I Hate Affiliate Prizes

I recently received an e-mail on from an industry colleague asking us to do a mailing for his BIG launch. I know what you are thinking. Not so unusual. Correct. We get such requests all the time.

His e-mail went something like this:

Hey MaryEllen,

How are things going? 



I know that you guys have your big event coming up, and I was hoping to get down for it. 

I wanted to reach out to you and let you know about our upcoming launch starting next week (Nov. 11th). We are re-launching our biggest product. We originally launched it over 2 years ago, and it jumped to #1 in Clickbank.




We are not using Clickbank for this launch, but have added more value to the original product.


We have some cool prizes and incentives for affiliates who can help us promote it.


Check out this short video: XXXXXXX



The video showed all the “cool” prizes. The 1st place prize was a new car, an Audi.

I sent back the following e-mail:

Hey Sam,
Hope all is well.

We do have our big event of the year, ETR’s Info-Marketing Bootcamp, next week, so our schedule is pretty tight. We really need more notice if you have specific mailing dates.

Also please note (and I need to be blunt), we never decide to do a mailing based on prizes. Our criteria are strictly:



  • Is this a product our customers want?
  • Do you share our customer-centric philosophy? By that I mean, is this a good product, will you treat the customers that come to you from us with respect, will you honor refunds, and so on?
  • Does your product over-deliver on the promises made in your sales copy?
  • What kind of refunds did you experience with your last launch?



As I said, we were just days away from Bootcamp, so I was really busy. If I’d had more time, there’s a lot more I could have explained to Sam in my reply e-mail.

You see, Sam made the mistake of approaching ETR as just another affiliate — trying to tempt us with a “cool prize.” What he should have done was offer us a joint venture deal that could have been mutually profitable for years.

Affiliate marketing is simply the promotion of someone else’s product in exchange for a commission. The affiliate can promote the product through multiple channels — usually on his own website, to his own list, and with pay-per-click campaigns.

Meanwhile, a joint venture is a real partnership — an agreement between two or more people or companies to undertake a business activity together. Labor, expenses, and risk are shared. When done right, the end result is always a win-win for both partners.

The Main Principles Behind Joint Venture Marketing

  • Good JVs are those that pair up businesses with complementary resources and skills.
  • The stronger the resources and skills brought to the table, the stronger the potential of the JV.
  • Trust and respect are essential ingredients in JV relationships.

The idea is to develop joint venture relationships that are essay to maintain, financially profitable, intellectually rewarding, and long lasting.

Strategies for a Successful Joint Venture

  • Look for a strong partner — one with significant resources that you lack.
  • Make sure that the value of your contribution is equal to your partner’s. An unbalanced partnership is not good for either party.
  • To avoid costly misunderstandings after the venture has begun, identify the value of each partner’s contribution at the outset. This should include skills, intellectual resources, marketing resources, capital, etc.
  • In determining the value of those contributions, remember that what’s “fair” is not an exact number but a range. Try to be flexible and favor partners who demonstrate the same flexibility.
  • Establish clear protocols at the beginning for amending or unwinding the relationship if it fails to meet expectations.
  • If possible, limit the scope of the venture in the beginning and extend it as mutual trust increases.
  • Make the agreement simple, but put it in writing.
  • Always remember that you want your partner to benefit from the relationship as much as or more than you do.

Questions to Ask YOURSELF When Considering a Joint Venture Deal

  • What are my objectives entering into this deal? (What do I want now? What do I want eventually?)
  • Do the short-term and long-term objectives of this potential partner differ from mine?
  • If so, could those differences cause a conflict?
  • If so, could that conflict be resolved?
  • What specific qualities, skills, and resources is this partner bringing to the table?
  • How valuable are those qualities, skills, and resources to me?
  • Does the partner attribute roughly the same value to them as I do?
  • If not, is there some way to resolve the difference?
  • Are there other ways to get those qualities, skills, and resources?
  • If so, what would they cost?
  • Which one of us will have more power at the beginning of the relationship?
  • Will that change as the joint venture moves forward?
  • If it does change, could that pose a problem?
  • Could that problem be serious?
  • What can I do to prove my value to this potential partner?
  • What do I need to do to make the deal work?
  • How soon can we get started?

I’m not saying that you should do JV deals exclusively. There are many excellent affiliate programs out there, and there’s no reason not to develop one of your own.

But when approaching people to help you promote your products, as with all good business correspondence, understand who you are targeting and craft your message accordingly. That’s where Sam made his pretermission. He sent the same e-mail to people who would be motivated by the thought of winning an Audi and to people who would be good JV partners.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I did receive a follow up e-mail from Sam that read:

Hey MaryEllen,
Thanks so much for getting back to me. I appreciate your candor in what motivates you to help promote other people’s products. I agree with you 100%, and feel the same way when we select offers to promote to our list. It’s easy to forget about that sometimes, when others really aren’t concerned for the well-being of the customer and are only looking to make a quick buck.

I will be in touch in the new year, and hope to work with you then.





I won’t be able to attend ETR’s Bootcamp, but wish you the best. Sounds like it will be really great.







This made me smile and remain grateful for what I do.

P.S. At ETR’s last Info-Marketing Bootcamp, joint venture specialist Chris Chickering explained how to secure quality joint venture partnerships in the cutthroat online world. His techniques turn skeptical potential partners from “Who the heck are you?” to “Let’s do business” — even if you are just getting started online.

If you couldn’t make it in person… check out the Bootcamp Home Study Program. It’s like inviting Chris, plus a dozen other experts in Internet marketing, search engines, copywriting, and more, into your home. Let Clayton Makepeace, Michael Masterson, and me, MaryEllen Tribby, teach you how to get your Internet business off the ground.

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