Once again, Shareasale hit a home run with their ThinkTank event in Chicago. This is the 8th ThinkTank I have been to (Scottsdale, San Diego, Newport Beach, Half Moon Bay, Austin, Denver, Charlotte are the others). I attended 4 of those as primarily an affiliate and 4 as primarily an affiliate manager and while the show has taken on different formats over the year, been in many different locations, and has had different vibes to them they have all been top notch events and this one was no different. Brian, Erica, and the rest of the Shareasale crew really know how to connect their affiliates with their merchants and set up events where people that normally wouldn’t connect can freely and openly discuss how we can all make more sales and more money.
As we head home from an event like this it can be very easy to slip back into our normal routines and go about doing things the same way we have always done. But that would be a grave error. If you come to an event like this and don’t apply what you have learned, don’t try something different with your blog, don’t reach out to a new affiliate you met, or even don’t continue to build the relationships you have made you have just wasted an awesome opportunity.
With that in mind here are 10 totally random things to keep in mind as you get back to work tomorrow:
Bloggers: Just because you might not be a fan of XXXX that doesn’t mean your readers aren’t. Working at Fanatics.com obviously we sell gear for sports fans. Maybe you aren’t a sports fan but you know what? Most of your readers probably are and they will be wanting to buy gear at some point. Maybe you don’t really appreciate a quality steak but many of your readers might and they could be looking for a great steak from Snake River Farms for a Father’s Day gift. Never had a problem pooping? Good for you but maybe many of your readers could benefit from a Squatty Potty. Of course you want your blog to reflect you but don’t forget to sometimes put yourselves in the mind of your readers and don’t be afraid to give them what they want.
Merchants: Be wary of dismissing an affiliate too quickly. To be honest, there were a few affiliates that scheduled meetings with me and when I saw their sites I instantly thought “this one probably won’t be a good one”. But after talking to a couple of them I saw some great potential in what they might do as they explained what their site was about, where they were coming from, and what they were passionate about.
Everyone: Take time at these conferences to talk to people you might never talk to. On Saturday night I ended up eating pizza at Lou Malnati’s with 5 ladies, 4 of whom I never met before and would probably have never thought to talk to. But we had a great meal, a great conversation, and there are some of them who might end up being valuable affiliates for us in the future. If I hadn’t had the chance to go to dinner with them I would have missed out on a great opportunity to meet some new people.
Bloggers: Please, please, please reach out to your affiliate managers. We are here to help. That is what they merchants are paying us to do! Ask what our top sellers are, ask what big events are coming down the pipe, ask about upcoming sales, ask about what products we think would fit with your site, ask what tools in Shareasale we think would be best for a specific post. A lot of my day is spent running corporate reports, dealing with internal emails, working on technical stuff, etc. so when I get a good question for an affiliate I love taking the time to answer those. I would much rather spend my day talking to you than working on the corporate side of things.
Merchants/Affiliate Managers: Be sure you are talking with other merchants and affiliate managers. There is always a lot we can learn from each other and although in some ways we are competitors in different ways the more we can share information on what works well for us the better off this industry will be. Yeah, there will always be info we can’t really share but the more collaboration there is the more the affiliate industry will grow.
Everyone: Take advantage of the great people at Shareasale. They are all awesome people who are there to help you. They are there to help bloggers, they are there to help merchants, and they are there to help affiliate managers. You won’t find a better group of people in the affiliate space so don’t let the opportunity to work with them slip by.
Bloggers: Don’t be afraid to ask your readers for what you want. Want them to sign up for your email list? Ask them. Want them to buy a specific product? Ask them to click a link. Want feedback on a post? Ask them to leave a comment. Your readers are coming to you because they want to hear what you have to say so don’t be afraid to tell them what you want them to hear.
Everyone: Are you aware of how great an affiliate network Shareasale is? I have worked with most of the networks out there as both an affiliate and a merchant and hands down none of them even come close to Shareasale as far as technology, industry knowledge, helpfulness, and just in general being great to work with. I know if I ever have a problem there are at least 15 people I can email directly and get help, usually within a few minutes even at some pretty odd hours.
Everyone: Follow up!!! I know I probably met 30 people I am excited to work with in our affiliate programs. I am sure many of you have as many or more. Take the time over the next 2 or 3 days to send out some emails and get those relationships going. I will probably have a few emails to send along the lines of “I have your business card but can’t really remember what we talked about. Do you remember?” but that is OK as long as these relationships between bloggers, merchants, and affiliate managers don’t just fade away. If you neglect the follow up from conferences like this you have wasted your time.
And along with following up see where else you can connect with some of the great people you met. There are Facebook groups, Slack channels, and other ways to stay in touch. Be sure to ask your merchants if they have a Facebook group or some other way to communicate with their affiliates. I know there are quite a few merchants who were at ThinkTank that do have them.
Bloggers: Sign up for the affiliate programs of some of the merchants you met. Many of them have some different commission bonuses they are running for ThinkTank attendees. Contact the merchants and ask them what they are offering. Even if they aren’t offering anything you should still sign up.
Everyone: Register for Affiliate Summit East in NYC July 31st – August 2nd. If you haven’t been to an Affiliate Summit it is an awesome time with a lot of the people you met at ThinkTank. There are more educational sessions, parties, exhibitors, meetings with merchants and affiliate managers, and a whole lot of fun. Go register today.
Don’t let these opportunities and relationships from the Shareasale ThinkTank slip away. Take some time over the next week to sift through your stacks of business cards, re-read your notes from your merchant/affiliate meetings, send some emails to the people you connected with, sign up for the affiliate programs of the merchants that were at ThinkTank, and put everything you learned into practice.
And if you want some more ideas check out ThinkTank is over. Now what? over at BourbonandSparkle.com from Christen
Evans err… Moynahan? Evans? You know who she is.
Shawn Collins of Affiliate Summit also posted a good recap with much more picturey goodness than mine: Recap of Shareasale ThinkTank 2016 on Affiliate Tip.
Janet Thaeler also put up a nice Shareasale ThinkTank Conference Review and included some tips on some of the different Shareasale tools available for bloggers.
And Shareasale themselves put up a nice ThinkTank Recap.