Lester B Pearson, a Canadian Prime Minister who is often acknowledged as the greatest Canadian of all times, said that “the chief distinction of a diplomat is that he can say no in such a way that it sounds like a yes.” This is exactly what affiliate program managers should learn to do when dealing with affiliate applications that may not seem to fit the affiliate programs they manage. Never assume that you can be 100% right in your decision of declining an affiliate application. Even when saying “no” give them a benefit of the doubt. Phrase the text of the e-mail you send out to the declined affiliates in such a way that does give them another chance, if they want it. Here’s the text I use for one of the programs I manage:
Unfortunately, your application to the Langbridge.com affiliate program has been declined. If you feel that it has been done in error, please contact me, the company’s owner, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to discuss this with you. I do not want my company to miss out on opportunities to collaborate with promising partners. So, if you believe that your application has been declined in error, please do e-mail me, and I will get back with you within 24 hours.
Do not burn bridges. You can never know for certain what exactly the affiliate that applied to your program had in their mind. Give them an opportunity to communicate it back to you prior to making the decision to decline, and if they don’t, decline their application, but don’t burn the bridge.