How Did We Get There with Affiliate Programs?

Joel Gehman:

"[T]o affiliate marketers: If your company has an affiliate program and you’re not treating your affiliates the way you’d want to be treated, please quit — now. You’re ruining affiliate marketing for the rest of us. You apparently don’t need affiliate marketing — and, reciprocally, affiliate marketing doesn’t need you."

My other site SciFan is affiliated with a couple etailers, the biggest being Amazon.com. They do pay on time, but it’s been difficult to establish the kind of communication you’d expect within a sales channel. Sometimes it feels like they’re marketing to affiliates as they would with consumers.
I should know, I often had to fight when I was an Account Manager at Microsoft France. Product and channel marketing routinely came with completely unappropriate material for our corporate targets, because they had grown used to bottom-up marketing. Office 97 was still mainly pushed to users with its supposedly cool new features. By then however, Office was already widely deployed within companies, and IT was trying to cope with different versions and file formats. What they wanted was an easy way to deploy and manage the thing, not a talking paperclip. I’m not even shooting at the poor UI, but at the misguided sales pitch. The time when Microsoft sneaked in beneath the radar of the MIS staff was long past, but it took some time to sink in.
Conflict between sales and marketing people is not a legend. Associate programs that are run as direct marketing operations smell like contempt and can’t build longstanding relationships. If it feels like you’re selling to me, rather than trying to better sell with me, I’ll take a better deal without the slightest second thought. And if the program is just a disguised CPA banner program, its performance will be so bad for affiliates that they will quickly remove the links.

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