Can Affiliate Marketing Grow Into Non-Traditional Areas?

We’ve already seen how an upstart company like IStockphoto can change all the rules in a category such as stock photography. Now talented amateurs can compete alongside professionals in a business category that was once reserved for a relative handful of competitors. Now, thanks to IStock there are thousands of competitors in this category – mostly amateurs. The result was that the cost of stock photography dropped dramatically. Some photographers may argue that the quality has fallen as well, but it is not a winning argument. Stock photography will never return to the old paradigm.

The same could be said for digital printing. Customers are no longer limited to their local printers, electronic files can be sent anywhere. The cost of printing is now lower thanks to the expansion of competition.

Affiliate marketing has allowed amateurs to enter the domain of professional advertising agencies. When an individual signs up as an affiliate of a company, he places advertising online (at his own expense) for a company. If his advertising results in a sale, he gets a commission on the sale. In effect, the company gets free advertising and the individual gets commissions on the sale of products that he doesn’t own. To date, this type of advertising has been the province of second-tier companies like florists or golf products. Disney, however, is now testing this concept with their “movie club”.

I can’t help but believe that these challenging economic times might force more mainstream companies to consider the possible benefits of affiliate advertising. It’s hard to argue against free advertising when economic times are so challenging. If I’m right, we may see advertising agencies struggle against this new challenge. After all, how do you compete against free? The expansion of affiliate marketing seems to be inevitable in this bleak economy.

Don’t Forget Direct Marketing

Every time the economy turns sour, businesses always cut back on advertising. It’s understandable but counterproductive. You may have to make your budgets tighter, but you can be smarter with your decisions.

For example, we hear that everyone is cutting all media except for the Internet. Does that make sense? Are your current customers searching for you on the Web?

Your most valuable asset is your current customer base. If you had 30 seconds with a customer to convince them why they should keep buying your product instead of cutting back, what would that message be? It has to be strong, direct, and clear. Work on it till you get it right.

Marketing With Image Search

Thanks to Google’s Universal Search, there are a lot of new ways to appear at the top of search engines. One of these is Image Search. Google will be returning appropriate images to searchers is a “blended” results page. It’s another chance to get to the top of Google results in a very competitive field. Each returned image, of course, will link back to the site that supplies the image.

To help your chances of your images being found by Google, make sure that your image tags provide detailed information on what the image is about: 2009 Ford Mustang Image. Also, make sure that it is found next to relevant text about the 2009 Ford Mustang.

Of course, it helps if you are not competing in the consumer marketplace. For example, in some large, slow-moving, business-to-business categories, it is still possible to add an image that will be picked up by Google. Identify the image with the keyword that you want to target, “variable information printing image”. Long-tail keywords have the best chance to find a top image return in Google results.

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