Years ago I learned from a mentor the concept of “Cheap, Quick, or Easy.” This fundamental truth applies to all businesses of any size, but it can also apply to daily life choices and goals like house renovations, saving for retirement, or even losing weight.
Simply put, success with anything in life can be two of these three things, but never all three. When making decisions in business—or in life—you have to choose which two will lead you to the goals you wish to achieve. And most importantly, you need to understand the third will be sacrificed in order to reach your goal.
Affiliate marketing—also known as partner or performance marketing—is no exception to this rule, and as the industry continues to evolve, this fundamental truth is more evident than ever.
Content creators spend a great deal of time, money, and effort growing their audience and keeping them engaged. Every day of the week, an average content creator spends 8–10 hours online educating, entertaining, and inspiring their audience. They are selective in the products they’re willing to promote. It takes time to create great content for your brand and to generate exposure, and content creators expect to be paid for that time and those results.
You have already created the best products, marketing materials, and business plans. Now it’s time to grow the business and expose your new brand to the masses through YouTube creators, bloggers, Instagrammers, TikTok creators, and big media publishers. Let’s see what growing a business through influencer and affiliate marketing looks like in the Cheap, Quick, or Easy model.
If it is Cheap and Easy, it will not be Quick.
If you need it to be cheap and easy, know that it is going to take time to achieve the results you are looking for. Finding content creators and media outlets willing to work on a performance-only basis takes time. Most creators require an upfront spend, a product in hand to experience and share with their audience, and a CPA on the back end.
Additionally, these influencers are often bombarded with products and sponsored opportunities. Without a contractual agreement to promote your brand, it can be months before the first piece of content is ever created—if it is at all. Simply put, withholding products and reducing the budget makes things cheap and easy, but you will constantly be pushed to the back of the line behind brands that are offering both.
Solution: Be patient. Understand that affiliate marketing (especially without significant spend and product placement) is a long-term process. It will take time to find the right partners, educate them about your brand, and convince them to post about your brand with only the chance of making any income.
If it is Cheap and Quick, it will not be Easy.
If you want to quickly grow your business but do not want to spend a lot of money, you need to know the process will not be easy. Again, finding high-quality content creators who will post solely on a commission basis is similar to finding a needle in a haystack. They are there, but finding them will not be easy.
Sacrificing the easy may also require you to bend on the idea of your product being a “premium brand,” and lower your standards or expectations for how your business will grow. It will mean working with lower-tier micro-influencers who have smaller audiences as well as allowing a number of coupon, deal, cash-back, and loyalty websites to promote your brand.
This route requires much more volume: significantly more micro-influencers, coupons, and deals in order to be seen by a large enough audience to see program growth. This, again, is not easy, because managing dozens of campaigns takes significant time and work.
Solution: In order to keep costs down but grow your business quickly, we recommend working with many smaller micro-influencers. Give them a variety of your products to keep and offer constant deals and incentives to help them convert their audience into customers for you. Affiliate-exclusive offers, flash deals, and a unique custom coupon code for each influencer are all cost-effective ways of encouraging activity. Constant communication keeps you top-of-mind and cuts through the noise of all of the other brands throwing offers at them.
We also recommend that you use your own brand channels to assist the growth of your affiliate marketing program since your fans are already familiar with your brand. This means putting a link to your affiliate program in the footer of your website, periodic emails to your customer list promoting your affiliate program, and sharing your affiliate opportunity via your brand’s social media on a consistent basis.
If it is Quick and Easy, it will not be Cheap.
Lastly, if you want quick and easy, know that you are going to be paying for that convenience—sometimes significantly. Partnering with larger, well-known media brands such as Condé Nast or Capital One is a great way to expose your brand to a large audience, but just like influencers, they will expect to be paid—and paid well. Exposure can range from $1,500 mentions to $50,000 placements.
There is also an expected spend when working with influencers who have a large audience and engagement rate. Influencer media kits range from $250 mentions to $5,000+ sponsored post packages.
Solution: Set a monthly budget for placements to the larger influencers and media outlets. Create content campaigns that include spend, product, and affiliate opportunities to present to the influencers you want to work with and be ready to negotiate those rates.
Also, make sure you have long-term opportunities with these outlets and influencers to continue gaining exposure to their audience. Constant deals, new product releases, affiliate incentives, and exclusive opportunities will help keep your brand top of mind with your affiliates who will then feel compelled to continue sharing your products with their audience.
Have you chosen your two options?
Working with content creators and big media partners in a performance marketing model is an incredibly viable way to grow your brand awareness and in turn, sales of your products. Just remember that in order for you to gain access to the audience that those creators have built, you can choose two out of three—Cheap, Quick, or Easy—but never all three.