One of the benefits of being a “blogging personality” in the affiliate world, and hopefully a trusted one, is that a lot of people come to me with their best kept ideas and ask for my input. My inbox seems to attract some incredibly creative minds and it can be enlightening to hear some of the strategies that other marketers have devised. But for every innovative affiliate, there must be a thousand hopeless sheep.
A couple of years ago, it may have been possible to drag some bum off the street, teach him a trick, show him FTP, and hey presto – you’ve got an affiliate marketer. The barrier to entry was so low, and the competition so light, that anybody with half a mind for selling the bullshit dream could run wild with profit. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case.
You can’t just plug in, profit and piss off anymore. There has to be method to your madness, because other marketers have upped their games to combat the rising costs of saturated traffic sources.
The key to success is no longer to apply some basic newbie guide, but rather to innovate and strike the market before your peers. The biggest money in affiliate marketing goes to the guys and girls who jump on an idea before everybody else. The problem is, there can only be so many ideas to go around. Having to innovate to survive is a scary thought because as we all know, moments of inspiration do not run on tap. They can be days, weeks or in the case of my good friends over at the Warrior Forum – cosmic light years apart.
But what too many marketers don’t realize is just how far one good idea can go.
Imagine being the guy who had that moment of inspiration and decided to submit a Facebook flyer with the simple title “Want A Girlfriend?” all those months ago. If I had to take an educated guess, I’d imagine that he probably targeted his ad to the usual 25-39 crowd in the United States. But because nobody else was cashing in on the same concept, it was easy money.
These days, entering the same market with the same simple concept is a challenge where most will fail emphatically. Those who succeed will have split tested until blue in the face, rinsed through a hundred different creatives, and probably still have trouble sleeping given the delicate margins between profit and loss.
Entering a saturated market means you have to be good at what you do. Damn good. So what’s the most logical business direction you can take?
Judging by some reactions, it would probably be to bitch, moan, and sob that Facebook doesn’t work. All the while glaring enviously at those who still seem to be profiting with the same god damn ads every single day. Isn’t it just a slap in the face?
No, the solution is to stop thinking like 95% of other marketers. If your to-do list reads like a bunch of tips from an affiliate marketing blog, then you’re not thinking far enough outside the box. You’re just one of the many sheep with the same list of ideas and the same half-hearted execution that will ultimately result in failure and more bitching and whining.
When I’m brainstorming new ideas, I like to ask myself – “How can I get rid of a few more competitors? How can I avoid as many other affiliate marketers as possible and still reach my intended audience?”
If I’m taking a dating offer, maybe my targeting doesn’t read like this:
Because isn’t that what EVERY affiliate marketer will be thinking? You’re instantly competing with not only the established affiliates, but a thousand other newbies who’ve simply thrown up a “test ad” in the most obvious market. Thinking obvious gets you nowhere.
Let me just tell you that the single quickest shortcut you can take in the dating market is to switch that targeting from men to women. I guarantee that you’ll filter out 90% of the newbie slash retarded competition. You’ll still need to do a lot of work to find a winning concept. But it’s a step away from the obvious, a step towards your first untapped market.
Once you start taking those steps, it won’t be long before you’re marketing internationally, in foreign languages, to specific keyword subsets…carving your own niches out of the inventory. Whatever. Just know that if you’re doing your best and your best isn’t profitable, your best is not good enough. So move on and find a market which hasn’t already been raped up the arse by a thousand other affiliates.
If there’s one success story you should be listening to, it’s not that some dude is banking five figures a day on dating ads in April 2010. It’s that the guy who did it FIRST…had the easiest ride.
Do you want to spend the rest of your week scratching the margins, desperate to sustain a minimum CTR, because you know just how banner blind your target audience has become? Well, instead of split testing new titles, perving for 110x80s on Bing…why don’t you take matters in to your own hands? Find a market that every other affiliate and his dog hasn’t stuck his wang in yet.
Brainstorm your ideas, look at them carefully, and do the opposite. If you can stop thinking like 95% of other affiliate marketers, you’ll find yourself reaching markets that are still willing to listen to your bullshit.