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Grow Your Own Associate Program

Today I want to explain how you can develop your own associate program, and why developing one is in your own best interest.

In North America we are so blessed, there are literally thousands of great home business opportunities. Associate programs work a lot like multi-level marketing was conceived to work, but with some important differences.

Associate programs

- Focus is on selling products NOT recruiting others
- Pay higher commissions on fewer levels
- Anyone can set-up and run their own program for their own products.

It's almost impossible to lose money on an associate program. Your associates are actually working for you for nothing until they make a sale. Every other method involves out-of-pocket costs with no guarantee of success.

Start With a Good Product or Service

This should go without saying but my email is filled with offers that hardly anyone would ever buy. In order to keep your sales associates happy you need to be able to convert visitors into customers. If you can't you are doomed to failure.

Look for products that are consumable. If possible choose products that can be sold over and over.

Online, choose narrowly targeted products to sell to people who have both the desire to own the product, and are qualified to make a purchase. Everyone who wants or needs your product can't afford to buy it. You want to reach only people who are ready, willing, and qualified to buy from you.

Every new product you sell should fit into your niche. They should all be related in some important ways. Your first front end products should target a wider audience; they can have the smallest profit margin. Your high profit products should be your back-end products or after sale products, they are very narrowly targeted.

Test Market First Before Your Rollout

You will want to test market your product or service FIRST, before you develop your associate program. If you can't close sales them, your associates won't either. Test market your products in limited sample markets, before you roll it out for others.

A good associate program should be able to supply proven marketing aids such as banners, classified ads and sales letters which are already proven.

On the Internet you can put up a banner and test it. Then, in only a few days, put up another one to see the differences in results and find out which banners pull really well for you. You can also write different sales letters and different site designs to find out what is producing the best conversion ratio for you… You can do this all in a matter of days, not months as in traditional advertising.

Find Qualified Associates.

Again this goes without saying, what I am saying here is to target the same people to sell your product that you originally targeted to buy your product. Customers are the very best people to generate qualified leads for you. Why not reward them for their efforts, especially if they send you referrals.

The old saying "A Bird in the Hand . . .is worth two in the bush". Is true online. Attract qualified associates and they will attract qualified customers.

Convert Associates Into Customers

Perhaps the most important mistake people make in founding an associate program is not being willing to provide a commission for affiliates. It's true that you won't earn as much discounting sales to your associates. Trust me you will earn it back shortly. Don't require that your associates buy your products, just make it as easy and inexpensive as possible. Some programs even offer higher commissions on sales to affiliates who own the product.

You need to be able to convert visitors into sales in order to keep your sales associates happy. The ideal associate is someone who already owns the product. A customer will know the product better, they will know how to use it and can provide real-world benefits and testimonials to prospective customers.

Some associate programs require that their associates buy the product at regular prices before allowing them to earn commissions selling it to others. Others require that their associates pass a product knowledge test or own their own domain or some other requirement.

These are reasonable expectations as long as it's understood upfront that your associate program will grow exponentially slower with each additional requirement. Slow growth is not necessarily a bad thing in the long run. You want a well educated sales force with a strong incentive to tell others their experiences.

Ask For Testimonials

Your satisfied customers are absolutely your greatest asset. Take advantage of everything nice they have to say about you, your business, or your products. You should always follow-up with all of your customers.

Set up a customer feedback form or send a survey out a few days after your sales confirmation message. You want to ask how they found you, why they bought your product, and what they liked and didn't like about the product of service. Ask if you can publish their testimonials. In addition, satisfied customers make the best sales staff.

Pay Big Commissions

The more money your associates earn, the more work they will put in on your behalf. This is why you, as an Associate Program owner, can afford to give an associate a lot of money. You're not looking at immediate maximum profit.

Many marketers make the mistake of attempting to maximize the profit up front. You can take advantage of your customer's satisfaction by selling back end products to your existing customers.

A Customer For Life

One of my core beliefs is that "What Goes Around Comes Around Multiplied". Many of my best customers came as a direct result of free support services I developed for them over the last few years. Excellent customer service is a must. Don't try to make money on everything you do. Instead listen to what your customers are telling you. Listen; use both ears and only one mouth. You are in charge of filling their need; they are not responsible for filling yours.

Your ideal customer has already purchased from you. It's cheaper and easier to market to them over and over. They are usually much more receptive to your offers.

I'll touch again on the main points

Test market your headlines, sales copy and classified ads before you start your own Associate Program. Make sure that you reach people who are interested and qualified to buy your product.

Don't try to make a killing on the first sale. Invest in your customers if you want them to invest in you. Your customers are your most valuable marketing assets without them you have nothing. They can sell your products and services for you. Value your associate's as well as your customers and you'll keep them for life.

If you want to learn more about using associate programs to sell more of your products and services online visit the following URL. You will find over 50 pages of step-by-step instructions as well as a low cost software package capable of tracking your associates sales, commissions, and everything else you need to know.

by Robert Smith ©1999 All Rights Reserved
The Internet Marketing Center

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