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Affiliate Marketing Where Once There Was None: Private Referral Deals

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You own a catering company. I walk into your shop one day (a slow day) and inform you that I have a food website that attracts about 3,000 visitors per day. Some of my visitors want catering, for events, and I've heard from a friend that you guys are great.

What say we set up an arrangement whereby you give me a 25 percent commission on each new customer I send your way? What say, while we're at it, you give me a free sandwich?

While the second question might not get a yes, the first one probably will.

Negotiating deals like this is called setting up a private referral system. It's wholly possible and frequently profitable, and if there ever was an economy to do it in, it's this one.

Affiliate Marketing Is Popular, But Not Everyone's Doing It

For years, affiliate marketing toiled in obscurity. Only Internet marketing experts knew of its immense money-making prowess. Finally, affiliate marketing is starting to get its due.

However, despite the rapidly increasing popularity, not every company is currently using affiliate marketing. Far from it, actually. However again, many companies that aren't using affiliate marketing have heard of it, are open to it, or are working on setting up a program right now.

This presents an opportunity for you, as an affiliate. If you can locate, speak with, and start doing actual business with these potential partners, you can create value out of thin air.

The rest of the pack may catch up, but it won't be soon. The vast majority of affiliate marketers, when seeking merchant partners, will not be as bold as you.

Private Referral Candidates Plentiful In a Poor Economy

If you're looking for a business that does well during a recession, congratulations on discovering affiliate marketing. If you're looking for a specific business practice that does well during a recession, congratulations again, on discovering private referral deals.

Think about it from the perspective of the struggling restaurant, hotel, or spa owner. Where would you rather spend your scarce and getting scarcer marketing dollars? On yet more scattershot newspaper, TV, or magazine advertising, or with this enterprising Internet entrepreneur who promises to bring me business and if I don't get business he doesn't get paid?

You have only to approach the right person in the right way, in order to get a deal done. What do they have to lose? And what do you have to lose, by asking?

Nothing at all.

Legal Enforcement, Big Ticket Items

Two quick tips to consider before setting up a private referral arrangement:

First, draw up a contract and have a lawyer OK it. You'll have to pay a couple hundred dollars for the privilege, but it'll be worth it to have everything in writing and valid.

Secondly, think about focusing your private referral energies on big ticket items of $1,000 or more. That way, if you have to track the referrals yourself--as is often the case when the affiliate merchant doesn't have an existing system--your efforts will be worth your time.

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