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  1. #1
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Merchants Who mis-use OPMs
    Here is what I posted in another thread and referenced today after seeing this issue crop up once again:

    "Anybody else feel "used" when a merchant hires a trusted OPM for just a month or 2 to recruit affiliates, get their program off the ground and then dumps the OPM we TRUSTED.

    It just feels wrong to me. Many times, I pull links when this happens because it makes me sketchy about the merchant's ethics and motives.

    I'll come back and add the original thread link
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  2. #2
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Original thread that started my thought process about merchants hiring OPMs then dumping them as soon as they get access to the trusted OPMs affiliate base:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread...658#post767658
    Peace,

    Rexanne

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  3. #3
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    Sometimes OPMs go into a relationship with a merchant knowing that we are training them to be able to eventually move inhouse, perhaps that needs to be made clear by us moving forward. But you bring up a great point Rexanne, one that merchants need to be aware of. If they hire an OPM for a couple months, then either go inhouse with no prior warning, or if they jump from OPM to OPM firm, that says something that affiliates need to be paying attention to.

    Also, merchants need to remember that affiliates and OPMs talk to each other, and burning one or more will come back to bite them. Making all their prior investments worthless.
    Deborah Carney
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  4. #4
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    I don't know how a standard OPM contract is written but if merchants are doing what you described Rexanne then I would say that's misleading to the affiliates who followed the OPM into the merchant's program. If merchants don't understand that very often affiliates will join a program because of OPM representation then they need to figure that out.

    (I work with a very small number of merchants in very specific niches. As a result I choose merchants based on their products, terms and reputation. It's just how my sites are set up, nothing against any of the OPMs we know and love at ABW.)

  5. #5
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    The OPMs are not misused, they are paid for their services.
    I think merchants hire OPMs to jumpstart their affiliate marketing campaigns.

    Affiliates who "know and love" certain OPMs will be disappointed if the well liked OPM no longer manages the marketing campaign.
    This type of cycle seems to occur more often than not within the affiliate marketing industry.
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  6. #6
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I think many times, it's just unrealistic expectations from merchants. There's no magic bullet, even for the best OPMs. It takes time to build a successful affiliate program. No program can reach their full potential (or even a small fraction of it) in a month or two. Many take years. I wouldn't expect any major results for 6-12 months, minimum. It takes even longer if the merchant doesn't listen to the OPM and follow their guidance.

    Merchants need to trust that the professional OPMs they hire know what they're doing, and give them the authority and time to do it. Many of the steps along the way aren't obvious, but are very necessary.

    I wouldn't worry to much about those merchants who hire an OPM and then move on in a short period of time. They're not taking advantage of the OPM, because they're not going to get any results by doing that. Sure, they got affiliate signups, but that's just the first step. If they don't follow through, the signups are meaningless. Someone has to be doing the right things at all stages of the recruitment / activation / motivation process, otherwise the pipeline will quickly dry up.
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  7. #7
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea
    I don't know how a standard OPM contract is written but...
    This is a good point. An OPM can word that contract in such a way that misuse is eliminated.

    Geno

  8. #8
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    Additionally, sometimes an OPM and merchant don't find out until they work together for awhile that they are not a good "fit" and part ways so that the merchant can find someone that is a better partner, however in those cases the first OPM would assist the merchant to find a better manager and would announce that here and in the merchant newsletter.

    As OPMs we try and educate merchants, and I tell them in advance, before any contracts are signed, what to expect and that they need to be ready to not just listen to me, but to follow my advice, in order to maximize my ability to help them launch, relaunch, or grow their programs.
    Deborah Carney
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  9. #9
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    I think many times, it's just unrealistic expectations from merchants. There's no magic bullet, even for the best OPMs. It takes time to build a successful affiliate program. No program can reach their full potential (or even a small fraction of it) in a month or two. Many take years. I wouldn't expect any major results for 6-12 months, minimum. It takes even longer if the merchant doesn't listen to the OPM and follow their guidance.
    Very true Michael. We go to great lengths to set the right expectation for our clients, and often under estimate as well. We lose clients to those that over estimate, but I sleep better at night .

    We have a minimum contract length that we will not shorten, this is yet another reason clients go elsewhere, but it's the right thing to do by our affiliates who are expecting us to be around for a while.

    One thing about ABW OPMs, what makes us successful is that every action we take is with the affiliate in mind. Clients will come and go, but our relationships with affiliates will last forever.

  10. #10
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly
    Additionally, sometimes an OPM and merchant don't find out until they work together for awhile that they are not a good "fit"...
    This is an excellent point. You don't and can't know whether you will work well together until you try it...

    Geno

  11. #11
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    Michael, I agree with you about contract legnth, but some merchants choose not to honor contracts, causing the opm to have to resort to legal means to enforce. In that case, I would rather just let them go and let the community know that they need to be careful when dealing with those merchants.
    Deborah Carney
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  12. #12
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Reminds me of one of my consulting gigs. A hospital brought me in to bring their computer system up to speed. I was to be full-time until I stabilized the system and organized the automated processes and then part-time after that to maintain the system. I wrote the contract in such a way that any attempt to shorten my hours resulted in a huge expense for the client. They found out fairly quickly that it was more cost effective to have me on site three days a week (even if there wasn't much for me to do) then to have to call me at home every time there was a glitch or emergency.

    Don't know how well this strategy would work for OPMs but it might be worth pondering.

  13. #13
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly
    Michael, I agree with you about contract legnth, but some merchants choose not to honor contracts, causing the opm to have to resort to legal means to enforce. In that case, I would rather just let them go and let the community know that they need to be careful when dealing with those merchants.
    Yup, you're right Lox. Thankfully that hasn't happened to us yet. We do a LOT of background checking on prospective clients, and yes, sometimes that part takes so long they go elsewhere (I know what you're thinking, how do they have any clients? lol). But it's turned out to be an awesome thing. We haven't had any serious issues with clients regarding payment to us, or more importantly, payment to affiliates due to this rigorous process (knock on wood). Even this, though, isn't full proof, and we'd be fools to think it'll never happen. We just do our best to get fully committed merchants, with the right expectations, and solid backgrounds.

  14. #14
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    This is my favorite quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Nunez
    Clients will come and go, but our relationships with affiliates will last forever.


    Disclaimer: I love the quote, I am not flirting with the author of the quote.
    Last edited by Rhia7; December 11th, 2007 at 02:58 PM.
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  15. #15
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    I certainly agree that the merchant and OPM should have a clear contract that specifies what will happen when the relationship ends.

    I would actually expect that an OPM firm would have (at least) two contract versions -- one that anticipates a "launch role only" and another that anticipates an ongoing relationship.

    I would certainly expect that an OPM contract might provide for either a minimum contract term, or an up-front fee (or higher fees during the first several months), if the OPM will expend substantial "additional" time and effort during the program launch. I don't think any OPM should expend "extra time and effort" during the first few months, based solely on the expectation of fees paid in later months when less work will probably be required.

    (I don't accept work as an OPM, but several times I've worked as an "interim affiliate manager." In this role, I help the merchant implement and build their affiliate program, but always with the understanding that within several months, the merchant will hire or re-assign an employee whom I will help train to take over this role.)

  16. #16
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Merchants Who mis-use OPMs
    Hey! That's a deceiving thread title Rex!

    One would expect to see OPM bondage videos!!!

    Or 7-Days forced to walk the dogs of Mr metroUniforms

    or Loxly washing the car of HalloweenMart

  17. #17
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Not to downplay anything written, but ... sometimes it is best for the merchant to break free and learn on their own as well. Yeah they might F up but, if they are real they will grow and possibly do wonders.

    Additionally the imagery of an OPM mafia comes to mind with the "OPMs talk, so good luck" attitude. That's definately not good either! Please, not all the merchants who stop their OPM contracts are scumbags! We all need to remember that. I mean shoot, maybe they had a reason to stop the arrangemnt?!? **

    ** I"m not implying nor infering anything relating to any OPM nor any merchant, just voicing an alternate opinion.
    Continued Success,

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  18. #18
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    I certainly agree that the merchant and OPM should have a clear contract that specifies what will happen when the relationship ends.
    What about disclosure to affiliates?

    Some people join a progam because "X" is the OPM.

    The OPM wouldn't get many sign-ups if he/she were upfront about a short term management deal.

    On the other hand, the short term OPM could introduce the AM who will eventually takeover the affiliate management [similar to the situation of getting a new dentist when my prior one retired and sold his business].
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Sometimes there is a mindset that tells the merchant that once the program is cranking along, they could save $$$ by doing it themselves.

    If I work on a startup only, I don't put my name on it but will guide the merchant through the process. While we look for long term opportunities it doesn't always work out. I would rather let an unsatisfied client out of a contract instead of keeping them to fulfill the terms. There's way too many programs out there that need help. As much as we try to educate, expectations are usually pretty high
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  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    One valid reason perhaps to part ways is likely Roi, when a merchant is paying several thousand bucks a month and fails to see an expected Roi, what's he/she supposed to do?

    They either need to switch horses or go in house.

    But having done so, should not necessarily reflect on the viability of the program
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  21. #21
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Don't forget some OPMs dump merchants too.

    There's valid reasons (many of which are listed above) that a merchant an OPM might part ways. Program viablilty however is a big one. Sometimes we try to run programs that just can't work, no matter how much we believe they will.

    And sometimes OPMs are overpaid for what they do. And sometimes they are underpaid. Guess it's like anything else in this world. We all have good relationships and bad.

    But to Rexanne: I would suggest you privately ask the OPM what the reasons were. They might not warrant you dropping links. Then again, they might.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haiko de Poel, Jr.
    Not to downplay anything written, but ... sometimes it is best for the merchant to break free and learn on their own as well. Yeah they might F up but, if they are real they will grow and possibly do wonders.

    Additionally the imagery of an OPM mafia comes to mind with the "OPMs talk, so good luck" attitude. That's definately not good either! Please, not all the merchants who stop their OPM contracts are scumbags! We all need to remember that. I mean shoot, maybe they had a reason to stop the arrangemnt?!? **
    I didn't mean to imply that they were, I hope that didn't come across that way. There are many reasons why OPM relationships end, not all are bad.
    Deborah Carney
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  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Kay
    Hey! That's a deceiving thread title Rex!

    Or 7-Days forced to walk the dogs of Mr metroUniforms
    Actually, had someone had a camera at the last summit in my room, they would have caught me ironing scrub tops. Hmmmm, mis-use? Nah, I was just trying to get my display ready for Meet Market.

    Seriously, we OPM's get many requests from merchants wanting us to start on commission only and some, but not all, do so because they want us to do all the hard start up work and then they can take over. I don't mind helping a merchant as start up only, but I think it should be contractual done and it would be nice to let the affiliates know in some way that you are doing just that.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  24. #24
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    What's an OPM and where can I find one ?

    As others mentioned, it's relationships, some are good and some are well ...

    One of the most difficult part of our jobs is managing merchant expectations.

    Some get the affiliate channel quickly, some take longer to understand it and some never get it at all ...

    We have had our fair share of good and bad experience on all sides of the fence, we have also managed some real whoppers we were happy to distance ourselves from ...

    Sometimes we have felt used ... but you take the good with the bad and move forward.
    Andy Rodriguez Consulting, Affiliate Program Management and Consulting Services, Since 2001
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  25. #25
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    Here is what I posted in another thread and referenced today after seeing this issue crop up once again:

    "Anybody else feel "used" when a merchant hires a trusted OPM for just a month or 2 to recruit affiliates, get their program off the ground and then dumps the OPM we TRUSTED.

    It just feels wrong to me. Many times, I pull links when this happens because it makes me sketchy about the merchant's ethics and motives.

    I'll come back and add the original thread link

    Oooh, It is smart that you notice this, yes actually many merchants use OPM's to get the program launched and then effectively assume they will be able to manage it themselves and save the management fee. Many of us construct our contracts to be more then 6 months more often times a year is preferable. Merchants need to be considerate of the time and involvement it takes concerning the scaling of a program and well as the initial launch.

    Great post,

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