For those of you that recognized the above quote and were able to name the movie, bravo. For those of you still wondering what this guy is talking about… Tommy Boy. C’mon, people.

In a strange way, this hilarious scene relates well to the life of an affiliate manager, especially in an agency setting. Affiliate managers must learn the art of persistence in order to negotiate placements with publishers, just like Chris Farley and David Spade learned to finesse their way into sales of Callaway Auto’s brake pads in order to save the factory.

In this blog, I’ll recap Shaughn O’Neil’s presentation, Persuasion and Negotiation in the Affiliate Marketplace, from this year’s Affiliate Summit West Conference in Las Vegas. I’ll also add a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned as an affiliate manager at NordicClick.

Don’t Take No For An Answer

We don’t take no for answer. We don’t take no for answer… kind of. Like the scene above, persistence is key. More important, however, is the ability to distinguish soft no’s from hard no’s. It’s unrealistic to believe that every publisher you reach out to will accept your offer after the initial email or phone call. With that said, if you accept all rejections at face value you will have a tough time securing placements for your clients.

At this stage of negotiation, asking why is important. Take a step back and try to put yourself in the affiliate’s shoes. Would you accept this offer? If not, why? How’s your conversion rate? Does the product fit the affiliate’s demographics? Ideally, these are questions and obstacles that you thought about and addressed in the initial email. Nonetheless, try to fight through the obstacles in order to continue the conversation in hopes of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.

Be Flexible

Most affiliates are transparent and willing to share exactly why your offer was rejected. Now that you’ve practiced persistence and understand the affiliate’s concerns and the type of offer they’re looking for, make it hard to say no by countering with an attractive offer they can’t resist. After all, affiliate marketing is about relationships. An affiliate isn’t saying no just because they think it’s fun. The affiliate has needs. The advertiser has needs. As an affiliate manager, you’re the bridge that connects both needs. Make it happen.

Negotiate Creatively

Creativity in terms of affiliate negotiation is about offering value outside of simply a monthly budget. An affiliate budget is nice to have, and I highly recommend that all advertisers participating in affiliate marketing budget for affiliate just as you would for a paid search campaign. However, budgets can be limited, your client/agency relationship might be set up as a revenue share, and seasonality can inflate prices. On top of that, many other factors influence an advertiser’s ability to negotiate a placement with a fixed budget.

The following tactics work well in place of a fixed fee agreement or to sweeten the deal for a period of time:

  • Limited-time commission increase
  • Exclusive Insertion Orders
    • Paid search rights
    • Coupon codes
  • Bonuses for reaching a sales milestone
  • Free product trials

Build Long-term Relationships

Relationship building is especially important in an agency setting. Your affiliate contacts are your best friends. They offer valuable advice, recommendations, and updates that make your life easier. Take advantage of this and set up a monthly call with your contact. Use this time to discuss your strategy and any changes they may have made to their media kits. All you have to do is ask!

Practice Data-Driven Strategies

Successful affiliate placements require number crunching and tracking. I recommend discussing reach, page sessions, open rates, overall visitor engagement, and so on for all placements before signing the insertion order. This information should be included in the affiliate’s media kit. If it’s not, ask for this information. If they can’t provide the data for you, it’s time to move on to a new opportunity. It’s also helpful to run a few reports yourself and do your due diligence. Run an organic report in SEMrush. Check out their social pages. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, ensure that all tracking is in place. This enables accurate ROAS analysis post placement and will help to identify future placement opportunities.Treat People Well

Treat People Well

Due to our unique position in the marketplace, affiliate managers working in an agency setting need to be responsive and respectful to both affiliates and merchants. Connecting the right client to the right affiliate(s) is why we’re hired to do what we do. Treat all people involved with respect and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the help you’ll receive in return.

I would love to hear thoughts from all parties on this topic – Affiliates, Agencies, and Merchants. So leave a comment below. If you haven’t seen Tommy Boy, then I recommend watching that and then leaving a comment.

Tommy Boy

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