I have recently interviewed two prominent figures in the affiliate marketing world: Brian Littleton (CEO & Founder of ShareASale) in the U.S., and Kevin Edwards (Strategy Director at Affiliate Window, and former Chair for the IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council) in the U.K. The interviews with them have just gone live; and while we’ve discussed many interesting things with each of them, at the end of the interviews I asked both the same question:

If you were to leave affiliate managers with just one advice today, what would it be?

We’ve always heard: “know the affiliate!” And while it is important (extremely important) to know who your affiliates are and what their needs are, both Brian and Kevin also underscored something else: the importance of knowing the merchant’s product/business too… Here are their full replies (with links to respective interviews):

Brian Littleton:

Use your instinct. When it comes to finding a really good affiliate, don’t be fooled simply by statistics or language. Use your instinct and knowledge of your own product and website to help you.

Too many Affiliate Managers are forced into relationships either by lack of understanding or through automatic approval. Unfortunately, their programs can suffer due to it. If you are going to actively manage a program – make sure to use your #1 asset. [full interview on SmallBizTrends.com]

Kevin Edwards:

Know your client’s business and what they’re trying to achieve. Many won’t necessarily have the full picture so work with them consultatively. Don’t sell them propositions that may be ill-fitting or unsuitable, this will only serve to undermine the goodwill you’ve built up.

Be open to the huge raft of online opportunities available to you via affiliate marketing but never lose sight of the bigger picture and how all the pieces fit together. [full interview on Econsultancy.com]

Both Brian and Kevin will be speaking at Affiliate Management Days East 2012, participating on the two-part “The Role of the Network” keynote panel during Day 2. Come see them live!