Affiliate Nerd Out

Client Expectations and Agency Life in the Affiliate Marketing Channel with Jake Fuller

March 06, 2024 Dustin Howes Season 1 Episode 74
Affiliate Nerd Out
Client Expectations and Agency Life in the Affiliate Marketing Channel with Jake Fuller
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers
Join the conversation with Jake Fuller, the trailblazing CEO of JB Commerce, as he imparts his 'painfully optimistic' wisdom on us at the Nerditorium. Embark on a journey of discovery into the heart of affiliate marketing from an agency's vantage point. We promise an episode packed with revelations about how a digital dreamer guides his ship through the choppy waters of client expectations, legacy, and innovation, all while preserving the spirit of JB Commerce's founding father, Jamie Burch.

Are your affiliate marketing goals grounded in reality or floating in fantasy? This episode is dedicated to dissecting the art of setting and managing client expectations. With Jake's expertise, we unravel the importance of a meticulous onboarding process and the creation of a strategic roadmap that aligns with a brand's vision. Brace yourself for a candid discussion on the common misconceptions surrounding affiliate marketing and learn how to distinguish between fleeting trends and the strategies that promise sustainable growth.

Finally, we tackle the elephant in the room - the challenge of hiring and nurturing talent in the relentless world of agency life. From navigating the 'Great Resignation' to fostering the next generation of marketing mavens, we uncover the secrets to building a resilient team. We share tales of success and caution, painting a realistic picture of what it takes to thrive in an industry that's as rewarding as it is demanding. If you're curious about the ingredients needed for success in the fast-paced arena of affiliate marketing, pour yourself a cup of something nice, sit back, and absorb the wealth of knowledge shared in this indispensable episode.

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'm your Nerdirator, Dustin Howes. Spread that good word about affiliate marketing. You're going to find me here on LinkedIn Live every Tuesday and Thursday, 12, 15 Pacific Time. Mark it on the calendar. Be here and join me and my guest today, jake Fuller. Uh, is it president or CEO of J B Commerce? Uh, ceo, that's the title we're sticking with.

Jake Fuller:

There's no need to change that.

Dustin Howes:

Okay, um, king King over at J B Commerce. Uh, jake Fuller, welcome to the Nerditorium, sir Good to be here.

Jake Fuller:

Good to be here.

Dustin Howes:

I've watched several episodes so it's uh, it's cool to join Well we just met this year over at Affiliate Summit and you went out of your way to introduce yourself and shake hands, which I really appreciated, and I just absolutely loved your story and invited you on immediately and you were gracious enough to support me in several different ways, which I really appreciate and, uh, just a great story for the kind of company you are and the kind of person you are at that company. So, um, glad you're here.

Jake Fuller:

No, I appreciate that very much. I had to seek you out. I think, um, it's easy to support the efforts that you're putting out. You kind of create this collective um, you know, live aspect of of a podcast, if you will, on LinkedIn and it's kind of an invite for anyone who's been joined. It's informative and this industry is based on relationships. I think it's really cool what you're doing.

Dustin Howes:

Well, I appreciate it, and, uh, you and at least two other people think the same, which is great. You need to start somewhere.

Dustin Howes:

Absolutely. Uh, if you would like to be in Jake's seat, come be my guest. Go to dustinhouwes. com slash nerd and put in a request to see what you want to talk about in affiliate. And our question today is what makes agency life so unique? Because it is a different beast in the affiliate realm to be working for an agency um than it is for other roles. In this, I want to hear from the folks. Join us in the chat. If you have any questions for Jake and myself, please drop them in the chat as well, but without further ado. Jake, who are you?

Jake Fuller:

Well, I think, like many of us, it depends on who you ask I'm. I'm many things than many people, but in this context, I am the CEO at JB commerce, um. I'm someone who's been in the digital space since 2010 2011, um, and I'm someone who's painfully optimistic and I'm constantly curious. I would describe myself as, which I think suits itself well for this industry.

Dustin Howes:

Uh, painfully optimistic. I've never heard that term before, but it is. I love it. I love that attitude that you're bringing. I I can't say that I am painfully optimistic, I am. I am too, uh, I don't know. Uh, I I'm not pessimistic by any means, but I I point out the bad and things too much, trying to be funny to be like in that optimistic role.

Jake Fuller:

I I think my wife coined that term, I can't recall it was a while ago. I think she had brought it up once that you're, you're painfully optimistic, would you stop? Would you stop pointing out all the positives that could come from this bad situation? But uh, that's my demeanor, so I.

Dustin Howes:

I'm okay with it. Does your wife uh call you any like TV character or like movie character? Uh, compare you. I'm Phil Duffy from Modern Family, like, without a doubt, and no, no no currently there's there's no references to TV characters.

Jake Fuller:

We have three little kids in our house that my wife and I are raising, so if there was, it would be from a Disney show or or something like that. We haven't watched an adult show in probably six years.

Dustin Howes:

Ah, yeah, you're in the thick of it with three youngins. Yeah, I hear you. I, I've been through that stage, um, and I, I still watch a Disney movie and I like, basically every weekend, so that's why that's my release. Yeah, yeah. Uh alright, tell us about JB Commerce. What's that? What's the origin story behind this name?

Jake Fuller:

So JB Commerce that's the initials of our founder, jamie Burch, um, and so a lot of people on this call if, if you know JB Commerce. If you don't, you might know the name, jamie Burch. He's kind of a an industry vet. He's been around for as long as affiliates been around, as far as I know, so in 2004,. We have our our 20th anniversary as a company coming up this year. Wow, Um, he left, uh, I believe at the time he is at Coldwater Creek, uh, running their affiliate efforts and he started to to build out more or less a consultancy that turned into a full blown agency and built a business out of it and has been doing quite a bit for the industry ever since. So that's the origin story.

Dustin Howes:

It's just initials right.

Jake Fuller:

Yeah, just the initials. Yeah, people always say is it JB, is it JB? Uh, we don't have a preference. I don't mind if it's JB or JB, and and Jamie didn't either.

Dustin Howes:

So okay, and and you recently took over, and uh, is Jamie stepping out of the picture all together, what's? What's the story?

Jake Fuller:

Yeah, more or less so, Jamie. You guys, if you listen to our podcast or you read some of our content, you'll still hear his voice through season three. That was uh recorded uh, still being recorded but almost wrapped up. But otherwise, yes, he is um in the last few years. So he's started some additional ventures and in the past year or two we had talked about um, really, where does the direction of JB go in the future? Uh, where does he go in the future? So he's put some more time and effort and and has required to spend some more time in in his other ventures and I think it was just that time for him to kind of step back and see what was next after 20 years in the industry and and running this business.

Jake Fuller:

And so last June I stepped in the CEO, which I had kind of been working toward I've been taking on additional tasks and wearing multiple hats here at the business and um and stepped in then and then we we began talks about is there another step past that? Does Jamie want to stick around and do one thing or another? And uh turned into myself and Gaby and Nicole Ripley, who have been here for 10 years uh, two of my executives. Uh, also co-owned it with us, so we acquired it at the start of this year. Okay, so we now we now own JB commerce and I run it as CEO. And, uh, jamie still supports us from the marketing side on finishing up the podcast and consulting with us, but has started to phase out, so, okay, Awesome, awesome.

Dustin Howes:

Well, what a legend and, yeah, he will be missed if he just leaves the industry all together, but great to hear he's. He's leaving you in control, and I want to hear about your backstory. This is really interesting to me. I love a good uh, rags for riches story, then, and it feels like that with you. Tell us your story, um.

Jake Fuller:

I kind of it's. It's a little bit all over the place. I wouldn't picture myself in this seat, you know, several years ago, necessarily. But, um, from a career aspect, I've always been in in business development, sales consulting. That's always been the vein in which I've worked from a career standpoint and I got I got my sales teeth. I cut those in door to door knocking. So I spent the early to mid two thousands knocking doors for a living and was was successful at doing so. Um, it wasn't more than four years that I realized I'm not doing this forever.

Jake Fuller:

Um, and digital marketing always had interest in, and so it was about 2011 that I started my first digital marketing job at a company called Integrate Um, and they're known now as kind of a software hub for all your marketing efforts. So, um, I'm not going to speak too much to what they do because it changed over the years, but when I came on, they had more or less what I would consider an offshoot of a network today in our affiliate space. So they had this marketplace where we could bring on advertisers, we could bring on publishers, we could connect the two, you know, based off of, you know, cpa offers or CPC offers or you name it. But we also acted as kind of agency wouldn't be the right word, but we would manage paid search efforts for the, for brands that would bring in. We'd take over their programmatic efforts in house. And so for me to be there was really interesting because it I had to learn everything about digital marketing, not just this is the affiliate channel or this is a search channel, or you know, this is email marketing. You kind of had to understand how all of it worked together for brands and that was kind of powerful. And then I just gravitated toward the affiliate side. We had some different partnerships. We didn't call it affiliate back then in that particular instance, but I was working with the brands and working with publishers who could drive the result for that brand that they wanted, which by definition more or less, is affiliate marketing right. And so I found that interesting relationships and sales and consulting has always been a reason I've gone down that vein was was due to just meeting new people, creating relationships and figuring out how to put pieces together. And so from there I went to another digital agency where we had a bit more focus on the legion side of affiliate. And then we also did SEM, seo work for clients and website website builds and designs, and so again, I got to kind of put some more tools in my toolkit in terms of the digital marketing space and fast forward from there.

Jake Fuller:

I spent the last five years, kind of before JB, running my own legion business. So I went on my own, worked in kind of financial services, insurance services, had a bunch of clients that I worked with, had about seven or eight websites that I built and I would go to not not what I would consider today's leading networks, but I would go to offer vaults and areas where I could post out offers to create leads and I would start getting affiliates. So I was going to affiliate summit 10, 12 years ago to find people who could drive traffic to my site and I owned a bunch of those. So I still stayed in that vein of affiliate and I had a private exit in 2019. I had hit a point where I could move the company forward.

Jake Fuller:

In order to do so, it would need more resources than I had and I wasn't in a point to go bring out outside capital and I was ready for a shift. I enjoyed being in that industry, but I think anyone here has been in an affiliate for a while. There's kind of a lead gen side, and then there's there's the side where you're dealing with, you know, dtc products and consumers a little bit more directly, and that's where I wanted to shift. And so in 2020, I landed here at JB commerce and came on as the director of business development, learned the business really well really quick and rekindled some some partnerships I already had in the industry and it just loved it since and that's developed into where I'm at now.

Dustin Howes:

Awesome, Awesome story, man, and it's a story that you don't hear very often in the affiliate world. Usually folks jump into this like coming out of college and stick in the affiliate realm or move on to some other marketing discipline and like just ditch affiliate all together. You came the other route, which makes you so much more dangerous in terms of like running business and understanding what what not just affiliates are going through, but also what clients are going through, because you're you're been on all sides of the equation. That's, that's really powerful.

Jake Fuller:

I think it lends itself well to agency life, that's for sure. You have to balance a lot between clients expectations, how we operate and service our models and how we work with publishers and partners and networks and and the like.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, and your workflow throughout the day. Without a doubt, like you know, need to balance a lot of different avenues can be difficult. All right, so tell us more about JB commerce and what you guys do and who your servicing out there.

Jake Fuller:

Yeah, so JB commerce has always been very hyper focused on affiliate marketing and program management. So, as a full service OPM or agency is where you would classify us. That's always been our lane. I point that out because there's there's a ton of options out there for people these days. You can you can find affiliate services from other digital agencies, from PR agencies, from networks themselves that have their own in-house affiliate teams that will help you manage your program.

Jake Fuller:

As an agency, we always wanted to stay really focused on, fundamentally, how do you properly and and and correctly grow affiliate programs for brands that don't have that experience, they don't have the resources in house, and so that's really always been our focal point.

Jake Fuller:

So who we're servicing? We've we've kind of jumped all over the board in terms of what our niche is. We're a boutique agency you could call us. We usually average anywhere from eight to 15 people that are running our programs and and that are working with us here at JB commerce. So nothing like some of our competitors that are, that are far larger, and so the types of clients that we typically look for, that we do really well with, are clients that are anywhere from that SMB size up to very large companies, but we don't have global presence right. We don't have boots on the ground in other countries. We're all here in the US and really focus on brands that are looking to get a program started or one that they've had for some time, that they can't figure out why it's not working after they set it up and walked away.

Dustin Howes:

You know, yeah, it turns out, you can't just let it sit and it's and that's going to grow parallel. And, speaking of clients, we're going to get into our topic of the day and that is really setting client expectations. And when you're onboarding new clients, what is one of the first things that you guys get started with?

Jake Fuller:

Yeah, when it comes to expectations, we have quite a process built out when new clients come in, so we actually to back off when we actually launch a new client. These expectations start well before that. So, really through the sell cycle is understanding what that client's looking for, what their expectations are, and if we can service that properly as we build out what expectations they should have of us, then we can have a good start to the relationship. But nonetheless, every partnership that we launch starts with a pretty in depth call it a questionnaire, right. We do kind of a Q&A with them, kickoff calls. We build a full blown 12 month strategy roadmap for them that outlines different benchmarks they should see from us over the course of time in the first 12 months and that's that's important, right, Because when you bring on a client, you've got to have a roadmap for them. You've got to have a roadmap internally so your team members understand what that workload's going to look like and how to process that out over each month.

Dustin Howes:

For sure, and the necessity of setting those expectations are crucial, especially in that agency life of we're setting you up for success from the next 12 months to ramp up slowly and it is inevitable, no matter how often and how hard you set these expectations, month three rolls around and sales are limited. You will always get that client asking like why aren't we seeing more sales?

Jake Fuller:

It happens.

Jake Fuller:

It happens all the time and it does. I will say it matters how you set expectations from the beginning, but you can cross all your T's and dot all your I's and you'll still have clients that say, hey, it's month three, why haven't we tripled revenue yet? Or why haven't we jumped to 30% attribution in the channel for E-com? And so it's really important.

Jake Fuller:

I think when you're doing discovery with any client, if you're an agency, if you're watching in your work in an agency or you run an agency, that's the number one thing we look for is what those expectations are for them internally. And then, more importantly, are those expectations coming from the individual you're speaking to, or their boss or their boss's boss, and does that expectation change based on who you're talking to within that brand? Because sometimes that's the case, and so you've got to go a little bit deeper and understand truly what they're looking for and what their education level is on affiliate marketing, because sometimes you'll find it's just an educational gap where their expectations are blown out because they are assuming something can be done that can't in a time that it can't be done. And if you sess that out, you can educate them and hopefully get them in line with what reality looks like.

Dustin Howes:

That would not make sense. It's such a hard part about it as well and I want to get into education. But before I leave this topic, what is a good benchmark? You would say you start that expectation with for clients. Like, my talk track is after 12 months you may see up to 20% annual revenue additional to what you have today. Is that something like a talk track? Is that a good benchmark for you guys, or what kind of what you talk to?

Jake Fuller:

Yeah, I think it's not uncommon that I speak to what I would call industry benchmarks. So in 12 months we can add X percentage of Lyft or this much attribution towards total E-com. But it's very unique to each client. So every brand is going to have different goals or different KPIs that they want to measure against and they might want to leverage affiliate for different reasons and that dictates how those benchmarks might change and how those expectations might change.

Jake Fuller:

So you might have a brand that's starting a brand new program, has never tried affiliate. The results over the first three to 12 months for that brand are going to be very different than what we're trying to do with a brand who's had a 10 year program. Maybe they're a household name. We're already working on a massive program here. It's not about do we add 20% Lyft, are we adding incrementality to this program? Are we creating more profitable relationships? Are we diversifying the partnerships we have in this program that's been running for 10 years, et cetera. So it is a case by case unique basis because every brand's got slightly different expectations and goals overall.

Dustin Howes:

For sure. And where do you think most folks fail when it's we're talking about client expectations? Where are the companies failing the most?

Jake Fuller:

to talk to executives here yeah, that's a good question, and if you're talking on the brand side I think someone who doesn't have experience in affiliate marketing or hasn't done their homework there's still that conception where you can turn it on and ramp it up and hit a high volume of affiliates. They're going to come into my program, they're going to want to run my stuff and they have this internal expectation of what they think is going to happen. And so I'm speaking on the brand side here. If you're speaking of brands and what their expectations are, again you have to identify what they think affiliate marketing is and how they think it's going to run. And then you can kind of fill in gaps and ask them how did you get that information and how do we identify what's realistically going to happen and who we're going to target?

Jake Fuller:

I think, as an agency, where you can fail in client expectations and this is kind of flip side, right, and not realizing what those expectations are is not diving deep enough.

Jake Fuller:

I had touched on this before, but I can talk to three different people at the same brand and they all have a slightly different idea of what they think the affiliate channel should be doing and how it should be measured or tracked or reported on, and so it's our job to really dive in and understand. How do we put this into one strategy and are we all in line with? You know these benchmarks that we're aiming for over the next 12 months, and so, as a brand, it's also important that you have kind of unity behind what you're expecting out of the channel. So if there's three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, however many people might be having eyes on the program and judging it, do you guys have a unified set expectation on what you're looking to get out of it? And if you don't, we need to fix that so that we can all be on the same page and move forward.

Dustin Howes:

Okay, gotcha and I often earlier on in my career I was hearing nothing but like coupon sites are not giving me incrementality and we want content sites. And that's kind of the talk track I would do when I'm consulting or pitching clients, like we're going after content sites, that's what you guys want, that's what I'm gonna go get and that talk is great. But like the diversification of a program became more and more apparent in the more programs that I would run and I feel like that expectation of strictly content sites and the affiliate program might be a recipe for disaster and like setting that expectation to clients might be with someplace. Other agencies might be failing here. Well, and it can be difficult.

Jake Fuller:

You have clients who are dead set on content only. That's all we wanna focus on, and you talk about incrementality and different topics as to why they think coupon sites or loyalty sites maybe shouldn't be part of their program. But what I would advise people to do if you're working at a brand as an account manager and you're being told this is how we need to run this, or you're an agency and you're managing accounts and you're hearing this from your client on a call, is, stop and ask why, first of all, and then, second of all, dive deeper. When someone says, well, they're not driving incremental traffic, they're not driving new to file, they're not driving new acquisition on these different categories. Ask them how they're measuring that. You'll be shocked at how many times they don't know the answer to that question. And so they're driving this based off of what I would call buzzworthy topics within the industry and over the last few years it's been very buzzworthy to go after content, partnerships and influencers and social media figures and try to create an affiliate program that's based around those categories. And if you can pull in a couple big names, hey, that's success. We did it.

Jake Fuller:

But those programs typically, anytime we review a program like that. I find it interesting when they have that strategy, because when they do have a big win, you see this big spike in revenue for a week and then it drops off and then they're back to going. Why are we not producing any revenue in the affiliate program? Well, you're not diversifying and you're not tying together how these partnerships and how consumers behave online. You might see these spikes in sales, but if you don't have a holistic approach to how your partnerships are being diversified in the channel, you're not gonna see consistent growth metrics over time.

Dustin Howes:

Great and that ties in well with our client education aspect of running an agency and how do you guys approach this to educate your clients?

Jake Fuller:

That's a good question.

Jake Fuller:

I mean we have a lot of resources over 20 years from our own internal stuff.

Jake Fuller:

So throughout from I mean step one, the first call that if I'm on a call with a brand new prospect who is looking at JB Commerce and considering our services, the first thing I do is dive in and try to understand what their level of education is and what their experience is in affiliate marketing, what they understand about it, and then, based on that info from the get, I start following up with links to short podcast or a short content article or a blog post that's from us, from MarTech, from the PMA, from network partners, and try to fill the gaps in where I think they should probably read up a little bit.

Jake Fuller:

And that process doesn't stop. So we have clients we've managed for five, eight, 10 years and we're still on calls where we're talking about a new partner that's on the scene or they wanna talk about buy now, pay later partners that weren't there a few years ago and weren't really a topic and now they're a pretty hot topic in kind of an up and coming category. So there's constant education. You have to realize it doesn't stop, and I think for us it's just, I think for anyone who's in affiliate marketing, education, whether it's to your boss at the brand you work at or it's to your client as an agency, it's constant. But that also comes from learning from them and understanding what about their business has changed or diversified over time, and how does that apply to what we're doing within the channel?

Dustin Howes:

Awesome, and so you have written assets, you have video assets, giving them. It's hard to tell people to go and educate yourself in a respectful kind of way, right? I haven't figured that out in all honesty, like, what's the right way to approach that? And coming from a place of help is always a good way to approach it, obviously, but it's always a fine line. I still struggle with that.

Jake Fuller:

Yeah, there is, and they don't always read the articles or click on the links I send. You know, but I think you can find ways to fill the gap. So if we have a client who really doesn't understand maybe a particular category within the affiliate space maybe they've got a base level knowledge of how loyalty partners work by all means let's schedule a call with one of their top loyalty partners and facilitate that call between us, the publisher and the brand and do a little EDU one-on-one on exactly how they operate, how they're targeting consumers, how they're driving traffic to their offer, how they're promoting that offer, and so sometimes you can find ways that help educate them, connect them directly to your publishers. You know we don't have to be gatekeepers as agencies when we're working on these accounts. If there's time in the day and they want to learn, that's another good way to do it.

Dustin Howes:

Okay, good point. We're going to switch gears here into a defend your post situation and this is a little early in the episode, but it's super relevant. So I found this. This is three years ago, mind you, but you were very excited about your hiring here at JB Come join the great team. But this brought up a trend I see in the industry of agencies seem to be hiring all the time, Like if you go look at affiliate manager job posts, there is going to be a large majority of those open recs at agencies and I'm just so curious why that is. That is a good question.

Jake Fuller:

I can probably answer that to some degree. So to back up on that post, you said I sounded excited. Maybe it's the optimist in me, but I have to, prior to sending emails, I have to go back and count how many exclamation marks I put in and remove some so they don't seem like a crazy person. You know, I get really excited. I'm like, oh, this client wants to chat about this, this guy asked me this question and I have to remove those. So I probably was excited when I posted that.

Jake Fuller:

You're very bubbly on paper is what you're saying yeah yeah, a little more than maybe I should be. But to your question, in terms of hiring with agencies, agency life is a bit unique and I think that's something we'll get into as well. But from a hiring aspect it's very demanding in agency life and so I think it's you have a two-fold issue. Agencies can have kind of booms and clients onboarding and you can forecast out and we can look at what are our hiring needs compared to our current client roster and how can we keep an even balance so that we don't sacrifice our service to current clients while bringing on new clients. But it doesn't mean you won't have a breakout quarter or a breakout year where you just end up with more clients than you forecasted, and so you kind of almost always have to have this always on mentality where we need to know if there's talent in the talent pool that we can pull from quickly and hire in the train up and help us catch up to the needs that our clients have. I think that's something we've faced You've also in the last three years.

Jake Fuller:

I think it's a unique scenario between COVID hitting the pandemic and kind of what that did to the industry and then the subsequent years having kind of this hiring boom and these big offers and big opportunities for people to move around jobs. You saw, not just in our industry but I think across the board a lot of people were shifting jobs and testing out a new career, a new position, jumping ship for more money, and then you had. I think they deemed it the great resignation. So then you have this period where people are just throwing in notices and so you're always trying to keep up in agency life with how do we manage our current client roster? How do we hit forecast? How do we make sure hiring needs are done so ahead of time so that we don't run into problems? But like any business, you can always predict everything and you can always get it right. So there's almost just a constant need to have talent being interviewed and prepped for positions that are opening consistently or not.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, and I agree, and and one of those things I was working at at Grovia when we were scaling up our recruitment agency aspect of it is you hiring young kids out of college, getting them their first job and and my role, of course, at the company was training and teaching affiliate manage how to manage programs the right way and how to go about you know, doing email campaigns perspective of a partners but you guys must have some internal training that you guys always do as as well. So, hiring on a constant basis, you guys probably hire on the younger side as well in that kind of capacity.

Jake Fuller:

Yeah, it's. It's something that's always been kind of a cultural aspect of what jayme said up. We always try to give opportunities to someone who's maybe looking to break into the industry yeah, doesn't have the ability to and we train them up at jb and employee development's a big part of what we do here and the idea is continue to train them for that next role, and sometimes it's at jb where they get promoted.

Jake Fuller:

They they take on more responsibility and move up, or you'll see them elsewhere. There's there's a lot of people in this industry who have jb on their LinkedIn page somewhere at some point, where they trained up here as a first job or maybe Intermediate, intermediate position as they went on to a next amazing role, depending on where their career took them. So I mean, with that aspect too, you've got times where you hire new people coming in the the industry. They might find this is a this isn't working for me and you find employer retention Not becoming an issue. But if you hire, say, five assistant affiliate managers, you might find that three or two of them go. Maybe this isn't quite right. Maybe I want to go over and shift this way from a digital marketing standpoint. Affiliate was something they wanted to test and they ran the other way. It's not uncommon, and so then you're, you're just keeping that roll open and make sure the ones that stick and the ones that that feel right, those are the ones that you really See progress in their career and in our industry.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, and it's a a situation if you perform, you get, you rise up in the ranks, just like any other job that you would would see out in the industry, like it is really apparent that you want to Promote the folks that are kicking butt like immediately and taking on more responsibility or, at least you know, shift them into a role of Uh, into a training where they're managing folks rather than just being that solo artist. So, um, you touched on agency, life um not being for everyone, and that is a might be a difficult concept for a lot of people To to process, but do you feel like agency is, life is for everyone out there?

Jake Fuller:

Definitely not. I think it goes into the hiring aspect of Uh, retaining the talent that wants to be in this life and it's not, it's not made for everyone. So Agency life is very fast-paced, it's very demanding. Um, I do think there's a lot of pros if you've got agency experience on your resume. Um, you have to. You come out of this a bit more diversified, a bit more well-rounded, and and part of that aspect is because you're not managing a single program or a set of programs for a single brand, where you kind of have, you know, I wouldn't call it blinders but you have your set of expectations, your set of kpis, your set of brand goals and you're managing to that very specifically, even when you're reaching out to publishers. When you work in an agency, you have to be a bit more nimble, you've got to be quick and you've got to be extremely good at time management.

Jake Fuller:

Because, if you know, as an agency we're representing Many brands, right, multiple brands that we're working with. They're all different, they all have different expectations, they all have different, um, different goals and kpis based off of what they're looking at. So there, there's not one call that's ever the same. If I had five client calls today, they'd all be different. We'd be talking about different aspects of affiliate marketing, all all within. You know the confines of of the channel, but they could all be completely different phone calls, and so you're you're starting to learn very quickly, if you're in working at an agency as an account manager, how to navigate different brand goals, personalities, different brand budgets, how they view budget, how they view the channel and other channels that they're investing in, and you kind of you're, you kind of have to force yourself into Learning those other channels if you don't already know them, because those topics will come up. So agency life is yeah, I can be very demanding and very, very quick. It's quick moving. That's that's why I love it, though. Ah.

Jake Fuller:

Um, yeah, I don't, I don't like doing the same thing every day, and if I wake up in a week from now and I've done the same thing for five days, I'm pretty bored. My days are different each day to the next and I love it so yeah, if you're into fresh challenges, great, great for you.

Dustin Howes:

And you're also diversifying your Portfolio of experience is great at agency. You don't get pigeonholed into you know one specific niche Uh, great, great realm. But what about the new hires? Uh, do you handle them in the same kind of capacity as you do clients, where you're setting the expectations like, hey, this is going to be hard work, uh, but if you do well, uh, we're gonna see results and you're gonna see results.

Jake Fuller:

I think, whether we're talking about client expectations or new hires, it's always a work in progress. Uh, but, yes, very much so, um, I mean, we're looking for. You know, I don't think anybody wants to bring on, and this goes both ways. Nobody wants to join a company thinking this is going to be great and then they're Sla smacked in the face with reality that this is not what I signed up for. Yeah, and we also don't want to have someone come in and be unhappy and not be Uh, excited to be here and start learning.

Jake Fuller:

So we try very hard to make sure we're identifying Certain aspects of of personality, traits, experience, and then outlining this is what the work's going to look like. This is, this is what the expectation looks like. Are you comfortable with that? Are you comfortable jumping on Calls with clients? Are you comfortable learning about you know how to use excel a bit better and how to run data analysis? Are you comfortable logging into multiple networks at once and learning how they all operate a bit differently? So For it. So definitely we. We try to set that as much as we can.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, you, yeah, and you can only do so much at some point. Um, yep, awesome. Uh, really appreciate your time here, jake. Great to see you, great to connect with you. How do others connect with you to learn more about jb commerce? A couple of ways you can.

Jake Fuller:

Jump on LinkedIn, connect with me there, send me a dm. My email is simple. It's Jake at jbcom or dot com. I answer all of those personally, so Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Um, you know, pass that. If you just want to learn more about jb commerce, you can go to the website. We have a specific page for the nerd at Fans here. So jb commerce, comm slash, nerd out. Uh, we'll take you to a landing page and you can Uh chat with us there. You can get a free audit service from us. You know whatever you're looking for, so Excellent. Tell us more about that audit service.

Dustin Howes:

What? What does that entail?

Jake Fuller:

Um, it's a little bit different depending on the brand and what they're looking for and and what they're interested in. But nonetheless, one thing to kind of go into our origin story about how we operate, who we service. We do a lot of audits and so any brand we bring on, we audit their current affiliate if they have one right. If it's an existing program, we audit that program for the past few years and it's almost unnerving how often you find red flags out of the gate and things that you learn immediately. Right, our assistants learn this month one, you know, do approvals every day. Go in and check FTC disclosures on any content sites. Make sure there's compliance there. Check coupon usage and compliance there. Check you know TM bidding compliance terms compliant.

Jake Fuller:

So there's a lot of different daily mundane tasks that get done and so a lot of the times we realized why don't we just put a simple audit together to identify some of the key fundamentals of your affiliate program that are being missed, ignored or just underrepresented or misunderstood? And so our audit is fairly simple but it jumps in and kind of checks off this big box of here's everything that you can identify in 30 days to turn this around and make a fundamentally sound program that allows you to start scaling, cause a lot of people think they can just continue to scale and if they're not fundamentally running that program the right way every day, that scale can be very messy and it's not consistent and you don't see your over your growth.

Dustin Howes:

Awesome. Well, that's a great opportunity for anyone out there that wants to get a second pair of eyes on their affiliate program. Whether you're already, you know, managing this internally, or you're doing nothing with the program, or you just want to, you know or expect more from your program. Go check out JBCommercecom. Slash nerd out and go get your free audit and see what they can do for you and give you a fresh perspective and a game plan for the future. No risk, so pretty awesome. Well, jake, appreciate your time again, sir, and where are we going to see you next? Are you going to PI live? Yep.

Jake Fuller:

I'll be at PI live in Miami next April. I'll also be at Think Tank.

Dustin Howes:

So those in the next two I have on my calendar in April- Okay, I'm not sure if I'm doing Think Tank or not, but we'll see. But I'm definitely going to be at PI live doing a affiliate nerd out live podcast there, so nice. Look forward to seeing you there. And for all those other folks out there, keep on recruiting and we'll see you out there. Thanks for having me, dustin. You got it. We'll see you All right, bye.

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