Why I Hate Corporate Affiliate Marketing Events
Don’t Buy Ebooks…Tell Me Your Name, Bitch!

Why I Hate Corporate Affiliate Marketing Events

Last year, I attended London Adtech and was blown away by the number of suits in attendance. I guess it was only a matter of time before our industry became profitable enough that the yuppies and base touching urchins of the Square Mile stuck their dicks in it.

One of the things I remember distinctly was catching Jason from Ads4Dough at an extremely bare basics table, decorated with a bottle of water and surrounded by a hundred companies that had gone all-out to ‘dress for the occasion’.

It really emphasized in my mind how vast the gulf is between affiliate marketers who ‘get it’, and those who think they ‘get it’ by gelling the hair back and dousing their booths with:

1. At least four scantily clad female affiliate managers.
2. Enough jargon speak to give me a fucking headache
3. All style and zero substance.

As most conference junkies have probably worked out by now, I’m not one to travel halfway across the world to trade business cards with slick sales reps that I’ll probably never speak to again in my life. That’s not to say I don’t value the power of networking, I just prefer to stick to my small circle of confidants who generally keep me up to speed if there’s anything big I need to hear about.

I found London Adtech frustrating and confusing in equal measures. Not only did the companies seem to be wrestling for the title of best corporate Zoolander face, but they were also hugely out of touch with the solo working class affiliates like myself. I may not look like a Wall Street banker, but I’m actually a better representation of a real life affiliate marketer than some tosser with his glass of Champagne and never-ending presentation of “digital e-projects”.

Seriously, if you’re still prefixing business terms with “e” to show that you get the digital age, slap yourself in the ganglies and go back to the starting line. You suck.

I think most companies who attend these corporate events are under the illusion that affiliates are dumb, blind and blissfully unaware that suits and jargon speak actually add up to… not much.

Christ, the second you mention that you’re a CPA marketer who works from home, be prepared for that head to toe glance, the tutting of dismay and a polite ending of the conversation while the poorly educated twat turns his back on you to deal with other more respectable attendees.

The latest event on the horizon here in London is the A4U Expo. I don’t know about you, but I stopped taking this event seriously when I saw that it was sponsored by Argos.

What’s that all about?

Am I supposed to be seduced in to promoting Argos? With an entry pass starting at £395, I’d have to spend the rest of my life shelling Argos links to come anywhere close to making a return on that investment.

The only affiliate who will pay £395 for access to this kind of corporate circle jerk is the affiliate who is being sponsored by his company.

Now, I realise there may be corporate suits reading this now who gasp at the idea of their favourite event being compared to a Yuppie’s Day Out. But really, that’s all this shit is. Every single keynote spirals in to a final self-adoring sales pitch. You would be better placed collecting a list of the speakers, Googling their blogs, and reading up on the tips that everybody else will be paying £395 to hear a speech about.

The corporate affiliate marketing landscape couldn’t be further detached from the hard working affiliates who drive the industry’s popularity forward. Some of us are educating ourselves to build sustainable businesses, others are spending lavish amounts to dress with sophistication and learn how to make 4% on a fucking book sale with Amazon.

Good luck with that.

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Don’t Buy Ebooks…Tell Me Your Name, Bitch!

Are you the kind of affiliate who shuns daylight, appears offline on AIM, never responds to emails and does everything he can to avoid conversing with the shadowy bastards known as his competitors?

We work in one of the most accessible industries imaginable. If you’re an affiliate marketer, you’re online. And if you’re a good one, your ego has probably exploded to the point where you’re not hard to find. I often wonder why newbies rush to buy ebooks from self appointed gurus when they could speak to those same gurus free of charge in the space of a basic AIM window.

Networking is free knowledge, ladies and gentleman. And yet it’s a subject that divides opinion for many marketers out there. Partly because it’s confused with the trait of time wasting, and those who do anything possible not to have to actually work.

For me, networking isn’t just a case of wanting to learn more about my industry. It’s an element of human interaction that I’ve missed since I jacked in my day job. While it’s pretty rare that you’ll find me piss-arsing my day away with idle chit chat on AIM, I do feel a regular need to speak to new people and to understand different paths that others have taken to find success in affiliate marketing.

But why is it important? Who would choose to spend an hour networking over the important split testing of their latest Facebook campaign?

If you’re the kind of tombraiding CPA urchin who makes his living through the constantly shifting dynamics of traffic arbitrage, then you definitely need to have an ear to the ground. Networking is your way of staying ahead. Much more so than the practical affiliate who develops long term projects with milestones stretching in to 2011 and a disregard for his daily ROI.

It’s tough for me to sit here and preach the importance of developing relationships. The popular word is that if you’ve stuck your weary eyes out of the rabbit hole long enough to engage in a 10 minute conversation on AIM, you’re simply not working hard enough. That’s bullshit. There can be no excuses for not taking a moment to integrate yourself with your peers, to seek out new business and to actually network with other like-minded individuals.

Oh and by the way. Some affiliates seem to preach to the crowd that they work 16 hour days, more or less Monday to Sunday. So they don’t have time to network. That’s real nice. But you do realize that just because you’re plugged in to the Internet and your modem is flashing, it doesn’t mean you’re actually working – right?

If your breakdown of a 16 hour day equates to 3 hours of keyword research followed by a WickedFire binge from lunch through to moonlight, then you’re probably not reaping the benefits that a dumbarse motherfucker “working” 112 hour weeks probably should. Your net working day can be established by subtracting “time spent chasing skirt on Facebook” from “hours spent building out campaigns”.

I am certainly not one to knock the hard working affiliates who strike through their to-do lists whether the wife has gone in to labour or not. It takes commitment and great discipline to stay focused on your goals. But without keeping an eye on your peers, you’ll never know how relevant those goals are to business success. Simply put, we work in an industry that evolves too quickly to be out of the loop.

Christ, I took a two week break not too long ago and the first thing I did upon rebooting my Mac was to Google search “is affiliate marketing still for real?”.

Networking and sharing knowledge means you’ll never have to buy another ebook in your life. Why? Because it puts you in touch with the REAL people of this industry. The people making money every day. The people making money before the lame ebooks have been outsourced for creation.

I like to think of it as a spider building his web. Broadening your horizons and spinning that web might not reveal any immediate benefits. You might even feel like you’re wasting your time while you could be out chasing after riches. I’ve certainly felt that sensation while aimlessly discussing Cheryl Cole’s sex appeal with Andrew Wee in the past. But when a knowledge bomb drops, when tomorrow’s big niche lands, you want to be there to catch it. And if you don’t make an effort to integrate yourself with real affiliate marketers, to reach in to every corner where opportunity might land – well…

You’ll be a hungry spider?

Yeah fuck that anecdote, it’s been a long day.

My point is that somewhere on the horizon, chugging towards your doorstep, is the same kind of gravy train that most of us were too slow to capitalize on in 2008 when it was loaded with acai berries. My excuse for missing out was simple. I didn’t really know about it. And by the time I did know about it, I was too late.

If you can establish working relationships with the right people in the right places, you WILL see that next gravy train coming. Whether you jump on for the ride is probably a matter of how intuitive you are.

The next time you find yourself stargazing at the promises of Mr Guru McBullshitsalot’s latest ebook, stop and think for a moment. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of buying a book that this smug bastard dreamed up six months ago when his methods actually worked…you could talk to him now and find out what he’s currently doing?

And there lies the power of networking with real affiliates. You will learn far more by simply being connected with the right people than you will by purchasing their products or reading their blogs. Make an effort to establish actual business relationships. Without them, you’re simply the pawn they’re trying to sell to or the sheep us bloggers like to write to.

Ready to start networking today?

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