We are now six weeks into the coronavirus crisis. The dust is settling a little and it is beginning to be possible to see the contours of what lies ahead for the economy and the affiliate marketing industry. Let’s review what we know and what looks likely, and what it means for your business.
What Is Working?
In talking to people around the industry I’m impressed with how quickly they have responded to the huge swings in demand that we have all seen over the last few weeks. What’s interesting is that while some sectors have been devastated, within most verticals there are certain categories that are thriving, and we can discern the reasons why.
In health and beauty, cosmetics and body-building supplements are down – people aren’t working or socializing, and the gyms are closed. Immune system-supporting supplements are booming, of course, as are medical supplies and oxygen-related supplies such as cannulas. And naturally, all offers relating to face masks and sanitizer are through the roof.
Real estate, flights and gig/sharing economy businesses like AirBNB and Uber are down due to the huge reduction in social contact necessitated by the widespread lockdowns, however many travel companies are starting to report signs of life as people stuck at home begin to plan bigger, more expensive vacations with the money they have been saving. Entertainment, computer games and adult have all seen big upticks as tens of millions of people try to keep themselves occupied, and e-learning has been showing similar growth.
The lesson, as always, is to think about what people want and need. If you can sell that, then you’ll be in good shape. As an advertiser or publisher, if you haven’t already pivoted to take account of the new reality, then you need to get on it. If you think you’re locked into a particular business model, take another look. This thing isn’t going to be over any time soon.
If you sell face cream, start promoting fragranced sanitizer. If you sell work clothes, think about leisurewear. Find new revenue streams now.
Plan For Two Years
Wished won’t stop COVID-19. Opening up businesses in any given state might work, for a while, but then the virus will reassert itself. It looks like the early estimates weren’t far off: t’s probably about twice as infectious as flu and around 10x more dangerous. Think about how many people catch flu each year, even with a vaccine available. Consider that no state currently has the capacity to test more than a tiny percentage of their population, so there is no way to know how many infected people are wandering around currently.
Do you want to get on a plane or go to restaurant in those circumstances? The data shows that 70% of Americans do not. Scientists say that we are months away from having enough testing capability, and at least 18 months from having a vaccine, if we are lucky. It doesn’t matter what our politicans want or demand: opening up the economy won’t work yet. Even when we do start easing things, experience in Singapore and Sth Korea (where they are much stricter about social isolation than we are) shows that coronavirus breaks out in random places repeatedly, even with testing and contact tracing in place.
Bottom line: this thing isn’t going away any time soon and it will have an ongoing effect on the economy. You need to plan for two years of disruption to supply chains, changes in demand patterns, increased demand for financial opportunities and services, and, ultimately, what will turn out to be a bigger recession than in 2008. I would love to think I’m wrong about this, but I’m not.
Affiliate marketing as a business model is perfect for this moment. If your particular business model doesn’t fit the times, pivot as much as you can, right now. It might be difficult and painful, but if you wait, it will only become more so.