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Last week I attended ShareASale Think Tank in Chicago and had the opportunity of meeting with a lot of new-ish affiliates. In many industries you wouldn’t even think of meeting with your competitors and sharing information. Yet in affiliate marketing, this is exactly what most of us do on a regular basis. Smart affiliate marketers know that it is because affiliate marketing is not a zero sum game. What does that mean?
Zero Sum Game defined: “In decision theory, situation where one or more participants’ gain (loss) equals the loss (gain) of other participants. Thus, a gain (loss) for one must result in a loss (gain) for one or more others.”
It would be easy to assume that as an affiliate, you are going to make less money if another affiliate starts making more. The reality is that it isn’t true. In fact, as other affiliates succeed, your business can grow as well. The same holds for merchants and OPMs. How is that possible? Take into consideration these scenarios:
- A competing OPM picks up a cool new wine merchant to add to their portfolio. Their revenue goes up. Does yours go down? No. In fact, when one of the competitors of that wine merchant sees what is going on, they decide that they want to launch an affiliate program as well to stay competitive in the market. Now YOU also have the chance to gain a new client.
- A blogger in your local blogger group starts using affiliate links on their site. You’re worried that they will take some of your traffic or sales. However, when the state decides to pass a nexus tax, they stand beside you and help defeat it. In essence, they helped save your business.
- You join a mastermind group or Facebook group and start sharing information about a topic. Others in the group take and take the information but never seem to give anything back. Out of the blue one of recommends you for some consulting for a friend of theirs because they see what an expert you are. You now have a revenue stream outside of your affiliate site.
- A big named competitor of yours starts getting media attention about their business model–which happens to be the same as yours. Do all of your members jump ship to sign up with other site? No. In fact, the media attention helped legitimize your own business with the public.
I didn’t make up any of those examples. In fact, I’ve watched them play out in the last few years, some of them in my own business. Affiliate marketing is a cooperative industry. Yes, there is competition. Yes, you can lose revenue when you lose traffic. There will be “winners” and “losers” on given days from a traffic and revenue standpoint. But someone else’s gain doesn’t always have to be your loss. In fact, sometimes you can turn their gains into gains of your own.
As an industry the more that we grow, the more opportunities we will all have and the bigger our voice will be compared to other industries. Until every single merchant has an affiliate program and every consumer is shopping through affiliate links, there is still room for each of us to thrive.
The next time you have an opportunity to sit down with someone in the industry and learn from them either through a roundtable, over drinks at a conference, on a PMA Council, or even standing in a taxi line at a hotel, consider what you can gain by contributing to the ecosystem.