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Affiliate Marketing For Newbies – What’s the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?

Like all forms of online marketing, it is unfortunate that there is a stigma that comes attached to Affiliate Marketing when someone is first introduced to it. On the surface, it sounds just like every other scheme aimed at cheating the honest out of their hard-earned dollars. There is a difference between Marketing and forcing someone to look at something and the earlier that Affiliate Marketing beginners can differentiate between the two, the faster they can expect that first unexpected sale standing triumphantly in their online account.

To remove this stigma, let’s try understanding just what it means to be a Marketer. Forget that we’re doing this affiliate thing for a moment. What do think it means to be a Marketer? In all truth, if you’ve never studied the subject then there’s no shame in admitting that you might not know the first difference between sales and marketing, say. I sure don’t; my background is in Science. I pursue Affiliate Marketing as a business I run on the side. But anyway, back to the definition.

When you think of a salesperson, the first thing that comes to mind is that fake, pushy person you always want to avoid. They try to persuade you that the thing they’re trying to sell is the next best thing since sliced bread. Ultimately, they’re trying to make you buy something that you don’t want. A marketer on the other hand has a completely different job.

A marketer is given a product and their job is to analyse what kind of person would most like to purchase and use the product. They perform analysis on societal demographics most relevant to the product. For example, if the product is something physical and needs shipping, then the marketer has to take into account the costs related to it and the chance someone living further out might want to buy it compared to the relative probability that someone living close may buy it. Basically, they help solve people’s problems by matching them up with products they may want to buy.

This may come as a revelation to those of you who often associated sales and marketing as the same thing. It’s so commonly uttered within the same phrase by college students or university graduates, for example, “I just graduated from university with a Bachelor of Business, majoring in sales and marketing”. Oh you poor thing, we immediately think. You’re going to become one of the shunned and despised in society, along with the politicians and other people who put on a mask everyday because their occupation requires them to.

I’m not a salesperson, so I’m in no place to criticise what it’s like to be one. All I can say is that marketing if a noble profession and an interesting hobby. The plain fact is, anyone who likes or is good at understanding people, anyone who is able to show empathy or anyone who is able to draw people in with their positive nature have the potential to excel as marketers. That is why Affiliate Marketing is such a popular avenue to make money online; as long as you are “human”, you can do it.

Controlling the Assumptions of Your Sales and Marketing Strategy

When you incorporate a new strategy into your service business there are certain assumptions that are made upon which the success of your strategy relies. These assumptions need to be monitored and controlled to give your company the greatest chance of accomplishing your stated objectives. The assumptions we make as business leaders are limited to two primary areas: 1) the external environment and how it will change, and 2) the industry in which we operate.

1) Outside Environment. The external environment is something that we really have no control over, but we can make some intelligent predictions about what will or may happen and then determine how we should shape our strategy in light of those predictions. Consider for a second how new housing developments in your city might affect your business. While you have little say in whether or not the developments actually happen, the fact that they take place means you have new opportunities to offer your services to a larger group of people and you can plan your sales and marketing efforts accordingly. Other assumptions can be made about inflation, new governmental regulations regarding employment or quality standards, or major demographic shifts.

2) Industry Changes. Industry changes will also affect the successful implementation of your strategy. They may come from competitors, suppliers, or distribution partners. If a competitor is scaling back and reducing staff, it might create an opportunity to enhance our presence. If we predict that a supplier will raise prices, we may need to adjust our own pricing or start looking for a new supplier to maintain our required margins.

Making the assumptions is the easy part. Controlling them is a different matter. The first thing to remember is that you only need to keep tabs on the assumptions that could have a drastic impact on your success. Think again about the housing development example. If the housing market stumbles and development stops, you will have to rethink your prospecting strategy and make adjustments. So how can we keep our eyes on upcoming changes and make those adjustments?

1) Conduct market tests. If you think your suppliers will raise their prices in the next 6-12 months, do a test run of your products/services at a higher price point and see how the market reacts to your pricing change. If the reaction is reasonable, maybe you don’t need to look for a new supplier. If the reaction is drastic, you better get on Google and search for someone new.

2) Schedule time to analyze your strategy at key points throughout the year. Conduct a quarterly review of your assumptions and compare how they align with reality.

3) Read, re-read, then read some more (and go to a conference). The Wall St. Journal, industry publications and blogs, social networking sites, local newspapers, and conferences are great sources of information about what is changing and how it might affect your business.

If your sales and marketing strategy is established for the next few months, remember to watch out for current trends in your industry and in the external environment. It will help you stay on top of any changes coming your way that require a an adjustment in your strategy.

The Most Effective B2B Sales and Marketing Strategies?

Taking advantage of business-to-business (B2B) sales opportunities is important to the bottom line for a growing number of companies. With a lingering recession and high unemployment figures in the background, businesses of all sizes are allocating additional time and resources to their B2B communication activities. This marketing approach can be even more effective by adding two common-sense strategies:

  • Improved B2B Negotiations
  • Improved Business Writing

However, many companies overlook these prudent steps in their rush to make a sale.

Negotiating Delivery Terms and Prices

While many business owners dislike negotiating, the negotiation process should not be overlooked during the B2B sales cycle. “Everything is negotiable” can be a helpful reminder to negotiate the best financial terms even when a customer appears unwilling to be flexible.

In addition to applying this strategy to a pending sale, companies should be equally attentive to the value of negotiating when buying from a supplier. As noted by Roger Dawson, “You will never make more money than when you are negotiating.”

Improving the Bottom Line for Business Writing

Most business executives are eagerly searching for a more effective way to tap into the world of internet sales and marketing. In many cases, the most straightforward approach to do this is to improve the quality of online business writing. Why? Here are two inescapable reasons:

  • Google and other search engines are increasingly becoming more discriminating about what passes muster in search algorithms.
  • Business customers frequently use a company’s written message as a proxy for judging the overall excellence of a business enterprise.

A high percentage of contemporary online business publishing content was produced at the whopping expense of one to five cents per word by some thrifty business buyers observing a “lowest bidder” mentality. Should business owners really expect this approach to put their best foot forward for either smart search engines or smart customers?

The Bottom Line Keeps Moving

The power of search engines to influence internet users is still evolving. The roles of keywords, images and unique text in search algorithms are changing. What worked 10 years ago is not necessarily a viable strategy today.

The costs of operating any business are subject to constant review. Business writing clients regularly attempt to improve the bottom line with improved efficiencies for writing expenditures. Marketing and public relations are not immune from budget cuts. Business writing costs must be scrutinized along with all labor expenses. Persuasive business writing increasingly needs to be cost-effective as well.

However, common sense suggests that there are practical limits to what B2B marketing can achieve when too much attention is devoted to keeping business writing expenses throttled at prices that preclude consistent quality. What does anyone realistically hope to achieve when attempting to buy a high-quality commodity for between a penny and a nickel per word? Of course, discerning search engines and customers will not be fooled – and will often punish companies that try to sacrifice quality at the expense of unsuspecting clients.

The Need for Expert Solutions: Business Negotiating and Business Writing

The increased value of expert solutions poses a serious challenge for businesses everywhere. The working definitions of expertise are a moving target – but are qualified expert negotiators and writers likely to be consistently available at the same price as unqualified personnel?

The jury is still out on the impact of social media, but popularity appears to be an inadequate proxy for either writing or negotiating expertise. The importance of internet visitors and keyword density has been superseded by a need to supply specialized answers and help. This quality shift deserves applause by everyone in the internet and B2B community.