Affiliate Nerd Out

Modernizing Affiliate Management Strategy with Joshua Kennedy

February 14, 2024 Dustin Howes Season 1 Episode 69
Affiliate Nerd Out
Modernizing Affiliate Management Strategy with Joshua Kennedy
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join the ranks of affiliate management maestros with actionable wisdom from Joshua Kennedy, the marketing virtuoso behind Imagine Marketing. Our exchange slices through the complexities of SEO, analytics, and modern affiliate strategies, serving as a compass for navigating the digital landscape. Joshua, harnessing his six years of industry acumen, recounts the rush of growing his agency amid the COVID-19 storm. We dissect the challenges of a ubiquitous brand name in SEO and the transformation of Imagine Marketing into a beacon for growth marketing excellence.

Get ready to revolutionize your affiliate playbook as we unpack the finer points of modern affiliate management. With a spotlight on inventive publisher development and an emphasis on data literacy, this session is a goldmine for aspiring Affiliate Managers seeking to scale their capabilities. We share the secret ingredients for nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset, inspired by resources like Avinash Kaushik and Round Barn Labs. Plus, Joshua and I highlight the overlooked gems within affiliate practices, advocating for the indispensable nature of perpetual learning and the art of internal networking.

Wrapping up, we pivot to the meticulous art of program migration and client development. Delving into the heart of business development strategies, I share firsthand accounts of affiliate triumphs, including the case of GotBag, and guide you on how to identify your next e-commerce success story. And for a splash of creativity, Joshua extends an invitation to experience his comedic and musical endeavors – a testament to the power of personal branding. Tune in to witness the fusion of analytical prowess and creative flair, essential for those ready to leave their mark on the affiliate marketing world.

For more tips on how to scale your affiliate program, check out https://performancemarketingmanager.com

Dustin Howes:

Hey folks, welcome to Affiliate Nerd Out. I am your Nerdirator, dustin Howe. Spread that good word about affiliate marketing. You're going to find me here every Tuesday and Thursday at 12.15 Pacific Time, so put it on the calendar and be here for my next guest and my guest today, joshua Kennedy. He is the founder of Imagine Marketing, and welcome to the Nerditorium, josh.

Joshua Kennedy:

I appreciate it, Dustin. Yeah, I'm glad to be here on the Nerditorium, looking forward to conversation.

Dustin Howes:

Awesome. Well, I appreciate you reaching out and coming on board for a conversation today and we're going to be talking about the modern affiliate manager and what that entails. And if you would like to ask me or Josh any questions out there, please jump into the live Q&A, drop a line in the chat If you'd like to be in Josh's seat someday, go to DustinHowescom and fill out an application and a topic that you'd like to nerd out about. That's how Josh got here. He filled that out and now we're here today, so be part of that crew. Our question of the day what other marketing disciplines are helpful for the AM role? My favorite pick almost always SEO. What's your pick of the day here?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, that's a good question. I like the analytics side personally. So sort of data analyst kind of experience chops would be really useful. I think a lot of it. Yeah, that'd be my recommendation.

Dustin Howes:

That's super smart. That's probably a better answer than what I said, but all right, but without further ado. Joshua, who are you?

Joshua Kennedy:

That's a good question. It depends on who you ask. But in this context, definitely, I'm the founder of Imagine Marketing, so it's a company that I bootstrapped an affiliate agency, primarily during COVID, so it was around 2020, early 2020 that I started. I've been in the affiliate space for going on about six and a half years now. So yeah, so I've been in the affiliate marketing space for a while. I've been a few conferences, so it's nice to kind of get to see the industry a little bit from that perspective. But I've been like internal an agency, so in-house for agencies, in-house for brands, merchants, advertisers, and then also sort of doing my own business, independent consulting, all that kind of stuff. So I'd like to think that I have a good sort of exposure to the industry overall and right now I'm really focused on the entrepreneurial, building the business kind of side of that.

Dustin Howes:

So Awesome, awesome. Six years is a good amount of time in this space to really get your feet wet. I'm sorry I misspelled your name there, my mistake, we'll figure it out later on. Tell me more about Imagine Marketing. First off, what's the name origin story? How'd that get going?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah. So I think what it was is right. As I was considering building the business right, I was thinking about it Okay, how do I first get the website? What is the service is going to look like? I kept hearing the word Imagine over and over and over again, or seeing it in places, and it just so was very top of mind for me At that time. I would look at a pillow and the pillow would have Imagine on it. Or I'd look up at a sign post and the sign would have Imagine. So it just was really top of mind. So and too, it kind of like right now currently I make music as well and I do comedy. So I do kind of think that I have a little bit of an imaginative life or a good imagination. So I think it kind of fits me with my personality. But really it was just like a super top of mind word and I thought, hey, that's kind of a cool name. I'd like to name my company that. That's really the origin story.

Dustin Howes:

Okay, so it was a sign from the universe. Imagine just popped up and it was available as an LLC. I love it.

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, yes, it was there. Probably were there probably like three or four variations of it, but yes, it was available as an LLC.

Dustin Howes:

You know well those hidden weird stories that go around, is naming your company something that you're going to have an uphill battle with in SEO? And we face this at Grovia, when the diaper company was just killing us and everything. But imagine, with your background, you must be fighting that as well, I would assume.

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, well, I think a little bit. I think right now it's not a ton of like inbound SEO stuff in terms of leads and all that from clients. So I think that's probably more of where I'd face difficulty. But, to be honest with you, there's not a ton of imagine. I feel like companies that have done a super or super top of mind If you think about it like name, an imagine company. So maybe we can become that company, hopefully one day. That'd be great.

Dustin Howes:

Love. It All right, let's talk about what you do and who you're serving out there.

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah. So I would say it's primarily an affiliate marketing agency right now. So managing affiliate programs for brands primarily worked in tons of verticals and I've worked. You know, both the company and myself have worked in tons of verticals we tend to see the most, our tend to work the most with health and wellness CPG brands certainly my based protein, some CBD, some nutra, things like that. So that's primary, but we've worked in all kinds of verticals.

Joshua Kennedy:

Definitely have verticals that we prefer more than others, for sure too. So kind of that's the bread and butter is affiliate marketing. But I think it's going to move toward more of a growth marketing agency to as time evolves, just because I have so much of an interest in growth marketing, data science, all the kind of stuff that we mentioned earlier. So that's how I kind of see the company trending. So that means probably more expansion into paid ads, more CRO things like that off the site, so kind of rounding out the services a little bit. But just because of the experience and I think kind of the core competency or core service offering will be the affiliate management.

Dustin Howes:

So cool and at this point in your career, I feel like that's right where you should be and looking to expand, and I think many of the agencies out there today are doing that exact same thing. You start off affiliate and you start expanding like there's a lot of wasted effort that we can still utilize for PR or other disciplines in the marketing, so that's a really good strategy. I like that. Now, your beginnings were a little bit different than I'm used to. You started off on the content side rather than in the partnership realm or on the agency side of things. Tell me how you got started in this world.

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, well, I'm glad I shifted a little bit, just because that would be mainly obsolete right now if I would pursue the same. I was a writer and an English major in communications major in college, so that was kind of my entry into. I actually started working at an SEO digital services firm right out of college and then did some freelancing on the side, got offered a content marketing amazingly blogging content for a group or a company that managed a portfolio of health and wellness CPG brands. So I started doing content for them. And then kind of early on with I'd say like three months into the position, four months in, I kind of saw the affiliate. I just like was doing a lot of competitive research and I saw affiliate programs everywhere and I was like, wow, this seems like something that's pretty prevalent in our space, Like maybe I should look into it.

Joshua Kennedy:

And then just kind of looked at, just got a word plus plug on the website, started kind of figuring out how to do it and then, yeah, it just became like a really big driver, revenue driver for the channel or for the company over across our brand. So like our primary brands we would have like that would be like a bulk of our revenue and then any new brands. We kind of leverage that to tap into those partnerships, build some traffic early on those kinds of things. So yeah, just was very successful then. And then that kind of became because I was making the most money for the company at that point versus writing blogs and content marketing. They're like, yeah, continue doing this right. And was in that position for about two years. We could talk a little bit about the migration of partners. I think that's something we're going to speak about, but yeah, that's basically it. So, starting in content marketing, saw there's an opportunity for affiliate marketing based on competitor research and then just kind of went for it.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, and that was. You mentioned a CBD company and that was in the infancy of when CBD was probably coming through and having those differentiators between your brand and the others today is like such a saturated market. But you found a nice vertical in that space for affiliate marketing to like make some success. It looks like.

Joshua Kennedy:

For sure, Absolutely. Yeah, that was like I said it was at that time. It was probably about 40% or 50% of our revenue.

Joshua Kennedy:

And CBD like that was growing like that industry, those brands were growing extremely quickly back in the day. So it wasn't necessarily I mean, I would like to think that I did have some skill and you know it's Canyon or some skill was involved, but definitely there was a lot of just right time, right place but yeah, and then. So eventually we just kind of got into a point where it was like, hey, this is successful, there's things working, we're growing. And then we migrated from that WordPress plugin and to impact radius. At that point, Okay, and which I feel like is kind of I feel like impact has really grown a lot For sure, Brand right and then kind of like as a company in terms of their vision over the past few years but I think those are relatively early days still of like onboarding impact and running programs, that a different financial model and things like that. So yeah, that was kind of what that role looked like.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, and we will get into that migrating clients portion of this topic, but I want to get into the meat and bones of what we're talking about today, and that is the modernizing affiliate management strategy. And what is a modern AM in your opinion?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, that's a good question. So what I would say is some of it is context dependent, right, or situation dependent. So some agencies might have a client run 10 accounts, versus some agencies you might be focused only one account, right. So as an account manager, that's a very different approach and strategy to doing that. But in terms of just general generalized affiliate management, what I think is I think you definitely have to know the various partner types or publisher types, so so I think that you really need my biggest exposure to that was working in publisher development, right. So not only working with existing publishers or affiliates that are, you know, other clients that worked with or that were in our database, but then also kind of being on the hunt for new opportunities. So I remember we you know that specifically, I brought on a partner that had, you know, be half a million, a million users a month and there was like a fitness app and things like that or as a fitness app, and that was not something that was in our existing libraries.

Joshua Kennedy:

So I think the ability to see opportunity to think outside of the box in terms of partnership, recruitment, running campaigns and not be so tied to sort of your baseline traditional publishers, I think that's a really strong skill. The other thing is, I really do think you need to be like data savvy, right. So you need to be able to understand is like, think like a little bit like an entrepreneur, maybe a CEO, cmo or something like that. So it's when you're showing your data, you're not only just saying, okay, here's the CPA, like, here's the what it's like. Why is that? Look, how does that CPA stack up or compare to the target CPA of the brand, how does it compare to cross channel? And you know they're paid media efforts, all those kind of could they take, you know, potentially some dollars out of you know running a certain running Pinterest or running Snap or running Facebook and then reinvest that into an affiliate campaigns, right? So I think, yeah, those are.

Joshua Kennedy:

Those are a couple things I'm trying to think of. There's anything off the top of my head, but I think definitely the data side of things and sort of having the understanding of the publisher landscape really, and being open to new ideas, new partnerships beyond the sort of the traditional. That's what I would say is super, super important. And a lot of times when I've like when I've inherited accounts or clients from either previous agencies or you know they, however, write a personal like or an affiliate manager is. A lot of times it was just those basic partners that you'd see in every account and you know in 90% of accounts or something like that, or the ones that just kind of apply within automatically whenever you first onboard a program. So I would definitely encourage that publisher variety for sure.

Dustin Howes:

Okay. So diversification of your existing skill set really good concept. It looks like you got a fan out there. This is a high praise from Elena. I don't. I don't feel like she says this about a lot of people. Joshua is great alongside working with him for a while. Very interesting, unique approaches. Thanks for joining me, Elena, and being here. So, continuing on that concept, you're talking about the modern AM and data definitely falls in that Skill set that that you absolutely need. Where do you pick up these skills as an AM Like? Where's the kind of training that you that you found helpful to figure all this out?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah. So I would love to say that it's from an in, a mentor, an individual organization. I think it's something that I collected just through time. But also, too, is just like intense curiosity, entrepreneurial spirit, those kinds of things like so reading Like a avanash Koshak, who is like basically the data analyst for Google.

Joshua Kennedy:

He's like got a wonderful blog, so I would name job him, and he's got a book called web analytics 2.0, I believe, which I would read that. So it's kind of a growth marketing, it's a growth marketing book, but I think it has a lot of applications right. So it's kind of taking looking at what a Google analytics dashboard report, how you can customize it, how you can interpret it, what this actually means, all those kinds of things. I really do think so, specifically in our industry, I think that the work that round barn labs does, the podcast they put out, the, the flywheel newsletter, things like that have always looked them as sort of an inspiration or a model for the type of business that I would want to Run or the type of affiliate management that I would like to have, I think, because they're more like growth marketing oriented.

Joshua Kennedy:

So I'd say those two things, but as far as if you're like an AM that's working internally, an agency like you're gonna have 20 other people in your same role or maybe a director or something. Each of those people is gonna have a unique skill set, right, so some of them might be better communicators, other than might be more organized, better with the numbers, whatever. Ask internally to right, if someone's really good with excel, reporting, analytics, like, ask internally and that could be a great way to get a start. But I think, yeah, avanash Koshak would be a definitely a recommendation I would have, as far as like Just a name to put out there.

Dustin Howes:

That's standing and you know I've got my beginnings in my career, learnings from folks like Gino and Sean Collins and going to affiliate summit and going to those Events, which was always helpful in in my upskilling. So, but great recommendations. So, in your opinion, what are am's not doing enough of these days? You mentioned about how we can go out and upskill, but what are am's doing? What are they not doing enough these days?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, that's a good question. So I think one is I'm gonna flip us a little bit right. So I think part of it is leadership within affiliate agencies. So I think that a lot of times is that the account manager is right at that level, right? So let's say, three years of experience to five years of experience would just throw that out there. You're only gonna know so much within that time period and you're gonna be following directions from your account director, you're from your VP, whatever those people. So I think affiliate managers definitely have responsibility.

Joshua Kennedy:

But also internally at the organization is to understand that these account managers are just people at the end of the day, with a limited Ben, with a limited energy. So I remember when I was an account manager and doing six counts, seven accounts, trying to do six reports and Presentations and slides and everything it's it's very difficult to go deep enough with a particular client to really serve them, and I think as well as you can. So I think part of it is the onus and responsibility is on the strict, the structure around that specific manager. So I'll say that part and then, as far as affiliate managers, what I would do is I would challenge yourself to look into the data more deeply right and to give more holistic view of understanding how the affiliate channel plugs into the entire ecosystem of a particular brand, right? So, rather than just saying hi, I'm the affiliate manager and I report on Commissions and sales and revenue and for transactions and this. So, again, kind of like the CPA thing I mentioned earlier, it's okay, we know that it costs $30 to acquire a customer for within a, within a program.

Joshua Kennedy:

How does that? Ask them, how? What are the CPAs like in your other channels? What it how is? How is meta performing? How is what? How is Google performing, like all these different things. So, understanding e-commerce from a little bit higher level Perspective, I think, is really gonna help you because you're also gonna understand like, hey, what is this client actually care for? Or like care about right, like it's not. Not all metrics are gonna be cared the same by brands or your clients, and yeah, so, and I would also probably on the back of that, is to just ask questions Of the of the client that you're serving. Right is to really understand their needs and say what's more important. Do you want revenue? Is revenue? Is it? Earnings per click? Is it? You know, whatever these things are. If you can, just you can ask them and they'll be very straightforward and you kind of know, okay, how do I speak to this person in a way that they're gonna find the most value?

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, and you better ask that question in the first month of them being a client to like find out what, what they find value in and then go after that right. And but don't assume assuming is is always going to be a detriment, because you might go out and spend a lot of time trying to find one Type of publisher out there that they really don't care about. So those those things about you mentioned, you know, getting your internal team to train you up. I think one of the earliest Problems that I had in my career is not understanding the product enough and then just jumping into the affiliate side. So I think there has to be some good Education on what the product is, the ICP and the partner potential of where we need to go and look for the those potential partners. And that's something I just didn't do enough of in my early career that I kind of Learned to develop. Do you? Do you feel the same way?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, yes, well, I feel like I'm always, yeah for sure, always developing and and also too, I think, like from more, like we're more like the performance marketing side of the space. But I think it's like, yeah, when you, when you want to, when you're engaging with a brand or a client, right, it's like you have to really understand that their strategy to, because the affiliate program you can, you can, you know you can hurt, hurt a brand sometimes with the affiliate program you can really ramp them up or whatever. So it's just kind of having that holistic understanding and really being in touch with that client and their needs. Like, is this a more long, long tail, long-term approach with this client? More brand awareness? Is this more of a performance marketing deal play, like all those kinds of questions, which is coming with that alignment with the client?

Dustin Howes:

All right, gotcha. So with your, your process, with your clients, are there overwhelming problems that you guys are solving when you take on these new clients? Is there a common theme that you see with clients?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, what I would say is that, generally speaking, if you probably ask 80%, 90%, that's obviously this is not a founded number. But if you ask most brands what most brands are looking for, when you ask for growth or you say what do you want to do, or whether your fill the brush is, let's sell more, right, so I feel like most, most clients, most brands, that I find they're just looking, looking for sales or profitability. So one of the things so what I'm trying to do is something that we've implemented Is like an intake form which is just like kind of get to know the founder, get to know their, their goals or the CML or whoever you're you know your day-to-day sort of interacting with, and so I'd be happy to share that with your audience or, like you know, even like a written thing after our conversation. But again it kind of goes back to that like what, what are, what is their knowledge of the Affiliates? What is, what are their goals for the program, where their goals as a brand, and all that kind of stuff. So I feel like if you can mitigate sort of the lack of clarity or you can make things clear from the beginning, which really comes down to understanding your client, then a lot of those like sort of down the road problems you can avoid those or kind of you can avoid those a lot better if you kind of have that set of clear expectations.

Joshua Kennedy:

I think one of the most difficult things I won't name any Agencies, or I think an example is I've worked with like more PR content first sort of affiliate agencies and Like they would sell clients the front end, like oh, you're gonna get this many press hits and all that kind of stuff, which I think is probably a lot of brands have probably heard that before If they're being pitched by affiliate agencies. But the problem is is you're thinking is like you're really well, you're the mercy of editors, you have to have the right product and brand, you have to have the right delivery. So it's it's, you know, one of those things where a lot of times we'd see like okay, we're not able to deliver what was first promised. So my goal as a, as a founder, as an entrepreneur, as an affiliate manager, is to again like Create like realistic expectations based on product, like based on reality, what the founder wants, then also what our Deliverables can be in terms of a service. So that's kind of how I see that.

Dustin Howes:

Okay, gotcha, and when you do take on these new clients here, do you find a lot of value in migrating them from the existing platform that they're on like? I gotta Assume that that's your big on, like share a sale with the clientele that you're taking on. I think they're a fabulous Platform. Impact, partnerize all those are great platforms. But if you like, get a choir, a program on a On a different platform that you're not very familiar on. Do you find a lot of value migrating them over?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, I think, I think you can and I think a lot of that comes down to a is probably the partnership. There's a few different considerations. One is probably that the assistance of the, like the publisher development team or, but like the network, the agency team that you're working with. So if they're pretty high-touch and easy to work with and that's a huge advantage, what I would say is, like for share sale, for instance, like their agency development team, I feel like it's pretty communicative maybe versus some of the other teams. So that's that's very helpful. Or an important consideration.

Joshua Kennedy:

Obviously, the technology or the functionality of the platform right.

Joshua Kennedy:

So if you need to go more deeper analysis into the data, you may be a little bit more developed business, mature business, versus just trying to start out.

Joshua Kennedy:

Then obviously I think you the, you know, looking into the, the technical functionality, like an impact or a partner rises maybe more important in those situations.

Joshua Kennedy:

So I think it's really about growth, growth phase, you know, and a lot of times what it just comes down to is cost right.

Joshua Kennedy:

So if you're, for instance, how, like a billing model of your share sale, right and you have an expensive product so let's say, you sell couches and you have a or even mattresses and you have a thousand dollar AOV well, share sales going to take 20% of every commission right. So that might be more expensive than another transaction model right or or fee for another platform. So I would say there's probably, you know, there's probably five or six major considerations that you can have when you're evaluating. But I think probably most of that due diligence needs to have happen up front, which would probably be best served by talking to someone like you or like me or another agency right that can help you and has that experience, versus just going in and then, yeah, so I think it's important up front, but you can absolutely migrate through, like you absolutely migrate an affiliate program while you're running it successfully without major hitches, if done correctly too, because I've done it personally.

Dustin Howes:

So I never suggest it like early on, right. It's just it's a big headache to migrate your, your platform, especially if you have a ton of affiliates over there. But I mean, if it's a smaller program and you're you're hoping to scale it in the future, do it while it's early in that program. It could be the best fit for you. But, like you said, like everything is an evaluation, you've got a good five points that you made. Like there, what you're looking for and like is is the tracking dynamic enough for what you're trying to accomplish is always the biggest question and hurdle. Like, if I'm going to migrate this, if I'm going to spend the time migrating these partners over there, has to be a very good reason for it and and those are really good insights but, like, if you're on a platform like a you know, a WordPress plugin, that's just not going to be the job for you. Those are going to be one of the first tasks that I do to get them on something that's going to help them scale. Absolutely All right.

Dustin Howes:

We've got a comment here from Victor. He says great insight so far. Joshua, Curious about going about brands that you guys target to work and produce the best results. Do you guys target brands that are similar to the ones you've already have great results with? That's a good question, Victor.

Joshua Kennedy:

That is a good question. So I guess this is really a business development question. So, yeah, I mean that's a complex answer. I think where you have case studies, it's always easier to sell right. Or if there's if you're saying, okay, we perform well, we've done this for this client, it's always easier to have that conversation if you service that protocol and perform well. So that's that's one. So, yes, that's one.

Joshua Kennedy:

But I think really what it really more involves is just an in-depth understanding of, like, what the affiliate market or what the affiliate industry can do, and if the brand that you're speaking to is actually going to be successful, right, so you can have a brand that wants to, wants to do affiliate, wants to get a million content placements or wants to acquire grow 300% month over month or whatever thing is, but they're not willing to increase their commissions or they're not willing to discount their products or anything like that, then that's not going to be successful. So, as far as like, speaking to brands and trying to court them and everything is, yeah, I mean, I think it's. I think it's important to have a realistic understanding of what verticals, of a certain vertical, like CBD is an example, right, it's like CBD is a saturated market very hard to sell. If a brand wants to come to you and says I want to be, you know, grow 300% and I'm not willing to discount my products or invest in paid media, then you're not going to be able to do that. There's no, there's no affiliate manager on earth can do that.

Joshua Kennedy:

So part of it is just a little bit of that experience in the affiliate industry to say, okay, like, what types of clients could actually perform well? Like, yeah, or what have I seen? What are the strategies that certain verticals or brands can use within the affiliate marketing industry in order to become successful? So that's a little bit harder to develop because it just takes that experience and time. So I hope that provided some value to the guy asking there. I want to give the CBD example.

Dustin Howes:

So oh, absolutely. And he says thanks a lot. Love the response. Thanks for tuning in again. And one other point like there also could be a conflict of interest that you have to be cautious of as well when you're taking on clients. I mean you can't have Shopify as your client and then take on big commerce. Like there's just too much of a conflict of interest there. And same with CBD. It would be tough like taking on two CBD clients at the same time, but maybe you knew it. Like maybe there's some variations that you could, but you want to utilize that network that you've used for other clients. That's going to be super beneficial for them. We got another point here from Elena. What are one, two cool opportunities you've suggested in the past 12 months that are outside of the box?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, that's a good question. So I think part of it is. So Elena and I have spoken about before NIFT as an opportunity, which is a gifting service. Basically works like an advertising marketplace kind of in the back end. It's a gifting service and it helps basically brand discovery. So you send out gift cards through. Basically you send out gift cards. It's like a network of basically a huge audience, but it's kind of it's like a loyalty, it's kind of like a blend between loyalty and gifting and paid media and things like that. So that's something that we've spoken about and I've gotten like couple of brands on there. So that's something interesting. It's not necessarily like an affiliate, a true affiliate partner. They're kind of doing their own advertising platform or advertising, so like, yeah, advertising platform or advertising platform or basically. But that's been something that we've. That's been interesting for me and has been something that I've been trying to onboard basically brands on for a long time probably a year or more, niftcom.

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, go, NIFTcom, Cool. And so another one has been just like everything from like what Squaredance has been doing over the past year, a year and a half. So I first got turned on to Squaredance and, if you guys don't know, it's an affiliate platform that caters mainly to media buyers, but it's a growing affiliate and tech platform. They're based out of Canada so they're really competing with Share, Sale and Impact and all that kind of stuff, but they've got their niche in media buying. So that's also a really interesting new addition and development within the affiliate industry.

Joshua Kennedy:

So what they do is they try to basically it's more set up for funnels and driving to specific offers than just running to your website or individual product page and what you do is you pay out media buyers on a CPA similar to how you would pay a loyalty partner, a coupon partner, a content partner.

Joshua Kennedy:

But they're actually going to use some very creative user on ad accounts and to drive paid media traffic to specific landing pages or funds. So they're probably one or two on there that might be able to just drive to a home page or a category level page, but primarily landing pages. So the cool thing about that is that the golden ratio there is if you find a brand that's profitable, right and a CPA that's profitable over what the cost of acquisition is for that specific channel. So it could be Tabula, it could be Pinterest, it could be Facebook, it could be anything but as long as that customer acquisition cost so what it costs the media buyer to like, basically send that customer over and the CPA they're getting from the brand. So if they're profitable there and then the brand is also making a profit margin off that CPA from what they actually their product margin is, then that's a really good situation for all those parties and a really scalable acquisition channels and affiliate partner.

Dustin Howes:

So fantastic, great, great. Elena says thank you and then Elena really appreciates your help. She dropped the links so that folks can go check out those two publications as well. Man, we got questions coming in and I hate and I want to get to some more of our topics. So let's get to one of these concepts that I wanted to talk about untested brands. You are taking on these, the brands that are coming in, and I always like to say I want to see an e-commerce brand with a million ARR before I even consider creating an affiliate program. Do you feel in the same way? Do you think untested brands are ripe for affiliate program or where should they be spending their budget first?

Joshua Kennedy:

So I've heard differences in opinion on this. I know some people in the industry say they don't Like we're not. I've heard the tagline or the line you use Like we're not here to figure out your business, we're here to run your affiliate program, essentially. So I think that's not quite. I think yours is a little softer than what that's saying.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, that sounds rude, but I'll get the point.

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, but it's kind of echoing the same thought or the same sentiment. How I see it is if the product or brand, if the brand is viable and the product is viable, then affiliate can run. You from your first dollars can be affiliate dollars, right. So that's, and actually I might recommend it. Right, because if I'm an entrepreneur and I'm trying to get my affiliate to be at the highest cost or mitigate risk on my end, right, I don't wanna go into a paid media channel to try to build my first sales, right, because that customer acquisition cost is gonna be high relative to what you can get through the affiliate channel. So I don't think it's for every brand.

Joshua Kennedy:

I think GotBag was not. We launched their affiliate program but we didn't like a. We'll speak to a GotBag. It's a GOTBAG is the name of the brand. So we launched their affiliate program but we weren't the very first sales for them. But they had gone into, they had started more of a paid media approach when they first started, then leaned more on the affiliate stuff and that was pretty successful and that was basically from early revenue to where they're at today.

Joshua Kennedy:

So I guess they again, to kind of bring that all together is it's really hard to sell a product unless you just have a ridiculous CPA. So some health and wellness products, if they have a really strong lifetime value, you can actually overpay the acquisition cost. So you can pay out for acquisition cost or CPA. Right, you could say I'll pay $100 for a customer even though you make $60, or the product's $60, because I know there's at the three time purchase cycle for this particular customer or this particular product. So they're actually brand specifically on square dance that overpay the AOV of the product just because they know they're gonna get such a long lifetime value of it. So that's kind of an interesting, interesting value. But overall you can't just make anything sell. It has to be a good product with real value product, like you know, priced competitively or reasonably, a decent website experience, or else you're not gonna make affiliate successful. So that's my thoughts on it. But I do believe it can be the first dollars if those are dialed in.

Dustin Howes:

Okay, that's fair. I like that concept. I don't think there's any problems creating an affiliate program to get rolling as you start to build that other traffic and go down the other avenues. But one thing I find really important is finding out what Facebook ads and Google ads are costing that company. And then we take the affiliate CPA and back it out into a lead and figure out, hey, we don't need to pay that much. We can get the cost per acquisition a whole lot lower than what they're doing in Facebook. But having that baseline of what the other channels are doing is super important to like. I don't wanna give too much away in the affiliate program to be like in all reality right.

Joshua Kennedy:

Well, you could also, then there's potential. Now with these like Square Dance is a little bit different approach, but now that you have these media buyers, you could almost turn every channel for a company into an affiliate channel, right? So you know, because they run Google ads, they run Meta, they run all the paid media, so it's like almost all of your revenue could be paid out under an affiliate model nowadays if you're a direct consumer brand if you really wanted to run it that way, so this is interesting, yeah.

Dustin Howes:

And is that how you're winning with GotBag, like you talked about them being early on in that space, is that one of those tools that you guys are utilizing there?

Joshua Kennedy:

I think less so because I think less so with them. I think, really, what's the GotBag? Why there was success with GotBag is just because they had limited attention to other channels actually, so like they had a smaller team that was doing a little bit of everything right, so they didn't have specialization within any particular channel. So I think when we brought affiliate specializations to them and just really try to focus on building that channel, we helped them to see success. Also, too, website is really nice, brand is really cool, story mission is really cool. So that makes it a lot easier to pitch and sell to affiliates, especially like around your content partners, premium content reviews, roundups, all that kind of section of affiliate marketing or that partner type. It makes that those are like key ingredients to be successful there, right, is it? What's the website look like? What are the media kits look like? What's the brand mission? Are there any cool founder stories like all that kind of stuff? So that's, we saw a lot of success on that side.

Dustin Howes:

Beautiful. All right, we got a few more questions before we end up wrapping up here. Victor's got another curious. You guys use any tools to find e-commerce stores that you want to Acquire as clients, always interested in that. Do you understand the question?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, I mean it's. So what I would say is, yeah, there's a couple different ways you can do that. I think back in the day I don't do this as much anymore but you can actually find Shopify directories of every single Shopify store and you can, and then you can sort it by traffic, right, and so you can. You can actually look through a directory and if you really want to come up with like a lead list of clients to hit up also scraping, share, sale, like the networks for you know you can you can just do a little data scraper and try to find all the brands on there and do it that way. It's a little bit more time-intensive. You can do something like a sim, like an SEM rush or or sim rush, sem rush or a similar web where you're finding organic competitors, right, so let's say a got bag, for instance, you pop, got back in, you look at the organic competitors. That's going to tell you all the shared or common keywords from that specific brand to another brand. So you're likely going to find other, like wandered or something like that, which is like another backpack brand that's kind of similar, or a gear brand. So just doing like the organic commonality, that kind of goes back to that. What you're saying is don't, don't do too much of a. There's a little bit maybe a conflict of interest sometimes with like too common of brands, but that would that maybe be another suggestion for me.

Joshua Kennedy:

Another another way is to find. I've set up RSS feeds in the past where you can see anyone who joins in a network, like immediately right. So I know, like FMTC and stuff, they have an ongoing directory of brands they have, but like you can actually set up RSS feeds where you can see every single new merchant that signs up for share sale. And so if you want to be the first brands or the first agency, no, if you sign up on share sale, you're gonna get murdered with without reach immediately from agencies, like it happens, but that might be able to. You might be able to reach them first or just find someone that's been overlooked. So I would say those are a few ideas from business development, but I think overall the best thing to do is deliver a really good service, be present within your industry and Accept client referrals. I think that's the best way to do it.

Dustin Howes:

Oh, excellent. I hope you pay for those referrals there. Joshua, be be part of the solution. Eat your own dog food out there. Agencies that haven't paid me for leads in the past and they're on the list of not getting the leads anymore. So that guy alright. Orlando says what's the best way to partner with mass media publishers on a performance basis. Majority of them work on a flat V basis. Any ideas on how to integrate content, reviews and list, of course, to your traffic mix?

Joshua Kennedy:

That's a good question. So again, I think this goes back to Frame, frame the pitch as well as you can, right, so you can only do so much in your, in your, in your control, right. But things that we used to look at when we were pitching content, we're just like Earnings per click right, if you have a specific, I'll give a specific offer, a specific product that's performing really well. Like you can look at EPC, because that's what the publishers are concerned with right at the end of the day, from a money perspective, is how much? How much money are they gonna make on your products? Or if someone clicks on your product writer visits your website. So EPC is an important metric for publishers.

Joshua Kennedy:

Another thing to consider is just like, hey, what is, what is the audience here? What are the editors like, what are the storytelling angles? Like, how was the editor gonna approach this? Partly writing about this particular product, or this is part of the political listicle. So I think, yeah, just think about it from that perspective too. It's how, if I was writing about this product like, how would I want to share this or position this or frame this, you know, if I was writing about it? So, key storing telling angles. How does fit into seasonal gift guides, season big like seasonal things coming up, like you know, holidays, those those kinds of things, sales days, all that kind of stuff, new product releases, is it? Is it a new product? Is there a certain customer feedback that's been provided about the product? What are the unique selling points of it? Just try to pitch it right. So it's like how how can I differentiate myself, make this look as appealing as possible and then relate it back to data Right related back to EPC's, the support that you're gonna have for them. So that's one right.

Joshua Kennedy:

Number two is, I would say, use like products or try to leverage Like the link to be, as an example, ally and KBY. So they're sort of a. They work directly with the mass media publishers, although bonsai used to be one, but there's other multiple, five vendors and companies that do a similar thing. But so how they work it is they actually do packages based on CPC to specific media, mass media partners. So if you wanted to work with a Condé Nast brand and you had a budget of five thousand or ten thousand dollars, what they would, what you would do, is you would sign up on link B, set a certain Cost per click that you're willing to pay, let's say two dollars. And then you would say, okay, I would like to be in this part, I would like to be in vogue or GQ or whatever, and I'm willing to pay two dollars and this is my product, this is my brand and this is my budget for it.

Joshua Kennedy:

And so the wreck what how I've been trying to work with them is I've been trying to Find the most trafficked articles that are relevant to my product or my client right.

Joshua Kennedy:

So if you have like, I'll use cookware as an example. So if you have a cookware brand and there's a huge roundup about cookware sets or frying pans or that kind of stuff I know it's gonna be difficult to get from an organic perspective or to have an update of that page you can use partners like link B to say, okay, can I, can I sort of get around? Is there a work around to try to get in the article by me gearing to you a certain amount of you know paid investment and a certain CPC? And then if I'm looking at it from a brand's perspective, then I want to measure that CPC and what I'm paying out as an investment versus the revenue that I'm gonna get from the traffic on that article, right. So that's, that's another way that you can try to do it, but again, so I separate this into two categories. One, the positioning of it, um, he's key sawing points, all those kinds of things. And then two is use the CPC Relationships or or companies in order to try to get a mass media publishers.

Dustin Howes:

So much there, great advisor Joshua. If my scribbles Elena is out there and she can Document all those or tag all those companies that Josh is dropping down, that would be fantastic. I'll do it in post, but I'm just messing around. Thanks for your help, elena.

Joshua Kennedy:

Elena knows more than I do so.

Dustin Howes:

She does. She's so smart Love her passion for this industry. Alright, as we wrap this up, time to pay some quick bills here. For those of you that are out there trying to find More affiliates, go check out a fee stash calm. Find more content partners that you want to be working with. Use a code, a no 10, to save 10% there. And not the time of the show to defend your post here, sir, I Found a little post from like four years ago. It looks like a sincere, handwritten letter that you were received. Maybe this is from a client, maybe this is from somebody else, but I wanted. I love the look at this, in the feel of it, and I feel like this goes a long way and whoever wrote this hand letter, written letter, is probably very successful in our field four years later. But can you tell me, like what this meant to you?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, so basically what that was was one of my maybe my first client, one of my first couple clients back when I founded my business. I can't even really remember how I first met them or her name is Iante Maro and she ran. She had a candle company, so she sold candles and Remember we just I helped her get on board her first affiliate program. I started generating a few sales for things like that and so she just really said, you know, thank you. She sent me a couple candles by by mail and had a handwritten letter and I believe she lived in Georgia and, yeah, send them from Georgia. I don't work with her anymore. It was maybe like a six month or a year long kind of thing, but yeah, that's, that's the story there. But she, she's very appreciative of the service that we gave her at that point in time and it meant a lot to her. So that's, that was the reason for the handwritten note.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, I've gotten handwritten notes in the past from companies that I've worked with or even partners, and they are still friends today. Like those things go a long way and you don't really realize them. So every Christmas, be considering sending your top 10 people in your life Something handwritten like that it's. It's just gonna make a friend for life. Not bad. That sentiment there Looks like Orlando said good feedback. Joshua, appreciate it that one. You drop some great nuggets of knowledge here today. So, as we wrap this up, how do we connect with you, joshua?

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, so if you want to connect with me, obviously via LinkedIn, just Joshua Kennedy, imagine marketing the name might. The URL for my website is imagine dash, affiliate calm, so that the website is a little bit updated, admittedly, but we are, we're a share. The figma file with you is that we're under. We'll have a, hopefully a new website within the next two to three weeks Up there, so I would recommend maybe revisiting it and then, a month or so, to see our new server softwareings, new brands, all that kind of stuff. Or if you want to connect with me on social media, just imagine underscore, joshua is on Instagram and I can be found there if you want to see any of my comedy skits or Jokes or music or any of that stuff outside of just the business industry stuff that.

Dustin Howes:

So let me get in on that. I want to see some of this action and I'll make you sure to put some comments. And you're in your purse there. Just really appreciate your time. Thanks for all the knowledge drops today and we'll see you out there.

Joshua Kennedy:

Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks, Dustin.

Dustin Howes:

All right, folks have a good one, take care.

The Modern Affiliate Manager
Modernizing Affiliate Management Strategy
Considerations for Migrating Affiliate Programs
Affiliate Programs and Finding E-Commerce Clients
Strategies for Partnering With Media Publishers
Connecting on Social Media With Joshua