If you’re involved in marketing, then you know the latest trend receiving much discussion involves conversation marketing and word of mouth marketing. Affiliate marketing never seems to get a lot of respect from other marketing designations, but I believe affiliate marketing can fit perfectly within the new conversation paradigm.
Conversation / word of mouth marketing is getting a lot of attention because it’s effective. The world is interactive, and large corporations must adjust. It’s almost as if we’re taking a step back, to the neighborhood business, where you could go right up to a store owner and manager, and discuss any issue. Now large corporations have to adopt back to this role on a global scale. The Internet is truly making us a global village. Additionally, word of mouth is not something new, but now the marketing world is waking up to the power of people that has been extended by the Internet.
I would put forth that any business with an army of happy and motivated affiliates is much better positioned to get into the conversation than a company without. All it takes is leveraging the relationship with the true value-adding affiliates by treating them as true partners.
Part of the bad rap that affiliate marketing earned for itself has come from the desire to drive hard revenue growth via the channel. The affiliate concept began as a way to bring new customers to a business. It evolved into a pure sales growth vehicle via rewards sites, trademark targeting search affiliates and even coupon sites. It has been argued that these type of sites really add no value to the brand and the marketing experience, thus the whole of affiliate marketing gets relegated to some sort of grey area in marketing circles.
Affiliate marketing has the potential to come out of the grey. Consider the idea of using an affiliate program as a means to approach your brand advocates and customer enthusiasts. Consider by bringing them into the affiliate program, it provides an additional means of feeling a part of the company/culture and environment. Now consider the potential impact on “the conversation” that all of these motivated brand enthusiasts can have.
A well run, balanced affiliate program will already have content based, value adding affiliates as well. These affiliates are already involved in the conversation. Build that relationship with them, harness the power of word of mouth, and get your message our onto more waves, for more people to experience.
Affiliate marketing is not a new concept, but it can be adopted to the marketing 2.0 world with incredible results. If you don’t have an affiliate marketing program, consider starting one today. Not only will you receive cost-effective sales, but it’ a a channel by which to jump into “The Conversation.”