Affiliates Must Overcome Cobbler’s Children Syndrome

affiliates cobbler's children syndromeOne of the things we hear most from affiliates is that they are great at promoting the products and services of other, but not so good at promoting themselves.  It’s the “Cobbler’s Children Syndrome” – where the proverbial children of the shoemaker go without shoes.

This is particularly evident when affiliates are seeking new relationships with brands or potential partners. Affiliates often can’t clearly communicate exactly what they do, their key differentiators, or even the basics – like audience demographics, traffic numbers, the point of view (POV) of their site, and rates for paid placements.

It’s not that they don’t have this information. It’s that they haven’t formalized a way to communicate the information to others. Sure, a phone call or face-to-face meeting often clears up any questions others may have, but those aren’t always the best way to get their message across.

Plus, that tact requires affiliates to be proactive – meaning the affiliate can miss out on opportunities with potential partners who may be searching for a relationship. An affiliate can  be overlooked or not even found because there is a lack of detail about their business or they don’t immediately stand out as relevant for that particular situation.

Shout from the Rooftops

We believe that affiliates are their own brands and as such, have more power than they think to negotiate innovative partnerships. But this is a very competitive landscape and affiliates must toot their own horn to be noticed.

And there are some simple steps you can take to make sure others are clear on why they should work with you, what the benefits of a partnership may be, and why you’re unique.


Affiliates need to highlight why working with them presents a unique opportunity for all parties. To do that, you need to showcase your differentiators. It’s easy to think your company is different from competitors, but it’s often hard to articulate. You should determine your differentiators. Then write them down and have a document (or PDF) that can be easily shared with potential partners.

Here are a few  questions that might spark some ideas about your unique qualities as an affiliate:

  • Are you focused on a specific group (busy moms, healthy kids, yoga for men, reviews for newbies)?
  • Do you take a stance on ethical business issues?
  • Is your preference to only work with like-minded brands (eco-friendly, liberal return policies, etc.)?
  • Do you only allow verified deals?
  • Do you work only with companies that guarantee their products?
  • Is there a community component and are those members engaged?
  • Do you offer cashback or rewards?
  • Is there a specific tone to your content (education, humorous, etc.)?
  • What gives your site a personal touch?
  • Are there a higher than average number of repeat buyers?
  • Do you only allow specific types of deals?
  • Do you have specific tools that help boost conversions?
  • How do you handle paid placements or sponsorship opportunities?

Elevator pitch

Just like a startup business, affiliates need to be able to communicate what they do in 15 seconds. That means you must have a written statement that consists of just one or two sentences to explain what the business does, it’s POV, why its different, and who it serves.

For example: is a daily blog and comprehensive review site that promotes exoctic travel destinations for families by offering deals and travel tips. After 5 years in business and with over 250,000 views per month, we’re able to help families find the best accomodations, airfare, destination tours and more by partnering with the leading global travel providers.

Social Media

Naturally, you have created all the needed social media presence for their sites and are actively engaging followers and promoting products and offers. But you need to take it a step further. Make sure that your affiliate business has a profile on LinkedIn. This is like a resume for the business and goes beyond the website’s About page. This where to include information such as differentiators, and expanded facts about the business. Information, data and facts compiled should be relevant for a business partner to know.  But maybe not things shared with consumers on the website.

One Sheeter

This should be comprised of much of above information, but it must be succinct and organized to be quickly digestible. This is what you’ll likely send to people who inquire about your business and working with you. Include stats about the site’s visitors, conversions, repeat buyers, etc. Additionally, include any information about rates for paid placements or sponsorships.

In addition to providing information for potential partners, compiling these elements help you think differently about highlighting what makes your site special. You might find some information is appropriate to include on the website to help attract a wider consumer audience.