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  1. #1
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    This is long, and I apologize in advance. But, it drives me crazy to talk to marketing folks who really know nothing about sales.

    How many of us who are part of this fledgling affiliate network industry deal on a daily basis with the marketing arms of very large brands that really have little clue what we do, or, what we can do for their company? Oh, many of them individually claim to be proficient at navigating this peculiar, albeit incredibly important element of the e-commerce terrain, but from my experience watching them, most are stumbling around sightless on unfamiliar terra firma.

    Frankly, I do not believe this to be the fault of the folks in marketing. I think it the fault of a corporate culture that insists upon their marketing divisions being in control of the budget for these types of programs. The marketing genre have always been the creative populace in the workplace – you know, those guys who are constantly coming up with good, better and best as it applies to getting the consumer to buy their particular company’s goods or services. Sometimes they have an end product that works, sometimes not.

    Well, affiliate marketing works, period. Therefore, why should marketing be in control of the decision-making process when those particular budgetary dollars could be better served coming from another operating unit of their company – like sales for instance?

    Dollars spent on affiliate marketing programs should be quantifiable and qualifiable. Both of these are qualities that inherently belong in the sales department, not the marketing arena. I mean, what are we affiliates anyway but salespeople? And, if you agree with that part of this argument, then salespeople should deal with sales types at the companies they represent – shouldn’t they? The entire concept these days now that the click money is gone is predicated upon the sales aspect, not the fact that some marketing is involved. Marketing departments tend to get wrapped up in the minutia rather than the end result. Thus, there are a number of rather common misunderstandings about affiliate marketing that exist.

    The first mistake many marketers who manage these programs make is when they think that affiliate marketing is merely a customer acquisition tool whereby said customer will always come back to their site directly rather than come through the affiliate channel again. This really is a mindset; not all pervasive mind you, but one that is prevalent and active. It is also horse-hockey!

    Many affiliates have a base set of users who come to them for almost everything they buy on the net. While that is indeed not the majority, in my opinion, it is a strong enough number that if a sales division ran the program for the merchant, it would be immediately recognized.

    Secondly, many marketing types are concerned that affiliate marketing waters down their brand. Another big mistake; however, I will grant them the fact that if they do not look at some of the affiliate sites time to time, they just might find their images and brand attached to content that is totally inappropriate as it applies to said brand. For the most part, we do not water down the brand, but make it stronger and more pervasive throughout the web.

    Finally, although I could go on forever here, marketing people have a budget that they fight for yearly (quarterly in some cases), and I have heard some of these folks say that affiliate marketing is too time consuming for the return in investment. To this I simply say, call Overstock, Tiger Direct, Dell (yes folks, they do $10’s of millions of dollars per year through affiliate marketing regardless of what Webmaster Mike says), or any number of merchants who are indeed reaping the benefits that partnering with us gives them.

    So, I say that when you have the opportunity to speak with a merchant, find out whom they report to directly. If it is marketing, you will have to think about adjusting your tactics if you are used to talking to people who think like you.

    You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

    Mahatma Gandhi

  2. #2
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>How many of us who are part of this fledgling affiliate network industry deal on a daily basis with the marketing arms of very large brands that really have little clue what we do, or, what we can do for their company? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Every single day ObstinateDon. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    -wayne

    Wayne Porter
    V.P. Product Development
    AffTrack LLC.
    http://www.afftrack.com
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    Advanced & Automated Data Analysis for Performance Marketers.

  3. #3
    Member mrmerchant's Avatar
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    [QUOTE]I think it the fault of a corporate culture that insists upon their marketing divisions being in control of the budget for these types of programs. The marketing genre have always been the creative populace in the workplace – you know, those guys who are constantly coming up with good, better and best as it applies to getting the consumer to buy their particular company’s goods or services.

    Donald... what you are getting at here is the branding (advertising) element and the fact that the same people whom are in charge of "online marketing" are the traditional ad people - who know zero about the world of direct marketing / direct sales - which is at the core of this model. I have had some personal successes that might be inspirational to you. I recently penetrated US Airways, as an example. There's a lone guy working within the company who is a direct marketer - to the core. He "gets" this model and is an internal force who needs tools... tools to "sell" the model internally to The Powers (the dopes who can't see past buying run of site CPM deals that aim at securing traffic). I suggest that the challenge is finding those within the organization and empowering them. The sell cycle for us is long this way but, often, that's the only answer.

    [QUOTE]Well, affiliate marketing works, period. Therefore, why should marketing be in control of the decision-making process when those particular budgetary dollars could be better served coming from another operating unit of their company – like sales for instance?

    Are we talking about a service company? A direct sales company? CPG company? In any case, what you're getting at here is: A) who is best able to make the decision and B) who's budget should this tap?

    [QUOTE] Dollars spent on affiliate marketing programs should be quantifiable and qualifiable. Both of these are qualities that inherently belong in the sales department, not the marketing arena. I mean, what are we affiliates anyway but salespeople? And, if you agree with that part of this argument, then salespeople should deal with sales types at the companies they represent – shouldn’t they?

    Oh, please... is Looksmart or BizRate or MySimon or eBates or FatWallet or FlamingoWorld a sales person? Hardly... they post deals to a Web site and organize them - kicking cash back... that kind of stuff. Nobody is out there selling or pitching for people. At most they're comparing.

    The entire concept these days now that the click money is gone

    ???? Google and Overture aren't taking click gobbs of click money?

    [QUOTE] The first mistake many marketers who manage these programs make is when they think that affiliate marketing is merely a customer acquisition tool whereby said customer will always come back to their site directly rather than come through the affiliate channel again. This really is a mindset; not all pervasive mind you, but one that is prevalent and active. It is also horse-hockey!

    Indeed, Donald... and we've discussed this on these boards in the past. You may recall my rant. It is most prevalent among, of all people, the DM'ers!!! Those who have serious "dirt world" retention costs (printing and mailing books) yet, somehow, cannot make the leap over to gleefully compensating a loyalty portal on a recurring basis.

    [QUOTE] Secondly, many marketing types are concerned that affiliate marketing waters down their brand. Another big mistake; however, I will grant them the fact that if they do not look at some of the affiliate sites time to time, they just might find their images and brand attached to content that is totally inappropriate as it applies to said brand. For the most part, we do not water down the brand, but make it stronger and more pervasive throughout the web.

    Don, this is not the issue. The issue for Target (major mass retailers) and William Sonoma (high end DM'ers) extends far beyond brand concerns. They already have the customer, buddy! They don't need this silly customer acquisition tool... which is pretty much synonymous with the good old (foolish) days of the Internet... the big rush to grab customers and, in the case of the big brands, protect themselves from the Joe Smith's Web site (the "leveled playing field" hogwash theroy that drove the stupidity of years past). In short, they don't need the Web! The Web supplements. It's a "must have" but a mere piece of the puzzle. As an example, Performics launched recently with laggard, Kohls.com. Do you really think that the $2MM that (at best) their program will generate in 2003 will be a blip on the radar? Does JC Penney take this seriously? Not really... these people are doing it out of fashion more than anything else. Look to their actions to back up this statement. Furthermore, the stuff that Linkshare preaches about this Allmighty middle tier of smaller affiliates or niche partners DOES NOT APPLY to the multi-channel retailers so much as it does to a smaller, niche or commodity marketer.

    [QUOTE] affiliate marketing is too time consuming for the return in investment.

    Don, you cite companies - and tout their successes - that deal in commodity products. Indeed, affiliate marketing is significant for them; however, for the brands/multi-channel retailers, it's simply proven itself be a flop. Don't take my word for it, just ask them! Go to a Shop.org convention. Also, don't forget that the affiliate networks (just like every other marketing services company pushing the promise of the Internet) promised the world and delivered very little to the early adopters.

  4. #4
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    Hi MrMerchant....

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to respond; and to do so with insight.

    A couple of your responses however show your seeming bias at to what your nom de querre depicts. For instance:

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Oh, please... is Looksmart or BizRate or MySimon or eBates or FatWallet or FlamingoWorld a sales person? Hardly... they post deals to a Web site and organize them - kicking cash back... that kind of stuff. Nobody is out there selling or pitching for people. At most they're comparing.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    When I wrote this tome (once again, I am sorry for my lack of brevity), I was speaking to the majority of affiliates who regularly lurk or post here at ABW. While I am certain the affiliates you mention take a peek occasionally, they hardly represent the majority - while they do indeed represent a strong revenue producing minority.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Are we talking about a service company? A direct sales company? CPG company? In any case, what you're getting at here is: A) who is best able to make the decision and B) who's budget should this tap?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Thank you for clarifying what I am "...getting at here..."

    Factually, I am getting at all merchants (notice I did not say advertisers) with the mental wherewithal to spend their dollars where they would do the most good for their respective companies - regardless of product, service, or methodology.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>???? Google and Overture aren't taking click gobbs of click money?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Once again, I speak to the posters here. When was the last time you heard directly from Google or Overture at ABW?

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>As an example, Performics launched recently with laggard, Kohls.com. Do you really think that the $2MM that (at best) their program will generate in 2003 will be a blip on the radar?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Now, you're starting to scare me. So, let me ask you a question MrMerchant. Do you think that if the person who made the decision to go with the Performics' program, and who might have anticipated only $1MM for the year 2003, will be a hero or a goat? Sorry MrMerchant, the fact is that Kohls.com has the opportunity to be a player for this market - and that means substantially more than $2MM.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Go to a Shop.org convention.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Been there and done that. Perhaps we have even met. You mention JC Penney for instance. At the last Shop.org in NY, they raved about their affiliate program; and while not releasing actual numbers, they touted it as one of their best efforts and an excellent revenue producer online.

    Obstinatedon

    You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

    Mahatma Gandhi

  5. #5
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    +7 to MrMerchant. +5 to Ob for a decent comeback. Finally a blessed pocket of conversation that isn't concerned with electronic lice....

    -Wayne

  6. #6
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Your right on the money Obstinatedon. Your finally finding the advertising mindset destroyed this "value added" affiliate sales industry right from the start. Get a million visitors to your website daily and your IPO value goes up 1 billion dollars was the battle cry of the 90's.

    I have constantly berated for years that the merchant Am's and the affiliate networks would have to distance themselves from the EyeBall campaigners in order leverage the combined targeting skills of small site owners to prosper. All the networks saw was the huge budgets for advertising and wanted their share of the pie. They all setup a Double-click banner server with a reporting hook to track actual sales/signups/clicks for a middleman fee.

    I boldly published in Feb 2001 they could fire, from top to bottom, 50% of all those employed in the online advertising inductry and not effect YTD gross sales by 2%. I further stated here that the best move for normal affiliates would be if the branding -Free traffic Merchants fired their AM's and replaced them with someone reporting to the sales department.

    The networks ( you know I've hammered you about this for years) have to distance themselves from the advertising mindset or they'll just breed "incented" traffic hijackers -spammers and con-men sucking commissions from their money pool. They didn't listen and the branding merchants, the others above, now dictate their policies as the web site owner starves from poor conversions & diversions & perversions!!! The #1 commission earning enity is the P2P parasites who enable thieft of copywrite materials and sharing of porno files. So much for ethics and honesty!

    WebMaster Mike

  7. #7
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    Mike,

    Did you boldly publish this before of after you brokered the AOL/Time Warner deal?

    In case you forgot: http://abw.infopop.cc/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&...3299#450603299


    [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    -wayne

  8. #8
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Now, you're starting to scare me. So, let me ask you a question MrMerchant. Do you think that if the person who made the decision to go with the Performics' program, and who might have anticipated only $1MM for the year 2003, will be a hero or a goat? Sorry MrMerchant, the fact is that Kohls.com has the opportunity to be a player for this market - and that means substantially more than $2MM. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Goat. A multi-channel retailer like Kohl's should come out of the gate with at least 6-8 mil in the first year if they don't muck things up too badly and given they are on a robust network. A more mature program for a large MCR should check in at over 25-30 mil/yr. How do those estimates sound to you Ob?

    -wayne

  9. #9
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    Mike....

    While I appreciate the fact that you think I have "finally" declared something that you agree with, the fact of the matter is that you still post quasi-nonsense as it pertains to the networks; and that is an absolute fact.

    Tell me something Mike - where would you be as it pertains to affiliate marketing without affiliate networks. Oh wait, you would probably be in exactly the same place as you still haven't come to the realization that the way to make money as an affiliate marketer is to spend a great deal of time working with manufacturers and other niche product producers; and then, build websites to sell their products or services.

    Damn son (and yes, I have seen your photo and can still call you that factually), when are you going to step up to the pump and finally agree that the networks are your bread and butter. They have finally, after all this time, realized that they have to do even more for the affiliate(s); and yet, you still slap them around like you have the pump to do so.

    My take on the matter is simply - stop it! You're making a fool of yourself!

    Obstinatedon

    [edited by Obstinatedon because I have fat fingers]

    You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

    Mahatma Gandhi

  10. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Wayne said: "Did you boldly publish this before of after you brokered the AOL/Time Warner deal?"

    I never did broker a TimeWarner/AOL merger deal. I helped put together a TimeWarner/CNN deal along with a 15 year AT&T alliance and mentioned they needed an established Internet property like AOL or yahoo to make it fly! I felt at the time and still do that without cheap broadband access online advertising and ecommerce would never hold onto TV type Ad budgets.

    My statement about firing 50% of the online Ad industry came as a prelude to the .com bubble burst well underway in the Spring of 2000.

    WebMaster Mike

  11. #11
    Member mrmerchant's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Now, you're starting to scare me. So, let me ask you a question MrMerchant. Do you think that if the person who made the decision to go with the Performics' program, and who might have anticipated only $1MM for the year 2003, will be a hero or a goat? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Neither... a laggard... a lemming. One who is looking to boost sales a bit and say, as one of JCP's top brass said to me, (paraphrasing) "yes... we're doing that affiliate thing just like everyone else is and we're doing it with the leading company out there."

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> sorry MrMerchant, the fact is that Kohls.com has the opportunity to be a player for this market - and that means substantially more than $2MM. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Don't cry for me, Haiko... er' Don. I have no idea what "opportunity to be a player" means other than they (years later) stepped up to the plate and swung. Bet me that they paid no set up fees to Performics?

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> You mention JC Penney for instance. At the last Shop.org in NY, they raved about their affiliate program; and while not releasing actual numbers, they touted it as one of their best efforts and an excellent revenue producer online. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You and I have different contacts then. I hear differently from Richard Last. I also see a company that closes its program to further expansion (read: no more ABW-type affiliates).

  12. #12
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    Mike,

    Please take your meds.

    -Wayne

  13. #13
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    Wayno....

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Goat. A multi-channel retailer like Kohl's should come out of the gate with at least 6-8 mil in the first year if they don't muck things up too badly and given they are on a robust network. A more mature program for a large MCR should check in at over 25-30 mil/yr. How do those estimates sound to you Ob?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Frankly pal, they sound ridiculously low to me, but then - I don't have access to WhenU's stats.

    As to that "robust network", when in the world did Jamie ever decide to call Performics a network?

    Obstinatedon

    You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

    Mahatma Gandhi

  14. #14
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    ObstinatePonzi,

    You are in rare form tonight. You need to put down the scotch.

    I don't think those estimates are ridiculously low for a mature MCR program. I guess those numbers are predicated upon how proactive their strategy and terms are.

    -Wayno

  15. #15
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> As to that "robust network", when in the world did Jamie ever decide to call Performics a network?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I don't know if Jamie ever said that. I was referring to large networks in general. I don't see Performics as a true robust network, more like biz dev. with technology.

    -wayne

  16. #16
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    Just thought I'd take a peek - and hardly represent the majority.

  17. #17
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Nobody is out there selling or pitching for people. At most they're comparing. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I'm no one's superaffiliate, and I don't know if what I do would earn the sobriquet of "sales" from mrmerchant, but I will say this:

    Because of the work I do, a few merchants have a few of their links found in a few places that they weren't being found before. That generates a few new sales that they would not have had without me.

    Even though I am no one's super-affiliate, I AM adding value here. So speak of me and my kind with respect.

  18. #18
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    Going back to the original topic, it is a wonderous thing when you can get the marketing team and the sales team to work together. Talk about pure bliss.

    A marketing contact needs to be involved. As a resource, guide, mentor, anything. Fact of the matter is, affiliates do have a hand in brand development. Some of us contribute to the strength of the brand, others break it down.

    Sales contact needs to be involved. Recognizing an affiliate as a partner is a huge step in the correct direction. We all here take part in the sales process for our partners. We pre-qualify our leads one-way of the other. We use testimonials, rankings, and other creative (think marketing) ways to pass those leads on. We also rely on the merchant to seal the deal.

    If you can find a successful and active AM for any merchant that possess some of the attributes of both the paragraphs above, odds are you will find a successful program.

    The challenge I have to AMs out there is to ask you a few questions.

    1.) Do I consider and treat my affiliates as my partners?
    2.) With my resources, can I fulfill the marketing and sales portions of my responsibilities to my partners?
    3.) If not #2, what am I doing to compensate?

    This will tell you if you are setting your affiliates up for success. If that is the case, you are well ahead of the game.

    With that said, I disagree. The sales department should not be running the programs. It should be a collaborative between the two.

    IamJaloppy

  19. #19
    Member mrmerchant's Avatar
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    Buckworks... you are respected. My position, however, bows to the economic realities that drive our market - not to the beliefs or virtues of individuals or companies. In the end, thoughts mean nothing - actions speak louder.

  20. #20
    Member mrmerchant's Avatar
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    Wayne... what do you use to make your $7-8MM projection for Kohls.com? What's the formula for what a mid-tier brand like Kohls should be doing in a year... the following year?

  21. #21
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Finally a blessed pocket of conversation that isn't concerned with electronic lice....

    -Wayne <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Ditto! Ditto! Ditto!

    There is no knowledge that is not power.~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  22. #22
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Oh, please... is Looksmart or BizRate or MySimon or eBates or FatWallet or FlamingoWorld a sales person? Hardly... they post deals to a Web site and organize them - kicking cash back... that kind of stuff. Nobody is out there selling or pitching for people. At most they're comparing.~MrMerchant <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    First, I would say that kicking cash back is quite a "pitch for people"! And as for comparing, what is said in a supposed "comparison" can actually be quite a sales pitch for the "recommended" product.

    Second, I'm still "out there selling" (although not with those particular pitches)! So it's not "nobody" left.

    Places that really don't have a pitch (rebates are a pitch!) are good if the customer is already 100% sure s/he wants the item in question--but the people on the fence are a lot more prone to buy with some kind of convincing. About the only places I would agree don't have some sort of pitch are search engines. Although they heavily influence the success of listed sites just by where they list them. So even there, it's a skewed result based on what is being done by the site.

    As for the sales/marketing angle, I think both departments should be involved. The marketing/branding division should make the graphic creatives IMO, because they (should) know what's catchy to the consumer's eye and will get clicks.

    But the Sales division's guidance should be there to dampen the desire of Marketing to just go for branding. Sales should also have the final say on what banners/other graphics go out, to thwart up attempts by Marketing to make Branding banners instead of sales-oriented ones. But Marketing probably knows how to make both kinds of ads, even if they don't want to go around admitting it.

    And any text ads ("content links") and product descriptions should be written by Sales since it's Sales that hears what customers are asking about the product, what concerns prospects have, etc. and therefore are best equipped to answer these concerns (in a salesy enough way) in the text ads.

    So I think both divisions should work together, with the highest authority going to Sales in most instances.

    There is no knowledge that is not power.~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  23. #23
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> In the end, thoughts mean nothing - actions speak louder. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Careful thoughts provide the foundation for effective action.

    In the end, thoughts mean everything.

  24. #24
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by buckworks.com:
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Nobody is out there selling or pitching for people. At most they're comparing. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I'm no one's superaffiliate, and I don't know if what I do would earn the sobriquet of "sales" from mrmerchant, but I will say this:

    Because of the work I do, a few merchants have a few of their links found in a few places that they weren't being found before. That generates a few new sales that they would not have had without me.

    Even though I am no one's super-affiliate, I AM adding value here. So speak of me and my kind with respect.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    Amen Amen to you miss buckworks...

    Don't you worry, the table will turn in our way. and that is with full confidence! :-)

    Love Life to the fullest. we only get ONE chance! :-)

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