I was researching more on motivation in the course of the day today, and at one point while I was reading Frederick Herzberg’s article “One More Time. How Do You Motivate Employees” (Harvard Business Review, Jan. 2003) I realized that making all things go right within any given affiliate program — having a 100% affiliate-friendly website (without “leaks”, with well-converting wisely-formatted landing pages, etc), running ongoing bonus campaigns, providing performance-based commission increases, satisfying every possible creative need affiliates may have, providing a well-categorized detailed product data feed, etc, etc — has little to do with real motivation of affiliates to perform for your affiliate program. Speaking of people management, Herzberg wrote:
…things that make people satisfied and motivated on the job are different in kind from the things that make them dissatisfied. …even if managed brilliantly [environmental factors] don’t motivate anybody to work much harder or smarter. People are motivated, instead, by interesting work, challenge and increasing responsibility. These intrinsic factors answer people’s deep-seated need for growth and achievement. [bold font added by me]
In our context, ensuring that nothing is wrong with your affiliate program, and providing an overall affiliate-friendly environment is no recipe for motivation. Herzberg stresses that neither are “compensation and incentive packages” motivating enough for people. He says that a manager “can charge a person’s battery, and then recharge it, and recharge it again,” but “it is only when one has a generator of one’s own that we can talk about motivation.” [bold font – mine] And again, those normally called “super affiliates” come to mind. They do not need much of outside stimulation. They are prone to growth, learning, continuous advancement, and internal recognition.
With other types of affiliates (at least, before they are grown into super affiliates), you do want to be a “battery charger,” but even with them — do everything possible to cultivate the above quoted motivators within your affiliates, and lead them to a point where they are mainly motivated intrinsically (by interesting opportunities with the affiliate campaigns you run, and growth to greater achievements).