You’ll make more sales of your product or service if you have a network of people to promote you. Satisfied customers will give you word-of-mouth promotion that is second to none… but you can’t control when, or to whom, your customers talk.
If you want to promote your product during a specific time frame — particularly if you want to do a big product launch promotion — you need people to promote you that will do so on YOUR schedule.
This is where affiliates come in.
An affiliate is someone – a person or business – who will promote you in exchange for payment for the sales that they bring to you, either a percentage or a fixed amount per sale.
When you and your affiliate serve the same target market, this relationship can be a win-win-win: it’s good for you because you sell more product, it’s good for your affiliate because they make some money, and it is good for the affiliate’s list because you are helping them solve a problem.
But when do you start to enroll affiliates? And who do you enroll?
The answer to both of those questions lies in knowing the answer to this question: who is your target market? Once you know who is best suited to benefit from your product, then you know the audience you are shooting for. And once you know your audience, you will know who to enroll.
Let’s say you are working on an iphone app that will help keep busy families organized: one calendar that sinks up with multiple phones so that everyone can be on the same page about the events in any given day. (I don’t know if such a thing exists, but it would be cool if it did…)
Since you know that you want to reach busy families, when you meet someone who also serves the same market, you know they are someone you should pursue as an affiliate.
If you were to meet a mompreneur blogger at a networking event, you would definitely want to get her contact information. But do you want to enroll her as an affiliate right at that moment? That depends. If she asks you about being your affiliate, then yes, go ahead and enroll her. If she doesn’t ask, then no. Wait until right before your product is finished, then reach out to her to see if she would be interested.
Here’s some advice about when it’s best to enroll affiliates:
As long as you are clear about who your target market is, you can enroll interested affiliates at any time. Create an affiliate program and put a link in the footer of your website so that affiliates can sign up when they visit your site and feel a synergistic connection to what you offer.
When you are developing your product, begin seeking out and actively enrolling affiliates at least several weeks (more for higher ticket items) before you expect to be ready to launch. It will take some time to find appropriate businesses in your target market, so make sure you give yourself enough time to do this important step.
Effective affiliate promotions require a time and effort commitment on your part; you must grow your relationship with your affiliate before they will effectively promote for you. Give yourself as much time as possible to find and develop these important business relationships.