The PMA (Performcance Marketing Association) has a great section on their website called "Ask the Expert."
Recently Rebecca Madigan asked me what I thougth was holding our industry back from greatness. I thought about this for a while and sent her the following answer which they posted under the Ask the Expert section.
What are your thoughts?
What’s Holding the Industry Back?
That question was posed last week. A hundred answers ran through my mind when I read this. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are many symptoms, but only few root causes.
1) Lack of Understanding
2) Continual Focus on the Negative
3) No unified industry voice
First, let’s talk about the Lack of Understanding. For whatever reason, all things Internet related often seem to be relegated to the world of “technology.” This has been going on since the beginning and seems to be getting better, but still exists. The online channel is usually not the largest sales channel an organization has. Couple that with its inherent black sheep aspect of being online and many companies just do not give it the focus it deserves.
Imagine walking into a CFO’s office and explaining Affiliate Marketing, not in Internet terms, not in Marketing Terms, but in the language of the CFO…..NUMBERS. I imagine the CFO’s answer goes something like this:
“So, let me get this straight….you are selling our product (or service) on our behalf, but I only have to PAY you IF and WHEN we actually sell something….AND I only pay you at a predetermined percentage of the sale that I get to set at the beginning of the relationship.
Isn’t that really a no-brainer? Imagine elevating the conversation above the internal politics and looking at the real numbers.
Second, is the continual focus on the Negative side of our industry. I’ve never seen an industry that was so vocal about its own negatives that the noise actually drowns out the good things that we can do. How many blog posts do we need about affiliate fraud, TM bidding, etc? Between the Work At Home, Get Rich Quick messages and the fractured message of a vocal minority who insist on shinning a light on the few unscrupulous people in the industry, it creates a “Guilty until Proven Innocent” mentality, which we have to overcome on an almost daily basis. The message of the hard working and ethical affiliate is lost. You can’t have the conversation necessary to solve the issue in number 1 above until we can change the message of our industry.
Third, there is no Unifying Voice. This is a direct effort to address Number 2. There are a lot of people talking, but what they are saying is so chaotic that there is no message. As marketers, we should be able to create a powerful marketing effort that educates companies on the value that the industry brings to the table. Many industry groups have tried to form and I salute the PMA for getting farther than any of the others. Let’s try to get out of the hamster wheel of fighting about “cookie stuffing” and start talking about all of the good things that we as an industry can bring to the table.
We have an industry filled with great people and great companies. We just need to tell the world!