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The Benefits of Training: An Interview With Declan Dunn


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This is part of an email interview with Allan Gardyne, from Associate Programs. The interview covers the quick ascent of Declan Dunn's Winning the Affiliate Game to Number 1 on Allan's Top List of Affiliate Programs.

1. To market your latest book, "Winning the Affiliate Game" , you have chosen to use a two-tier commission structure, automatically approving everyone who applies to join. What have you found to be the advantages and disadvantages of such a system?

I find absolutely no disadvantages to this system. Let me share why.

I believe the Internet can empower small businesses to succeed. In my 13 years of business, I have never seen anything so powerful and easy to use as affiliate programs.

For an industry in its infancy, many affiliate programs are showing arrogance. Big companies sign up thousands of affiliates and really don't care if they do anything at all! The waste is incredible and to me, undermines the democratic power of e-commerce.

My mission is to create Active Affiliates, who build their own long term business through their own network. If each affiliate would simply target 250-500 sites that they work closely with, the economic power is exponential...because out of those sites, it is likely that a small percentage will yield results.

That small percentage can be the difference between life and death for a small business online.

This is one of the primary reasons I demanded a two tier system. I want the small affiliates, as well as the big ones, to benefit and build their own networks.

Of course I receive numerous emails with confusion on how to place links, how to get going, and trying to make sense of this brave, new Internet. To me, that is part of the joy, not a burden.

It really is a state of mind; the minute you think your affiliates, and your customers, are a burden, you should give it up. If I can help just one person make a difference in their lives, generate a bit more money, or even more importantly, a bit more time to do the things they like, that makes it worthwhile.

This system is designed to help people help learn, adapt, and be amazed. Instead of signing up and leaving them alone, I try to send training. Like any teacher, I try to show the beginner how to set realistic goals and test them, in a market that offers little if any start up cost.

If my purpose was to just sell books, I would limit my membership. But by opening it up, I've tapped into people who are working hard to take advantage of what the Internet offers.

My background in training shows me that anyone, given a bit of encouragement and guidance, can improve.

I have a passion for empowering people to succeed. Two tier programs are really where affiliate networks build long term businesses.

In the affiliate industry today, people are getting rejected daily. Even when they sign up for a program, they rarely if ever hear from that network again. A token ezine a month later is often the best effort.

Signing up thousands of affiliates is not a burden to me; if it is, you shouldn't be in this business. The chance to help someone realize their goals, whether it is just breaking even, making a side income, or hitting the jackpot with carefully selected programs, is simply amazing.

A two tier program is one of the most realistic ways for someone to start building their own network, within the bigger, more powerful affiliate programs.

These programs will likely be limited to those companies who have the margins to offer them. Remember that a company with 10% margins on a book won't be able to break that down to a two tier program.

For certain things, it works. For other products, it doesn't make sense. For our ActiveAffiliates, it makes total sense.

For me, the advantage of a two tier system is that I can help people learn, and earn. I remember and still believe in the dream of the Internet. I've seen people who didn't even have a computer at first generate tremendous results.

My two tier system is a belief in that spirit, and something that brings me joy far beyond anything money can deliver...

Two tier systems are the real opportunity for affiliates, because they allow them to form their own networks, their own relationships, their own foundations. Being part of this is incredibly fun.

2. What percentage of webmasters are achieving sales? Is the old 80/20 rule applying?

First, from what I have seen of affiliate programs, the 97/3 rule applies; only about 3% generate anything. And that's sad, in fact you are lucky if 50% of your affiliates even post one ad on their site! Really, how many times have you seen a network with thousands of affiliates, and only 10 making any sales? Remember that this is our initial test, and in that we have 15% of our initial affiliates who will receive a check.

From what I've seen, that is a huge percentage, and much of it comes from the second tier. My goal is to keep training and honing that, and working closely with my ActiveAffiliates who generate significant traffic and sales.

For those who are not, we have patience and will keep encouraging them. Most entrepreneurs either quit too early or stay too long with an idea. The key is to keep your goals realistic, and to check your progress each month.

Again, some people may take months to make a sale, but I'm willing to work with them. That is how much I believe in what we are doing here...I have no illusions that I can change the nature of people or affiliate networks, but I will do my best to support my part of it...and encourage people to succeed, no matter what they are doing.

3. How large is the potential market. How many copies do you think will be sold?

The potential market is any Web Site who wants to offer affiliate products from their site, or in addition to what they already offer. It is virtually limitless; in fact, the biggest problem with affiliate networks is that people don't really know about them. The lack of understanding is incredible!

We're here to inform, educate, and spread the word. I see this book as showing people what is going on, referring to the excellent sites that can help them learn more like yours, and starting from the bottom up, from the thousands of Web Sites out there that do not understand how to convert Web visitors to sales.

My goal for copies is simple, and a dream; I'd like to share the empowering message of this book with anyone who has a Web Site. My somewhat lofty goal is the reach that Cory Rudl's book, Car Secrets, achieved; perhaps not that volume, but I'd like to see this get 10-20,000 copies out there.

The best part of this goal is, even if I don't reach it, the more people I teach, the more comes back to me. I really believe in the abundance of the Internet and the success of this book is dependent on our two tier program, on our affiliates.

I have a passion for teaching; where else could I find so many amazing, energetic learners, who teach me as well?

4. How much time and money does maintaining a two-tier program like yours involve?

Wow, what a question; I've been going 24/7 and adding staff the past month like crazy. It took us months to create our own two tier program, that we must keep improving. Our emails are piling up and I'm focusing on customer service.

With this abundance comes some amazing opportunities; we just brought on Paul Galloway as our inside programmer with our system. I've been such a fan of Paul's work and having him spearhead the technical/marketing end is amazing. Patrick Anderson is another partner who teaches me everyday the simplest way to get things done.

Remember that our vision is far beyond this two tier program; we are creating a system of success and honing it every day. That is the best part, sharing the information with people and seeing these networks get started.

We want to empower affiliates to sell more and build their own networks. My ultimate goal is to do for affiliate networks what LinkExchange did with banner ads, but with a twist.

Instead of just having thousands of members, I'm looking for 5,000 ActiveAffiliates with whom I can work closely, coach, and share our knowledge. And believe me, it won't just be with this book. We have niche products ready to go and plug into our system, and spread the word to our friends.

We are trying to build a community of affiliates and help them learn, and earn. It takes time, it takes money, and we invest what we generate to help our affiliates.

5. What lessons have you learnt in your couple of weeks of marketing "Winning the Affiliate Game"?

What I have really learned is how to delegate; every day I learn how to help my affiliates build their own networks. I have also learned that the Internet builds up this instant gratification mania on the part of some people; everything is so immediate, so impatient.

I know that the patient person is the one who wins in the long run, and I need a way to share this within an Internet culture that teaches you that nothing lasts.

For me, I know that good things do last, and that to build something lasting, you have to approach it the right way.

Believe me, there are many more lessons, but what I've learned is the lesson I try to teach...patience. Understanding. And having a grasp of the bigger picture.

It is easy to get caught up in the mania of a hit record, but we are really building something for the long run here. What I have learned most is to keep focused on the bigger picture, and clean up the glitches that come with any business.

All in all, our system has been terrific, thanks to Paul and Patrick. They are so great to have on our team, and I look forward to seeing this team grow even more with our affiliates.

6. For me, your new book, "Winning the Affiliate Game" is selling much faster than your first book, "The Complete, Insider's Guide to Associate & Affiliate Programs". Is that the general trend?

Of course, and it makes sense; the Insider's Guide is not for everyone. After all, there is one Amazon and 180,000 or whatever affiliates. It only makes sense that one is a mass market, and the other is more select.

Setting up an affiliate network is sophisticated, and takes alot of time and money that many companies don't have. What's interesting is that my experience with the Insider's Guide led me to the new book, because I saw a need that could be fulfilled.

Two tier programs are a way to democratize affiliate programs as well; it allows the smaller players to get their ongoing share of business, if they coach and support their networks.

As one of my mentors taught me, two tier programs are really a Mastermind of businesses. Bring one business sharing resources with another, you have strength; bring 100 businesses together sharing resources, you have power.

Many of the big affiliate networks don't see their programs as Masterminds; they see them simply as cheap sales channels. That's why I love Winning the Affiliate Game and our two tier system. It really empowers from the bottom up, spreading the power out and building Mastermind groups if done correctly.

For me, I would only invest my time in two tier programs now, because I can build a long term business there. And help others do the same.

7. What are some of the things the successful sellers are doing to achieve sales?

This is one of the most amazing discoveries for me; what the most successful people are doing is opt-in email. From ezines to lists developed over time, the power of email cannot be understated.

I still can't believe how most programs are based on banner ads; it is shown that people won't return to your Web Site, unless you are some rich portal like Yahoo. People, on average, receive 25 emails a day, according to a recent study by eMarketer.

The fact is, they will check email every day; they won't visit your Web Site every day.

My most successful affiliates build trust and credibility through emails. When they endorse a product, that trust moves the offer from being one from a stranger, to being familiar, recommended, and approved. This is so critical for any business; establish trust and enhance it only with the best products that you really believe in.

If you don't believe in them, your customers won't. And I do everything in my materials to encourage people to build their lists.

As my friend/mentors Planet Ocean Communications taught me, everything depends on your list. If your business shuts down tomorrow, you should be able to take your list of happy customers and open up the next day.

If you don't have an email, opt-in list, you are going to stress and waste huge amounts of time and money in low percentage advertising.

The Internet is so ancient, and so traditional; trust, respect, and being there for the long term is crucial. Email is based on writing letters, notes, and remembering people. There is nothing cutting edge about that!

8. Based on my how my sales have gone, I imagine you're thrilled with the results?

Of course I am, but I am even more thrilled by the people I am working with. Sales are great, but what is even better is when someone who has been struggling sends you an email and lets you know that they generated sales in 24 hours, for the first time, without a Web Site!

You've got to keep your perspective in these things; I love sales, but I really enjoy the ability to help people grow their business. Money without passion is boring; passion with money is just a heckuva lot of fun!

Helping others generate money for themselves is just a great part of any affiliate network. I'm thrilled to be working with my affiliates.

9. Are you prepared to divulge any details of sales?

At this early stage, no; what I will tell you is that I'm writing over 80 checks to my affiliates this month, at least. Some are big, some not so big...but helping my affiliates start making money is what this is all about.

I will divulge the most important details; people are thrilled with the book. They are thrilled with the opportunity. They are just plain tickled to actually work with a network that responds to them in a hopefully personal way.

This is no pie in the sky, but we do our best, and keep our eye on the bigger picture.

Good will is what we aim for, and it is coming in droves...and for that, I am thankful and will do everything I can to support your efforts.

10. Why do think Winning the Affiliate Game" is so popular?

The goal of this book is to empower affiliates to sell more and benefit from affiliate programs, within a two tier system that encourages them to build their own, independent, networks of businesses.

Affiliate programs are about the democratization of e-commerce, which is what the Internet represents to me. Spreading the opportunity to create a business with little or no overhead, with the flexibility to choose your partners based solely on performance, puts control in the hands of the affiliates.

That is why this book is so popular; it is an Internet marketing system in a box called affiliate programs. It is not based on expensive Web Sites or hoping your product will sell.

It offers the opportunity to set up shop and offer products, where all you have to do is market.

It is popular because the time is right; for someone without a business, what better way to start and build. For someone with a business online, what better way to add more products and services to what you offer.

It is popular because the promise of affiliate programs is not in the sales of products, but in building up your network. On the giant, international network called the Internet, this will be critical to survival, now and in the future..

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