Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Profit Partners: Maximizing JV and Affiliate Relationships

The current economic environment is making many marketers look at lost cost ways to drive sales and be a strategic and creative thinker. Now is a great time to look to your competition for opportunities to help grow your list and add extra revenues to your bottom line for little or no cost.

If my clients tell me they want to grow their list or increase revenues WITHOUT spending money on advertising, my advice is focus on leveraging their marketing and editorial relationships with our fellow publishers and aggressively pursuing ad swaps, guest editorials, and joint ventures (JV) or cultivating new relationships. And for the clients that don't have a marketing team, I lead this initiative for them. The idea is to develop synergistic relationships that are mutually beneficial - to look for areas of deficiency in your competitors and think of ways your company can fill the void.

Some tips to keep in mind when looking for potential "profit" partners:
· Do your homework. Find out, in advance, who will be at industry events that you'll be attending. (Check the program for speakers, vendors, and participants.) Sign up for their e-newsletters. Read their promotional e-mails. Maybe even purchase some of their products.
· Look at EVERY opportunity as a way to maximize your company's brand. When you go to industry events, don't eat dinner alone in your hotel room. Go to functions. Mingle. Network. Have a genuine conversation with a potential partner... then, if there's a synergy between your two companies, exchange business cards.
· Before you contact a potential partner, get familiar with his products and target audience and figure out how your company may be able to dovetail with his product line or marketing efforts.
So, once you've made the connection, now what?

Reciprocal Ad Swaps

Assuming you both have e-newsletters, you can test the waters and see how your lists will react by doing an advertising swap. In other words, you run an ad in his e-newsletter and he runs an ad in yours.

To make sense out of the results of that test, you have to know your "opportunity cost" - the "cost" you will incur for running an outside ad to your list instead of your own ad. If you normally sell ad space in your e-newsletter, this cost could simply be the flat rate fee you typically charge. Or, if you know the average revenues an issue brings in, you could calculate the potential "missed opportunity" of letting another ad run to your list on a given day.

You should also agree to share important information with your partner. Before his ad runs in your e-newsletter, point out any creative issues. (Perhaps the copy is too inflammatory for your list. Perhaps it's too competitive.) Provide your partner with your e-newsletter's sent and deliverability sizes, open rate, and ad click rate. Exchanging performance data is critical to a long and mutually beneficial relationship. It has to be a win/win situation for the partnership to work.

Whether your goal is to attract names for your e-list (lead generation) or to make sales, reciprocate in kind. If your partner is letting you do a name collection ad to his list, for example, let him run the same kind of ad to your list. But first make sure his list is approximately the same size as yours. If it's substantially smaller, you may want to hold off on an ad swap with that publisher until he builds his subscriber base. You don't want the initiative to be one-sided.

Guest Editorials

You can also look into doing guest editorials in other publishers' e-newsletters - with an editorial note or byline that links to your offer. This is a great way to get introduced to a new list with the "implied" endorsement of the publisher. His endorsement gives you credibility. And if you provide his readers with good, solid, useful information, they will bond with you quickly.

This is a soft-sell approach that may or may not yield results on its own. But when coordinated with either a dedicated e-mail (if your partner is on board with a revenue split) or an e-newsletter ad the same week, your conversion rate (the number of people who go on to buy your product) will dramatically improve.

Joint Ventures (JVs)

JVs are a quick and cost-effective way to make money with your list even if you have not yet developed any products. With a JV, you have an instant product line with no overhead costs. Your partner will supply the products, fulfill orders, and provide customer support. All you have to do is promote the products to your list and split the net revenues with them. For an even a more turnkey approach, you can sell e-reports through sites like, where everything is automated.

To determine the viability of a potential JV product, there are several strategic marketing variables to consider. I like to think of them as "PPPGS":

P = Product quality
P = Price point
P = Performance (when promoted to your potential partner's house list, as well as to outside lists)
G = General market demand
S = Subscriber interest (when promoted to your list, as determined by feedback, surveys, etc.)

Remember - you're looking for long-term partners, not one-hit-wonders. So carefully select the people you approach, making sure their products make sense relative to your business...and, together, you can reap the unlimited profit potential of reciprocal marketing!

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