You’ve got the products, the skills, and the will to succeed with your affiliate program, but where do you start when it comes to promotion?

Maybe you don’t consider yourself a marketing “natural”, or you don’t do many promotions for your brand to begin with. Or, you might be ready to go full-force promoting your affiliate program, but you want to make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row first!

Making a promotion plan for your affiliate program isn’t just for keeping yourself organized and accountable; it can mean more efficiency, more growth, and better returns on your investment – time, money, and effort included!

In this post, we aim to clarify the process of creating a promotion plan that will help your affiliate program soar to new heights.

Defining your brand

Before you can lay out a strategy, you’ve got to have a handle on some fundamentals. Taking inventory is important because it lets you know everything that you have to work with when creating promotional materials, directing your affiliates, and making decisions.

The plan that works best for your brand will depend on a few key factors:

Your brand identity

What is your style? What imagery and messages are essential to your brand? What are the things that people recognize when they think of your products? Listing these things helps you narrow down the essentials – and gain clarity on the best approach for your promotion strategy.

Your brand voice

What is your brand voice? What is your intention, your mission, your goal? What kind of language do you use, what tone do you employ, and how do you want your customers to perceive you?

Do you like to use casual, friendly language? Modern lingo? Or a more professional tone? Even things like emojis, catch phrases, custom hashtags, or other signature elements that you use can be useful when it comes to designing your promotional plan.

Your target audience

Who do you want to reach the most? What do they like, and what do they respond to? If you haven’t done target audience research, consider using social media tools and analytics to try out a few different promotions in order to see what works. Once you have a clear picture of who you’re appealing to, you can fine-tune your strategy as you go along.

Do you already know which segments of your audience respond to specific types of products, content, or marketing messages? As you identify them, your plan may naturally start to take shape. For example, if you’re getting a lot of newsletter engagement from people that buy certain products in particular, you might decide to double down on a promotion in that area.

Your affiliates are your sales team

Now, when it comes to creating the actual plan, start by thinking of your affiliates as your sales team. They are the people out there spreading the word, bringing more customers to you, and converting sales (that you might not have made otherwise).

And since your affiliates are on the front lines and (in many cases) acting as the first point of contact with your brand, it’s extra important to enforce your brand guidelines with your them. Part of your plan should include a detailed outline of things like:

  • What your affiliates should and should not say
  • Slogans, catch phrases, descriptors, and other language or copy they can use to easily construct content around your promotions
  • What images, graphics, logos, and other creatives they should use
  • Pre-written answers to common customer questions that allow them to easily respond to inquiries
  • A list of the real-life benefits that customers experience when they purchase your product
  • Your brand mission statement, goals, and/or notable achievements
  • Any other brand guidelines they should adhere to or might be inspired by

Choosing the right people

The affiliates you have on board will largely influence how you go about promoting your products, from tailoring your copy and marketing messages to certain audiences and personalizing the affiliate experience, to making decisions on which products to promote (and who should promote them). If you need help finding the right people for the job, check out our posts on choosing the right affiliates for your program and the best places to find quality affiliates!

In general, you want to ensure that the affiliates you’ve chosen are active within the right niche for the products being promoted. And don’t underestimate the impact of empowered affiliates that have their heads (and hearts) in the game; they have the potential to skyrocket your sales – and make running your affiliate program a lot more enjoyable, too!

Your competitors can be good sources of guidance

As with pretty much any other venture, your competition can be a good place to find guidance and inspiration. What are your competitors doing in their promotional efforts? How do they equip their affiliates? How do they handle marketing and affiliate teams?

Look for blogs, YouTubers, and Instagram influencers in your niche and research everything from how affiliate products are being promoted, what kind of content is being used, and the frequency of affiliate promotion posts, to how companies are recruiting affiliates through their own channels – as much as you can see, anyway!

What products do you want to promote?

Of course, a big part of your promotion plan includes getting specific about which products you want to promote in the first place; you can’t have affiliates without product promotions!

Do you have certain products that sell well at specific times of year? Schedule them into your plan accordingly. Do you want to get some motion on a product that isn’t selling as well, or promote your newest, trending products to gain extra momentum?

When it comes to brainstorming, just getting started can give you new insights; you can worry about narrowing down (or organizing) the list later!

Creating your commissions structure

Now that you have a rough idea of the products you want to promote, it’s time to think about your commissions structure. As a general rule, you want your commissions to be attractive enough to bring in the right affiliates for your program, but you also want to make sure you’re set up to benefit as well!

Tiered commissions are one effective way to incentivize your affiliates because they are rewarded with higher commission rates the more they sell or earn.

Take it step by step

Like any other goal, it can be useful to reverse engineer the outcomes you want to achieve with your affiliate program. This can help you deconstruct the steps you need to take, and visualize all of the elements that will get you there.

If you want your plan to be effective and efficient, staying organized is important, so consider using productivity tools like Gsuite and Trello to aid you in keeping track of your goals and ideas. Tracking and measuring your program should be easy if your affiliate platform has the appropriate built-in features, and this data will help you to refine your plan as you go along!

What have you found to be effective when creating a promotion plan for your own affiliate program? Did we miss something in this post? Let us know in the comments below!

Mandy Jones

About the author: Mandy is a content writer at Sandhills Development, singer/songwriter/musician, and founder of Looplicious. Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, she's a frequent traveler and animal lover with a passion for creativity and maker culture.

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