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AP 0353: How Do I Convince a Company to Start an Affiliate Program?

AP 0353: How Do I Convince a Company to Start an Affiliate Program?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 353 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: What up, everybody? Pat Flynn here. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions. Five days a week, and this is Episode 353 of AskPat. Almost forgot to say that today. That was weird.

Now, before we get to today’s question from Art, I do want to thank today’s sponsor, which is A super easy-to-use cloud accounting solution helping over 3 million small business owners keep track of their finances, their income. their expenses. And also helping them with professional invoices. Making it easy for them to get paid no matter what kind of business you’re doing: coaching, consulting, any of that stuff where you need to send an invoice. FreshBooks makes it super easy and they have an award winning mobile app so you can keep track of your business on the go. So go ahead and go to and enter AskPat in the “How did you hear about us?” section to get a 30-day tree trial. Not 30 tree trial, but a 30-day free trial. Thirtysday free trial at, and enter AskPat.

All right, here’s today’s question from Art.

Art: Hi, Pat. My name is Art Pennom, and I’m the founder of and the Scapefu podcast, a blog and podcast dedicated to learning the art and science of beautiful planted aquariums and aquascaping. The industry I focus on is still very traditional. Most manufacturers and retailers have no idea what an affiliate program is and why it would be valuable to them. Do you have any suggestions on how I can educate a business owner on how to establish an affiliate program and why this is something they should do? So far, the emails I have sent asking businesses to establish an affiliate program have gone unanswered. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to ask you this question. All the best to you and your family.

Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up, Art? Thank you so much for the question, which I really like, because I’ve had experience trying to do this myself. And I’ve done it successfully a couple of times in the past. Once for, I got an affiliate to come on board who didn’t have an affiliate program, and then once for, which worked really well as well. Now, an interesting story about affiliate programs. Now, some companies who don’t have an affiliate program on their site might actually have an affiliate program, but that’s not what they call it. So the first thing I would mention, Art, is to when you’re talking about this with other companies, I would get them on the phone, first of all, because then you can get a direct answer right then, and if they don’t understand something, you can explain it to them, as opposed to email, which if they don’t know what you’re talking about, they’re not going to respond to you. So that’s tip number one.

Tip number two, is I wouldn’t actually call it an affiliate program. I would call it a partnership program or referral program. Or you can mention affiliate program along with those. Again, that makes it very clear what this is. Its gonna be a partnership or referral-based, commission-based type of program that … then people would understand kind of what to do from there. So that’s sort of the second tip.

The third tip, would be that I would share, whether you talk to them on the phone, which is what I’d hope you would do, or still continue to email, whatever the case may be. You want to understand what’s in it for them. I mean that’s what they want to know. What’s in it for me? Well, you can share how you could bring in customers that they wouldn’t be likely to get otherwise. I mean, that’s a big, big deal, because people are always looking to get new customers into their system and new customers buying their stuff. If you can say, well, I have an audience on my site and I’d be able to send leads your way just with a link on the source page and I can write a blog post and all these sorts of things. If you can create an affiliate program, I’d be more than happy to push this really hard and get a lot of customers on board, and we can work together, and I can … we can create a deal where I can get a cut of that, and again, you wouldn’t be getting these people otherwise.

So, that is what I would say. Then I would say, well, the customers that would be coming are not cold leads. They might be paying for advertising and things like that. I would actually look in Google to see what companies are paying for advertising in the sidebar to see who is spending money trying to get at customers. Well, if you contact those people and say, “Hey, I got customers and they’re my audience. They’re loyal. They trust me. They know, like and trust me. Whatever I recommend, I will share it with them, and a lot of them will go through and trust my recommendation. How would you like to be on the receiving end of that?” Now that’s a … that’s something they would love to pay for. They would love to pay for warm traffic, because they have trust with you already, as opposed to cold traffic. And again, unlike the traffic that they are paying for right now, they wouldn’t have to pay you unless they got customers.

That is the next point, and one of the most important points to mention. When you’re trying to convince a company, you have nothing to lose. If I don’t provide you the leads and the customers, then you don’t lose anything. You don’t pay me until I can provide. That’s another great thing you want to share. Finally, then you want to get in to if they’re interested, how do you kind of get them to do it? Now there’s a lot of different ways to track. You could track per sale if they want to do it per sale basis. Now a lot of businesses work off of leads. For example, if you’re working some large manufacturers, for example, who want to close on a particular retailer, then, for example, they would be willing to pay a lot for that. Car dealerships are willing to pay a lot per person because they know that … they’re willing to spend up to, for example, $50 per lead because they know that they’ll close one out of every 10 and they would still win. You know? They still make out in the end. So a per-sale or per-lead basis. A lot of the stuff that I use is just typically per sale but there’s a lot of commission partnership relationships that are just based on leads, which is pretty interesting.

Then, you have to see how it might be able to be tracked. This is where the hard part comes in, because a lot of the people that you talk to, about this particular type of deal, aren’t going to know how to keep track of the leads and the customers that you bring in. So, the first thing I would do is ask to speak to, if they’re interested, their web developer. The person that set up their website or anybody in their marketing team who might actually understand more of what you’re talking about and what you’re hoping to achieve. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about talking to this person, who is probably going to be somebody who is going to be a little higher up and making a lot of the big decisions, or probably the CEO or the owner of the company, for example. So try to speak to their developer, and if they can implement their own affiliate program, which a lot of them can do. Because actually, the Security Guard Training HQ experience that I had, I had talked to a company that I saw who was promoting advertisements on Google, and I reached out to them and I said, “Hey, would you like to have an affiliate partnership or a partnership program where I can send you leads your way and you can pay me 25% per lead, excuse me, per customer that actually follows through?” And they were like, “We don’t have a program that actually does that for us. How are we going to keep track?” Then I asked them, “Well, how are you keeping track of your memberships?” Because this was a membership-based program where people would come in and learn how to be a security guard in the state of California. They said, we’re using a member to supply our customers their information. And I was like great, there’s actually a script or a plug-in that goes along with aMember to—not AWeber, but aMember, which is a script/tool that you can use to put on your website to create a membership site program. It’s not the friendliest and easiest to use, but it does work. And they were able to install that affiliate tracking program, which is nice, because then on my end as the affiliate, it has a lot of data, a lot of graphs, a lot of reports that can be shared, so I can see how it’s actually performing, which is handy on both ends actually. They were able to install that, and I’ve made a few thousand dollars sharing that particular course on my website at, which is pretty cool.

Now, on, they … one of the companies that I have worked with, they … who didn’t have an affiliate program, we just did it based off of a coupon code. They were able to say, that, we’ll give your audience a 10% discount, here’s the coupon code and they’ll be able to see every month who uses that coupon code and then I get a check every month from that. Now the thing is, I can’t track that. I have no way of understanding how many people use that coupon code or how many people have gone to my site and then used the coupon code. There’s no way for me to track that. That the only way to know is by asking this other company. Now, they just happen to just send me a check every month based off of the honor system. Again, I have really no way of tracking, but they’re a great company. They’re going to be honest with me, I believe, because I’m sending them business, and if they were going to be dishonest with me and I found out, I would cut off that lead source.

So that’s how it goes. That’s how a lot of affiliate marketing is done off of these sort of half-tracked sort of things. For example, a coupon code, or there’s also a referral code. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a discount code. For example, with FreshBooks, if you go to and enter “AskPat,” that’s a referral code. I don’t get a commission, because they’re paying to sponsor this particular podcast episode. If it was a commission-based thing, it would probably be run a little differently, or they would have a specific link for the people who are coming from AskPat that then helps them keep track.

That’s another thing you could do … is … again, this is a little bit more technical, but you can have this company set up a landing page, and anybody who signs up on that particular page, they would be able to keep track of, hopefully, again their web development guy would probably know better than most people on their end, and you would be able to see how much money is coming in. And if that company is willing to, they might be able to share reports with you every month if sales are coming through and they want to work with you and try to improve that experience.

Another thing that you could do, which I know a lot of other industries do, and this goes back to the car dealership one. You can actually keep track via phone calls. So, a lot of these car companies, for example, they want leads, and they pay per leads or per phone call that’s coming in, actually. For example, maybe they pay $30 per phone call that you can bring in. Now, how do you keep track of that? Well, you can actually set up trackable phone numbers. There’s a phone company out there called CallRail, and I am on their website right now looking at it. But that’s CallRail, like a rail going down the edges of the stairs. That kind of rail., and you can get different … they actually have a lot of cool features than when I saw this the last time, and they’ve actually upgraded quite a bit. There’s keyword-based phone calls for example. They give a specific phone number showing on your website based on the keyword that comes in, and then you can keep track of it that way, which is actually real interesting.

But you don’t really need that level of tracking. You just need to know, if people dialed a specific number, then that number goes to that car dealership, for example, or to whoever you have this deal with and you’d be able to keep track on your end on how many calls actually come through. Now, that’s much easier when it comes to leads, not sales, because you don’t know if that person is going to close after they make that connection on the phone. But with leads, you can see actually how many phone calls come in, and you’d have that report, and that way you would be able to keep track. That feature with the phone calls, can be found at

So, Art, I hope that answers your question or at least gives you something to think about. Yes, you want to educate them. You want to get them on the phone and talk to them a little bit about it and also how it would be beneficial to them. We kind of went over that. That’s really important. Again, what’s in it for them. Then the big challenges: How do we get this going? How do we keep track of it? You can also mention, let’s try it out for a month and see how it goes, and if not, I won’t bother you again. That’s another thing you can say. You could just have it be sort of a trial period, and that often works really well, because a lot of times people don’t know really how this would work, and if you could show them that it’s going to work really well, and there’s of course a lot things you can do on your end to make it work really well, in terms of being an affiliate for another company, which I’ve talked about several times in other episodes of AskPat and on the Actually, if you go to the homepage of, there’s a button there that says “affiliate marketing.” If you click on that, it has all of my best affiliate marketing tips and strategies there. Affiliate marketing the smart way. If you look that up in Google, you’ll also find some helpful links, and potentially a presentation that I’ve done in the past about affiliate marketing. Those strategies you can use to really show this company that you’re doing a test period with that, you can knock it out of the park, and they’re going to want to do nothing but work with you in the future and make sure you get paid for the leads or the sales that you bring in.

So, earn those commissions. Best of luck to you. Art, we’re going to send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. And for those of you who are listening, if you’d love to have your question featured here on the show, just head on over to You can ask right there on that page thanks to the widget from

I also want to thank today’s sponsor, which is We mentioned them mid-episode. They got a free plug there, actually. So go ahead go to and enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. That will get you 30 days for free. You can join over 3 million other small businesses who are helping themselves by using FreshBooks to keep track of their finances. They also have professional invoicing, so you can get paid much faster if you’re doing any coaching or consulting or you have any students of any sort. And they own an award-winning app so you can check the health of your finances of your business on the go. Check them out: and enter “AskPat.”

To finish off, I always love to end with a quote. Today’s quote is from Walt Disney. He says, “You reach a point where you don’t work for money.” I hope that’s the case for everybody. I hope you all reach a point where you don’t work for money, but you work because you love what you do and you’re passionate about it. Just like Walt Disney. Thanks so much. I appreciate it, and I look forward to serving you in tomorrow’s episode of AskPat. Thanks so much.

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