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Archive | January, 2019

Leveraging the Power of Pain in Marketing

Let’s talk about human nature for a second.

Leveraging the Power of Pain in Marketing

If I were to offer you a succulent, moist, still-warm-from-the-oven piece of triple chocolate cake…

…while simultaneously slamming my heel into your toes…

…which one would you notice? Which one would you react to?

And which one would you still be thinking about tomorrow?

People will spend an enormous amount of time, money and energy to avoid pain. They’ll avoid confrontation with bosses, neighbors, spouses and kids to avoid emotional pain. They’ll take drugs to suppress physical pain.

Your job as a successful marketer – whether you like it or not – is to use this pain to help them find a solution.

Some might call this exploitation – digging around in the pain and agitating it to motivate people to take action. You’re making the pain worse before you finally prescribe the cure.

But it’s the pain that makes people take action. And if you can help people, then it’s your job to do it. And to help people, you’ve got to use the best method possible to motivate them to take action – which is aggravating the pain and making them feel it until they cry ‘uncle.’

I know what you’re thinking – you won’t make their pain worse to sell them the solution. Instead, you’ll motivate them with a positive picture of what their life will be like once they have the solution. Well, you’re half right.

Understand this – Humans will do far more to avoid pain than to receive reward. They’ll run as fast as they can away from the stick, but they’ll creep up on the carrot and many times never even reach it.

Most people cannot clearly describe what they want, which is why they never get it. But they can tell you exactly what they don’t want. By rubbing their noses in what they’re trying to avoid, you momentarily make the pain worse until it’s unbearable. They want to take action now. They NEED to take action NOW.

And then you motivate them with the positive picture of all the benefits they’ll receive from doing this thing you want them to do.

The niche doesn’t matter, either. Whether you’re selling software, information, washers and dryers or stocks and bonds, agitate the problem, then offer the solution.


Software – How much work are they having to do, and how much business are they missing because they don’t have your automated solution? They’ve already wasted tons of time and lost a fortune. Their competitors are ahead of them, and soon their business will be on the scrap heap. Unless… unless they grab your software now, because then they can get x benefit and y benefit and z benefit, etc.

Health Information – They’re overweight, tired, catching colds and at risk for serious disease. From here, it only gets worse – much worse. Sick, in pain, bed ridden, in the hospital, heart attacks, chemo and drugs and … but wait. They can turn their health around, starting right now.

Washers and dryers – Think how much extra they’ve already paid in water bills because they don’t have energy efficient models. Plus, the wear and tear to their clothes from inferior washers and overheating dryers, their shoddy appearance wearing these clothes, making a lousy first impression at work because of how bad their clothes look. But you can solve it all today…

Investments – They’ve already lost a fortune by not using your services. Just look at the returns your clients have been getting, look at how much money they started with versus what they have today. If only they had started with you sooner, all the time and money lost. But right now you have perhaps your best investment advice yet, and timing is critical…

Okay, you get the idea. No matter what you’re selling, you can agitate the problem and then offer the solution.

Remember, in movies the hero doesn’t arrive to save the day until things look completely bleak and desperate and the cause is all but lost. Effective marketing is no different.

Use Affiliate Newsletters to Increase Sales

If you’ve already got your own affiliate program, are you sending out a regular newsletter to your affiliates? If not, you are missing a truly golden opportunity to increase your sales.

Breaking News

Here are the reasons why you do want to send your affiliates a newsletter on a regular basis:

– You can address any questions that seem to come up regularly.
– You can update affiliates on any new policy changes, new tools they can use, etc.

– You can update affiliates on new product offerings, new contests, etc.

– By staying in touch, you maintain a presence in their minds, thereby reminding them to promote your products.

Here Are Some Tips To Help You Write Great Affiliate Newsletters:

– Use subject lines that include keywords to get your emails opened, not just “Monthly Newsletter.” Your subject line should make it clear your newsletter is for affiliates (not consumers) and there is useful content inside.

TIP: Beginning your newsletter with the highest commission paid for the previous week seems to generally work well at both getting the email opened and inspiring affiliates. Another good opener is, “Hello John, we’re grateful you promote our products at website.com.” This reminds them of who you are and their connection to you. By the same token, using a salutation such as, “Hi Affiliate Team” provides the same benefit.

– List your main topics at the beginning of the newsletter so they know what’s inside. If you hide some of your topics down below, they won’t be viewed by as many affiliates. But if you provide a bullet list and perhaps even hyperlink them to the appropriate areas of the newsletter, affiliates are more likely to find the information they want.

– Give your affiliates plenty of advance notice of sales, coupons, codes, discounts they can offer, contests, discontinuations, etc.

– Prior to a new product launch, give affiliates your latest product for free so they can tell their contacts about it with authority.

– Send your affiliate newsletter weekly, not monthly. Yes, affiliates do prefer to hear from you every week as long as you have relevant information to share with them.

– Unless you’re in a high-tech industry, consider using plain old text for your emails. It loads faster on phones, it’s less likely to get flagged as spam, and it’s actually slightly more likely to get read by the recipient. On the other hand, if you’re in an industry that expects lots of flash such as high-tech, then do use HTML. Also, if you want to display your product or your new banner, then of course use HTML. Best bet when you’re uncertain? You already know the answer – TEST.

– Ask your affiliates what they need to be successful. Don’t send them a time-robbing 20 minute survey. Instead, point them to your forum where you’re asking them what they need, what they think, etc. Or conduct a very short poll. Keep communication on a 2-way street and you’ll be astounded at the insights your affiliates will sometimes provide.

– Offer affiliates the chance to be on a special list for “flash” sales. These are sales of significant discounts that don’t last long and sometimes come with little warning. Some affiliates who are more reactive will want to know about these and others won’t because they prefer to plan their promotions well in advance.

– Provide a call to action at the end of the newsletter. What do you want them to do? Call you for more info? Go to your webpage to get the codes for your new banners? Tell them what action they should take.

– Always test your newsletter before you send it. Check for formatting errors, misspellings, inaccurate information, etc.

– Include your contact information in every newsletter.

If you need more info on what to put in your affiliate newsletter, go to Google and search for “affiliate newsletter tutorial” and you’ll get some great ideas.

– Depending on the network they use, you maybe able to search for your competitor’s archive of affiliate newsletters and see what they’ve done in the past.

TIP: You might also sign up to be an affiliate for your competitor so you can receive their affiliate newsletters as they’re sent out. Just an idea 😉

Start sending newsletters to your affiliates regularly, and you will surely increase their engagement and sales, which if your product brings value to customers is a win-win-win.

Essential Affiliate Program Dos and Don’ts

Having your own affiliate program can be an effective way to reach buyers you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach without a lot more time and effort. And when you attract the right affiliates, it can even boost your credibility. After all, many buyers make purchase decisions based upon the recommendations from marketers they know, like and trust.

But before you start your own affiliate program there is a lot to consider. What do you need to do to make the most sales? Attract the best affiliates? Make everything run smoothly and seamlessly?

Affiliate Program

Here are points to take into consideration, whether you’ve already set up an affiliate program or you’re about to:

Are You Leaking? Every affiliate who takes a look at your program is going to want to know if you have leaks. That is, are there any links that lead prospects off of your merchant website and onto someplace where the affiliate won’t get paid? For example, are you linking to other pages or other products? Do you have other ads, banners, link exchanges, etc. on your site? Are you using Adsense? Is there anyplace where traffic could leak out and be lost? Affiliates hate this, and rightfully so. An affiliate puts effort, time and money into sending traffic – they want that traffic to be held captive by your sales process until they either purchase or leave on their own accord.

Are You Going to Use a Network or an In-House Affiliate Program? A network provides tracking and an interface for the merchant and affiliate to communicate. The network also makes the payments to the affiliate, unlike an in-house program where the merchant is responsible for paying the affiliates. In-house affiliate programs are run either on software the merchant purchases, or software that comes with the shopping cart they’re using.

Basically it boils down to how much control you want, versus how many responsibilities. If you want the ultimate in flexibility and control, you’ll want to run your program in house. You’ll have access to all of your affiliates information so you can contact them, unlike some networks that are available for running your affiliate program. However, if you want a built in pool of affiliates and someone to handle the reporting and tax-forms, then use a network.

Are You Using an Affiliate Manager? Or an OPM? An affiliate manager works directly for the merchant to manage the affiliate program and recruit affiliates. An Outsource Program Manager is a consultant who runs multiple affiliate programs for multiple merchants.

A good affiliate manager will more than pay for him or herself, but finding one isn’t easy. Your best bet is often to find someone experienced in online marketing and then train them to be an affiliate manager.

TIP: Make at least a portion of their pay performance based – that is, pay them a percentage of sales. The more active affiliates they bring on and the happier they keep those affiliates, the more they will earn through the increase in sales.

If you want to try using an OPM, you can find many companies that supply them through Google. A good OPM will have plenty of established relationships with affiliates which is a real benefit.

You can also use an OPM to help get you started. Once you are more established that same OPM can help to train your in-house affiliate manager.

And obviously you can also act as your own affiliate manager in the beginning.

You’ll Want Plenty of Affiliate Tools. This includes banners of various sizes, short and long emails, Text-based ads, etc. Are you going to create these yourself? Or hire someone to do it? Conversion is key – if spending money to get it done right translates into enough sales, then obviously it’s worth it. Another factor to consider is that professionally created tools will tend to attract more affiliates and also a higher caliber of affiliates.

Is Your Offer Already Converting? If it’s not converting without affiliates, it won’t convert with affiliates. Also, affiliates want to know what the conversion rate is before they will consider promoting, so you’ll want to send some highly targeted traffic to any new offer before asking affiliates to promote. If you have an in-house list, then this should be as easy as making a blog post and sending a few emails. If not, hopefully you are friends with at least a couple of list owners who will test it for you. Otherwise you’ll want to buy traffic or use some other means to send targeted buyers to your site.

Do You Have a Terms Of Service for Affiliates? (Also known as an Affiliate Agreement) If not, you need one before you start recruiting affiliates. You need to clearly instruct affiliates on what they can and cannot do. Don’t go overboard on this or you’ll end up tying your affiliates’ hands, but also make sure they’re not allowed to do anything that could jeopardize your business in any way. You’ll want to look at the TOS on other affiliate programs and perhaps even consult with someone on this.

Are You Going to Restrict or Limit Affiliate SEO? This is relatively new – some merchants are placing language into their Terms of Service that restricts an affiliate’s ability to rank their affiliate promotion on the first page of the search engines. For example, an affiliate may make a video that promotes his/her affiliate link, and get that video on Page 1 of Google’s natural search results. An affiliate may even get a video or webpage ranked higher in the results than the actual merchant websites, and some merchants take a dim view of this.

Frankly and in my opinion, if your affiliate is outranking you on SEO, then you need to improve your own SEO rather than tying the hands of your affiliate. I know there are merchants who disagree, but if your affiliate is ranking on page 1, your affiliate deserves those sales. But this is something that you need to consider in advance. Once an affiliate has made Page 1 is no time to change your agreement and tell them they’re not allowed to rank naturally, because your affiliate will then substitute your competitor’s link for your own.

A good compromise is this: Allow affiliates to rank naturally for any term other than your exact brand name. If you have trademarked your brand name, you can actually enforce this if you choose. More importantly, you can enforce this against anyone else who tries to rank for your trademarked brand name, especially competing brands and their affiliates.

How Does Your Site Look? Are there broken links, missing images, or a design straight out of 1999? Does your website look professional? Are your “About Us,” “Contact Us” and “Privacy Policy” pages complete and accurate? Is your branding consistent from the beginning to the end of the sales process? Bottom line – would a stranger enter their credit card info based on your website? This is what affiliates look at.

What Are You Going To Pay? If your product is a digital download and there isn’t a great need for customer service, you’ll want to pay at least 50%. If your product is, for example, a monthly recurring billing (such as software, hosting, etc.) that can involve customer service (phone calls, emails, etc. that cause you to hire help) then you might need to pay less. If your affiliate program is basically a way to generate a list of buyers, then pay as much as you can – preferably 75-100%.

Having said all that, here’s what NOT to do: Do not lower commissions on existing sales. For example, if you’re paying 50% on a recurring commission and find you are losing money, do not then reduce that commission to 30% on pre-existing sales. Ever. This is the fastest way to lose your reputation and your affiliates. You can, if you must, lower the commission on FUTURE sales.

Also, do not look for reasons not to pay affiliates. Do not reverse commissions, create loopholes, look for technicalities, etc. The moment you fail to pay an affiliate what they earned, that affiliate will tell others, often in very public forums. It’s simply not worth alienating present and future affiliates because that commission you save today can cost you thousands of sales in the future.

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