The 20-Minute Game Plan: How to Create an Affiliate Campaign Canvas

Written by Charles Ngo
Written by Charles Ngo

I remember taking a class once in university where we had to learn how to create a “business plan.”
The professor gave us a fictional business idea and we had to theorize what the next few years would look like.

  • How would we spend the initial capital?
  • Where would the customers come from?
  • At what point would the company start generating a profit?

It sounds like a great idea on paper, it’s worthless because the real world moves too fast and unpredictably. Instead of writing out fifty pages and wasting several weeks of work, you could make more progress testing your idea by trying to get sales.
So I’ve always equated “business plans” as one of those antiquated tools for the MBA types who have never owned a business before. 

However, almost a decade ago I came across a “business model tool” that actually works. It strips away a hundred pages of bullshit and puts a spotlight on what makes or breaks a business.
Instead of spending weeks on it, you only spend twenty minutes. It’s called the Business Model Canvas and it was created by Alexander Osterwalder.
This puts a huge spotlight on the important questions such as your value proposition, where are you going to find customers, and what are the most important activities. 

Link to full version
The Business Model Canvas Explained
Take a few minutes to read and analyze this Canvas.
I’m going to show you how some of the modifications that I’ve made so that you can use it in your next affiliate marketing campaign.

The Affiliate Marketing Campaign Canvas

I LOVED the concept of the business model canvas, but I couldn’t directly apply it to affiliate marketing campaigns.

I had to make some adaptations to make this work for campaigns because it’s a different business model.

For example, you’re not going to be “building a relationship” with your audience if you’re running a campaign the traditional way. I added in some other areas to make it more relevant for digital campaigns. 

Link to view the SpreadSheet

(Go to File -> Make a Copy to save a copy of this to your Google Drive)

Here ‘s the brief explanation for each area:

  1. Offers: Offers make or break your campaign. This is where you scout and compare different offers to run.
  2. Cost Structure: These are all the costs and expenses that you’ll occur while you’re running campaigns. You can categorize them into monthly overhead expenses, people, and traffic costs.
  3. Traffic Sources: Where are you going to buy your traffic from? There’s the main traffic source, and then you can put in what areas of it you’re going to focus on. You can also add in where you can possibly scale or the GEO’s you’re targeting. 
  4. Key Activities: What activities do you need to focus on in order to make this campaign successful. There are a hundred things to do each day, but what activities would break your campaign if you don’t nail it down?
  5. Customer Avatar: This is a detailed profile of your ideal customer. Understanding your ideal customer will make your ad copy, angles, and landing pages perform better.
  6. Key Differentiators: You probably have some existing competition. You’re not going to go far if you’re simply going to rip and run campaigns. What are you going to do differently from them?
  7. Angles: Your ideas for promoting your campaign on a creative angle. What are your hooks?

These are my suggestions. You can take away or add in whatever areas you think are useful.

Some Other Ways You Can Use This Canvas

The main use of this tool is for you to get a bird’s eye view of a campaign before you even launch. I have found two other interesting uses for this canvas. 
The first one is that it helps transfer critical information to media buyers. 
It can be difficult to explain what you want in the next campaign launch. Filling this Canvas lets them see the key details on a campaign to focus on. 
And second, this can help you see weaknesses in a campaign before you launch
Excited to launch your next campaign? Great. You might notice that there aren’t many offers for what you want to run. You might notice that the cost structure is too high.
You’re spending too much money on tools/software, and don’t have as much money leftover for traffic.
It’s better to see the weaknesses early before you waste valuable resources. 

Where to Go From Here

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” – Sun Tzu
Getting a campaign profitable can feel like an uphill battle. I get it.
In a perfect world, we could have all the money and time to test as many campaigns as we could and as many variables that we want.
But we’re all limited in our energy. The key is to strip everything down and focus on what matters.
Featured Image by 4Masik

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                The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

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