Archives for February 2009

Affiliate Marketing 101 (Q&A) – Part 1

Many looking for a way to work from home and run their own business turn to the Internet for answers. It’s only natural that people turn to the World Wide Web to find information on the topic, since television commercials seem to abound now with claims of people who are making money running their own at home business.

Maybe you even know someone personally who runs an online business. It’s not as uncommon as many think. The Internet is full of opportunities to turn your dream of working from home, being your own boss, and having control of your financial future into a reality.

With its vast amount of information on almost any subject you could imagine, people in households around the world are jumping online and Googling “ways to make money online” every day.

One of the more frequent terms that pop up when searching for ways to make money on the Internet is Affiliate Marketing. But, what exactly is affiliate marketing and how can it help you create a thriving and profitable business?

In this article series you’ll find 11 of the most frequently asked questions on the topic of Affiliate Marketing along with the answers to each of them. You’ll learn what affiliate marketing is, the basics of how it works and by the end of the report you’ll have a better understanding of what everybody online is talking about.

Who knows, you just might decide that affiliate marketing is something you’d like to try for yourself. If so, I wish you success! Just remember any business worthwhile does take time and work. It won’t happen overnight (although it is possible to do some work before you go to sleep at night and wake up to money in your pocket the next morning with affiliate marketing).

When done correctly an Affiliate Marketing business can produce the income, security, and longevity anyone looking to create a successful business could ever need or want.

Defining Affiliate Marketing

Q: What is Affiliate Marketing?

A: Affiliate marketing as defined by Wikipedia.com:

“Affiliate Marketing is an Internet-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts.”

I don’t know about you, but when I first read that definition, it wasn’t exactly jumping out at me, making me go “Oh yeah, I get it. Now I know what I want to do to make a living!”

Of course you can read more about the practice of affiliate marketing at the Wikipedia website, but we’ll save you the trouble, because although it isn’t hard to understand, it is a bit overwhelming and really doesn’t tell you in easy to understand terms what affiliate marketing is.

Affiliate Marketing Is The Process of Referring Others To A Product OR Service And Being PAID For Your Efforts

A great example that I’ve found most people can easily understand is that of a car salesman. When you go to a dealership to purchase a new car, you’re normally greeted by a salesperson. He or she will do their best to answer your questions, show you the car including its features, engine, warranty, and even let you test drive it.

Once you decide the vehicle is the one you want to buy, they will then walk you through all the paperwork, getting financing, taking your down payment, trade-in and everything else involved in the process from start to finish.

Once the deal has been made and you’ve driven off the lot with your new car, the dealership receives the sticker price of the car.

But, what about the sales person who worked with you all afternoon? He listened to your needs, recommended the car that you fell in love with and are now sporting around town in. What does he get out of the deal? After all, he did all the work – he should get something for making the sale. And, he does. He will receive a percentage of the sales price of the car you just bought. This is known as a commission.

Affiliate marketing is the same thing, only in this particular case you are doing the referring and “selling” on the Internet.

Make Money With Affiliate Marketing

Q: How exactly do you make money from Affiliate Marketing?

A: We touched on the answer to this question in the previous question. When you (the affiliate) refer someone to a product (or service) and that person makes a purchase, you receive a commission on the sale.

However, there is more to it than that. After all, how can a company know for sure that you are the one who sent this person to their website since you’re not there to tell them and the person buying may not even know your name?

When you sign up to become an affiliate with a company or individual, you’ll receive a special link (your affiliate link) that is embedded with a tracking code to let the affiliate program owner identify you among other affiliates and their own marketing methods.

Whenever you use this special affiliate link to refer someone to the company’s website the person’s visit is tracked to you via that special code. There are various software programs that make this possible and the process is beyond the scope of this particular report. Just remember that visitors to the website are tracked back to you from this special code within your affiliate link.

Whenever someone who uses your link purchases something from the company’s website you are credited for the sale and receive some sort of payment.

Common Types of Affiliate Payments

Sales Percentage – This method is the most common form of payment to affiliates. Example: For every sale you refer as an affiliate, you’ll earn 50% of the total sales price. You refer $50 worth of sales and we’ll pay you $25. Percentages vary and are set by the company or individual who runs the affiliate program. They can vary from 5% all the way to 100%.

Pre-set dollar amount – This type of commission is not extremely common, but it is out there, specific dollar amounts could include things such as: For every $5 worth of product sales you refer to us, we’ll pay you $1 or a flat $20/sale.

Credits
– Some sites pay their affiliates in credits that can be used for future purchases of their products. An example of this would be receiving 1 credit for every dollar’s worth of product sales you refer.

Here’s the end of Part 1, in Part 2 we will discuss how to know your Market, you MUST get to know them before you can successfully promote products and services they will buy.

Affiliate Marketing Q & A

Have you indentified your employees as a key target audience?

Have you identified your employees as a key target audience?

Guest post by Bill Hogg, http://www.billhogg.ca/

identifying your employee target audienceMuch has been written about the need for communicating with employees.

People are often put in charge of internal communications and spend their time creating newsletters and memos that get sent far and wide informing folks about what is going on in the organization. Often we designate the employees as one of our key target audiences or stakeholder in our planning documents. This is all a good thing.

However, being the provocative person that I am, I have to ask, “Is that really what you want to do?”

I would suggest that communicating usually means creating and delivering messages to an audience. Further, I would suggest that what you really want to do is facilitate a conversation or a dialogue with your employee community.

For many, you are probably saying, “That’s just semantics — that’s what we mean”, so let me ask, “Is that what is happening?” Are you facilitating a conversation? Do you have a process set up that stimulates a conversation or is your messaging primarily just being pushed out from the communications team?

That distinction is more than semantics. It is why organizations struggle – and often fail – to generate meaningful employee engagement. We get blinded by the belief that because we are actively communicating, we believe we are engaging employees in a conversation. Bottom line, if it isn’t two-way, it isn’t communication. It’s simply message distribution.

Let me share how the internal newsletter we set up at ServiceOntario was envisioned. Rather than having someone in the Marketing team write the newsletter, they acted primarily as an Editor who worked with an Editorial Board who was responsible for generating the content. This Board was made up of writers from across all divisions in the organization. Level or function were not relevant, their only commonality was their interest in sharing what was happening in their areas of work. They also had pretty free rein on topics for publishing.

The Editor compiled their articles and reviewed them for general appropriateness, spelling, grammar, etc. They did not re-write the articles. The Editor also included news that was relevant to the organization on behalf of the organization.

Resultant we had a newsletter that reflected the wider organization while still containing important organizational communications/news. It was filled with topics (with lots of pictures) of things that were of interest to the people across the organization — not just management.

The result? People looked forward to receiving and reading it each month. Plus, people saw demonstrated behaviour that management was interested in hearing from them — a very important signal to the organization.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a systematic approach to sharing information and gathering feedback/input. So ask yourself, is your internal communications really communicating — or just delivering messages.

Something to think about.

Cheers!

Bill’s passion is branded customer service that exceeds expectations. He works with clients to activate a “customer-focused” culture where engaged employees internalize the brand promise and deliver an intentional Branded Customer Experience — internally and externally.

As well, he is a dynamic, results-oriented speaker on the importance of a customer-focused culture, either as a guest speaker or acting as a facilitator of a group discussion/workshop.
For more information please contact (905) 841-3191
Email: [email protected], Web: http://www.billhogg.ca/

Outsourcing is a Small Business Owner’s Best Friend

In my last post we discussed what outsourcing is exactly. If you haven’t had a chance to read the post, you can do so here.

As I mentioned before, outsourcing can save business owners like you and me tons of money, but sometimes more important than our money is our time. As mother of three who owns her own business, I know how easy it is to get your mind set on nothing but business. You want so bad to succeed and grow your business. It’s hard to NOT think about working, especially when you are the one responsible for every part of it.

I see countless business owners sacrifice many parts of their life, including important moments with their family, their own personal interests, and even their health. All for what they call their “desire” to succeed. It’s not worth killing yourself over. Outsourcing can help you have both a successful business and happy, fulfilling life.

By outsourcing everyday tasks in your business or things that you don’t know how or don’t enjoy doing, you will give yourself more time to do the things you enjoy doing not only in your business, but in your personal life as well.

This is different for everyone. Some of us hate dealing with the massive amounts of email received daily while others may despise bookkeeping. Personally, I am one who doesn’t like dealing with numbers, so this was one of the first things I outsourced in my business.

Outsourcing will also give you the opportunity to strategically plan your business and market it effectively. If you’re so busy doing all the little tasks, it’s tough to focus on the big picture.

Think about what things you prefer to handle yourself as well as what can easily be done by someone else, you can determine what areas of your business to outsource. You will also need to consider your budget when determining what to outsource to someone else. Your answers will allow you to pick and choose what you will keep and what tasks to outsource.

Let’s face it as a small business owner you often wonder, “Can I get it all done?” and in most cases the answer is no; at least not without a little help. We’re all human and therefore need to realize we can’t do everything. That is where outsourcing can become the small business owner’s best friend.

Even if you can only afford to outsource one or two things, the benefits of doing so will be great and you will in turn be much more productive in the areas you are able to focus on. Outsourcing is truly “smart business” for a small business owner.

More Podcasts Are Coming Up – In the Meantime Enjoy A Smiley Guy

Podcasting Fun

The one thing I love to do is get on the phone and interview people about their business. I was speaking recently about Tooting your own Horn in business so I’m going to do just that. I have more podcasts coming up and I was bold enough to invite one of my clients from www.GetContentResults.com to do an interview with me.

I do have something to admit, I’ve known this client for a few years so this is not completely something that was all that uncomfortable for me. But I asked her questions on why she uses my services, but best of all she comes up with ideas that you can use for yourself. Most of the interview is pure content.

That interview is coming up next. 🙂

I just have to edit it and get it up on the site. In the meantime, enjoy my fun smiley face, I love this picture! Anything to bring a smile to someone’s face today.

Feel The Love!

You’ve heard the old adage, “if it weren’t for customers, running a business would be a lot of fun”. While this line brings a smirk to our face, it really is the wrong attitude to take if you want your customers to bring you more business. Businesses who truly have a dislike for their customers, no doubt also have a large turn over of customers. If you are in the professional industry like myself, you have to take an active interest in your customer’s businesses. You can’t just take their money and then forget about them. I regularly have customers calling me to share compliments they receive, or successes they enjoy from something we are working on. We share jokes, ribbing and leads. Referrals go both ways. A client informed me today that they printed out my Reluctant Salesperson eBook and gave it to a friend of theirs to assist them in their desire to better their sales technique. They also referred this person to me for new business. I take it as a supreme compliment if they call me and just want to chat about an idea they have and want to bounce it off of me. Try a few of these suggestions and “feel the love”:

(1) Always deliver your best quality. Sounds like silly advice, but even you’ve seen the crap some businesses pawn off on people. Even in a rush, poor quality is no excuse and is a bad reflection on your brand. It is very hard to crawl back from. My crowd always state that “you’re only as good as your worst effort”.

(2) Watch out for your customers (in a good way). One of my clients distributes washroom, restaurant and janitorial supplies. I routinely ask new contacts where they get their supplies from and pass on the contact name. Make yourself aware of the type of customer your customers are looking for. Wouldn’t it be great to land them a juicy lead?

3) Even if the person isn’t a customer yet, you can really show your class by sending them information you tripped across. I just did this today, to a lead I met at a networking event I attended last night. We were discussing a Deloitte report on emerging media. This afternoon, I located the report online and forwarded it to him. You have to prove that you give a damn.

(4) If you have a blog, write about your customers and link to them. Brag about their tenacity and describe how they are defeating the economy. Tell their good news story. Spread the love.

(5) For relaxation I paint in watercolor. I regularly invite my clients to the annual exhibits at my home. They enjoy seeing the other side of me and often break bread with old friends visiting as well. Some of my dearest friends started as clients. There doesn’t have to be barriers. After all, if your relationship is a healthy one – your success is mutual, and you both have a good understanding of that.

(6) When distance allows, give your customer as much face-time as possible. I can’t tell you how many times I delivered a hard copy of a file (rather than email it) and walked away with additional projects, just because I was there. One particular day I had three meetings scheduled and all returned additional projects I was unaware of going in.

(7) Here’s another seemingly no-brainer: be honest. Running a business can be confusing at times, and everyone knows it. Show your human side and own up to any problems. More times than not, customers don’t want you to suffer un-neccesarily (when they love you). Sometimes you have to suck it up. Don’t try to wiggle out of penny issues that end up costing you large in lost business and trust. No one likes to feel they’re being screwed. I once had a supplier who billed me four times his quote. He refused to honor his quote and insisted I pay. I did pay, but I can tell you he lost many times that, with the loss of my business. I was flabbergasted at what he was prepared to lose, to get that one invoice covered – fool. It is amazing how little some businesses are willing to sacrifice their brands for short-term gain.

(8) If you can, buy from your customers and don’t try to get a discount – let them offer. I try my best to support them whenever possible.

(9) Engage your customer’s staff. Treat them with the respect you’d enjoy in return. We’re all just trying to earn a living. Your customers love that you get along with everyone. This past Christmas my wife made a batch of home-made cookies that I personally delivered to support staff at clients where distance wasn’t an issue. It makes a great impression, especially the home-made part. A few emailed later to personally thank us and request recipes.

(10) Offer assistance with customer’s interests and charities. Some times they’re shy to ask. This also gives you a genuine opportunity to give back to your community. Everybody wins.

As you can imagine, these suggestions are a testament to your personal brand. If they are a part of how you do business, stresses are reduced and mutual respect is the reward no matter what the economy. Kiss

Do You Spread The Word About Your Business? It’s Time To Toot Your Own Horn!

Spread the Word

How often do you toot your own horn about your business. Really think about it, besides speaking with clients one on one, have you actually shared (with permission of course) results you’ve been getting for a client with another?

I think it’s human nature not to brag about yourself and your business. But I think we need to start getting used to the idea of tooting our horns and spreading the word.

I’m in the process of doing this very thing myself. I’ll be sharing with you a series of interviews from clients who have worked directly with me. And I must say, I’m very excited about it because the feedback I’m getting from my clients is eye opening. Of course, I feel I deliver exceptional service, but it’s great to hear right from the person who counts most, my clients.

If you don’t have a plan to do some tooting of your own, why not watch my upcoming series of events to help you with your own plans. <

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