This year’s Affiliate Summit West went really well, it was perhaps the most beneficial one I’ve been to. I think that would have to be attributed to the fact that it was also the biggest one ever, and basically everyone was there that’s involved in the affiliate space.
It also seemed that the trend was to throw small private parties to do networking in smaller groups. The Affiliate Ball and the Affiliate Fight Night although both extremely cool, were also extremely crowded and you couldn’t really do much networking. The Fight Night in particular was very impressive in terms of entertainment.
David’s Aff Playbook meetup was really good. They had a nice suite at the palms and it was a smaller controlled group. It was a good size to the point that I played a game of pool and there was more than enough space, not person to person packed in like sardine cans like some of the “everyone’s invited” parties. They had delicious cookies too!
Aaron Kelly also invited me to the Badger Ball, which was also fantastic. They had a funny event occur during the night, which we all thought was just some crazy drunk guy that snuck in off the street but it turned out to be a prank, it was pretty hilarious. Some guy waited for Aaron to be around and then had face planted onto the floor (ouch?) and when asked how he got there or who he was with, he pretended to be ridiculously drunk. He did a good job, he fooled me too as I was standing right there. The networking was great there too, it was a small but quality controlled group of friends, business acquaintances, etc.
Affiliate Fight Night was amazing entertainment. It brought back a lot of awesome memories from when I was involved in the Ryan Bennett Memorial Fund years ago, raised a ton of money for his family and then they showed thanks by having a private dinner with Randy Couture and Big John McCarthy for us. Randy then drove us to his gym now know as Xtreme Couture, which at the time was only half finished and not even open. We spent the afternoon with Randy and it was an awesome time. Great memories, thanks Affiliate Fight Night.
I noticed a lot of the same problems that affiliate networks, traffic companies and others are facing at these events. They don’t really know how to put on a good promotion to get results from their conference spend. They setup these elaborate booths, and then their “pitch” is horrible, and they have no real “draw” to get people there in the first place (or to get them to stay) other than lame gimmicks. One recurring gimmick that I see every year is “Win an iPad” (or similar prize) by dropping your business card. The companies think that they are getting leads by doing this, and they are, but they are getting bad leads mostly. Of course everyone and their uncle is going to drop a business card to win an iPad, but that doesn’t mean they are targeted leads to what you are selling.
Affiliates are smartening up and realizing which networks not to work with, and which ones are around for the long haul. At this point, if you’ve been in the affiliate game for any length of time you are savvy and know how to spot a scam or low quality network a mile away. A pretty obvious point is when you see “standard” sales pitches and sales messaging. It’s a pretty obvious sign of a start-up network. And if that’s the case, you have to be really careful that you’re dealing with someone that’s not just going to go out of business when the first advertiser blows off a payment for 6 months or more. Too many affiliates are left footing the bill lately when advertisers don’t pay and networks can’t afford to float. I wouldn’t work with anyone that couldn’t afford to float some money and is making me wait for their advertisers to pay. That’s the whole point of the affiliate network!! Otherwise they are doing absolutely nothing for you that you couldn’t do yourself with a direct deal!
I ended up catching a few sessions and I was pretty impressed with Shoemoney’s closing Keynote. I thought the message he was trying to get out was great for new people to the industry. I thought his message also applied to entrepreneur’s in general, which I think was a good think.
I’ll be back for the next Affiliate Summit, no doubt about it!