Affiliate Marketing Product: Keys to Finding the Best Products to Promote Online

If you are an affiliate marketer or interested in becoming one you probably realize that you aren’t going to make much money if the affiliate marketing product isn’t something you can promote profitably. Actually, there are 2 primary factors that need to be present for you to be a successful affiliate marketer-a product that people want and are willing to pay for and a productive landing page or site with great marketing copy that includes strong keyword optimization.

We can’t cover both factors here so we’ll focus on finding a great product to promote.

Ways to Identify a Great Affiliate Marketing Product

There are a ton of ways to find the best products to promote online but here are a few that are tried and true.

• People generally have the best success at promoting products on the internet that they have a passion for-things that they can get excited about. Passion for a product or service can be felt by potential customers when they read the marketing copy and can be a magnet for getting visitors to purchase a product or service. Therefore, the best products to sell online for you may be the things you enjoy and have the most interest in.

• The quickest way to identify lucrative affiliate marketing products to promote online is usually by signing up for one of the many affiliate marketing sites on the internet such as ClickBank, PayDotCom.com, or Clickbooth.com. These sites will provide good feedback on products that are selling well and have high commission rates within your chosen niche. This is especially true for beginners because these sites also provide great knowledge and support features.

• If you have been looking at some of the internet marketing resources available online, you have probably identified some promoters who you believe are competent and compelling. If they convinced you of their credibility, they have probably convinced others as well. These people will usually only promote affiliate marketing products or services they find to be legitimate and potentially profitable. Follow these promoters when you are building your database of useful internet resources, signing up for their newsletters and special reports. If they are promoting a product or service in their materials, it might be a good option for you to consider also.

• Whenever possible, try out the product or service before you agree to promote it. There’s nothing worse for an online marketer than to promote something that turns out to be a dog (sorry canine lovers). Just one bad campaign can damage your credibility within a niche which can follow you for a long time. Many suppliers will provide promoters a glimpse of their affiliate marketing products or services they sell online or even provide outright access to reduce anxiety and increase enthusiasm. This is a good sign that the product or service is worth promoting and you should take advantage of these offers.

These are just a few things to consider when looking for the best products to promote online. Your ultimate success in creating a profitable online marketing business will rest on each affiliate marketing product you choose to promote.

Market Concept Testing – Guerrilla Style

Marketing new products and services is vital for most companies. Many marketers, however, are unaware that fast, low cost guerrilla techniques for market concept testing can easily replace cumbersome market research, saving lots of money and time in the process.

A Simple Model For Strategic Thinking

In order to test a new market concept you need to have one, right? Use this simple, intuitive strategy model for understanding the dynamics in the marketplace you’re considering. At first you simply work through the model applying what you already know or strongly suspect is true about the market. Then you go back and support each and every assumption you’re holding with market data.

– What are the trends in my industry?
– What’s driving these trends?
– What are we currently doing about the trends?
– What are our competitors doing about the trends?
– What could we be doing about the trends to increase our profits?

During this process you’re squarely in the analytical phase of marketing. You’re creating ties between your idea and a market that will welcome or reject it. Do your work carefully at this stage or you’ll wind up with every marketer’s nightmare…a product or service that’s an answer to a question nobody’s asked!

Collecting Unbiased Customer Data
There are a couple of ways to approach this task. It’s recommended that you use both methods so that your information will be balanced between primary (straight from the customer) and secondary (conclusions from experts). The objective here is to clearly understand your WOW! and how you’ll prove it.

The first thing to understand (and many marketers don’t) is that business is a social process. Which means, to do this successfully, you’ll be spending the bulk of your time dialoguing with people…not noodling around on the internet. If the thought of this provokes anxiety you’re in good company. Most people don’t relish talking to strangers but successful people in just about every profession just bite the bullet and do it any way.

Step 1: The Internet Part
To establish a beachhead, and not duplicate effort, spend about 10% of the time you’ve allocated for this project internet research. The objective is to gain a baseline understanding of available information about current offerings and substitutes in this market space. You also want to understand the various marketing and sales channels. It’s especially good to know about substitute choices your prospects could make instead of buying your product. It’s good to look at the whole chessboard, not just the squares immediately surrounding your next-move.

At this stage we’re looking for available industry reports and similar expert analysis of:

• What are the trends in my industry?
• What’s driving these trends?
• What are our competitors doing about the trends?

You’ll find out what’s available by doing these searches:

1. [industry name] or [product/service] or [major competitor], financial analysts
2. [industry name] or [product/service] or [major competitor], market research
3. [industry name] or [product/service] or [major competitor], Hoover’s
4. [industry name] or [product/service] or [major competitor], [name of local newspaper]
5. [industry name] or [product/service] or [major competitor], business news
6. [industry name] or [product/service] or [major competitor], industry news
7. [industry name] or [product/service] or [major competitor], industry experts
8. Run similar searches on your favorite social media in case those entries were not picked up by the search engines.

If something about your subject has been written, pod casted, YouTube’d, tweeted, blogged or discussed at a conference you will find it with these searches. Sift through what you find and plug each piece of key information into the 5-point strategy planning model we’re using. Now you’ll see a shape starting to form around your strategy model.

Step 2: Create A Discussion Guideline
This is what you will use as a guideline in talking with potential purchasers of your market concept. In essence this is the heart and soul of your project. The care and accuracy you put into this step will determine whether your market concept test results are accurate.

These are the objectives:

1. Understand whether your WOW! is really a WOW!
2. Understand industry and purchasing trends related to your market concept…and what’s driving those trends.
3. Establish a view on growth opportunities for your company or division.

We recommend that you structure your guide so that it results in a discussion. People are more likely to loosen up and talk freely about your market concept, and the alternatives, if you’re not reading questions verbatim as in a market research survey. Sketch out five key areas of information that you want. These might include:

• What do you think about the concept I’ve presented?
• Steer them toward their thoughts on advantages and disadvantages.
• Ask them what would make it even better.
• What are the substitutes or alternatives including do-it-yourself and in-house solutions?
• How, when and where do you like to receive information on new products and services such as this?
• Digital
• Traditional (print ads, trade shows, telesales, etc.)
• Colleagues, friends & family
• Where and how would you most like to purchase something like this market concept?
• Steer them toward what’s the ideal venue for them, not just where alternatives are available today.
• You’re seeking every competitive advantage you can get.
• Would terms such as financing influence their purchase decision?
• Who is the final decision maker and who else is involved in making a purchase decision? Refer to your notes on complex sales and remember that large consumer purchases can often involve multiple decision makers and influencers.

It is critical that you not approach this exercise with pre-conceived notions of what your company can or can’t do. You simply want to visualize the best possible purchasing scenario for your new market concept. You can parse internal strengths and weaknesses later. Do not base a go/no-go decision on your weaknesses!

You may think of many other categories of questions. Just remember that most people will limit your time with them to 15-30 minutes so keep the number of categories low and focus on going deep in each category. You can always substitute different categories in subsequent calls with different people. Again, after three or four calls you’ll have a much better idea of which categories of information are the best for your purposes.

Step 3: Create A List of Potential Customers
The next is interacting directly with your market. This is a hugely valuable exercise for product managers, marketing managers and marketing leaders. You’ll learn more about your market concept in a day of doing this than just about anything else you might choose to do, including conjoint analysis and focus groups.

The objectives for this stage are:

• understand who holds the knowledge you need
• understand the role each influencer will play in a complex sale
• understand where, when, how and from whom they get their decision influencing information

The people you need to talk with can hold one or more of the following roles:

• Decision maker
• Influencer
• Approver
• User
• Deal killer

With some products and services, mostly consumer products and B2B products costing less than $1,000, you’ll be talking straight to the decision maker. With most other products and services you’ll be talking to the decision maker plus one or more of the other types of buyer. If you’re not familiar with the mechanics of a complex sale you’ll need to pause the project until you’re caught up. Just do a search on ‘complex sale’ and you’ll find what you need to know. This is critical for B2B and higher-end or more complex consumer products and services.

Your objective is to talk to at least 100 people who have direct influence on the purchase of this market concept you’re testing. If you’re testing a consumer concept (for example tax preparation software) start talking with people in your circle of influence including friends, family members, colleagues and professional contacts. You will qualify your research participants based on who prepares his/her own taxes and whether a software product is used. Once you have the list and their telephone numbers you’re ready to move on to Step 3.

If you are testing a B2B market concept you must go straight to the companies to whom you’ll be selling your products or services. You may have a few contacts in these companies but you’ll spend the bulk of your time talking to people you don’t know. Be up front about your mission and never disguise yourself as a student doing research for a term paper or project. Just be yourself and be honest in describing what you’re doing.

If you’re cold calling a company start where you can get a foothold. If your market concept is a new and better alternative to traditional inventory control systems in mid-tier manufacturing companies, likely you will be talking to people in logistics, purchasing, operations and accounting. Go to the company’s website and list the names of key people in those functions if they’re identified. Then call the main number or department number, if listed, and ask to speak to that person. You may get through or you may not. Regardless of whom you talk with, even if it’s the main switchboard operator, just give him/her your 25 word elevator pitch on what you’re doing and ask who they’d recommend speaking with.

You will find that after calling three or four companies your comfort level will rise dramatically and you’ll start getting through more often to people who have the information you need.

Summary
This sounds like odd work for marketing people doesn’t it? However the advantages of this approach are many.

First, it gets marketing people immersed in the marketplace. This is far better than the superficial practice of having marketing people shadow a sales person for a day or two once a year.

Second, it gives marketing people an affinity for the role of the sales team. It helps them understand selling so they, in turn, can work with salespeople on devising strategies to overcome resistance and objections.

Third it gives marketing people solid confidence and much more enthusiasm for introducing new concepts if they have discovered the marketplace dynamics and purchaser habits and practices. This confidence will spread to other areas of the company, giving the marketing and product teams more support than they would have otherwise.

So yes, it’s a truly different approach but it’s highly effective and takes a lot less time and money than traditional market research.

Case Study
A startup company in California has a new market concept for virus protection solutions for iApp (applets for Apple’s iPhones) vendors. This startup is reluctant to spend $50-100K on formal market research so they’ve decided to do the project in-house.

They plan to assess the current competitive landscape for iApp virus protection by:
• Conducting a search for iApp virus protection vendors, if any
• Interviewing a small number of current iApp creators
o Do the trends they’re seeing suggest a market opportunity for our concept?
o What do they know about current solutions on the market?
o How would our offering solve a current problem or pain point better than other offerings?
o What would they pay to solve that problem or pain point?
o What level of disruption or complexity can the organization handle for installation and testing?

Next, the startup will assess current substitutes for their concept. They’ll do this by conducting a search and gathering product specifications, distribution models and other key information for each of their potential competitors. Some of this information they will already have from collecting customer data from the internet and other resources they used. The rest of it they will need to go after using the same information gathering techniques. These are some possible insights gained from their efforts:

• Their new market concept would need feature adjustments
• Their new market concept would be targeted at iAPP creators only
• They can lean heavily on digital marketing rather than traditional marketing
• A utility pricing model (pay based on consumption) would give them a strategic advantage
• A unique guarantee would give them a strategic advantage
• Acquisitions would not be a source of competitive advantage near term

The team now has enough information to make a go or no-go decision. If it’s a “go” the next step is to make sure there’s plenty of money in the bank, or coming in, to fund development and commercialization. Before the software writers kick in, though, the team needs to create a marketing requirements document and a commercial release process to make sure they won’t run out of money before sales revenue kicks in.

Retail Marketing Planning: How to Get Started With Marketing Planning

Marketers struggle with marketing campaign planning for different reasons: incomplete or inaccessible historical data, new marketing channels with no obvious comparables, lack of expertise or understanding of what really matters. We’ll explore how to address more of these issues in upcoming blog posts.

Understand Your Channels – Differentiate between Marketing and Order Channels

Even the most sophisticated marketers create confusion by using the word “channel” interchangeably between Marketing and Order Channels.

Marketing Channels are those that you spend your marketing efforts in: direct mail, email, display/retargeting, natural and paid search, affiliate, social media, etc. Order Channels are ones in which a customer places an order: call center, ecommerce/internet, and retail. Mobile is unique in that it can be categorized either way – for example, if a company has a mobile app which serves as a marketing tool, and a customer can also order through, the channel can be classified as either a Marketing or Order Channel. Keep in mind that the categorization should be consistent.

Plan Marketing Channels, then Forecast by Order Channel

Since you have much more control over marketing campaigns than where a customer will choose to place an order, start by planning your marketing campaigns. Each company has its own set of terminology, but there are typically three levels of marketing planning, depending on the complexity and depth of each channel. I’ll define my definitions for clarity:

Campaign – Overall theme that the marketing supports. This can be a season (Winter, Summer, Holiday), event (webinar, concert), membership drive (wine club, subscription-based purchase), promotion (semi-annual sale, clearance). Crosses between Marketing Channel and Communication since both are instrumental in supporting the campaign.

Marketing Channel – direct mail, email, search, display, affiliate, social media (same as above)

Communication – individual marketing treatments such as an email, postcard, Facebook ad, mobile ad, SEM ad.

For some marketing channels, such as direct mail, marketers typically plan at the Communication level. Direct mail requires more advance planning since print orders need to be placed, customer lists modeled and hygiened, list rentals ordered, and postage costs calculated.

Other marketing channels need less rigor and can be planned at the channel level. For example, if your affiliate program is fairly even and predictable, it probably makes sense to plan at the channel level rather than have individual plans for each publisher.

Depending on your business, you may also plan by Campaign. An example of this is a large semi-annual sale promotion – you would plan communications in each of your channels to support the promotion. You may send a catalog or direct mail piece, a series of emails, a social media contest, and targeted display ads to reinforce your message.

Increases in Circulation: Need to Account for Growth and Lower Performance

The next step is to take historic data as the plan starting point. Response rates, average order, click through rates, and other relevant metrics are helpful for planning for communications targeted at similar audiences.

Two common mistakes that marketers make are:

  1. Not adjusting for audience growth/shrinkage (if the same quality audience has grown, you can assume a similar response rate even though your circulation size has changed).
  2. Increasing/decreasing the audience of a different quality without accounting for a difference in performance. This is important – by increasing circulation, the quality of the audience will decrease and the expected revenue per person for the incremental circulation will be lower.

One way to determine the revenue increase/decrease per person for different quality circulation is based on a loose rule of thumb (divide the % increase by three so that the larger the increase in circulation, the greater the drop-off in revenue per person).

Using historical data and trend, you can then forecast your sales curves by order channel. Most large companies that have multiple order channels typically forecast by fiscal week for both call center staffing and managing the revenue/inventory predictions. Smaller and more internet-based companies may choose to forecast on a monthly basis.

Developing Your Balanced Marketing Plan For Lead Generation

Leads are the fuel that feeds the fire for all of our business developments. When they are not coming into your business funnel, your marketing plan is more than likely at fault. This article is all about fixing this through designing and implementing a structured 90 day plan. You will learn why you need this plan, the importance of a balanced free and paid marketing plan, planning your day and the power of focusing on one strategy for your 90 day plan.

Distractions are most of the time our number one enemy when it comes to any type of plan of action. It even starts with the daily attack of all “the new, great and guaranteed to get you results” emails in your inbox every morning! Your marketing plan, which should be structured within a 90 day time frame, is really the most important component of your business. All successful marketers work off of some kind of plan created to help them track progress and have discipline. I am currently in the process or making my second 90 day plan which will be very different from the first. Why? I have learned so much since the first and by the third plan it should look different from the second.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this. Truth is, the more the better as this is a fundamental truth to any success we plan on having. I found that most people fail when they dabble in too many marketing strategies instead of mastering just one or two proven strategies. I found this true with myself as I needed to narrow my focus to get results and not be all over the place. I would suggest selecting one or two marketing strategies and spend the next 90 days becoming a master at them. Two good examples might be video marketing and article marketing. Both are not only cheap but fun!

Designing your marketing campaign using only paid marketing strategies is not a good idea. Most new marketers did what I almost did and that is spending one’s self out of the “game”. Remember, it will take time to reach the right conversion metrics on any single marketing strategy. That’s why your 90 day plan is so important! You need the time to master the skill to get the results you need to grow your business. You can then move on and master another strategy. If you are using only paid strategies you will limit yourself to what you can accomplish using free marketing strategies. Don’t buy it when you are told free marketing strategies equate to sub-par results. That is simply not true. I personally have generated more leads using free marketing strategies and so can you! Bottom line, you never have to worry about your advertising budget when you are generating leads for free!

Truth is just about every marketing strategy works. But you won’t see results in a time period of only two weeks. Here is a quick break down of a 90 day plan with month number six in mind with a goal:

  1. First month is testing and learning with a small budget.
  2. Month two brings a winning campaign or two that you are getting results and working to master.
  3. The third month you will have a number of winning campaigns with profitable ad groups that keep converting better and better.
  4. Month six equals two completed 90 day plans. Now you could be and should be at about 200 leads per week converting at a good percentage.

You want to reach the three pillars of Jedi Marketing Mastery. This is going from good, to great and landing on mastery of your selected marketing strategies. Reaching “great” is a good time to introduce another strategy to your plan if desired. Please be sure you think it through and know it is in your best interest to start another marketing “project”. It takes patience and persistence to become a Jedi Marketing Master of anything. You will make mistakes and will have to overcome obstacles and challenges. That comes with the territory and you must remember those who become masters are unstoppable in their mission to mastery.

A 90 day plan can only be set up and used by you. You and I both know there are many tools to use to organize our day to stay on track. I can tell you a secret that you probably don’t know. The secret is to focus on one type of marketing strategy per day. For example, the allotted time you set for your daily marketing might be one four hour slot or two slots of two hours each. Select and focus on one marketing strategy for the day. Don’t do video marketing for two hours, one hour to write an article and the last hour to create a pay-per-click campaign online. You are too scattered and your results at best will be scattered.

In conclusion, my hope is you got something from this to move you to create your 90 day plan. Once again, it won’t be perfect and is not supposed to be. In fact it will be down right challenging at first. All successful marketers must go through this and learn for themselves what their 90 day plan will look like. They then adjust and fine tune it until it serves them and their business. Best of luck to you in you 90 day plan and marketing strategies!