Well, another Shareasale ThinkTank is in the books. I am back from Denver and yet again Shareasale knocked another ThinkTank out of the park. And this wasn’t just an altitude adjusted homerun that you normally see at Coors Field. This would have been on to Lansdowne Street. This one would have been on to Waveland. This would have been in McCovey Cove. Junior would have hit this one here. And if you understand that baseball humor my hats off to you.
This ThinkTank started out like every ThinkTank I have been to with a round of golf at an amazing golf course. It was dang cold and windy for the first few holes but it soon warmed up and ended up being a beautiful day. I didn’t play my best but I hit enough decent shots that I didn’t totally humiliate myself.
The afternoon on Wednesday was filled up with a number of different one on one educational sessions and some other meetings with affiliates. I learned about using the API and some of the other awesome tools Shareasale has developed to make life easier for merchants and affiliates alike. In the evening we had a great dinner and some great time to chat with some of the other attendees.
In the past the ThinkTanks have mostly been people I knew and have been to many conferences with. At dinner Brian Littleton asked the first timers to raise their hands and there were probably 100+ hands in the air. Shareasale really made an effort to bring in some new blood to this conference and they invited a number of bloggers who are either new to affiliate marketing, new to Shareasale, or at least new to the ThinkTank and Affiliate Summit scene.
As a merchant this was an awesome opportunity. Yeah, we work with some of the coupon sites and are in contact with them regularly. Yeah, at Fanatics.com we already work with a lot of sports sites, sports blogs, and sports communities. But at ThinkTank we were able to connect with a whole new group of fashion bloggers (did you know Fanatics.com has hundreds of dresses?), kids apparel bloggers (did you know Fanatics.com has thousands of kids items?), deal bloggers (did you know Fanatics.com offers free shipping and up to 10% Fan Cash with our Fanatics Rewards program?), and “mommy bloggers” (but I learned they don’t like that term). These are bloggers we were able to talk to, show how our products could fit on their sites, learn how they work and what they need from us, and basically tap into a whole new group of affiliates. From a merchant perspective I think inviting bloggers like this was a great approach.
Anyway, on Day 2 we had some educational sessions in the morning and then some group sessions where people could talk about whatever they wanted. The advanced commission structures Brian talked about are an awesome tool. I know I want to use those commission rules more to make sure the affiliates that are bringing value are properly compensated and I have a much better understanding of how to do that now.
In the afternoon we had one on one meetings with affiliates. Our schedule was packed with meetings every 15 minutes for the whole 3 hours. We talked to some current affiliates and should be able to help them drive more sales. We also talked with a number of bloggers who have never really worked with us before but are now going to start. Just because a site isn’t focused on sports or on a team doesn’t mean that your audience won’t be shopping for licensed team apparel or gifts. This was a very valuable time for me to talk directly to some new affiliates and show them what sort of products could do well on their site.
To go on an excursus (fancy word for rabbit trail) if you need help figuring out how to promote a particular merchant on your site ask your affiliate manager. They know what is selling, they know what deals are available, they know what products will fit with your audience. Or at least they should know. Even if the product isn’t a perfect fit for your audience your affiliate manager should be able to help you come up with an angle to promote their products.
After those meetings I went and got the meat sweats (thanks for the invite Eric Nagel) with a few people and then headed to Loda’s for the trivia night. Somehow our team with the unfortunate name was able to pull out the win. Not really sure how that happened but it did. Then the night finished off back at the hotel with Brian sitting at the piano.
Friday morning was highlighted by a buffet tray of bacon and a keynote by Brian Clark of CopyBlogger.com. Then it was lunch and off to the airport.
Events like this always remind me why I love Shareasale. They have some awesome tools and features for merchants, affiliates, and agencies. They have the highest ethical stance of any of the affiliate networks. And they have THE BEST group of people working there. Brian, David, Nick, Bethany, Lindsey, Erica, Amber, Ryan, Sarah, Kristen, and the rest of the Shareasale team are all some of the best people in the industry. I would trust any of them with my kid. Seriously, if any of them want to fly to Jacksonville to babysit Clyde they are more than welcome.
Enough rambling. This ThinkTank was different than the past 5 I have been to and was just as awesome. Thank you Shareasale! If you are a merchant looking to start an affiliate program (or move from another network) or if you are an affiliate or blogger be sure to check them out. You can always drop me a note and I will be happy to go into more details why they are the best.
Did you attend ThinkTank? Leave a comment and let me know your favorite part. Did you miss ThinkTank? Leave a comment and let me know how much you missed it.