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  1. #1
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    The dark side of success...Oppressive Affiliate Managers
    Why is it the more successful I get with AM, the more difficult it is to work with program managers?

    I have been at this for 10 years now and I have reached a pretty good level of performance for a number of programs. My top managers are all being very difficult to work with. One of them is a much respected AM (well known here) that I myself have promoted - now he won't even reply to my emails! (I have made his program over $250K alone) An other knows how much money I am making from their program and is being a real pain over "top performing terms" - she keeps setting tasks and goals for me and then when I deliver she finds more reasons to not extend the terms to me. (Things like sending me two-page lists of minute changes that she wants to see in my landing pages!) It's like I am her dancing bear doing circus tricks for her amusement. Sheesh, I'd rather go back to when I was below the radar and no one cared about me - at least I could console myself by thinking that I am a small fry...

    Any words of wisdom out there? Is this treatment typical? I realise that I am generalizing but has anyone else seen this kind of behaviour?
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

  2. #2
    15 years and counting
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    Yes, it's typical. Just don't get too close to some people. The more you do, the more they expect. And don't let them run your business.
    Remember Shawn Hogan, Digital Point, with CJ and eBay. He was responsible for cookie stuffing for sure but these crooked companies were pushing him to do more, all the time.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    ...And don't let them run your business.
    Thanks - good to know that it is not just me... Your statement about "don't let them run your business" creeped me out a little - some one else said that to me yesterday. I guess that I am still wet behind the ears on the actual business side of things and I didn't see what they were really up to.

    Thanks for the warnings!
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

  4. #4
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    You'll find some like that, but you'll find others who are very easy to work with. Focus on the ones that are the best to work with. The more you expand your business with them, the more flexibility you have to say "no thanks" to the ones who are hard to work with.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  5. #5
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    When I take over all those programs ( we working on it ) most of our manager's main job will be reply to affiliate emails in a friendly timely manner or else.

    We can answer emails even from cell phones, so do it managers. I do!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianDave View Post
    Any words of wisdom out there? Is this treatment typical? I realise that I am generalizing but has anyone else seen this kind of behaviour?
    I think you need to bring it up with your AM, it sounds like they are acting strange towards you and the behavior isn't normal. Hopefully she replies to your emails, whenever an affiliate messages me about ANYTHING I get back to them as soon as possible with help regarding their issues. I would suggest you stop acting like her puppet until she notices, that should get her attention! Its sad when a AM is trying to dodge you.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey View Post
    You'll find some like that, but you'll find others who are very easy to work with. Focus on the ones that are the best to work with. The more you expand your business with them, the more flexibility you have to say "no thanks" to the ones who are hard to work with.
    I agree 100% with Michael on this, yes you have made a ton of money for that program manager, but if they are falling under your expectations.. cut them loose.

  8. #8
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    250K to her program? She should dance WITH you...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...


  9. #9
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    Yeah I don't believe that's normal or at least right. Convergence is correct...they should be doing a two step with you or something.

    Bob

  10. #10
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianDave View Post
    ...(Things like sending me two-page lists of minute changes that she wants to see in my landing pages!) It's like I am her dancing bear doing circus tricks for her amusement....
    I would tell her EXACTLY what she could do with her list.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  11. #11
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    Okay, so what I am hearing is that I am right to expect to be treated better - not worse when producing results for a program. (It's a no-brainer really) I think that "cutting-loose" my top programs is a little extreme - big money campaigns don't just grow on trees. I was just looking for indications of what is normal behavior from PMs in a case like mine.

    @ak1lz: I normally prefer open lines of coms with PMs but in this case she is a special case - everytime I speak with her she talks down to me and gives me more work so communication is dying. I agree though about being less of a puppet - the only down side is that as soon as I started displaying a new less than kiss-ass attitude, she shut-down communications. Funny things, sales are way off today too - but I am sure that that is just a little paranoia on my part...
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffiliateHound View Post
    I would tell her EXACTLY what she could do with her list.
    I am really curious about how I do that without getting booted from her program! Maybe I should have asked in the original post "How do I p@#$-off a program manager without getting ejected from their program?".
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

  13. #13
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianDave View Post
    I am really curious about how I do that without getting booted from her program! Maybe I should have asked in the original post "How do I p@#$-off a program manager without getting ejected from their program?".
    I see two different approaches if you really do want to keep the merchant:

    1 - Moderate Line: I appreciate your input, but I have been pretty successful doing things my way, and while I will consider your suggestions, I will continue to operate my sites in the manner which I determine to best serve my interests, and not those of your company. I have neither the time to evaluate each minute item you propose, nor to property test the ramifications of implementing each such suggestion. But you may rest assured that I will continue to promote your company in a manner intended to produce that most success possible.

    2 - Harder Line: I appreciate your input, but I have been pretty successful doing things my way, and while I will consider your suggestions, I will continue to operate my sites in the manner which I determine to best serve my interests, and not those of your company. I have neither the time to evaluate each minute item you propose, nor to property test the ramifications of implementing each such suggestion. But you may rest assured that I will continue to promote your company in a manner intended to produce that most success possible. If this approach is incompatible with your needs, then I can easily begin the process of replacing your company's products with those of another merchant who will trust my record of success to promote their products in a profitable manner, as I operate my own sites as I deem proper.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]


  14. #14
    Affiliate Network Rep Kim Salvino's Avatar
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    I did a podcast with Loxly over an insane policy proposed by a merchant yesterday, and today, I see this. It saddens me to see these things. Some are losing sight that affiliate marketing, at it's heart, can only work if affiliates are treated as PARTNERS.

    I think AffiliateHound's response "I appreciate your input, but I have been pretty successful doing things my way, and while I will consider your suggestions, I will continue to operate my sites in the manner which I determine to best serve my interests" is respectfully to the point. Thanks for the ideas, not the requirements, mind you - the suggestions - but please know that I know the route that works for me, so that is the route I will choose.

    If you need some help in finding merchants that appreciate you, I gladly volunteer! Good luck.
    Kim Salvino, Client Services Director, Performance Horizon Group
    Reach me at kim.salvino(at)performancehorizon.com or on (443) 617-4036

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  16. #15
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    @AffiliateHound: Thanks for taking the time to write those out for me! I am still not sure how to handle a program manager who feels like they are doing YOU a favour letting you participate in thier program... In the case that I descibe above, all of the changes are part of a review to make sure that I am compliant with TOS - yet much of what they want me to do is not mentioned in the TOS.

    I get the vibe from her that it's her way or the highway. I don't think she would appreciate me inferring that I know better than her.

    @Kim Salvino: What's this "P" word? Ppppaaartnerrrr? I am not familiar with this word - or, at least none of my merchants make me feel like one. It's what I have been looking for for ten long years...
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

  17. #16
    Affiliate Manager OutdoorPlayToys's Avatar
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    I would NEVER treat any affiliate that way - whether they are low performers or high performers. But have to say I WILL go out of my way to treat top performing affiliates like GOLD! (and if you are bringing me 250k in sales...make that platinum).

    I would NEVER find it to be my place to tell YOU how to run YOUR business, I am sorry but that is WRONG, especially if you are bringing in that volume of sales.

    Agree 100% with the sentiment here - there has to be other merchants who would love to have you on board and would take care of you as you should be.

    This is just crazy to hear.
    Jill Caren

  18. #17
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianDave View Post
    I was just looking for indications of what is normal behavior from PMs in a case like mine.
    IMHO, you need to drive enough traffic to where losing your traffic would affect their quarterly earnings or make the affiliate program statistics take a nose dive. Asking for top performer terms when this isn't the case can be difficult and the AM might give you the run-around.

    So you have to have an idea of the total sales volume of the online merchant to understand what type of bargaining position you have. It can be pretty humbling when you do the math and realize how small of a percentage your sales contribution really is. An extreme example... In 2010, Amazon had $34.20 billion in sales. So if you were an affiliate that contributed 1% to their bottom line, that would mean you sent them $342 million in sales in 2010 alone...

    Sometimes it seems I'm in a better bargaining position prior to joining a program. CEO's get really hot on seeing their links on certain pages and they tell AM's "make it happen". If I hold back, I tend to get the highest commission tier.

    One way to get top performer commissions without being a true top performer... Provide feedback on their business that helps the business be more successful or the affiliate program more profitable. They might raise you up to the top commission level as saying "thanks". It's happened to me a couple of times.
    Last edited by isellstuff; June 8th, 2011 at 10:04 PM.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

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  20. #18
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    @isellstuff: I realise where I fit in the grand scheme in terms of quarterly earnings - probably below the radar (hard to tell). In this case, I was given a sales target to reach and, after applying considerable effort, I exceeeded (or doubled) the minimum for a full quarter. This and the fact that I know at least one other ABW member who is at the programs top tier and they admit that they make almost no sales with the program tells me that I am getting jerked around by this particular manager. On top of all of this, I made the program almost $50K in May alone so I am not dreaming - I am a top performer...

    I like and agree with your point about helping their business - this I have done but when I get little in return, how long should I keep trying?
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

  21. #19
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    Do you have a special commission rate with them? If not, maybe it's time to ask for a raise? Also since you're one of their top performers, maybe you could arrange a contract with them, so the AM wouldn't act like your boss, after all it's you who provides her with a job.

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  23. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by login View Post
    Do you have a special commission rate with them? If not, maybe it's time to ask for a raise? Also since you're one of their top performers, maybe you could arrange a contract with them, so the AM wouldn't act like your boss, after all it's you who provides her with a job.
    Yes I have a special commission rate - the top tier is the rate that I refferring to... I never thought about a contract...
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

  24. #21
    Affiliate Manager Yulia from DNP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    250K to her program? She should dance WITH you...

    It doesn't matter how much... some affiliate managers tend to believe that affiliates work for them instead of working together... that's the main problem with some of my colleagues
    [B]Yulia Borova
    Affiliate Manager - [B][url=http://DirectNetPartners.com][COLOR="Purple"]Tobacco Affiliate Program - GET 50$ Sign up bonus[/url][/COLOR][/B]
    Email: [email]Yulia@DirectNetPartners.com[/email] | Skype: DNPYulia | [url=http://www.facebook.com/pages/DirectNet-Partners/211572005534452]Our Facebook Page[/url][/B]

  25. #22
    Kung Fu Master Eathan's Avatar
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    CanadianDave, just to play devil's advocate for a minute, it's possible from where she's sitting that asking for a list of TOS fixes or other items in exchange for top tier commissions is a reasonable request.

    On the flip side, I don't think it's reasonable to ask for anything that isn't clearly defined in the TOS or tiered commission language.

    If the merchant has a tiered commission structure, it should be very clearly defined. Same with the TOS. There should be no need for a list. You should know exactly what you need to do to earn top tier, and the program manager shouldn't ask for anything other than what is already spelled out.

    Personally, I don't like tiered commissions. I like to keep it simple, no carrots, no negotiations, no supers, no subs, everybody even and earning as much as the program can pay. The incentive is built in - sell more earn more.

    Tiers only ever seem to create bad blood.

    At the bottom - "Why is my sale worth any less than his sale? My AdWords dollars are just as hard earned and dearly spent."

    At the top - "Come on there's got to be room for a little more, after all I do for you, you can't budge one little inch...?"
    Eathan Mertz

    Black Cat Mining - Gold Prospecting & Rockhounding Equipment

  26. #23
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    @Eathan - Thanks, I am just now seeing the down-side of vaguely described performance tiers. I now have a new "Red Flag" when vetting merchants.

    I guess I have learned another great lesson in all this: that you should always read (and be clear on all elements of) the TOS agreement. If a merchant is asking you to do something that is not in the TOS, you have the right to ask why it is not in the TOS - and you have the right to not effect changes not delineated in the TOS.
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

  27. #24
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Several years ago when I was working as an AM I had to issue instructions like this to several top affiliates. It wasn't my decision but imposed on me by my director. She was a micro manager and didn't understand affiliates. Was more concerned with our largest vendors and their perceptions so that was the priority. I summaries the site changes via email and offered to talk with the affiliates effected. After explaining the bigger picture they made the changes and she left it alone. They didn't like it, I didn't like it but we worked through it.

    Dave, this is an important topic and I have featured it. Also tweeted and posted to my Facebook as many affiliate managers follow me. Thought about changing the title of the thread to be more easily found in the future but that is your decision.

    My advise is for you to send a nicely worded email to her and the other AM along with a link to this post. In dealing with my wife I have found that when I can let her know how I feel I am treated means more than telling her why she is wrong. Hope this helps.

  28. #25
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    Thanks Chuck!

    It's good to hear about this from different perpectives. I am still in "radio silence" with the AM and have no intension of contacting her anytime soon. Down the road I will find a suitable time and place to reflect back to her, what she has done and the impact that it has had on my willingness to promote her program any further. I honestly believe that I am dealing with an AM with a "director" type character from your anecdote so a heart-to-heart is only going to reinforce her opinion that I am a "putz". Frankly, I have stared at the "Expire button" in this CJ merchant area for long periods of time - even had my mouse parked over it - it would feel so good to have her have to explain to CJ and her boss why a ~$50K in sales per month affiliate dropped out of her program!

    (The reference to communication and your wife was not lost on me - it resonated loudly.)

    Please feel free to alter the thread title as you see fit...

    Dave
    When the only tool you have is a hammer - everything looks like a nail.

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