind the concept was a guy called William J. Tobin in 1989…before the WWW, but he introduced it to the internet in Nov 1994, partnering up with IBM and patenting it on Oct 5, 2000.
And then came Amazon.
Amazon launched it’s an associate program in 1996 and was the first program to become widely known as ‘the’ go-to for affiliate products. They got in on the Patent thing, and theirs was granted in Feb 2000 – but for different components.
Instead of asking the big ‘what is affiliate marketing and who invented it’ questions, I wanted to just take a moment to acknowledge a few things that I just love about what it is that we do.
Happy Point #1
Anyone can be an affiliate marketer. There is no barrier to entry. Affiliate networks like JVZoo, Clickbank, Amazon etc. are free to join. In one way, it is now easier than ever to get started, with masses of training materials and tutorials to get you headed on the right track.
This wonderful accessibility presents it’s own problems though… competition is a lot tougher of course and with all of the courses out there, it can be harder to get your links noticed and be the one that people choose to buy through.
‘Thing I Love’ Point #2
Now that affiliate marketing has become more refined online and information products, software, and items that don’t need to be stocked and warehoused are being sold, the percentages can be much higher than with physical products.
Of course, we see scarcity… but really, other than someone not paying their hosting bill, when will a digital product creator ‘run out’ of a copy of their latest product. They won’t. It costs them the same amount of money to create and sell 5 copies as it does 5,000 copies – so it’s easy for the product creators to pass on a higher percentage of the sale to the affiliate, simply because every sale that comes in from a source that they haven’t had access to in the past is basically a bonus.
Joy Point #3
As an affiliate marketer, there is no need to create a product. I firmly believe that it is a GREAT idea to create your own products when you are able (for a whole bunch of other reasons), but as an affiliate marketer you can find a new product to promote each day if you wanted to – and not have to worry about creating the product, updating it when it needs updating or having to provide support for the products. You send people, you get paid.
Awesomeness Point #4
I have said this a few times (not today, but… before), but one of my favorite things about affiliate marketing – and internet marketing, in general, is that we really do all grow and benefit together. Yeah, there will always be politics if you choose to get all drama about things, and there will be people who do better than others – and others who get upset at the people doing well… but all in all, you create a great product, we promote it, we all make money and our businesses grow.
And at the end of the day… what is affiliate marketing to me? It’s a chance to join with fellow product creators and share in the profits of their success. So here’s to more of that in 2018!
Filling the Void – How to Decide What Products to Create
Deciding what products to create can be a bit of a brain block, but it doesn’t have to be.
Selling products is the end goal, right? If you have watched half of the biz opp style videos out there you might be under the misconception that all we have to do is come up with an idea, press a magic button (omg… puke!!) and BAM! You are working from home, making the moolah and telling your boss to f*ck off.
After you have spent your money (yep, we have all done it…) you realize that … work is involved – and understanding the market, making something that appeals to the target audience and making it awesome is a bit trickier than the sales videos lead you to believe.
Whatever business model you decide to use, you should keep the ‘now’ in focus, i.e. what you are making and how to make it great – but also keep in mind a bigger picture – i.e. how are you going to use this to make you money long term too. Making products takes a lot of work, so yep – it can be tempting to use scarcity tactics to get extra sales, saying you are closing down the offer in xx days – but you are really shooting yourself in the foot if you do all of the work and then have to be true to your word and shut it down.
Anyway, enough ranting… here are a few things help you get started when choosing what products to create and sell online.
1. Know Your Audience
Before you choose what products to create, you should research well to your audience. I have spoken about creating avatars before, if you want a refresher or some pointers, check it out here. Things you should look at are their joys, fears, dreams, and hopes. What triggers your customers?
Without knowing these, it’s pretty impossible to come up with a product that they would purchase – so, it’s worth spending the time diving in and digging around a bit.
2. Define Their Pain Points
Once you have your research done, make up a list of at least 3 to 4 problems, frustrations or pain points that require solutions that you can give. When you find a good/solid issue that isn’t being met – then selling is going to be MUCH easier.
For example, we created Covert Store Builder based around looking at other Amazon store solutions out there that were clunky or not optimized with marketers in mind – so when John built it, according to the holes that Soren had spotted in the market, it made it a ton easier for the sales letter to be convincing – because we really had done our research, we knew what was out there and had solved a solution with it.
3. Seek High Demand Low Supply Products
Find out the gap between the demand and supply of the audience’s needs. This can be a bit trickier to do, especially with online, digitally delivered products – but if you are doing offline products and are looking for what products to create that are physical have a look around and see what people in your niche are crying out for. Just a side note – if you could make me some Yummy Sushi PJ’s (like from Buffy … lol) that isn’t going to cost me $50 to ship … message me…
4. Understand the Price Points Your Audience Can Afford
Using Covert Store Builder as an example again, there were a couple of WordPress themes out there that did similar (not quite as awesome) jobs, but… the prices were not accessible to the people who were the normal target audience for WordPress theme purchase. So, creating something more affordable and more of an impulse ‘gotta grab that’ kind of price point helped a lot to move more units.
5. Create a Product Funnel
This could be a whole post on its own, so I’ll try and keep it tight here and just say … please don’t be lazy when it comes to putting together a product funnel.
Look at your frontend product and then cook up some ideas for different complementary products that could be used in conjunction with your initial product. As an affiliate, I don’t want to see you proudly proclaiming that your product “Doesn’t Have Upsells”. This just makes me want to slap you.
Yes, it’s more work, in most cases, it requires creating entirely new products – and then tying your sales flow in so that it makes it clear that they will be much better off with it. In the sales flow too – the number one thing to keep in mind is using urgency, really push the point that this ONE time is the only time they will ever get this offer. EVER. (and then be true to your word)!
Don’t just offer dev or multi-site licenses… yep, you might make a couple of extra bucks, but you are leaving a LOT on the table.
It is wise to start with products that will cost your audience low or nothing and then introduce products with higher prices. For instance, if anyone signs up to a newsletter for life coach, you may offer him a free checklist at the beginning. Low priced eReport would be the next product to introduce to him that could be followed by longer eBook, eCourse and site membership that will cost higher. One to one coaching could be introduced at the final stage which will cost the highest.
6. Limit the Number of Products
By that, I don’t mean only sell 100 copies… (again, don’t make me slap you)… But creating too many products or product lines can confuse your audience – especially on your sales page. Keep the solutions to their pain points CLEAR – and then offer their solution.
One of the biggest learning ‘ah ha’ moments that I had earlier – around the time I began working with Soren and John, was to not try and make a million and one of the same thing … even if you can do it – you just shouldn’t. You are MUCH better off finding a product that you can truly stand behind, make sure it’s something that people need/want and are willing to pay for – and then make it the awesomest ever…
Expand later, but keeping your products closely related allows you to leverage the customer base you already – and any new customers, you can shoot them around to check out your initial product too!
How do you know you are onto a winner? Practice baby – lots of practice and putting in the hard yards in proper research, so get to it.