Last week I attended the AffiliateINSIDER Affiliate Management Training Academy at London’s Hippodrome Casino, which was delivered by Lee-Ann Johnstone. It was my second day on the job and I was a bit unsure what I’d possibly learn going on an advanced affiliate manager training course.

As a total newcomer – I thought it would be useful to share my top five takeaways from the event, some of which I’ll certainly be putting into practice in my day to day working going forward:

1) Human Relationships are key

It is vital that you focus on building relationships. Morning a personal bond is key to building success and managing tricky affiliate negotiations. Lee-Ann says “people buy people” often throughout the day. Understanding that nobody will want to work with someone who is quiet and all about just work. Find a common interest, capitalise on this interest and allow your personalities to really click. Being open with your colleague is a key step to securing a fruitful business relationship and makes the start of a great affiliate model.

2) Be a SWOT

When pitching for a new affiliate partnership or when representing your company, its important to be able to answer and respond to any obstacle that may be thrown at you. Knowing your brand is the best way to make sure you don’t trip up and integral to securing that deal.

Firstly, you must know the strengths of your business. Having a clear understanding of the best parts of your business, and knowing these back-to-front, is one way to advertise and represent your brand in the best way possible to prospective affiliate partners.

The weaknesses of your brand are also an important factor to consider. Guaranteed an affiliate will know some of these already – so don’t try and skirt them in a commercial negotiation. Knowing your weaknesses allows you to prepare solid and factual responses to any criticisms your brand may come under during the call. The point is not to be defensive but rather acknowledge and provide solutions to things that may stop you from doing the deal.

Make a point of show casing your opportunities. What can partners expect in the future? Showcasing the opportunities that your program offers is the perfect way to help an affiliate understand why they really need to be working with you.

Finally, you need to understand your brand’s threats. Knowing who you benchmark against in the competitive landscape is important. This can really push your brand to its full potential when it comes to competing for real estate with your competitors.

3) We all have the same building blocks, it’s how you use them , that counts.

Branding a business is essential. The affiliate industry is one of the biggest and most competitive industries in the world, and making your brand stand out as different is the perfect way to crack it. In the casino industry the competition is fierce. Every brand has a similar set of games and or bonuses and almost everyone will say that customer service is strong. We all have similar building blocks but we can use these to make dramatically different propositions.

How you make your business different is what will separate you from the rest – it is not just about numbers but considering how you position your business as unique, counts too.

4) Know how to pitch

A person makes their first impression on you within the first 13 seconds of meeting you. They’ll remember 3 key things after speaking with you. So when you are approaching an affiliate and pitching your program, consider this in your pitch.

When pitching to possible partners it is vital that you say what you need to say in the best and shortest way possible.

Write down what you need to say in a chronological order,  plan your conversation and do your program SWOT – before you get on a call with the affiliate. Be prepared to use your strengths and threats to your advantage. Ask to meet the person you are speaking with at the next big event – make a real life connection and get to know them a bit better in person.

5) Commit yourself to the cause

Working within affiliate marketing is more than just a job. The number of skills and attributes it takes to master the skill of affiliate management make the job more of a lifestyle choice than a career orientated one.

By the end of the day the list of job functions that take place in an Affiliate managers role was quite astounding. I think the people in the room (some of whom had a few years more experience than me) were also shocked when we broke it down over the course of the day. You really do have to love what you do – in order to sell it effectively to affiliates.

I learned a lot in a short space of time, and I enjoyed the way in which the day was broken up around key aspects of affiliate marketing. It was an intense experience and I think I am now on the path learning a brand new set of skills. I’d highly recommend anyone new to the industry – to take a look at this course.