Affiliate Marketing vs. Advertising
In affiliate marketing as in any other business, you have to understand the needs of your clients, and you also have to understand how your offerings compare to the other competitive options available to those clients.
You have to not only meet client needs, that is, but meet client needs better than other people and companies competing for those same dollars.
The affiliate marketing industry in general is in a constant competition with traditional display advertising. If you are an affiliate, you are engaged in that battle whether you like it or not.
Knowing your opponent can help you win more business more often.
Think of yourself as the person in charge of the marketing budget at a mid-sized company. You have a certain amount of money to spend, and you want whatever money you do spend to directly influence (increase) the bottom line profits of your company.
Addressing the needs of this marketing budget manager is where affiliate marketing really shines. With traditional advertising, this marketing manager has no guarantee whatsoever that money spent will result in money earned. In most affiliate marketing set-ups, by contrast, the affiliate does not get paid unless a sale is made. This is a big selling point!
As an affiliate, then, you must exploit this sale creation capability. You must focus on conversions. That is the strength of your type of marketing and you must play to it.
At the same time, making sales is not the only or even the primary concern of many marketing managers. These people are also extremely concerned about branding. They want their company brand out there in the public eye and being perceived in the correct way.
Branding is one area that gives many affiliates trouble. In their effort to create sales, many affiliates actually damage the brand of the company whose products they are selling. In fact, due to such offenses as trademark infringement in PPC ads and false promises from affiliates, a major task of an affiliate program manager these days is to make sure affiliates respect the brand.
This is why, for instance, you do not see huge, highly branded companies like Coca-Cola offering an affiliate program—the risk to the brand would be too great.
Traditional display advertising on the Internet is still the go-to option for branding-focused marketing, and maybe it always will be. However, that is no excuse for you, as an affiliate, to forget that creating sales is not the entirety of marketing, branding counts as well.
Your Marketing Mix
Once you have spent sufficient time thinking about how your client makes decisions about how to spend marketing dollars, you may find that your own website may benefit from a little mixing of marketing techniques.
You will notice this mixing on many niche blogs. There are affiliate marketing offers embedded into the site, sure, and that is the main monetization method, but there may also be a sponsor or two who are running traditional display ads.
If you can secure a base of, say, $500 per month from a couple reliable advertisers, this is not a bad thing to consider, instead of relying exclusively on affiliate offers for all of your revenue.
Your marketing manager clients divide their eggs into different baskets—you can too.