Once again the Shareasale ThinkTank was an awesome event. The whole Shareasale crew did a great job putting on another great meeting for affiliates, affiliate managers, and merchants and they continue to set a very high standard for themselves that they continue to meet.
Why should you go to ThinkTank? What will be the benefit for you? I am glad you asked. Here are 9 reasons I can think of. If you have never been before I am sure some of these will convince you of how beneficial the Shareasale ThinkTank can be. For those of you who have been to a ThinkTank I am sure you will agree with me on some if not all of these reasons. And no, I didn’t take any pictures. Plenty of other people had cameras so go check out their galleries on Facebook.
1. Awesome venue – Every Shareasale ThinkTank I have been to has been at an awesome venue and the Lakeway Resort in Austin was no exception. Other venues have included Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, Dobson Ranch in Scottsdale, Half Moon Bay just south of San Fran, and the Grand Del Mar just north of San Diego (I liked this one so much my wife and I went there on our honeymoon a couple years back).
The rooms at Lakeway were very nice, the meeting rooms were great, the view of the lake was awesome, and the pool complex was top notch. I don’t know how Brian and the Shareasale crew keep finding venues like this but I am looking forward to seeing what the can dig up for next year. I am hoping for the Coeur D’Alene Resort since it is only a 40 minute drive from here and they have an awesome golf course but wherever they pick will be awesome.
2. Love the one on one merchant meetings – All in all there were 32 merchant tables at ThinkTank. I had about 8 meetings with different merchants including VMInnovations, Clotho Productions, KiwiCrate, Modern Nursery, Deluxe.com, Expand2Web.com, and a couple others. These meetings only last about 15 minutes which is a great length of time to talk about what the merchant has to offer and figure out how, as an affiliate, I can integrate them into my sites or build new sites around them.
I was very encouraged by my meetings with a couple of these merchants, especially the one with Marty Marion from Deluxe.com. I have been an affiliate of theirs for years but it was great hearing from Marty who actually read my blog and was encouraged and inspired by it. Hearing feedback like that makes me want to do what I can to promote his products and help him out however I can.
BTW, if you didn’t stop by The Fruit Company table and talk with Jed Duffield and sample some of his chocolate covered pears you missed out. Those were delicious! I could eat a few more bags of those things. I also got a great box of toffee from Marty and Deluxe.com that my wife and I are enjoying.
3. OPM Event – This was my first conference as an OPM and I will say standing at a table is much different than walking around to the different tables. I was able to talk to quite a few different affiliates about the merchants we manage at Snow Consulting and there are a number of them I am sure we will be working with more and more in the future. And I came a first name away (and a misspelled last name) from winning a trip to Hawaii.
As an affiliate this event holds a lot of value. There were 18 different tables and probably 14 or 15 of those were OPMs. That is at least 200 merchants who were represented in dozens of different niches and markets. There are very few other venues where an affiliate can have direct contact with that many merchants and affiliate managers. Every affiliate there should have been able to find at least a couple new merchants to work with.
As an OPM there were some great opportunities to talk with a lot of different affiliates. We were able to speak with a few that we know will do some big things for our merchants over the next few months.
4. Lake Day on Lake Travis – On Thursday afternoon we spent the afternoon out on the lake. There were a couple big boats, 3 or 4 ski boats, and about 5 waverunners out on the water. I was a bit skeptical about people actually getting in the water and enjoying the boats but everyone I talked to had a great time. The ski boats and waverunners were busy the whole time and there was always a good group of people swimming around by the big boats.
This was a very relaxing activity and I was also able to have some great conversations with a number of people. Shareasale took a risk with an event like this but it was a homerun.
5. Golf at Falconhead – As always ThinkTank involved golf for me. I got in an early morning round and then played again in the afternoon with 3 great guys. We had a blast and even made a few pars here and there (I think 3 birdies as well). The course was nice and even though there were a few hiccups out there we all had a fun time.
6. Affiliate Summit Party – On Thursday night after everyone was worn out from a day on the lake Affiliate Summit put on a party poolside with a live band, great food, and of course an open bar. This was a great time to mingle around and talk with a lot of different people. Some of my best conversations of the show took place here.
7. Great Educational Sessions – I went to three different sessions. The first one was Eva Klein from Ring Revenue (it was only her 4th day with the company but she has year of experience in the affiliate industry) talking about how to utilize pay per call more effectively. In the right verticals and with the right merchants pay per call can be a great revenue generator. I am working on how it can integrate with some of the merchants I work with.
The second session I went to was for OPMs. Like I mentioned earlier this was my first conference as an affiliate manager so it was a bit different in a lot of ways. Jessica from SAS walked through the new affiliate recruitment tool which I think is a great addition. The way it is set up will encourage affiliate managers to only reach out to affiliates that will benefit their program and are in their niche but it will also be great for affiliates since they won’t be bombarded with tons of untargeted messages from merchants. And the offers affiliates do get should have some great incentives attached to them.
On Friday morning I hit the session Scott Jangro did on Keeping up Content Production and his Shareist.com platform which will be an awesome way for affiliates to manage, create, curate, and share their content. You don’t need to be an affiliate to use the platform either. It is still in beta but when it launches, hopefully in the fall, it will be a great alternative to WordPress, Joomla, or any other content creation platform. I am looking forward to getting in and seeing what all it can do.
8. Awesome Conversations – Whether it was any sort of business related meeting, a chat out on the golf course, talking with potential affiliates at the OPM event, meeting with merchants, or talking for hours about sports with some of the attendees all the conversations I had were excellent. There is such a wide diversity of people in this industry and this conference had them all. Merchants, content affiliates, coupon affiliates, service providers, affiliate managers, OPMs, industry veterans, industry rookies… They were all here and ready to talk. And that is mostly what this conference is all about.
9. The Shareasale Crew – Brian, Lindsey, Jessica, Sarah, David, Nick, Amber, Amanda, and the rest of the Shareasale crew that couldn’t make it (yeah, I am talking about you Rubacky) – You guys all did an awesome job putting together an event that was fun, entertaining, and beneficial for everyone who attended. There is a reason why Shareasale is my favorite network to work with and all you are a big part of that. Take away the people and you just have another affiliate network. But with this crew? You have one of the best companies on the planet. Thank you!
This was my 5th ThinkTank and if I had to rank the 5 I think there would be a 5 way tie for first. They have all been awesome and I have no doubt they will continue to be the best affiliate event of the year.
Thank you to Shareasale for putting on a great event, thank you for everyone who took time to chat with me, thank you to all the merchants I met with, and thank you to everyone who attended. I can’t wait for next year!
Don’t just take my word for it. Check out Vinny O’hare’s review of ThinkTank and Affiliate Summit Central. And see what Missy Ward from Affiliate Summit said about the Shareasale ThinkTank.