Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Crucial Techniques for Choosing Partner Companies for Affiliate, Wholesale, Dropshipping Deals

by Avril Harper

Selling other companies' products, via whatever means, including dropshipping, joint venture deals, multi-level-marketing, networking, and so on, necessitates certain market research be carried out and questions asked before the individual hands his business, reputation, money and future to an otherwise unknown quantity.

Having studied various marketing methods over almost a decade in business it appears to me that no matter whose products and services you sell, by whatever means - on or off the Internet - certain questions must be asked in advance of establishing yourself as a reseller of any kind.

The Key to Success is to Choose Your Product and Company with Care

#1 How to Choose Your Product

Certain key characteristics distinguish good products from those you might have trouble selling and which may even land you in trouble with the consumer protection authorities.

* The product should be something you will enjoy selling, maybe a product for which you are a customer yourself. Is it a product or service you can easily and enthusiastically relate to? Can you talk freely about it? If not, you might have trouble promoting it, unless you are a particularly gifted salesman. It's also very unlikely that you'll be able to motivate your downline (in multi-tier programs) to sell more of a product that you don't genuinely believe in yourself.

* The product should sell well almost on sight and must represent good value for money. It should be attractive and properly packaged. It must also be fit for the purpose intended or returns will be high. Hyped and over-priced items do not make good affiliate products, except in the short term.

* Is the product or service something people actually want and will continue to want? Or is it a fad or gimmick that looks set to disappear long before your business gets off the ground?

* Is demand high enough for you to profit from? Do a lot of people use the product? Does it have potentially unlimited demand? The more people who use the product, the more suitable it is for you to sell.

* Is repeat demand likely? Is the product quickly used and in need of constant replenishment? Repeat potential is preferable, meaning regular sales from established buyers, unlike long-life products for which you'll always be chasing new customers. Consumables, like household cleaners, perfumes and cosmetics, (even holidays and fashion clothing), are best, allowing you to predict when repeat orders are likely.

* Have you sampled the product yourself, suggesting you are well qualified to recommend it to others: buyers and resellers?

* Is the product available from any other source? If so, is it cheaper elsewhere? Better quality? Better design? Longer lasting? If yes, dismiss this as a suitable affiliate product.

* Are there any spin-off products to offer customers? If yes, this makes repeat business more likely even where the original product does not itself have high repeat potential.

* Is the supplier reliable? Or will you have to keep customers waiting for their orders, reducing credibility and profits for you?

* Is the product free from any controversy that might limit your market share? Fur and animal products, adult photography products and high payback loans, are examples of products with restricted appeal and low suitability for affiliate marketing.

#2 How to Choose Your Company

Even with the perfect product, however, your supplier can still let you down and it's important to choose your company with care, or risk disappointment, perhaps financial ruin, when the company closes or changes direction a few months into your carefully planned selling campaign.

Look for an established company, preferably one with a wide and constantly increasing range of products. Many companies offer products for several purposes, including health and beauty, toys and children's hardware, clothing and household equipment.

But how to spot a genuine company among less famous names? You can't always believe what the advertising literature says.

Look beyond the veneer and ask yourself:

* Is the company solid and reputable? What were its profits in recent years? Is the company growing, stagnating or declining? When was it established? Experts say the first two years of any company's existence are the most dangerous, and most important for you. Generally speaking, the older the company, the more stable it is likely to be. The exception might be a long-standing company which has only recently turned to affiliate marketing.

* What history does it have? How many countries is it operating in? What is the profit and turnover from each location? Is the firm likely to be around for long or might it be a 'flash in the pan' company best avoided? Get access to audited accounts and, if you are suspicious, look to financial researchers for a financial stability rating.

* Is this an established affiliate marketing company or might there be teething troubles which you, as a newcomer, can well do without?

* Do you know anyone who already works with this company, preferably promoting the product or range of products you are now considering? If so, what is that person's opinion about the company and its suitability for newcomers? If response is favourable, consider whether that person is telling the truth, or is he doing his best to recruit you with obvious benefits to his own bank account?

* Don't be misled by claims of easy profits. If someone claims high earnings, ask them to prove it. Ask to see their commission checks and have your accountant examine the opportunity.

* Take a long and hard look at earnings potential before signing up. Top companies offer very high profit potential while others involve long hours for minimum rewards.

* Is commission and profit structure attractive and sound?

* How good are the company's promotional materials? Are they attractive, superior quality, do they do the job of selling?

* What training and back-up support is available to distributors? What support can you expect from your sponsor? Is there an established network of introductory and training meetings? Most major companies offer help with selling, including training - often at seminars and group sessions - sometimes from comprehensive instructions manuals. Another prime sign of a good company is the extent to which your sponsor will help you develop the art of marketing. If he isn't interested in the product, even less so in selling it, the general rule-of-thumb is escape, whatever the cost!

* Are company and sponsor interested mainly in themselves, or are they quick to discuss your needs, too?

* Does the prospect of working with this company excite you, or is money your sole consideration? Remember, you have to be excited yourself about the company to stand any chance of interesting others.

* Try 'selling' the product to family and friends before you attempt marketing for real. If there's a problem, now is the time to sort it out, not once you've signed up with the company.

* Is the company constantly developing and expanding its product range? Does it have a research and development department? A limited product range is not always a good sign and needs careful investigation before signing up.

* Be selective and don't opt for the first company you come by. Arguably, it could be the best of the bunch, but how will you know unless you make comparisons first?

About the Author

Avril Harper is the author of A COMPLETE NEWBIES' GUIDE TO MAKING MONEY WITH CLICKBANK which you can learn more about at http://www.avrilharper.com/clickbank.html