I’m just assuming that this is going to have to be a series of articles, it would probably be huge if I crammed it all into one. At this point in time, I am almost ready to launch my product on the advertiser side. By the end of this week everything should be 95% ready to go. I want to just shed some more light on this area because there’s not too much content on becoming an advertiser. Most blogs just write about the affiliate side of things, but you still hear all the affiliates saying “being an advertiser is where the money is at”. Do we not see content on this topic because that’s the truth? At first I kind of thought this, but not so much anymore.
Being an advertiser is a HUGE hassle. If (like me) you’re doing it by yourself, it seems the number of things to do is endless. I would make checklists every week, and for every 1 thing I crossed off, 2 were added in. It’s stressful, time consuming, requires money and connections, and some knowledge. I’ve been working on this for almost 6 months now, and for the past 3 my income has shot down to $0…I’ve been spending all of my time and resources on this. I’m hoping this article series will save potential advertisers a lot of time, or at least give you a good “idea” of what being an advertiser is like.
A Short Overview
The goal of this article is to just introduce the basic framework for creating and selling your own product.
Component A : The Product
Before you make any moves as far as setting up payment processing or any of that goes, you need a product! This is probably the topic I’ll write the least about, because I don’t know what product you want to come up with and sell. It could be acai like everyone is doing, or it could be something new that nobody has done. How did I do this part? I came up with an idea of what to sell, and then went to a very good industry friend of mine who is an advertiser. He intro’d me to his manufacturer, and badda bing badda boom. Connections have been very handy throughout this process for me. The best “first step” you take as an advertiser may be to just head to Affiliate Summit or another event and network with as many people as possible.
Component B : The Design
Another huge component to being an advertiser I think is your designs. I went through at least 4 designers, thousands of dollars, and 4 months before I came up with designs I was satisfied with. Things I needed to design :
- Offer page (multiple variations)
- Checkout page
- Product label
- Product box
- Welcome brochure
Component C : Checkout System
When I first started looking into this stuff, I was always confused between people talking about merchant accounts, checkout accounts, banks, etc.
The checkout system is NOT where you get your merchant IDs (commonly referred to as MIDs) for credit card processing. They link up with your fulfillment and processing, but they’re just the shopping cart aspect of your offer. All of the actual money generated from sales goes through your merchant account.
You will have your offer page and pass those variables through to the shopping cart system (goes to your checkout page). The customer fills all the info out and submits it, this gets submitted to your checkout system (CRM). You’ll have a login for this where you can look at all the orders that were placed, chargebacks, etc. This data then gets exported to your fulfillment for shipping.
Component D : Merchant Processing
This is usually the biggest aspect of everything. If you can’t get approved or pass credit checks for merchant processing, you can’t make your offer. If you start your offer and blow out your MIDs, your offer gets shut down. So this is kind of a big deal.
What I personally do is go through kind of a gateway company. Basically they handle all of the merchant aspects for their clients. I had to fill out a pretty big application and send them a ton of financial data. This is so the banks can perform credit checks and see that you have money in the event of your offer falling out and being spiked with chargebacks. They will need to see EVERYTHING: the finished offer page (with your call support #, T&C), years of financial history, tax returns, etc. I had to do a couple phone “interviews” as well, describing everything about the product, offer, and marketing plan.
I know the company I’m going with now has tightened up a lot since all of this FTC rebill action, so maybe I’ve been scrutinized more than other advertisers have been in the past. Maybe this won’t be the same for you, I’m just letting you know what I personally have gone through.
Component E : Fulfillment
In most cases (mine at least) you’ll have some sort of physical product. Even if you’re offering a digital membership as your offer, it’s generally recommended that you send them some sort of physical product (in the case that you’re doing a rebill/continuity program).
The fulfillment center will store your product and ship it out to customers. You’ll make an initial order to the manufacturer (my first one is 2,000 units), put that on a semi and have it shipped to the fulfillment center. There’s not too much for me to say about this, it’s probably been the most painless aspect of everything so far.
Component F : Call Support
You’ll be needing customer support for your product. There are a couple pieces of software online where you can do automatic support/cancellations from your website, but I wouldn’t recommend just that. If you have an actual live agent on the phone, you can find out more from the customer about why they’re canceling, and you can also try to offer them 50% off or something to keep them on.
Depending on where you get your support from, there will be some kind of training package you will have to prepare for the agents.
Component G : Strategy
Strategy has definitely been the trickiest part for me going forward. You have to decide how you actually want to sell your product. I had initially planned on going with the basic continuity rebill, free 7 day trial just pay shipping, rebilled every 30 days after that. That had been the plan for the last five months, up until last week when I decided to change everything haha. I’m still going to be setting up a continuity program (they’ll receive the product every month), but with a little bit of a different twist. At this point all I’ll say is that it makes everything MUCH more legitimate, will really cut down chargebacks, and really does make it a nice deal for the customer. Will it convert? I don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see what happens before I let you know.
Other things to think about with strategy are :
- What size product do you want? (you may have a choice between a 4oz jar for $4 and a 6oz jar for $6…6oz is more expensive BUT is a better value to the customer)
- Set up combo packages with other products?
- If affiliates are running the offer, how much can you afford to pay out?
- What do you need to set your price points at to profit?
- What can you do to limit cancellations and chargebacks?
Component H : Marketing
I would have to say one of the more important things about being an advertiser would be the way you actually get sales to your product. After all, you can have the best product out there but if nobody is selling it, how can you make money?
Here’s how I’m going to approach it :
I’m going to run the offer internally for at least the first month or two. First I’ll need to see if the offer is converting at all, after that I need to get customer feedback. Are they happy with the product? How many want refunds? Before I break into the affiliate market with this, I need to know at least those two things. Once I can set an estimated value per customer, I can see if I can come up with a payout that will compete with other offers.
Start Up Capital
This isn’t really a component, but I know a lot of people out there are asking, “so much much does it cost to set all of this up?”
Just to set everything up, buy the product, get the designs, and set up all the components…I think I’ve spent around $16-17,000. Over half of that is buying the product itself. Thousands have been spent on designs and set up fees, though.
All in all, you can see that a lot goes into all of this. It’s hard enough to get each individual component set up, it’s constant emails and phone calls for months. What makes it even harder is pulling everything together into 1 single business. Checkout needs information from Fulfillment and Processing, Fulfillment needs information from Manufacturing, Processing needs information from everybody, and everybody needs information from me.
Just typing up all of this gave me a mini-headache, because after this I need to make more emails and phone calls, yes!
I don’t even know what the other parts of this series will contain or how they will be structured, but I’ll find some way to get info out to you guys. Just know that this isn’t easy, and can’t be done fast.