5 Takeaways for Scaling Affiliate Programs with Bearcat Media
Scaling affiliates may seem pretty straightforward when you have your ducks in a row. However, if you’ve ever spent any time with ducks…well, you know they don’t stand still for too long.
Ten years ago, Rick Magennis found himself with a newborn baby and in need of a career change. So, he did what any logical new dad would do: he started reviewing baby strollers as a way to pave his way as an affiliate in the industry. Today, he runs Bearcat Media, a full service, high-touch performance marketing company. We got to pick his brain for the right ingredients for scaling an affiliate program during this Fireside Chat.
Here are some key takeaways from our chat:
Find your niche. Hone in on your values and stay true to your own brand. If you’re a nature lover like Rick, then focus on products that reflect your affinity for exploring the outdoors such as hiking, cycling and climbing. Sticking to your guns on this streamlines your ability to build and maintain connections and become an expert in the vertical.
Create a style guide. Provide a style guide to your partners to eliminate the back and forth. The key here is to make it easy to work with you. If you provide your partners with the assets they need, they won’t have to ask you for them or wait for your response. If you don’t have a style guide, prioritize making one right away! You can finish reading when you’re done.
Nurture the relationship. Whether new, or tried-and-true, you must show up for your partners if you want them to show up for you. Dig deep and find out what they need. Maybe it’s a dedicated landing page or custom creatives – whatever it is, deliver so you are setting them up for success. Identify any barriers and break them down as early as possible.
Make it rain. Incentivize your partners to reach certain milestones. Surprise them with gifts of gratitude along the way. These rewards don’t necessarily need to be monetary – get creative! You may send product samples from other clients, or even something more personal if you’ve established a genuine rapport. The affiliate will remember how you noticed their hard work the next time you have something for them to promote.
Can’t stop, won’t stop. A healthy, growing affiliate program is constantly recruiting. Obviously, this means you must never stop recruiting new partners, but more importantly, it means that your high-value partners could be easily distracted by competitors. If you’re seeing growth start to dwindle, check in! Find out why. Are they getting better deals elsewhere? Make sure they know you’re there for them and will do what it takes to stay top-of-mind.
Managing affiliate programs with a partner-centric mindset like this ensures your end game will be a win-win. Set realistic expectations for your program. It takes time to scale partnerships with affiliates that produce meaningful results. Make sure that you’re aligned internally with a long-term game plan that ultimately delivers the most incremental value. Commitment and patience will generate results!
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