Doing the basics really Well
So before looking at some of the things which will make us unique, lets have a look at some of the basic requirements of our operational strategy which everyone should be doing. My research showed that some of the more successful affiliates did the basics really really well and had adopted a strategy of adding very clear value. After all – in the most basic business terms what we are aiming to do here is to pull a few things together, which are freely available to everyone – add some value to it and deliver that value in a way which enables us to make a profit.
It sounds like a good time to capture a bit of a mission statement.
MISSION: – To provide a service which delivers value to our customers, using affiliate marketing as the instrument to deliver that value.
VALUES:- We shall design our service to provide the customer with easy access to our affiliated products. We shall provide the customer with valuable information to effectively simplify the buying decisions. We will select a topic area for which we have sufficient knowledge and expertise to deliver excellence as we add value for our customers.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES:- We will keep the customers informed. We will treat the customer as our customer despite the ultimate purchase of goods being made via an affiliated provider. We will aim to be the customers single point of contact throughout the buying decision and purchase process.
So maybe I got a few values mixed up with guiding principles 🙂 I always did… but there is a bit of a service strategy beginning to show itself.
Strategic positioning of the Service
We are positioning ourselves to become a part of the value stream by actually becoming a visible manager of the process. Ultimately forming a relationship with our customers.
Rather than just creating an interesting story and providing links for an interested customer to click on, if we embrace our mission statement we will be taking things to the next level and providing a feature rich commercial interface for the customer. Clicking the affiliate link actually becomes a very small part of the buying process.
I have heard affiliate schemes called “passive marketing”. Perhaps they are as they happen without intervention when no-one is around, but I believe there is a balance to be sought. From my research, clearly the more information provided demonstrating value to the customer, delivered in a way which engages the customers, the better the affiliate sites perform.
Well…. customer service and customer excellence are not niche areas, but they are not something I feel a significant part of the affiliate marketing community does well. This drives the answers to a few questions:- Does an affiliate marketing site need a newsletter? Does it need live support? Does it need comments? Does it need forums? My answer is – we need to map out our end to end process from marketing through sales, delivery and capitalisation implementing any modes of engagement available to us which will add value.
The Unique Bit
So the mist is certainly beginning to lift for me and at this point in my notes my train of thought was already isolating ideas and mentally building potential affiliate selling strategies. So its probably a good time to go to the pub, order a latte and sit back and think. We have already got the first part of our service strategy, we just need to find that topic area which you are passionate about, which you know a bit more about than most, which you are always talking about, even better if its something you can boast about having knowledge of. This is the important bit, it is not easy so stick with the lattes until you have found your topic area, then you can have a few beers to celebrate.
My Case Study
So fully engaged within the whole process I did this and I have a few ideas. I am going to target – Home Automation as my topic area. Its something I had considered but had left alone as there is a way I can add unique value, but with it comes systems complexity and hence an element of risk. However, if you break it down and properly mitigate the risks by being completely open about them with my customers, this becomes part of the value stream. I am quite excited, I already have the domain name hey-siri.co.uk so I cannot wait to get started.
Before taking a sip of that latte – let is cool while I share the reason for my excitement.
So we all know about the Apple “Home app” on our IPhones and IPads which just appeared one day following an IOS update. We have also come to learn that the Apple Shop sells off the wall stuff which once you have setup you can control from that Home App such as domestic lights and sockets. We also know that once this stuff is setup in the Home app we can say “hey siri” turn my stuff on or off etc.
What some but not everyone will know, is that the stuff sold in the Apple shop that can be controlled by the Home app, can be purchased much cheaper from the likes of Amazon. This knowledge on its own is a bit of value which we can add – so you can see a bit of a commercial strategy forming. However, this nugget of gold on its own is a bit tame because a potential customer may see this and go and check without clicking our affiliate link. However, given the price of this stuff, it is worth including in our overall strategy.
What some may not know is that Apple Home-Kit is the programming tool kit which developers need to use, to develop an app which can be added to the Home app and that this enforces some very strict standards. This unfortunately means that as it stands today many product control app developers simply cannot justify the investment. Instead they settle for second best and have their own IOS app. However, unless controlled from the Home app Siri cannot be used to control them and they cannot be used within any of the automation routines were products within the Home app can be combined either to be controlled or for use as triggers etc.
Some real examples of this are Hue Lights provided by Phillips. Despite having their own app it syncs with the Home app enabling Siri control and use within the automation sequences. Conversely there tons of products like my Dyson Link, I use its app to control my Cool Tower, but this does not meet the required Home-Kit compatibility standards and hence works in isolation.
Remember how excited I got when I found Amazon and Ebay had affiliate schemes… well wouldn’t it be good I thought, if someone developed a platform which met the Home-Kit compatibility standards and provided an interface to all of these none Home-Kit compatible products enabling them to be controlled via the Home app…. hey presto…. its called “Homebridge” and its free, as are its many plugins developed to enable control of many products including my Dyson Cool Tower.
However, before getting excited I had to embrace the horror that the Homebridge platform needs to run on a Home Server running on Windows 10 or Debian Linux and its designed for a Raspberry PI. Horror as this is beyond the capability of your average user and horror because a Raspberry PI is not strategically sensible for this kind of use.
However, a Saturday morning spent implementing Homebridge on my Windows 10 – Home Server running Hyper-V, facilitated by a Debian Linux Virtual Machine, soon had me shouting “Hey Siri – Dyson Cool Tower 100%”.
The functionality of this bridging server also exposes more features of the product in question. For example the Hue plugin exposes the temperature sensors in the motion sensor accessories, which can then be used to trigger a radiator valve or such like.
So the Homebridge site and its plugins are being developed globally on GitHub.
I thought – wouldn’t it be good if there was a site which covered all of this and provided the best prices for the products via price comparison type links, as well as all the knowledge resource required to get all of this running for your average user. Also showing the benefit of using the Homebridge route rather than the straight forward Apple Home-Kit implementation. Hey Presto…… HEY PRESTO……. my niche of sorts has been identified. Target implementation – Q3 2018.
So now we have an idea of what needs to be done, lets look at the Affiliate Strategy and Setup.