Hustle and Flowchart's Matt Wolfe and Joe Fier have much in common with James Schramko. They share many of the same industry connections. And they both have experience in affiliate marketing and revenue share deals.
In this SuperFastBusiness episode, they go through the 80/20 of what they’ve learned from those business models. Tune in and get ideas you can apply to your own business undertakings in those areas.
01:57 – A string of common connections
04:43 – The game plan for this episode
06:17 – Graduating from the launch model
09:01 – Many years of building relationships
12:45 – Early days as aspiring marketers
16:31 – Insights and experiences in revenue share
18:54 – Lessons learned from partnership dealings
21:00 – Forging good relationships in business
24:41 – An adventure in affiliate marketing
26:05 – When they come asking how you did it…
29:39 – Caring for the deals that you’ve got
32:49 – How to help the customer decide
35:01 – A customer-focused way of running things
40:38 – Do you genuinely want people to be better off?
43:13 – The power of personalizing your interactions
46:56 – More reasons to love revenue share
49:48 – Changing the membership game, and the results
50:53 – What drew Matt and Joe into affiliate marketing
53:03 – Stopping one business, scaling another
54:24 – If you’re not already doing affiliate marketing…
58:30 – Some parting techniques
01:04:29 – Keeping the rev share momentum going
01:09:32- Taking the temperature check
001:12:44- Looking forward in 2021
Matt Wolfe and Joe Fier of Hustle and Flowchart are no strangers to the show. From time to time they’ve gotten together with James to put out an hour or so of valuable business savvy for both their audiences.
It’s been a while since their last podcast collab, but Matt and Joe are back. And this time around, the topic is relationships in business, affiliate marketing and revenue share, of which they and James have plenty of real-life experience under their belts.
Many years of building relationships
Business is a lot about making connections, and the three talk about the many they have in common. They recall their days of being awed by big names at industry events, and years later being on close personal terms with the same legends.
“The longer you can wait to monetize something, the more powerful it can be when you do.”
It’s a matter of taking a long-term approach, says James. Avoid the obvious things that irritate people, and even if you have someone’s contacts, use them rarely if ever. The longer you can wait to monetize something, he says, the more powerful it can be when you do.
What long-term thinking can do
With that philosophy, James doesn’t start projects with huge expectations, especially revenue share deals. Like acorns, they will not be an oak in the first month. In a year or two, however, they could be something significant.
In James’s case, his revenue shares have allowed him to stop taking customers for what was once a major income stream, SilverCircle. And this move has freed up for him six or seven hours a week he can invest in existing relationships of value.
“You don’t need many relationships to have an amazing business.”
This highlights the point that long-haul thinking, building connections that last, can have a snowball effect. And when you have valuable relationships, you don’t need many of them to have an amazing business.
A lesson learned from partnership dealings
That said, James admits to past mistakes, one of which cost him about half a million dollars in partnership fees. It was a 50/50 deal, in which he was doing most of the marketing, most of the fulfilling and hence, most of the work.
Since then, he’s believed that the marketer should get the bigger share than the person with the intel. Experts, he says, are a dime a dozen, whereas often, good, reasonable products that are marketed very well will outsell an amazing product that’s an obscure secret.
Partnerships can work wonderfully, he says, looking at Matt and Joe. However, the amount of input from either party needs some consideration.
Maintaining good relationships in business
Matt and Joe’s business relationships have been very long-term, and key has been staying ahead in giving value. Many of their new connections start with the Hustle and Flowchart podcast, and are typically introductions from mutual friends.
A big piece of their secret sauce, says Joe, has been making a warm connection. There is some rapport built in from day one. And they don’t ever drop the ball. There is follow-up all the way, prior, during and after the podcast.
One thing they have struggled with, says Matt, is being networked with several people who have similar products to those they promote. Four or five of their close friends, for instance, sell some sort of page builder software. This can cause a bit of tug-of-war when they want Matt and Joe to promote their thing.
You do have to be careful, says James. When he has a rev share partner in one field, he seeks approval from them before taking on someone similar. And he has had to let go of potential deals to preserve existing partnerships.
One affiliate solution, he says, is a products page, where you would place recommended products. There you can have multiple competitors, highlight the pros and cons, and let the customer decide.
Given several options, customer choice will come down to who’s using the product, what they’re using it for, and what level they’re at. A comparison chart, like the one we have at episode number 775, can be a useful thing.
A customer-focused way of running things
Whether it’s affiliate marketing or rev share, James aims to be customer-focused first. Then he’s partner-focused, and then he’s me-focused. If you focus on the customer, he says, you can’t go wrong.
For that reason, he has a got-a-question-ask-James button beneath his product comparison chart, which sends emails that he answers personally.
And for the same reason he rejects most podcast guest recommendations (except when Matt and Joe send them – James trusts them and figures it will be helpful for them as well).
Occasionally he will have guests whose offers conflict with something he has stakes in. However, he has the customer in mind. It may be someone could benefit more from that product that from something he’s tied to.
“If you focus on the customer, you can’t go wrong.”
This focus on customer reflects in James’s choice of rev share partners. He wants the product that can help his customer better than any other product. And where it doesn’t, he will give input and help to tune the product to be better.
He chooses rev shares as well that can interplay, or in other words, serve the same customer. So his customer can benefit from Charley Valher with his media company, or Gert Mellak with SEO, John Lint with his software, or Kat Jarman with her membership support service.
This means that James can serve his customers in ways that he can’t as a coach, by promoting his partners’ products and advising them in their businesses.
Also, when a solution has outlived its usefulness, James has no hesitations recommending something else. He has turned off income streams that paid well but were no longer the best solution in the market. It’s always been about providing the right thing for the client. And it’s likely because of this that he has almost a four-year retention in his customer base.
That’s wild, says Joe, for any kind of continuity.
The power of personalizing your interactions
Going back to relationships, one thing Joe and Matt have gleaned from James’s strategies is personalization. It goes beyond engaging with his paid community. Joe recalls receiving a personalized video from James upon joining SuperFastBusiness. Since then, they’ve used personalized videos in affiliate marketing.
Joe and Matt run Facebook groups for various products, making it explicitly clear, however, that they are affiliates. They welcome joiners with specific questions: Are they a buyer of the product already? (at least half the time, it’s a no). Then they fish for questions: What are you looking for? Is there a problem you could solve right now?
Users are not expecting a video, but if they provide their email ad, Joe will send one. Eighty percent of the time he’ll get a response: “You just made my day. Oh my god, you just sent a video?”
Joe will introduce himself and answer the question they asked in the group. He’ll show a screen capture solving their problem and point them to resources. In about five minutes max he can average affiliate commissions of at least $300 to $1000. It’s an approach that immediately separates them from the rest of the competition.
And it doesn’t scale, says Matt. So many people are looking for an affiliate arrangement that’s set and forget. But he feels that the philosophies that work when you’re selling your own products are the same philosophies that work when you’re selling other people’s products. So be personal, be real, do these extra things that don’t scale and go above and beyond.
Reasons to love affiliate marketing and revenue share
A great advantage of rev share and affiliate marketing, says James, is less headaches. You don’t have to hire developers or do the customer support. All you do is the fun part you enjoy, the marketing.
And even when you’re being treated as a business partner, even when you make decisions with the client as a team, it’s not your typical shareholders arrangement. It’s more of a licensing or a royalty type agreement, which is still contractual, and still a little bit more work in the beginning. But once it’s done, you put it away, and you never really look at it again.
You get into a flow of reporting numbers, sending invoices, connecting, coaching, or creating content for distribution. James’s main roles in these arrangements are coaching, like he would with his own team or with paid members, or being distribution for them, which is where the podcast comes in.
It’s what originally got Matt and Joe into affiliate marketing. Making and promoting their own products was a lot of work. They paused it for a while, and looked seriously at affiliate marketing. This was around the time they were starting their podcast.
They decided the intention was to build a community they could cultivate and create fans, who would follow them and the recommended products that they used, mainly marketing software.
All they do is expose what they’re doing under the hood, what they use and why. And in their podcast, they provide strategies. In the end they wound up closing all their offers, except for the traffic offer James is currently helping promote.
They realized the affiliate marketing was starting to scale, and they began connecting phases – the podcast to specific affiliate promotions, so that the emails could be segmented based off that interest into a mini promo to something relevant. Now they have rev share, deals with software companies, equity deals and other affiliate platforms.
If you’re not already doing affiliate marketing…
For people with no affiliate marketing stream in place, says Matt, one of the easiest things to do is look through the content they’ve already got and see if there’s ways that you can weave affiliate promotions into it.
It’s one of the low-hanging fruit that he and Joe did for affiliate marketing. The other thing was to create a products page like James suggested, and mention their recommended products there.
A third thing they’ve started recently goes back to Dean Jackson. They started putting super signatures in their email. They create content-based emails, pure value, closed with a super signature – join our Facebook group, join our membership, or check out our recommended Products page.
Those three things have had huge results with very little effort to get the ball rolling.
James also suggests doing an affiliate webinar, something he did to promote a pair of his students’ product, helping people starting up online. They sent three emails to his list promoting the webinar, and from that he will earn somewhere from $35,000 to $38,000.
Some parting techniques
In addition to the strategies mentioned, Matt and Joe are doing some cool things in email segmentation and retargeting.
For instance, they’ll drive people from their list to a specific podcast episode. Then based on the episodes they listen to, they’ll retarget them to relevant offers. Say they’ve interviewed someone teaching webinar strategies. A person viewing the show notes for that episode can be retargeted to a webinar platform like EasyWebinar or EverWebinar.
They’ll do the same thing with email. People opening an email on that interview may get two more emails over two days about the best webinar platform to implement the strategies mentioned.
This Choose-Your-Own-Adventure segmenting is one of the most effective strategies Matt and Joe are currently doing. And they’ve partnered with two experts, Joe Kerns and Mike Alvarez, to set up behind the scenes a big behaviorally-based customer journey. Aside from delivering more value, they can also potentially have a new affiliate promotion per episode (something they’re not doing yet, but have dabbled with).
James likens it to the sequencing he used to sell Ontraport (then Office Autopilot) – a signature, then a sequence of emails. A simpler way, he says, would be to send an email after providing a requested resource – ‘PS. Where are you at at the moment with your business? Hit reply, and let me know.’
“Conversational conversions are the non-scalable way you’re going to sell more than anything else.”
This will encourage a conversation, and conversational conversions, says James, is the non-scalable way you’re going to sell more than anything else.
Keeping the rev share momentum going
Matt has a final question about rev shares: how do you ensure momentum continues and that the person you’re partnered with notices that the momentum continues? It seems in the beginning, while they’re laying groundwork, that momentum can be very slow. He doesn’t want the people they’ve partnered with to maybe regret the decision because they’re expecting quick results.
James handles this with a framework for the onboarding diagnostic. They set a roadmap, set clear expectations, and work out the low-hanging fruit. That way they’ll have immediate wins, followed by mid-term wins, and then a sort of long-term, knock-it-out-of-the-park achievement.
He’s had a partner, for instance, go from one assistant to a team of 28. He’s set another partner the goal to pay off their mortgage in a year.
James gives them things to do, has a frequent call schedule with them, and offers unlimited airplay on his show and distribution that they can’t get elsewhere. If there is a perception of lack of momentum, it’s usually the partner feeling they’re not doing a good enough job for James.
Joe recalls one of their own follow-ups with a partner. They were still in the stage of foundational work, and wanted to know how the other party was doing. The partner thought they were amazing, and was happy to be doing the foundational stuff, which he said opened his eyes to many new things. It was good just to know they were aligned.
Looking forward in 2021
What’s exciting in 2021?
James is eager to get back to the Maldives, where the relationships with some of his partners was born. It’s a happy place for him, and he can’t wait to get back there.
In business matters, there may be a couple of new books out, providing some scale opportunity. He thinks he may add a couple of great revenue share partners to his portfolio.
SuperFastBusiness, he says, is on fire at the moment. He loves the group and the calls, and thinks people there are going to do some great things.
He’ll be surfing, hopefully travelling again, and continuing to build on a strong foundation. He expects some boom times coming.
Joe is optimistic about the email system they talked about, expecting things to be more dynamic than in their last 10 years. They plan to double down with the right partners and grow the top of their iceberg, the tip being their podcast.
He sees more listeners in the coming year, working with guys like Charley Valher for that. They may be optimizing their SEO with Gert Mellak, though he says they’re doing pretty good. They look to get more potential fans on top, as they now have the machine that does the heavy lifting.
Joe wants to revisit Work Less Make More as well, now with a baby in the house.
Speaking of which, James has a 30-day Work Less and Make More challenge that delivers one of the action steps each day for 30 days. It’s currently available for free at SuperFastResults.com/30.
If you want to see more of Matt and Joe, their Facebook group is at flowchartgroup.com, where they do most of their interaction. Or you can check out their podcast, Hustle and Flowchart, at hustleandflowchart.com.
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