Ok, so you want to start an affiliate project but are worried about how to market it. It’s a valid concern. And while there is a lot of tactical information about how to execute certain types of (mostly online) marketing campaigns, the reality is that it’s important to take a step back first and make sure that you have a strong foundation based on marketing principles before you start getting busy executing.
Because the reality is, if you get these things right, the actual promotion gets to be much much easier. Not easy, but certainly easier.
Here we go.
Now here is the thing. The first point here is the most important. If you don’t do that, the others don’t matter.
1. Know Your Audience
Who are you looking to serve with your affiliate project? Why do they need your project? Why would they want to use or buy what you’re creating? When choosing an audience or target market to cater to, the trick is oftentimes to think small, not big. While somewhat counterintuitive to what might be a common-sense approach (go after the biggest target possible), the reality is you’ll drastically increase your likelihood of success by narrowing your target market. Why?
Well, for one, when your target audience is smaller you’ll have a much better shot at understanding what it is they need and want.
Second, it is much easier to communicate the benefits of your creation when you’re talking to a more defined target market than when you’re talking to everyone and their cousins.
Last, if you focus on a smaller target market, it’s more likely that your customers actually know each other. Or communicate with each other. Or influence each other. That means you’ll have a much better shot at word of mouth playing an instrumental role in your marketing.
2. Solve an actual problem
When you solve an actual problem for a well-defined target market, oftentimes you don’t really have to do all that much promotion. The science of marketing is loosely based around a principle called the 4 Ps.
- Product – What is the product or service you’re selling?
- Price – How much do you charge for that product/service?
- Place – Where are you selling your product/service?
- Promotion – How are you promoting your product/service?
Too many marketers are way too eager to go about promoting their product/service, before getting their ducks in a row when it comes to the 3Ps that matter the most.
And yes, those are clearly the 3Ps that most influence people’s purchase decisions. Think about your purchasing journeys? When is the last time you bought something because of an ad?
More likely than not, you’re making purchasing decisions because you believe it’s the right product, sold at the right price and from a place that’s convenient to purchase from.
So before you run out promoting your project, make sure you get the fundamentals right and that your project solves an actual problem.
3. Charge enough
Once you have a project that solves a problem, the next most important step is pricing. Entrepreneurs have a tendency to underprice their own creations. It’s natural and something we all experience. That’s called “Impostor’s Syndrome.” But the reality is that by underpricing we don’t do anyone any favors. Because if our business isn’t financially viable, then whatever gain customers might get from it is very short-lived. So pick a price point that is a) affordable for your target market yet b) provides you with enough profit so you can not only sustain your project but also promote it. If your product truly solves a problem for people, then you’d be surprised how happy people are to pay you well for that.
4. Understand the math of running your business
Beyond just not running a healthy business another downside of not charging enough is that it keeps you from being able to invest in promotion. Whether you’re promoting via content, SEO or paid acquisition; it’s going to either a) take a lot of time or b) cost a good chunk of money. Unfortunately, a lot of promotional methods keep getting more complicated and more expensive.
So you’re going to either need money or time to make your endeavor grow. Assuming you’re not coming into this idea with monthly dividends thrown off by your family’s trust fund or a massive war chest from your last exit; that money should be coming from the money you make from your project. Having worked with hundreds of different brands and products on their marketing, I can tell you that a common fallacy is for marketers to spend more marketing dollars to bring in a new customer than they actually make in profit from that customer. That means they end up losing money on every sale they make, which is the absolute worst kind of promotion you can be doing.
There are two key metrics that everyone needs to be acutely aware of.
- How much profit are you making per sale/transaction/outgoing click?
- How much does it cost you to generate one sale/transaction/outgoing click?
If the second number is smaller than the first, you have a shot at an awesome business.
If the second number is bigger than the first, you either don’t have as many promotional options or you need to figure out how to earn more with every sale/transaction or outgoing click. That is why I encourage people to charge enough the first time around.
Ok, to summarize things.
- Know the audience you want to serve. And don’t be afraid to have that be a smaller audience. You can always broaden things later.
- Solve an actual problem. Only get into this if you have a meaningful solution to a problem or desire that is actually relevant to people. Oftentimes the best solutions here come from real problems you find yourself having. Start with that and then do some research to make sure you’re not the only one.
- Charge enough. Make sure you make a decent profit on every click, sale or transaction.
- Understand the metrics running your business. You want to ensure you are spending less on acquisition than you actually make from a customer. You want the flywheel rolling downhill while you stand at the top of the hill, not rolling downhill coming at you standing at the bottom of the hill.