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Step 5: Using PR and Advertising

Up to now, you've seen ways of promoting your program that are free or of little cost. But if you have money to spend, you can advertise your program in the affiliate program directories, affiliate marketing sites, e-zines, and sponsoring newsletters. The directories sell banner ads to merchants to advertise their programs. Associate-it.com, AssociatePrograms.com, CashPile, and Refer-it.com sell a variety of advertising packages on their sites, as well as email blasts and newsletter spots.

Another promotion strategy that has a cost—but less than advertising—is public relations, especially press releases. Done right, you can get thousands of dollars worth of free advertising for the cost of sending out the right kind of press release to the right media outlets. The cost can be a little as a hundred dollars to send the release over the news wires, and some are even free. The secret to PR is relevance. If you want your press release to be picked up by the media that's announcing your new affiliate programs or any new developments that take place—such as how many affiliates you have, how successful they are, or how fast your program is growing—you must make it timely and relevant. Announcing just another affiliate program these days is no news at all. But if you can show that your program is different in some way, you have a chance of seeing it promoted both online and offline, which can attract potential candidates to your program.

Good PR requires cultivating a relationship with the press. Cry wolf too many times with releases that are irrelevant or deemed unimportant, and when you do have a good story to tell the press will ignore you.

Another tip is to make your press releases short and to the point, no more than one page long. Make your ground-shaking announcement, send it to the right media outlets, and don't pester them with follow-up phone calls. If they feel it's worth doing a story, they will.

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