Affiliate Marketing of Services vs Products
For a very long time, products have been the main target of advertising. However, the trend of moving products into services has balanced out the scales a bit. To define the difference in affiliate advertising of products and services, we first need to see the fundamental differences between products and services.
Table of Contents:
Fundamentals of Products and Services
P: Products are tangible goods making them easier to market. You know exactly what to expect, and there are predefined specifications for each product.
S: As an intangible, the service’s value cannot be seen and must be experienced personally by the customer. That means trust must be built in order to have the customer renew his service.
P: In most cases, products also have no expiration date and can be used as long as the product’s construction allows this – tools are a great example here as there are stories of tools being transferred in families from generation to generation.
S: There is a defined period during which the service is available, after which the service simply expires.
Condition & Conditions
P: Products have an ever-changing condition. The car you bought five years ago is no longer new, but you can still resell it on the 2nd hand market for part of the original value. Furthermore, even if you got into a crash and totaled it, it can still be sold for parts or scrap.
S: The service cannot deteriorate in quality. You will receive the same high-quality gardening service for your property on the first and last day of the contract.
You can go into a hardware store – buy nails, hammer, saw, and wood – no questions asked. Then get back home and build something yourself. However, you cannot just ask a construction firm to make something for you. The service’s terms must be sealed with a contract that contains the rights and obligations each of the parties has.
P: Speaking of reselling, products also have ownership property, which is unique to them. Once you buy a product, you can change, sell, rent, and even destroy unless explicitly prohibited by the manufacturer – in rare cases of luxury limited edition items like hypercars, watches, etc.
S: However, you cannot resell a service. In hosting, sometimes, there is the option to resell the product (the hosting package or part of a server’s resources); however, the actual support and expertise provided by the company cannot be resold.
P: You can make a duplicate of some products depending on the technology to which you have access. With 3D printers becoming more and more popular, you can print yourself entire toolsets. However, more complex products remain out of reach and are protected by patent law.
S: Yes, a person can go and buy a 1,390 Piece Mammoth Tool Set to fix cars. Still, considering he lacks the experience and expertise on the matter, that person will not be able to repair a complicated mechanical problem. There are no patents regarding car repairs, but you must be an actual mechanic to do it on a professional level considering the associated safety risks and law.
Standards & Modifications
P: With products, you get exactly what you paid for. Once you buy a phone, you are limited by the phone’s technical specifications – size, CPU, RAM, camera lens, battery life. You can still make changes like adding more storage in some cases, but that is a minor modification and is made with another product sold separately.
S: Services can be more easily modified to fit the needs of a specific customer (B2C) or business (B2B) and can even affect associated product performance. As the service’s control is in the provider’s hands, they can change parts of the service to better it or provide updates seamlessly, without the customer’s intervention. Tesla is doing this on a daily basis with their software updates. The service they offer can change the product’s properties by tweaking parts of the car and how it perceives the environment around itself, blurring the line between product and service.
P: The price of the product covers all of the properties inherent to the product. Value is more important than the brand-customer relationship. For example, any brand of screwdrivers can be the preferred one as long as it gets the job done and endures the test of time. As there is so much you can do with a product; its price is usually much greater than that of a service using it, except when the service must be purchased multiple times.
S: Services are cheaper than buying the tools and doing the work yourself. For example, deep car cleaning needs products costing $2500, but the actual service is only $100-$250. If your family has one car and wants to deep clean it every few years, it will be much better to buy the service instead of the products.
Hosting is not that different in this regard. Suppose you want to have a similar reach to that of our network. In that case, you must buy/create a datacenter (or at least a server rack in a datacenter) in multiple locations around the world, connect it to the backbone of the internet, and that is just the fundamental hardware part. You must also develop systems, create monitoring tools, test configurations, update different protocols, harden security regularly, etc.
However, instead of all that hard and costly work, you can simply purchase a hosting plan, renewal it regularly, and we will take care of the rest for you for a tiny fraction of the total cost required.
P: Products rely on value out of the box. If the product is good enough, there is no need for the manufacturer and customer to have any dialogue.
S: Services depend way more on the relationship between the provider and the customer. As mentioned already, anyone can buy a set of tools, but not everyone can work diligently and with perfect accuracy with these same tools and provide a beautiful wood carving. Knowing that the provider can deliver on time can be what consistently brings customers back for more, or even have them subscribe for a specific service for years.
How to Market Products as an Affiliate
Product Marketing is very straight-forward. The value-added can easily be seen in the quality of the product as the item is tangible. Creating a review that demonstrates the strengths of a product is the preferable method of advertising.
The product can also be compared to similar products by other manufacturers to further show its superiority in that category. A story mentioning the product’s quality in a specific situation may help you become more relatable to your website’s visitors. Everybody loves a good story (as long as the same is not fabricated)!
Something essential to consider is that product manufacturers are not directly associated with the customer. Yes, the product is made with the customer’s best interest in mind, but the manufacturer is not in constant relation with the customer.
Here comes a big trap, which is the actual delivery. As an affiliate, you must select the best possible shipping/delivery for your visitors and potential customers, if possible. Here you should extensively research the service associated with your product of choice.
Services Related to Products
Failing to select the best possible shipping service may anger a customer even if the product is excellent – yeah, the customer got his 65″ 4K Smart TV, but the same was delivered with a broken display due to lousy shipping service. The product’s qualities no longer matter as they have been compromised by the service standing between the manufacturer’s warehouse and the customer’s home. Promoting the use of trusted services that also offer insurance is a great way to save yourself many nasty comments on your reviews.
Push New Models
Once a product is delivered, as long as it does not break without a justified reason, the manufacturer has nothing more to do with that particular customer, except trying to sell that existing customer a newer and better product that outperforms the last one. That is good to remember as you can later push newer models of that product type on your website. If you have a newsletter, many customers who were happy with their previous purchase may even see the news that a new model is coming from your letter and purchase again via your link – Ka-Ching!
How to Market Services as an Affiliate
Service Marketing is definitely more challenging due to the way most people perceive value.
Explaining the service in detail and preferably – how it has helped you is crucial in building trust with your readers. Many services appear great at first glance but later show the cracks under the surface. The underwater rocks can quickly break a profitable selling streak, so you must research extensively the service you will promote.
Test the Service
Services that offer money-back guarantees show customers the companies behind them are not afraid of letting them “test the waters“. That is a great sign of trust being put by the provider in their service.
The money-back-guarantee also reduces any stress you might have of your audience not liking what they get. Some customers have particular needs, and even the most customizable service may not provide precisely what they need. In such cases, the customer can simply ask for a refund and look elsewhere without getting angry and stressed out.
Focus on Added Value
If possible, focus your marketing around the value and relative low-cost subscription rates. Remember that if you have two companies and company A is providing 50 useful features for $10/mo while company B is providing 120 useful features for $20/mo, even with the increased cost, company B is the one providing more value. Try to avoid chasing the absolute cheapest price on the market, as is often associated with many underwater rocks.
Market the results and experiences existing customers have had with the company of your choice. You can set up a customer review section or encourage feedback in your comment section. Ordinary people relate to other ordinary people. Even if you are an expert and your review is very tech-savvy and 8000 words long, your visitors are still more likely to buy a service if they see others having a genuinely good experience with that company.
Market the continual level of exemplary service provided by a company. History is important in both product making and service providing. However, it is much harder to change the perception of people about services than products. That is due to the services and customers being tightly connected and having multiple interactions even long after the customer has initially purchased the service.
Advertise the customization options available for the service. The more different scenarios you can create with the service in mind, the broader your targeted audience becomes. Hosting companies that provide space for blogs but do not have the resources needed to support online shops will be missing out on many potential customers. So when choosing which company to represent as an affiliate, you must also consider the number of options they provide.
Furthermore, the customization caters to the individualism of a person. That also builds good relations as the user sees he is valued, and someone has thought about the kind of person he is and what he might need and use.
Services are easily scalable. A car jack that can lift a small car will have trouble with a truck. However, a hosting solution that can host a small website can easily be scaled to host multiple online stores, each with tens of thousands of products. On the other hand, its harder for service providers to scale their business compared to most product manufacturers. That is also something which you can emphasize on when promoting a company.
Example: Company A had a significant increase in customers in the last few years. However, that did not decrease their service quality due to scaling their team and resources along the way in their strides to continue to provide excellent service.
Examples and Lost Opportunity
Be sure to give examples of how the service will satisfy the customer’s needs and increase his success and profitability. Showing a visitor what they might miss if they don’t go with the company and service you promote is another marketing technique connected to people on a psychological level. FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out can be used in moderation to nudge the customers who are ready to buy a service but not entirely sure it will help them in achieving their predefined plan.
Machines vs People
You must not forget that products are mainly built by machines while services are provided by people. Everyone reading this article can probably think of a product they used, which had some sort of defect in it. Maybe the pressing machine which had to exert 35,000 psi only exerted 34,940 on the last few details it had to bend due to low hydraulic oil, making these last details uncomfortable to operate. Or maybe the plastic mold was so old that the last 1000 handle pieces are a bit scuffed. Such defects happen, and when we use the final product, we don’t get angry at the guy who had to change the oil of the press or the woman in charge of maintaining the molds.
However, for some reason, people can become incredibly frustrated when talking with a customer service representative, even if the same is in no way responsible for the issue they are experiencing. When we have a voice or a face that we can associate in some way with the problem we have experienced, we will more often than not channel our frustration there.
This entire ordeal shows an essential part of promoting services. Whether in person or not, the people on the other side of the service are still humans, and humans make mistakes. Nobody is perfect, but the outstanding service providers stride for that perfection as hard as they can.
Going Above and Beyond
It shows great responsibility in the way a service is being managed whenever the company goes above and beyond to find a solution tailored to a customer’s needs, or correct a mistake they have made. Such companies should be in the crosshair of your aim in promoting, and will also bring a lot of good feedback from your visitors. That, in return, will be translated to better ROI and more profitable quarters.
We get many emails regarding the promotion of our hosting service by our affiliates, so we made this guide. While we cannot do the work for you, we can still provide you with more information on how services are different from products and why to build your advertising campaigns around that fact.
Many affiliates are new to the industry or have marketed only products via Amazon or ClickBank. We hope this article provides the insight necessary for creating a better affiliate strategy. We wish you a lot of success in generating commissions.
If you are still wondering where to start with affiliate marketing, look no further and sign up now!
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