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Digital Velocity Podcast Hosted by Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez

14 Driving Growth with Affiliate Marketing Partnerships - Robert Glazer

This week on the Digital Velocity Podcast, Robert Glazer of Acceleration Partners joins Erik and Tim to discuss driving successful growth in an organization with affiliate marketing partnerships.

There is a shift towards digital partnership programs and Robert describes why “I think we're seeing the legs come out on all of this input-based digital marketing. The big three, Google, Amazon, Facebook, it's 80% of their marketing and it's doubled in price in the last year, everything that is auction-based. As brands move to D2C and to performance, the budgets are moving out of brand, and they're moving into performance and people in the performance channel want to pay for outcomes and not inputs. I think it's why we continue to see a pretty big sea change towards these digital partnership arrangements where it's not win/ lose.”

Robert further explains why businesses need to broaden their portfolios when it comes to digital marketing. He says, “To me, it's really starting to diversify. I think we're in the sixth or seventh inning of this game, and if you're not taking note and finding different ways to do this you are going to wake up one day and find out that the vast majority of your marketing is unprofitable.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about growing business with affiliate marketing partnerships.

About the Guest:

Robert Glazer is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global partnership marketing agency and the recipient of numerous industry and company culture awards, including Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards two years in a row. He is the author of the inspirational newsletter Friday Forward, and the #1 Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the international bestselling author of four books: Elevate, Friday Forward, How To Thrive In The Virtual Workplace, and Performance Partnerships.  He is a sought-after speaker by companies and organizations around the world and is the host of The Elevate Podcast.


Erik Martinez: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the Digital Velocity Podcast. Today, Tim and I are joined by Bob Glazer, who is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, a global partnership marketing agency and the recipient of numerous industry and company culture awards, including Glassdoor Employees' Choice Awards two years in a row. He is the author of the inspirational newsletter, Friday Forward and the #1 Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and international best-selling author of four books: Elevate, Friday Forward, How to Thrive in the Virtual Marketplace, and Performance Partnerships. [00:01:00] He's a sought-after speaker by companies and organizations around the world and is the host of The Elevate Podcast. Bob, welcome to the show.

Bob Glazer: Thanks for having me, Erik.

Erik Martinez: We're really excited to talk to you. You know, as we were talking a little bit before the show, I think my concept of affiliate marketing is really broad and I'm hoping that you can bring us into really to best use this medium to drive successful growth within an organization. So, I'm looking forward to that.

Bob Glazer: Yeah. It is very misunderstood and also and I think you got a taste of this. I know you're reading the book, but I think people's perception is something they knew or heard of 10 or 15 years ago when things have really evolved and changed a lo t since then.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. So, before we dive into the topic, tell us a little bit about Bob Glazer the person. A little bit about your journey and how you got to where you are today.

Bob Glazer: My journey. Let's see. Different stages. I would say, you know, stage one, I was sort of a [00:02:00] reluctant entrepreneur. I was always very entrepreneurial. I think, classic, like, did fine in school, but was really bored. Realized that at some point I really enjoyed business and marketing and then just my take on learning and getting engaged around learning changed. Then went through a similar thing of starting an organization. You know, trying to scale it, doing everything myself, burning myself out from that, and then sort of evolving into focusing on leadership, training leaders, and building an organization and really trying to change an industry.

 Along the way, in terms of building our company too, we tested some policies and some things that were very different. We've been remote work for 15 years, back when we used to have to hide it from people, and so I started a night and weekend career writing about some of the stuff that we had tried culturally that worked. My sort of core purpose is to share ideas that help people and organizations grow. So, if I figure out something that I think is a better thing for people to be doing, I'm inclined to share that or crowdsource that.

That's sort of driven a lot of my [00:03:00] writing both within the industry and, outside of it. You know, again, we focused on changing this industry cause I think it's a really awesome channel that is really misunderstood and is one of the few true, you know, it sounds cliche, win-wins in the world out there, but also kind of how we've done it and how we built a company and making that around people and personal growth.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. That's awesome.

Tim Curtis: So, I'm curious a little bit, let's talk about your books. You're a published author, and so you've kind of made that transition, obviously, from entrepreneur now into kind of a thought leader and putting some things together. Talk a little bit about your two books, your Moving to Outcomes and Performance Partnerships, and what you say the differences between those two.

Bob Glazer: Yeah. So, Performance Partnerships came out, what was it now, probably, four years ago and really was a look on, hey, people are missing this what affiliate marketing is. Like, yeah, there's been some bad stuff that's gone on, and, again, the first, third of the book is dedicated towards all the rumors that you've heard are true, or a lot of them and sort of why, and then sort of talked about this shift [00:04:00] to really use the term partnership, which wasn't used then. You know, it was really still affiliate.

I talked about how the industry was going to change, how I was going to consolidate, and the fundamental premise of just tracking, measuring, and paying for things as the basis of affiliate marketing and I think if you fast forward two to three years and as you get to the end, like a lot of what I predicted is kind of happened exactly how we talked about it. It's morphed into this partnership industry. The SAS part of the industry has really come on displacing a lot of business that went to networks as people sort of in-house it.

Now, they're looking around and saying, oh, this is interesting. This technology, I can build this large scale, like, to me, the opportunity is the almost the scaling of business development, which is a pretty big market segment. So, it was really about the convergence, started to talk about influencers and how influencers would converge and we'd see that.

I think Moving to Outcomes takes that next level. It's kind of, I say, the sequel philosophy about why, and obviously partner marketing is a big piece of this, but, you know, I think we're seeing the legs come out on all of this [00:05:00] input-based digital marketing. The big three, Google, Amazon, Facebook, it's 80% of their marketing and it's doubled in price in the last year, everything that is auction-based. As brands move to D2C and to performance, the budgets are moving out of brand, and they're moving into performance and people in the performance channel want to pay for outcomes and not inputs. I think it's why we continue to see a pretty big sea change towards these digital partnership arrangements where it's not win/lose.

Look, I'm not saying people are going to stop doing Amazon, Google, and Facebook, but if you had a stock that was 80% of your portfolio and it had a good run and now it had below-market returns, you don't want that stock to be 80% of your portfolio if it's returning 2% and the S&P is returning 15% a year.

Tim Curtis: So, we've actually spent a lot of time here recently talking about that very element, you know, what I tend to call the inflationary pricing index

Bob Glazer: The term I use is the triopoly. So Amazon, Google, so inflation in the triopoly would be a great way to combine that.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, exactly, and so it's runaway cost increase. At the same time, what we have seen, if you look across the [00:06:00] aggregate of, man, so many clients, and you look at that performance, you see a degradation in response, coupled with that increase in cost. Simply, you have to pay to be present, right? You have to pay to play. When you're putting all of that money in on the inset, and you're not really basing it off of necessarily of outcomes, brands are beginning to see a lot of that sort of spin away from them. We just did a sort of a forecasting, or, if you will, a look ahead to 2022, and we identified this as probably one of the largest risk categories for brands. This does not show any signs of abating. Actually, it shows signs of getting worse as privacy policy changes will make the targeting that the big ad companies, the triopoly, won't be able to gain the same type of insights that they've had and enjoyed, previously, so...

Bob Glazer: I talk about this in the book, but has anyone studied auction theory or eBay versus fixed pricing? People overpay for things in auction. You get caught up in the auction, right? That is part of it. Now, you've got 80% of digital [00:07:00] media being bought in an auction format and, you know, if you understand markets and liquidity, and supply and demand. So, I raised $10 million in venture capital, and I just go dump it into the marketplace and dollars keep coming in, you know, that becomes very inflationary to the tune of 80 to a hundred percent a year.

Tim Curtis: So, how do you respond when you have these brands that are heavily reliant on, you know, Google, Facebook, and they say, they've got to do that, they have to pay to play in order to keep up with the competition? Which is again, that sort of vicious cycle that we always warn clients about. What's your answer there?

Bob Glazer: I mean, my answer is, again, a lot of people rent because they don't have the money to buy. You know, if you want to stop renting, you got to start saving, putting money away to buy your house. So, again, there's nothing I would say in this like, stop doing Google. No, but start doing some other stuff. The one thing about partnership marketing is, or affiliate, I'm going to use partnership broadly because I think now it is a more encompassing term that includes affiliate and brand to brand and all kinds of other stuff that's under this sort of track measure, pay umbrella, but [00:08:00] it's PPC versus SEO, right? People they get into BBC cause it's quick, you know, works. SEO has a much better ROI longer-term, but it's gonna take you six to nine months, but the people that are willing to be patient and build that moat. It's a moat that not everyone can jump over.

You know, I always say like, I can go on PPC and just outbid all of your things tomorrow if I want to. There's not really a sustainable competitive advantage on that for a lot of companies, the way that they run it. To me, it's really starting to diversify. I think we're in the sixth or seventh inning of this game, and if you're not taking note and finding different ways to do this you are going to wake up one day and find out that the vast majority of your marketing is unprofitable.

Erik Martinez: It's interesting that you say that cause we've just been working on a really big analytical study for one of our clients and looking at every single channel. Where we see the highest cost is in that paid search arena. The ratio between the organic search and the paid search [00:09:00] is something like five to one, and that organic search is so much more productive, and yet as a percentage of the budget and the time spent and all that stuff, it's really out of whack. We're starting to work with that client to start shifting our intention into that medium. So, I think you're dead on.

Bob Glazer: Look anything that takes delayed gratification tends to work better in society, but someone comes in and they want to show immediate results and it's not going to be there. To me, it's the difference between owning and renting. I want to own. If I could have two choices, I would have great SEO and like proprietary partners. Everything else I'm renting and the rent can be raised. The problem is you're renting, on a one-day contract and that's what's kind of dangerous.

Erik Martinez: So, when you're talking to business owners and business leaders, and you're talking about outcomes, what are the common themes that those discussions circle around?

Bob Glazer: I think it's this understanding of the modern version of a partnership program. Generalizations don't [00:10:00] work. People are like I don't like affiliates, I don't do coupon. All this stuff, or we don't want to work with coupon sites or we don't want to do loyalty. So, let's just even take the coupon one. First, there's an understanding that look, those are specific types of partners. You can work them, you can work not with them. I can show you all the interesting new types of partners that people are working with, like business to business or all these buy now, pay later folks have massive destination properties on their site, and they're all jumping in as publishers and saying, look, do you want us to tell people to buy from your store cause they're coming every day to pay their bills on our site.

So, someone will say to me, well, we don't want to work with coupon. I don't like coupons. There non-incremental. Maybe. If the coupon sites are running a fake offer that doesn't exist and saying click here. Certainly, non-incremental, but by the way, we know how to use the technology to prohibit that and not pay out on that, but what if the same coupon site blast a text to 20 million subscribers for an in-store only redeemable offer and they're like, oh, I want to do that. I just find, everyone's just doing the basic, turn it on, turn it off, not with a partner. There are very different ways you can work [00:11:00] with partners. They're very different parameters. You just need a smart enough person or a team who knows all these nuances.

You know, we worked with a brand that said we don't do coupons. Well, big public company brand, but they were stuck with millions of dollars of merchandise at the beginning of COVID coming out of the winter season, and we said, why don't we do a coupon on $300 minimum order, and they liquidated a ton of stuff they would have been sitting on for a year, and again, it's not a lot of brand damage when you talk about a coupon that has a $300 minimum. They actually saw their AOV go up with that because who else was going to buy clothes that they didn't need till next year?

So, I just find any generalization in this space doesn't work. We've built our business on getting smart, strategic people, having the relationships, understanding that we can call a loyalty company and work with them in the same way Google. Give us a file of your customers. They'll do a match against it on their database and do a lookalike targeting and only pay the cashback out on newly acquired customers. They're like, oh, I want to do that. So, this is [00:12:00] why the generalizations just never work.

A lot of times it's about sitting down with people and saying, what's the strategy and then let's understand how this partnership framework can work for you. Affiliate marketing, partnership marketing is actually not a channel cause there's a hundred different tactics. It's a methodology more than anything. Saying, we're going to get in a pay for performance, track, measure, pay relationship with a partner. So, let's figure out what you value, and then let's align the tracking software and the relationship to pay for that and to not pay for the things that you don't value.

A lot of performance marketing is I can just tell that it didn't work. Google's not going to give me my money back. Facebook's not going to give me my money back. In this space, if someone doesn't have a sale, you don't pay them. If the product's return, you don't pay them. If they're fraud, you don't pay them. That's the difference between outcomes and performance marketing.

Tim Curtis: You talk about affiliate, that conjures up all sorts of things in someone's mind. If you're a brand side, it's the pervasive coupons everywhere. It's the double discounting. It's all of that. Whereas, when you shift that and you talk about it in the angle of performance marketing, then all of a sudden there's a little bit more [00:13:00] clarity, and oftentimes what I do see on the client-side is an immediate, because there's so much baggage with the word affiliate that automatically, it shuts down.

Bob Glazer: Yeah, and that implies a loose relationship, We've done a couple of private summits. We call them affiliate giants, with some of the biggest programs in the world where they come kind of have like a mastermind and we even say try using the word partner internally. Try going to someone on your team and saying, I need a $500,000 budget in these creatives for this affiliate of ours versus this partner of ours. Affiliate is a loose connotation. I think it's the worst use of the word in that context internally versus this is a partner that we work with.

Erik Martinez: As we've talked about inflationary pricing in the digital ad space, besides that, what are the most pressing challenges marketers are facing with the current status quo in digital marketing?

Bob Glazer: Well, again, it's just this shift. Even if it's digital, it's moving from brand to performance, right? So, the goal is changing. The goal is not, do I get impressions and awareness? The goal is, did I get sales? You know, [00:14:00] Gillette, might've just been marketing its new razor online four years ago. Now they're selling a subscription service. There's something to sell directly. So, I think some of them just don't have the right teams or thinking, or the budget has shifted, but they're still doing it the same way.

I'm a big believer that if there was a boxing ring, I think the brand people need to become much more performance-oriented and I think some of the performance people need to get a little branding awareness too. The best teams that I'm seeing are meeting in the middle. I always find it weird that we fight tooth and nail to get budget on an outcome performance basis, and then in the same company, some 24-year-old can put in a media buy for a million dollars. How do we get that money? Like, why is that money green and we're fighting for the blue money? That doesn't make any sense to me.

Tim Curtis: It's especially true when you look at the lifetime value by channel and we do a lot of that work, and when you actually take and do the analysis on that return it's very interesting to note that the PPC returned for the long tail is actually a much lower [00:15:00] in terms of channel lifetime value than the other channels, as an example. Brands' lack of awareness for that can create real challenges long-term for them because it's something that they don't have visibility to and they're not thinking about.

Bob Glazer: My friend, David Rodnitzky, who is the head of 3Q Digital, calls it the three horsemen of attribution, re-targeting, branded search, and coupon, you know, in affiliate, where a lot of people just inappropriately ascribe value. Your attribution can show that there's value there, but when you actually think about what's happening. Let's think about branded search on mobile. Like, I don't even see the organic results. I'm trying to go to ESPN. I'm trying to go to the store. Like, am I really a customer that wouldn't have gotten there if I had to scroll down, you know, two more. These are the things that a lot of companies get too much credit and more than they deserve.

Erik Martinez: So, if you were somebody who hasn't invested in performance marketing and you want to get a start in this area, what are the key elements that leads [00:16:00] you to changing your strategy? What are the steps that you would recommend to think about? Is it picking a partner? Is it working with somebody like Acceleration Partners?

Bob Glazer: Of course. I actually don't think an affiliate is a good first channel because you're going to partners, you're asking them to take risks. If you haven't figured out your fulfillment, your pricing, all this stuff, and they are experimenting with you. They are not going to like that. I remember years ago, this client was going to come launch swappable SIM cards in the US. Wanted to launch with affiliate, and I was like, look, I mean, the education that has to go, you don't know if you have the right message, the right pricing. You don't want to go to affiliates and change the whole thing on them.

So, I actually don't think you start with affiliate. I think you start with social with paid search, with SEO. You figure out, how does it convert, how's your pricing. Make sure you don't have other problems. The most sophisticated publishers now will be like, look, you have a nine-page checkout process. I'm not working with you. That's gonna break the conversion thing. So, figuring out what works.

Every brand that I have seen that's kinda made [00:17:00] it, they've made it on a one or two channels and then eventually it sort of gets fatigued and they kind of diversify too late cause they get a little arrogant about that channel working.

I've had multiple people tell me who started their business five years ago or nailing Facebook cohorts, they couldn't do that today. They burn out so fast. They couldn't have possibly started their business, but you don't do 10 things not very well. You nail social, you nail referral, you nail something and then I think you start to think about broadening out. To me, that's when you take the formula that's working to your partners and then help them replicate that. I think you should be at a couple of million dollars before you launch an affiliate program in earnest.

Tim Curtis: Let's do the inverse of that. So, what if you're a brand that has been involved in affiliates? Probably not necessarily being real intentional about their partnership program, their affiliate, which is oftentimes what we see. It's sort of an entity that they can't really get their hands around, but yet they know they need to put some strategy around it and probably refine it. They're just a [00:18:00] little bit lost. This is probably one of those areas that is most outside the wheelhouse for most brands. So, talk about what you do if you have an existing program and you want to go the direction that you're talking about and really refine it and let's say, pay for only new to file customers.

Bob Glazer: I don't mean this like tongue in cheek, but find someone who knows what they're talking about. What's interesting in affiliate, and there is a supply/demand imbalance, is that you don't hire someone with no paid search experience to manage your paid search or no SEO experience to manage your SEO, but people are struggling with why their affiliate channels not doing well when honestly like 80% of the people we see have never done it before. That is where an agency or a consultant or an outside expert, or if you hire someone, send them to some training or some learning.

Look, you know, if they read either one of those books too, they might read it like, oh, this is a strategy that would really work for our company. Can I find someone with this experience, or should I hire someone who can help me implement that strategy? We are [00:19:00] introduced almost daily to people managing this channel who have no experience in it and it's never surprising to me that doesn't produce a superior outcome.

Tim Curtis: I tend to lump, just because historically I've always done this, I tend to lump more of that affiliate piece, that affiliate strategy, and that influencer strategy, all underneath this partnership program.

Bob Glazer: Yeah.

Tim Curtis: But there's obviously gotta be major philosophical and strategy differences between the two. Can you speak a little bit to that? Maybe clarifying a little bit of that?

Bob Glazer: Affiliate is just the traditional publishers you would think about that joy in lots of programs. That's how I distinguish it. Often it's on a network and a network helps you manage the one too many, and you get a lot of visibility for your program on a network. That is sort of the traditional definition.

As you move to more of partners, a lot of the software is more being licensed. It's what's gone on with DSPs. Like, kind of, they've been in-housed, you know, for a lot of programmatic and you license the platform and then you say, look, I have this tracking, measurement, payment platform. I don't have the network [00:20:00] effect. Erik over there has been working with these six sites and giving them discount codes or links. He's doing a special program with five of our reselling partners and he's giving them Google Analytics links, and then he's sending them an Excel spreadsheet every month, and then they're sending a report, and then we're sending a check. We're doing that because we didn't want to use the affiliate.

The affiliate network pricing model or the old school affiliate model is 20 or 30% of commission. That implies that the person is bringing you the source of sales. That's almost a sales commission, right? If you think of that, like, how the rest of the world prices, if you're paying for just the administrative piece, it would be 5%. If you're paying a sales commission, because they're bringing that, probably 20%.

So, for years, people have been like, look, Tim's team over here is running this affiliate program. I've got these partners of our own. I'd love to use his automation system for tracking and measuring and paying, but like, I'm not going to pay 30%. That seems way too high. So, now with these licensed systems, they're saying, oh, well, we've already licensed the system. It's a volume-based thing. It tracks, measures, and [00:21:00] pays. It's branded with our name. It's called the Acme Partner Program.

There's a bunch of interesting things I could do. I could go over to Erik's people and put them all on this. I could go to some of our Bizdev partners and say, by the way, we have a tracking and payment procurement system, we're going to do this with you now. These are all my relationships. They're all in my instance of the software.

The analogy I use in Moving to Outcomes, which I think people don't clearly understand, the old school network model is like you saying to Salesforce, I'm going to pay you 30% and you're going to license me Salesforced, and you're going to fill my leads too. So, I'm paying for it sort of all in one, but the SAS model is I'm licensing Salesforce. I'm paying a nominal fee for it, but my pipeline is my pipeline and I don't want you sharing it with anyone else because, in that other model, they share those leads and opportunities. That's the biggest difference is that look, this is my program. I'm licensing it. It's proprietary. So, I'm willing to put all these partners from different things on this tracking platform because, again, maybe it is that 10%, which I'm willing to pay for the convenience of tracking, measuring, and [00:22:00] paying, but 20%, 30% implies that that person brought me that revenue which is not the case.

So, does that make sense cause I think it's hard for people to understand? Yeah.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, it does.

Erik Martinez: Yeah, it does. So, when you're talking about some of these new technologies, can you give the audience just some examples? You know, what's the difference between a more traditional technology like Commission Junction, right, which has the network, and somebody like Impact as an example?

Bob Glazer: Yeah. So, Commission Junction and network is sort of a one-to-many. It's like a co-branded program. We'll go with Acme because we all love the roadrunner. So, if you have the Acme Affiliate Program, it would be the Acme Affiliate Commission Junction Program. It would be a percentage of commissions paid. It would be listed in a directory on Commission Junction, so it'd be more visible to publishers and they can find it everywhere and sign up. It is a co-marketed program. It is a shared program, right? So, the data in that ostensively belongs to the network.

Now, let's say Acme's competitor [00:23:00] is Beta. So, then Beta joins the affiliate network. It's very likely that people who work on Beta's program would then go look and see who's in Acme's program and recruit them over to Beta's program too. Think of it as a coworking space. There's some real benefits to a coworking space, shared copy machines, shared whatever, but if you start to interview the same candidates as your competitor who's sharing an office space with you and you find, you know, sales reports on the copier, it can get a little awkward. So, this is both the pricing model and the sort of non-proprietary aspect of that model and the fact that it's kind of this co-branded program.

So, let's also pretend, in this case, that your publisher, Susan, you know, did some pretty sketchy stuff and you go, oh, I want to kick Susan out of the Acme program. Well, because it's a co-branded program and because there's buyers reps and sellers reps, there's going to be like someone on the other side saying, no, we need to look into this. We need to see if Susan and some people are like, this is my program. I want Susan out of it, but again, you're in this co-branded relationship where the network has a responsibility and a duty and they [00:24:00] might have rules that govern everything on the network.

The SAS version is much more like the Salesforce example where you are licensing it. It is yours. You can set the terms. The payment structure is different and all of that data is proprietary to you. No one using Salesforce can go see the data of anyone else that's using Salesforce, right? Two competitors can use Salesforce, and they're not allowed to access each other's pipelines. That is the fundamental structural difference. I think the SAS people, to be fair, are making some of their things, a little more network and the network people are probably gonna offer SAS, so the lines are blurring, but that is the core distinction.

Erik Martinez: That's a helpful clarification. I have got several clients who are looking at these different models and I'll admit I'm one of them that doesn't totally get it. This is a fantastic education for me.

Bob Glazer: Sorry. I left out one thing in that, Erik, that would be helpful.

So, when you go to join the Acme program on network A. Again, you go to that co-branded landing page, it's there, but it would say that the program. When you go to join Beta on a SAS, you'd be on [00:25:00] the Beta's website, and you would just see this UI that says the Beta Partner Program, and there'd be this little symbol down in like, I think the powered by Impact, but the entire experience is the brand you're partnering with., It's on their website. Hence, why people tend to call these partner. Even the signup process lives on their website.

I think what you're seeing the market bear this out, which is the enterprise brands, which are big draws and have people coming to them seem to be going to the SAS model because they want the control. They have the demand. The smaller and medium-sized ones seem to have a lot more to benefit from being in the network model and having exposure to their program and those shared services. They can't afford dedicated management, so they get support from the network. It depends on what countries you want to be in, what kind of program you want.

Some of the super high-end fashion brands, someone breaks the rules, they're out. Let's just say I'm Gucci, right, as an example. If someone misrepresents the Gucci brand. There's no 7-day waiting period. If they were Bizdev's partner, they'd be cut off tomorrow. So, we want that same standard. No one else is going to [00:26:00] tell us how we can partner with people. That's the type of brands who increasingly are moving towards the SAS model because they run the program how they want to run the program. The software is just software that helps them do it.

Tim Curtis: I think, on the inverse, having clients who are using someone like Avantlink and they're having a great amount of success.

Bob Glazer: They're great and they have a real specialty in the like outdoor lifestyle segment.

Tim Curtis: Well, but the interesting thing is that even with that success, the brands aren't sure what's driving the success. They don't have any real visibility into why it's being successful. There's that disconnect there as well.

Bob Glazer: Yeah.

Tim Curtis: Whereas if you asked the brand to articulate what the strategy is, they wouldn't be able to do it because they don't understand it. They just know that they're getting these sales that are coming through Avantlink, but they can't tell you why, and so I think that's another disconnect that there's gotta be more alignment between the brands and...

Bob Glazer: Well, is that the expert management is that the in-house person? Maybe the network is introducing 10 people a month into that program. I think sometimes [00:27:00] you're just paying this one fee and it's a little confusing and you don't know what is what. That's why I much prefer, even if you're working with a network to say, look, here's the tech agreement, here's the service agreement. I am not a fan of this performance fee in perpetuity because, to me, like, you don't pay your salespeople five years from now from the deal they did, you pay them for the deal that year, and then they need to go get new deals. In some cases, what the performance fee is just becomes a long-term tax. You know, if five years later, the platform charging 30% is not talking to them, they're not even involved, like 30%, a pretty stiff amount to pay. I'm actually in favor of, I like the fixed number or some step down because I do think it's also unfair if platforms or networks are recruiting it and they're not getting that. But if you said, look, it's anyone that we recruit or bring into your program like it's 20% performance fee for the first year and then that rolls into the fixed licensing fee. No different than you would treat sales. Our salespeople would love to get paid for the deals they did five years ago. We're not going to pay them that way.

Erik Martinez: [00:28:00] So, I'm likening this discussion to the concept of link building and SEO. Two different philosophies, right? Go out and get as many possible links as you can and hopefully you get some brand equity and authority pass through to your site which will then elevate you in the eyes of the search engines and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Or you could spend your time going out and getting one real quality link a month, or two times a year, whatever it is, that really conveys real value to your business, and what I hear you saying, Bob, is, really we should take ownership of our performance marketing or affiliate programs or whatever you want to call it today instead of focusing on that quantity, which has really been the traditional affiliate model, at least in my mind, and focus in on what are the key success drivers for my business, what's the strategy behind what we're trying to get to, and then go find partnerships who can help me do that. That may only mean that I have two or three [00:29:00] partners in my program.

Bob Glazer: The one difference here, and that's a great analogy, is the how like I said. The tech can get really granular to say, look, I don't want to pay for coupons that come in the last two seconds of the cart. Okay, well, let's set it up that way. Knowing your business objectives. Also, like the analogy you said, is that what are the best links? The best links actually are ones that have value, right, from a relevant site. Doing something for the wrong reason or the right reason. Definitely, when you do things for the right reason, there is a better outcome, and that the best SEO links would probably be actually good user experience links as well. They're embedded in a relevant text. They're not off-colored at the bottom of the page.

All of Google's algorithm updates over the years are to just trying to people to stop manipulating what Google says it wants and just actually do what Google says it wants. They actually almost haven't changed what they want. They're just trying to stop people to stop cheating, which is write good relevant content that people would want to click on. Every update almost is just game that, oh, well, first people tried, copying the content and hiding the links and changing the color, just having them like doing something that actually [00:30:00] had value.

Tim Curtis: I think it's certainly profound, your approach because I think it's making us think a little bit differently or a lot differently, I should say, about how we approach this affiliate or this performance marketing. Describe for me or describe for the audience who the ideal client is for Acceleration Partners.

Bob Glazer: Yeah, it's a good question, and look, we are a large global firm. We work on the largest program, so we are not right for everyone. We tend to work with people doing 10, 20 million, at least online, you know, or above 20 million, or they're doing 10, but they are growing quickly. There are different approaches. There are people we refer people to, but our approach is that we really want programs that can at least support at least a half FTE.

I don't believe in the, you know, in the way that a lot of people charge a thousand dollars a month. I do the math for people on this. So, you get something for a thousand dollars a month. Let's pretend the account manager is paid $80,000. Any services firm has to have kind of a three-up markup to be in business, right? One X is the salary, two X is like [00:31:00] benefits and all this other stuff, and then the third is working capital and profit and otherwise. So, you have an account manager making 80K, you gotta bill 240,000. So, if that account manager is working on your program, for $1000 a month, they're often managing 24 of those programs, for a $1000 a month. It's just that simple. To me, an account manager working on 24 programs, even though it's cheap and you'll see these reviews on Glassdoors and the places they work like I can't do anything for my clients.

If you do that same math with a half FTE and what that looks like, it's geared towards larger programs or where people are like, look, I want to build this channel. I'm all in. It's like hiring the SEO person and knowing it's going to take nine months for them to get a result. So, that's sort of where we play. If someone actually has a smaller program they want to try, I'd rather give them to like a consultant I know who does like a couple of programs at a time really well than sort of an agency that's running a 20 account to manager ratio. People are like you are expensive. I'm like, well, the competition probably [00:32:00] equates to $750 an hour in that other model. So, I guess it's just a matter of how you're quantifying expenses.

Erik Martinez: Well, and it's quality over quantity, right?

Bob Glazer: Yep.

Erik Martinez: At the end of the day, we're paying for quality. We're paying for dedication of time, attention, and experience. That totally makes sense. So, I want to pivot a little bit to some of the other stuff that you're doing, some of the other content you're generating, if you don't mind.

Bob Glazer: It's your party, so...

Erik Martinez: It is our party. Tell us a little bit about Friday Forward. I just subscribed. I've been digging into some of the Friday Forward things. Tell our audience a little bit about what you're doing with Friday Forward and why you're doing it cause I think it's fascinating and I love the concept.

Bob Glazer: Yeah. Friday Forward started, it came out of a leadership thing that I went to me improving my morning routine and being told that sort of the construct of a good morning routine was some quiet time, reading something positive, and writing.

Some of the things that we were suggested, the reading positive, didn't do it for [00:33:00] me. It was a little rainbowy in unicorny, and so I decided somewhere, a couple of months later, I would combine that and I'd actually write a note every week to my team and it would just be sort of a thought issue, inspirational, motivational. I called it Friday Inspiration. I called it a bunch of different names and I forwarded it for a month or two and I didn't even know if people were reading it, but it was a good habit-forming thing for me. I liked writing them. I had to think about it every week. It wasn't about our business. It wasn't about anything. Not only did people write back saying they liked them, they were sharing them outside of AP. They were sending them to spouses and family and otherwise, and it started to go outside the company.

So, eventually, I threw some more names on the list and I waited for what the hell is this, take me off, and I got more good feedback and sharing. A couple of years later, there was almost 200,000 people in 60 countries getting this note every Friday. The renaming was just because it was being forwarded. So, I've continued to do that every week for, I think, six or seven years now and just try to find ways to get people to think about something, creates some value, [00:34:00] adds and value.

It's had an incredible impact on my life in terms of resulting in some books and connections all around the world and speaking opportunities. You know, I just think the right message has hit a lot of the right people at the same time. A lot of people share it like within their organizations or within their teams every week, and yeah, it's been a crazy for something that just started as a note to 40 people on my team.

Erik Martinez: So, how do you balance all this content generation that you're doing and running big global agency. I noticed recently that you elevated somebody to the CEO spot in Acceleration Partners and kicked yourself upstairs and I think that's part of the process. Right?

Bob Glazer: That is the formalization of something that has gone on for a couple of years. I've had a number two who's really increasingly run the day-to-day business. You know, I was the RD department. I like new ideas, new clients, new revenue things and he's increasingly managed the day-to-day business. I've done this other stuff over the years and started writing and we brought on some investors at the end of [00:35:00] 2020.

I think when it was just my company, I could do whatever I wanted. I felt like it was more fair for me to properly separate my AP time and non-AP time and I realized that the things that I liked doing within the company and outside were the same, and so I just morphed my job into the things that I liked and realized at some point, the job that Matt was doing really was the CEO job in a company our size, managing the executive team, dealing with that.

Like, I drew a picture for our company that when you're a small company, the visionary stuff, and the founder, you're selling a lot of ideas because there's not a lot there, right, and so that's the dominating role. At almost 300 people globally with the executive team, whatever, like the R and D department is 10% of the business. Running the business is 90% of the business and that is what Matt did and so it was just a good time for him to set up and do that and we worked on that transition for almost two years together.

Erik Martinez: So, I think is a really, really important point, whether you run your own organization or you're running a team within [00:36:00] somebody else's organization, what you said there was really important in terms of finding and developing that person to replace your role.

Bob Glazer: I mean, I have a couple of things on this one our ego makes a mess of this, separating what we actually like to do versus our role and our title. There are so many CEOs out there that do not want to be CEOs, founders are usually CEOs, and they can't really separate that out. I always appreciate when they say, oh, I'm really the head of sales, or I'm the marketing. It's probably whatever discipline they came from. So, being able to identify that, develop talent, and then who wants to be a great leader and any great leader should want to develop the people on their team to be better than them. They should want their people to come after their job at some point. Like, that is almost the proof that you have done your job well is to build up people who are good enough to take your job.

I was saying to someone the other day, there are a lot of leaders I know who are good leaders within organizations who are like look, Erik, you're a rising star and there's not opportunity here, but I don't want to block you, so I'll help [00:37:00] you get the job here and they're like that's better than most but when you're losing lots of Erik's and lots of Tim's because they're better than the people that are ahead of them, then, to me, that's the ultimate sort of form of leadership. Just step out of the way. Same as a parent, your job is not to create a lifetime job. Your job is to make yourself irrelevant, hopefully by 18, if not sooner. I think that was clear for me.

I read Patrick Lencioni's book, The Motive. Really great book. I had already come to these conclusions, but he sort of nailed it down. You have people calling themselves CEO when they don't even have an executive team. They shouldn't have the title CEO when you're the head of all the things. It's almost like a bipolar thing to say, I'm the CEO when I'm the head of marketing, the head of delivery, the head of sales, and otherwise. So, it just shows that it's ego, and then again if the CEO's job is to manage a leadership team, the number one job to build, control, and manage a leadership team, is that what you want to do, right? Is that really what you want to do or is ego coming into play? I actually think it's a helpful exercise to step [00:38:00] that away. So, many founders' identities are totally wrapped up in their business. They don't know who they are without their business.

Erik Martinez: I'm going to say that doesn't apply just to founders. It can apply to any leaders

Bob Glazer: They're the worst at it because they....

Erik Martinez: Yeah. They're the worst at it.

Bob Glazer: Yeah.

Erik Martinez: I'm guilty. I'm guilty.

Tim Curtis: It's a self-awareness issue.

Erik Martinez: But...

Bob Glazer: Yeah, I agree with you.

Erik Martinez: It's really important for your leadership team to have that same mentality about their position.

Bob Glazer: Yeah. Think about it. Some sales leaders don't want to be sales leaders. Sales leaders don't sell they coach, and the biggest mistake you can do is put a brilliant engineer into an engineering manager, a brilliant salesperson if that's not what they want to do because that's a totally different transition from being a producer to being a coach and leader of other producers.

Tim Curtis: And how oftentimes people miss that. They take the highest performing salesperson and then they put them into a role where they take all of the skills that they were so effective at and then expect them to be able to manage people as if that is a natural evolution of their habits. It doesn't make any sense.

Bob Glazer: [00:39:00] I've seen this so much. We try to carve out individual contributor roles. Organizations need a lot of them. Somehow, we correlate the ascension of importance and compensation with wanting to manage people, which a lot of people don't want to do. Frankly, if that sales guy or person can go sell five or 10 or 20 million, just keep paying them more. People want to be valued. Contributors want to be valued for their contributions. Leaders have to make the transition to be valued on the contribution of their team and it's a different motivation center. Some people want to make that transition. Some people don't and we push them into it and it's a terrible idea.


Tim Curtis: The inverse is also true. As a leader, as a CEO, you have to have sobriety about people who want to take that next step, who truly aren't equipped to take that next step as well. So, it goes both ways and you've gotta be able to coach and help lead through that so that you're bringing people up to a point where that next step [00:40:00] is a natural evolution them, but they're prepared for it. Again, it just takes...

Bob Glazer: Absolutely.

Tim Curtis: I say sobriety because I think oftentimes we're not intentional enough about prepping the team or prepping our individuals. I've made it a strategic move within my own agency to pull the senior leadership team together and to regularly go through some important thought leadership books so that we can actually talk through them together and hash out, where we think the elements of maybe vulnerabilities are or on an individual performance basis so that we can have an honest conversation, and I think that's the kind of environment that people want to be a part of. They want to be a part of something where they're contributing and they're getting something back out of it. So, you know, it's too late.

Bob Glazer: The true leader of the team should be taking all of the blame and none of the credit, and that is not what a lot people...

Tim Curtis: That is often what happens.

Bob Glazer: It's not what they want. Can people separate what gives them actual enjoyment? What do they want to [00:41:00] do versus their title and what are the needs of the role? So, if I say the CEO of a 300 person company needs to be managing the executive team, probably in 10 meetings a day, doing constant performance reviews with people and be able to be like, I like the title CEO, but I don't want to do that work. That's not what I want to do. I want to be off inventing a new product or doing this. That's when you have a real conversation with yourself.

Tim Curtis: Yep.

Bob Glazer: Yeah.

Tim Curtis: Yup.

Erik Martinez: Digital Velocity is obviously about digital marketing. We started with talking a little bit about affiliate marketing, we're now talking about some management. Bob, can you tie these two things together because actually our first two episodes were on this concept of hiring top-tier talent or intentional hiring, and I have this notion in my mind that with the pressures that we're seeing and how fast digital, whatever you want to ascribe to digital, is growing so fast. It's growing faster than the talent pool out there [00:42:00] is growing. We are in the process of trying to hire a marketing coordinator to help our corporate marketing team.

Bob Glazer: Brutal out there, huh?

Erik Martinez: You know, we're looking for some very specific skills. We've gotten 200 resumes of which I've rejected 175, and of the remaining 25, there's probably three, three that, you know, kind of meet the criteria. So, now you explode this out into any job. You know, we're hiring a full-staff developer for our development team, and we're kind of seeing the same issue. Actually, it's a little exacerbated on the development side of the house at the moment.

The interesting thing is we're not seeing the talent to fill these digital marketing roles yet, so what is it? We either can go out and try to steal talent from somebody else, but in my mind, that's kind of a short-term game. You might get really lucky and find that ideal person and they stay with you forever and life's good, but the vast majority of the people who are [00:43:00] willing to switch at this moment are probably going to switch it two years. So, how do we address that issue as digital marketers in the scope of this conversation?

Bob Glazer: I think you gave the question then the answer all in one in that getting and keeping talent, particularly in digital, I think it's a talent-driven marketplace and supply and demand are out of whack now. So, the reason why people are going to stay with you is because they like your culture. They have development opportunities. They have growth opportunities. As soon as they are blocked, as soon as they are unvalued or whatever, there's people calling them every day, offering them new opportunities.

 The problem is if people are marginally happy, they'll take the call, and right now people on the other line are offering like too good to refuse stuff. If they're really happy, they won't waste their time with the call, but I can promise you, Erik, if you're paying a hundred thousand dollars a year, in a market like this, and every week people are coming to Erik, we love you. Erik, you're undervalued. Erik, $200,000. Eventually, no matter how happy you are, eventually, that's going to get to you. And [00:44:00] that's where we are right now. The offers and the counters and things that people are making, they aren't a thousand or two more, they're 20%, more, 30%, more, 50% more. So, I think why people stay is they feel valued, they feel it's a good culture, they are learning. Investing in people and feeling like they can learn how to grow at your organization is what's going to keep them there and it's a bloodbath out there in anything digital marketing.

Erik Martinez: I totally agree. We've talked about inflationary pricing being one of those top issues. I think this is one of our other top issues in the industry is finding and retaining really good talent. Actually, I was on a Facebook group last night, reading a post from another agency owner who was talking about, they were fully remote and that was one of their things, right? Ten years ago, like you were talking about, you guys have been fully remote from the inception, that was actually a recruiting benefit, right? Blue Tangerine, to a certain extent, has had some of that [00:45:00] benefit. Even though we have some small offices, a third of our team has been remote from day one.

Today, where everybody's going remote, or a good chunk of people are going remote, you don't have that a...

Tim Curtis: It's not an advantage anymore.

Erik Martinez: It's not an advantage anymore and so you have to offer something better. I've been reading your stuff and that theme is consistent across everything you've written. Being authentic, having a good workplace, valuing people, and you know what? We all make mistakes and doing this, by the way. You could get it 95% right and 1% wrong and you've lost a really good resource because you got it wrong that one time.

Bob Glazer: The thing that we've had to learn too is, to me, a great culture is simply one that thinks, says, and does the same thing, right? What it actually believes is what it says and what it does. It does not mean it's for everyone or that anyone agrees with those things. I think one of the challenges for us as a culture and as you get bigger and grow is you have these vocal minorities, and a vocal minority can be very [00:46:00] loud.

This person doesn't like this, but I'm not changing the whole company for the one person out of 99. Oh, well, we need this, and we... No, you need that and it doesn't sound like you align to our value proposition. As a company that's very focused on feedback, I think, as we grew, we were just way too responsive to the vocal minority. They want to change the thing that the other 98% of the people really like and sometimes they're so vocal that they make the assumption that what they want is what everyone wants and that's just not true. So, to me, it's always look, is the company disingenuous, or are you a running back and you joined a passing team and you just have to realize that it's a good passing team and they're not going to run the ball more, so you need to go find a running team?

I think sometimes candidates, there's some that are true to alignment to the value, and then some chameleonize themselves, to appear to be something that they're not to get the job, which doesn't help anyone. Like, we always say, like, our core values own it, embrace relationships, and excel and improve. It's a very specific definition of own it. Some people might go, I love that [00:47:00] core value in the recruiting process, but I always say, if you are not that core value, you're not going to like this. You're not going to be happy here. When someone asks you to write a debrief about what we could have done better on the client that we lost, they don't expect you to blame everyone else and not look inward, and what we could have done better.

Erik Martinez: Absolutely. We really appreciate you joining and talking to our audience. As we move to wrap up if you were to leave our audience with one final piece of advice, what would it be?

Bob Glazer: I think it's to get alignment and what you're doing. What's the strategy? What do you want? Then, what are the processes, people, and systems that sort of support that? I think a lot of what we're doing, and you could take this macro from a personal standpoint, or micro from a tactic, we're just not aligning from what we actually want to what we're doing and the people that we're doing it with and I just think that always produces a better outcome in all aspects of work and life.

Erik Martinez: Well, Bob, if somebody wanted to reach out to you, what's the best way to get ahold of you?

Bob Glazer: If they want to learn more about [00:48:00] Acceleration Partners and affiliate marketing, It's probably easier to Google it than it is to try to type that out, and then all of my writing books, courses, Friday Forward, everything is at Robert Glazer, GLA Z E R, dot com.

Erik Martinez: Yeah, folks and I can tell you I've been drinking from the fire hose of Robert Glazer and there are a ton of fantastic ideas, short snippets, just the Friday Forwards alone are thought-provoking. You guys should spend some time combing through his content and reading the books because I think there's a lot of value there.

So, Robert, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your insights. I definitely learned a lot. You've got me thinking differently about performance marketing. I'm gonna use that term. I'm no longer using the "A" word. I really appreciate it.

Bob Glazer: Thank you.

Erik Martinez: So, thanks again. This is Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine

Tim Curtis: and this is Tim Curtis from CohereOne.

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