Affiliate Marketing Lessons from The Apprentice
You are probably wondering what on earth The Apprentice has to do with Affiliate Marketing. Believe it or not, there are some valuable lessons to be learnt from The Apprentice.
The Apprentice is supposed to be about finding the next big shot business person to lead one of Sir Alan Sugar’s businesses,however, The Apprentice is more about sales than anything else. All of the remaining contestants have one thing in common, they are good sales people. The tasks they are given focus on sales.
You might believe that Affiliate Marketing is all about web development, SEO, and PPC. Those things are important, but Affiliate Marketing is really about sales. Affiliate marketers sell, or pre-sell, merchant products and services. Without sales, your affiliate marketing empire is doomed.
So what lessons can affiliate marketers learn from The Apprentice? Just take a look at the remaining contestants and the individual characteristics that make them good sales people.
Know your product
The Apprentice candidates quickly learn about the features and selling points of the products and services presented to them. They are hardly ever experts, but they learn enough to sell the product and they have to learn fast. When they do not know everything, they give the impression that they do. Christina showed this skill brilliantly last night when selling rugs.
With affiliate marketing, it is as important (if not more important) to know the product you are selling. You have the advantage of time on your hands and the World Wide Web. Research, learn, and understand your product. Find the key features and then work out the selling points.
Sell the benefits, not features
This is an age old selling technique, and The Apprentice candidates do show that they understand this. Customers do not need to know all of the features of a product. Too much information will bewilder and confuse them. This is especially true when selling online as users generally do not like reading reams of text. So it is vital that you focus on the benefits, and not the features. How will the product benefit the customer? What is in it for them?
The soft approach to hard selling
One of the key characteristics that The Apprentice candidates share is their ability to sell softly. They are friendly, polite and courteous in their style and they make the customer feel good. At the end of the day, they are trying to sell, but they do it in a way as to not offend the customers. Love her or hate her, Katie is good at selling softly. She warms up the customer before moving in for the sell. Lohit is another candidate who can do this particularly well.
Good affiliate marketers often follow this route. After all, customers are more likely to respond positively to a friendly face then pushy sales person. Keep this in mind when writing copy for your landing pages. Think to yourself, when you find a website fill of affiliate links and BUY NOW, BUY NOW, BUY NOW, what do you do? Most probably you move onto the next site. You are more likely to actually buy now if you are presented with an impartial, friendly review of the product and are "recommended" to buy it, rather then pushed into buying it.
Be passionate and enthusiastic
All of the candidates come across as passionate and enthusiastic when selling the products. Even if they do not fully believe in the product, they make you think they do. This will breed confidence in the product and in you as the sales person. Katie and Naomi sold shoe insoles to Chelsea’s biggest sports store because they were passionate and enthusiastic about the product.
One technique that I used to employee (when I was a sales person) was to sell the product to myself first. Even if I hate the product, there has to be something good about it. I would focus on the positive and convince myself that the product has value. Then I was ready to sell to customers.
Affiliate marketing is no different. You can be enthusiastic and passionate when selling online. It is all in the way you write and present your copy. If you do not believe that text can do it alone, then why not try attaching a video? Just make sure you have sold it to yourself first.
Great selling is relationship building. Because of the limited time given to tasks in The Apprentice, you might think that there is no point in building relationships with customers. But it is possible to build a relationship up very quickly and good relationships are good for business. Customers are more likely to buy from you if they like you and trust you.
The additional benefit of building relationships is the prospect of repeat business. This is especially important with affiliate marketing. If you build a relationship with your customers, they are more likely to come back to your website and buy again. That saves you from the ever increasing expense of acquiring fresh traffic. And loyal customers often recommend your website to their friends, family and colleagues. A visitor that arrives from a recommendation is already warmed up and much more likely to convert. Plus it has not cost you anything to acquire that visitor. Businesses that grow from friend referrals are normally very successful indeed. That is how Google grew from nothing to the biggest internet company on the planet.
The Apprentice candidates might not be the wisest at business, as they have shown weaknesses in product selection, buying and leadership skills. But the one thing they can do is sell. Learning how to sell is an essential business skill. Affiliate marketers are sales people. So if there is one thing that you should learn, it is how to sell.