I've heard a lot of concern from retail business owners expressing doubts about getting into affiliate marketing "this late in the game". I usually respond with a bit of a chuckle, since I don't think the affiliate vertical, or even any of the other online verticals, are anywhere near mature.
Even more business owners don't quite understand how powerful affiliate marketing is. While those "in the know" online have long past had a drink of the affiliate kool-aid, it turns out a lot of people in the offline world haven't had a sip of this wonderful drink yet. For those who haven't, let's do a quick overview of what an affiliate is, without jargon or buzzwords:
Affiliates are commissioned sales agents working for you online
That's it. One sentence explanation. We're going to stay away from the words "communications", "partnership", "value added", and some of the other gems that are so often used to initiate people into affiliate marketing. They're sales agents that you don't have to pay, unless of course they perform. Now really think about that and what it means to you. Because of the lower barrier to entry, affiliate marketing is one of the great places to start online. Your ROI is guaranteed, and you only pay for results.
That's not all! If you have really good affiliates, they'll have access to their own marketing tools. They can do paid search, natural search, e-mail marketing, heck, they can even have their own affiliates working for them. If you manage them well, treat them right, and most importantly, give them a good revenue oriented reason to work with you, you're golden.
If you're reading this and it sounds good, know this: it's not too late to get involved. Affiliates are constantly popping up and looking for new opportunities. Even if you work with products or services that are leaning in the direction of being commodity's you can still succeed, but first you need to get going with your own program.