One thing that I am all about this holiday season is saying screw the big brands with my websites. I’ve actually pulled almost all of them off, except for Amazon. When dealing with Affiliate programs and promoting them, big brands don’t always care as much about you and are usually over run with adware, coupon poaching and other issues. Many of them like to play with your commissions during the holiday season and sometimes even make specific products or product categories non commissionable. One thing that I do now when adding products to my site or posts is avoid the big brands. Instead I look for smaller merchants or mom and pop shops that carry it and either join their programs or create a custom deal with them and use tracking links instead of network links. Here are 5 ways I avoid large brands, get the same products, higher commissions and feel confident that others aren’t stealing my sales.
1. Look for the products on a smaller company’s site.
If you want to promote name brand products like collectables, find a collectables shop on networks like Share a Sale. Big name brands usually have resellers and those resellers or mom and pop shops usually have Affiliate Programs. If you want toys or gifts that your kids want because they are in demand or being advertised, stay away from the big box toy stores and go for the smaller shops that will value you as a partner. My client NationalAutismResources.com on Share a Sale carries a ton of the popular items you’ll see at major retailers. The difference is that our commissions are usually higher, we don’t have the adware and coupon poaching you find in other stores and you’ll have the same products. They also have lower or the same discounted prices as many of the larger retailers so the price isn’t an issue either. Non big brands are ready to work with you to help you succeed. The type of support you get from them isn’t always as easy to get with the larger retailers and brand names which is one of the reasons I like working with the smaller companies. I personally like keeping my commissions which is why I work with the smaller companies that carry the same products, but are smart enough to not work with the adware and coupon sites that poach the store’s shopping cart.
2. Talk to them about what is happening with theft.
When you do find a site that has the products you want, a good commission and a good sales path, check for trademark bidders and look in the search engines for their trademark or url + coupons and make sure they aren’t partnering with sites that show up for it. Because they are a small company, if they do have this happening, they are usually more opened to listening to you about it. When you show them that this adds zero value, they will normally cut it out of their program meaning you get more sales if the sites were actually taking credit for your sales. You can also gain their trust and normally get a more open line of communication in case something goes wrong. Many large brands have lower level employee’s managing their programs and they are to scared to get rid of the sites that are poaching their site or the manager gets bonused on these sales so they have no reason to get rid of it and don’t care that their company is losing money. Educate them and because the person managing the program is probably the person who makes the decisions, not their boss or their boss’s boss which also may mean that you can have a better chance of getting a clean program to work with faster.
3. Use Google’s url builder to track and go direct.
If you come across a site that doesn’t have a program or responds that they don’t want a program because they got ripped off, ask if they use Google analytics and use the Google URL builder to create a custom tracking link for your site. This will generate a report if they have their ecommerce tracking set up so you can see how many clicks, pageviews and sales your traffic is generating. If they don’t use Google analytics, their shopping cart probably has a built in tracking system they can use. There is almost always a way to go direct. One thing that you need to do to get them to build this relationship is show them why they should work with you. One thing I do is show them a couple of the terms I rank for that they don’t and explain that they can have this traffic in exchange for commissions in a one off deal with me. It is a lot more clear than working with a Network or having an actual program and they know exactly where the sales are coming from.
4. Negotiate a commission
Sometimes the merchants try to give you the same commissions. One thing you have as an advantage with a smaller merchant or by going in house with them is that you can negotiate by showing value. By showing them terms you rank for for products they don’t rank for and sending them incremental customers and sales, you can normally get a higher commission. By letting them know they don’t have to pay network fees, etc… either, you can also get a small increase. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about working with the smaller companies. If you are showing them that you are bringing them people who have probably never heard of them before, you are helping to grow their business and they can turn those people into customers for life. These companies love having partners who will help build their business and usually will give you bonuses for proving that you add value.
5. Go to Amazon
If for some reason you cannot find the products you want and no one will give you a one off deal, try Amazon. Their cookie life sucks, but they have just about every product you can think of and they have amazing tools you can use. The other nice thing is that a bunch of large retailers list their products on Amazon and a ton of smaller companies do as well. If the smaller company doesn’t have a program and won’t create a deal for you, promote their products through their Amazon store as an Affiliate.
There is no reason to deal with the big box retailers this holiday season. You don’t want to take a chance and lose your sales to adware or coupon sites that rank for their trademark or url + coupon codes, and you probably don’t want to deal with them lowering commissions and not paying out on specific products. Instead, support small businesses that will listen, let you keep your sales and be thankful you chose them over the big box retailers.