Ep 439: The Secrets of Building an Amazing Affiliate Lead Generation Machine | Matt McWilliams Episode Recap
One of the greatest secrets behind Brand Builders group’s success in the last few years has been affiliates. Um, we should hit eight figures this year. We’re right, we’re, we’re right on track to hit right around eight figures in our first and five years in businesses will be our fifth full year in business. And affiliates are a huge part of that. They represent over 60% of our revenue as a company comes from affiliates. It’s some, something around that number. And we simply would not, we would not exist at Brand Builders Group if it weren’t for all of our affiliates. And if you know much about the, the start of, of how our company started, we unexpected suddenly and unexpectedly exited and sold our last company and started Brand Builder’s Group. And we didn’t really have any plan whatsoever to do that. And yet we had a friend named Lewis who, uh, reached out to us, asked for some help, we started helping him.
And he was the one that said, this is what you were born to do. I’m gonna tell the whole world about you guys. And, uh, even though we had no audience and no platform, ’cause we had sold it, we, we previously had, but um, all of it was gone, uh, you know, very, very suddenly. And so we didn’t have that platform. And Lewis said, that’s all right. I have one and I’m gonna tell the world about you. And so right from the beginning, roots of our company, we, uh, you know, the, the arrangement was have us on your podcast and then we will pay you a referral fee for everyone that we meet from your show. And that is like the origin story of Brand Builders Group. And so affiliate marketing has been built into our DNA and we love it. We believe in it.
It is, I think, one of the most magical forces on the planet. It’s, it’s incredible. It is such a win-win. And if you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, just to catch you up, what the, what, what It’s referral marketing. It’s referral marketing. It’s basically to say, Hey, if you’re a client of ours, um, if you refer us to another client, we’ll pay you for that referral. And part of our philosophy and our strategy at Brand Builders Group is something that we say to turn your customer force into your sales force, turn your customer force into your sales force. I mean, think about that. How many salespeople do you have? If you’re a small business, you probably don’t have many, and there’s a good chance you are the leading salesperson if you’re the owner, the founder, the the entrepreneur, right? If you’re the CEO even. But how many customers do you have? You know, probably lots, maybe, yeah, dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands in some cases, tens of thousands. What if every single one of your customers was a salesperson? That is how you wanna do customer experience. That is how you want to create your product. That is how you want to, to create your offerings, is you want to do such a great job
And you wanna overdeliver for the people in front of you. And I think so much of the world is out there chasing thinking, oh, I need to have millions of new followers, and they’re trying to make mo money selling to strangers on the internet instead of the real secret of making money. The real secret of growing your revenue. And the real secret of building a business quickly is to serve the customers you have in front of your face in a better way, in a deeper way to overdeliver for the people who have already trusted you. And then if you do that, those people should want to and likely will tell their friends and family about you if you do an extraordinary job. And so, but, but, but too many small businesses are out there just chasing new customers all the time, that they’re overlooking the people right in front of them to go, how can I overdeliver for these people?
The way that we say it is, don’t forget, right? Don’t be so busy chasing the width of your reach that you forget about the depth of your impact and serving people in a deep way. Now, if you can pay your customers to do it, that becomes affiliate marketing, is to say, I’m gonna pay you for telling people you know about us, about our business. And we have built that into our business model. We have a very open 10%, uh, lifetime referral fee on all strategy services that are purchased from us that, uh, come from anyone that our clients ever refer us to. So many of our clients, this includes people like, you know, Lewis Howes and Ed, my lead, and, uh, people who have big platforms, they make more money from us than they pay to us. And that is just because they have very large platforms.
But even in our own community of, of like clients who are new, we actually call our affiliate program BBG for free, BBG for free. And the reason we call it BBG for free is we tell our clients, look, one of the fastest ways to make money from being associated with Brand Builders Group is just by referring friends and, and client, you know, friends and family and like other people who are mission-driven, messengers and aspiring speakers, authors, coaches, small business owners, professional service providers, you know, uh, direct salespeople. We, that’s a lot of our market, uh, or corporate executives who are wanting to like, rise in the ranks and build a personal brand. Well, since we pay a 10% lifetime referral fee on all of our strategy services that, uh, are purchased by anyone who our customers refer us to, that means if our customer, if our one customer refers us, 10 people who all bought at the same level that they bought, like at the same, you know, we have a couple different levels and tiers of our membership program and our, our various services.
But if you referred us 10 people who all signed up at the same level, you signed up then because you’d make 10% on each of those 10, that would add up to a hundred percent of what your service is, which means you would get your BBG for free. So we call that program BBG for free. And many of our clients get their BBG for free. They pay for their whole membership here, or they subsidize their own membership by the fact that, you know, they pay us whatever they’re paying us, but then we’re paying back to them on anyone they’ve referred us to. They can do that on day one before they have a website, before they have a book, before they have a funnel, before they have a sales team, before they’re doing live events, before they’re out there doing keynotes or have you even written a speech?
So our clients make money quickly. So this is, I think, the greatest secret that has been the secret to our success so quickly in growing our revenue. And it’s a win-win, right? Because if, if it starts with you though, it starts with you overdelivering for the clients that are in front of you, right? With us, it just so happened that Lewis Howes was our very first, you know, client or became our very first client, um, and it was going, how do we overdeliver for Lewis? How do we add so much value to him that he wants to tell us? And the idea is to overdeliver for the customers that are in front of you in such a big way that they want to tell you about their friends the same way they wanna tell their friends about a great movie they just saw, or a great restaurant they went to.
Even you wanna be so good, you wanna do such a good job that even if you didn’t pay them a referral fee, that they would refer you anyways, because that’s what friends do, right? Friends share good things with each other. If you see an amazing movie, you want to tell your friends about it. If you go to an amazing restaurant, you wanna tell your friends about it, partly because it makes you look cool because you found something really awesome. And you know that when they all love it, they’re gonna thank you. That’s how business should be done. Business should be done, especially small business. That’s how small business should be done. Small businesses can’t compete with the Fortune 1000 on advertising spend and employees and, you know, buying, you know, buying traffic and building these extravagant ad campaigns. But what we can compete on, and we can, we can win against the big companies, is by over-delivering through a customized experience for the people that we’re working with to where they become so, so, you know, uh, so loyal to us that they would refer people now when we pay them to do that, um, which is, you know, amazing.
Now in some industries, there’s actually, you can’t do it, right? Like I think in healthcare industry and then, you know, some financial, like financial services, there’s, there’s certain industries that there’s so much regulation because of what you’re selling. You, you can’t do it. But I mean, and, and most of the industries you can. And it’s, it’s amazing, right? Because it’s like everybody wins because you service your customer really well, which is where it starts. It doesn’t start by them giving you referrals. It starts by you over-delivering to the people who are right in front of you. That’s how the cycle starts. You overdeliver to them, then they refer a friend to go, I had such an amazing experience with Brand Builders Group, they blew my mind. They’re, they’re changing my life. They’re, they’re helping me make this dream come alive. And it’s, it’s fun and it’s exciting and it’s, it’s, you know, academic and it’s proven and it’s researched and the the people at the company are amazing and the people in the community are amazing and the people in the community are winning, right?
I mean, that’s, that’s one of the things that we’ve got going for us right now. Uh, last week we had our 24th client hit the Wall Street Journal, or USA today bestseller list, and we hit, hit the New York Times. We’ve had two of our clients hit the New York Times bestseller list this month. We’ve had eight clients hit the New York Times. In the last 12 months, we’ve had six clients have Ted Talks that have gone viral with over a million views. We have nine clients who’ve grown their annual revenue more than a million dollars a year. Now, are those results for everybody? No, they’re not. We have hundreds of clients, but it shows you the magnitude at which our clients are winning. And it’s because we’re not teaching gimmicks and tricks and hacks. We’re not cheating the system. We’re not trying to shortcut What we’re doing is we’re teaching people the proven methods of doing the hard work it takes to add value, to exceed expectations, to automate trust, because you’re over-delivering.
And that’s the secret. The secret is to do the work that other people aren’t willing to do, uh, to take the stairs. As I said so many years ago, in my first book, uh, that hit the New York Times, that broke through the, broke me through the wall, was this idea of do the things other people aren’t willing to do. So it starts with you making a commitment, making a resolution, making a decision, and taking an action to go, I’m gonna love on the people in front of me, and I’m gonna turn my customer force into my sales Salesforce. So that’s what it starts with, and that’s the psychology, uh, uh, of it. And then all you do is you put money behind it. And in our case, we do a simple 10% lifetime referral fee. And we’re transparent about it, we’re open about it, we tell people about it, right?
It’s disclosed in our website, like, this is how we do business. And so, um, when we recruit affiliates, part of what we’re doing, I think that’s working really well, which is what most people aren’t doing. When most people try to recruit affiliates, they try to recruit famous people, and they go out and they try to get like, you know, big celebrities with millions of followers. That’s not wrong to do, right? That’s not like bad. It’s just hard. It’s difficult, right? Like, how are you gonna get the rock to promote your stuff? I mean, like, what’s your strategy there? I mean, good, good luck, right? And you and everyone else, and you’re competing with companies who will literally pay the rock millions and millions of dollars to let you know his have his face associated. So you think he’s gonna post about your thing because you sent him a free sample.
Like, you know, it’s just, it’s just, it’s not impossible. It’s just not very possible. Um, so that’s what most people do when they’re chasing affiliates, is they’re chasing people with like large platforms. It’s the same idea that that small businesses are, are they’re chasing width. Everything they’re doing is, is reach. They’re trying to expand wide. That’s the whole mentality, right? Is I need more followers, more views, more impressions. Those things are not bad, but they’re not necessary to make more money. In fact, you can waste a lot of time chasing those things and overlooking the money that’s right in front of you, which is to go deeper with fewer people. Um, and so the way that we do that is even with affiliates, we’re not trying to find affiliates. We’re trying to find customers. And then once we find a customer, we’re trying to make a customer love us so much that the customer turns into an affiliate.
And who is more likely to refer us a celebrity that knows nothing about us or someone using our product, and which endorsement is truly more authentic and genuine. Someone who’s being paid to say something or someone who’s actually paying their own money, their hard earned blood, sweat and tears, cash to buy your product or service, and they’re spending money and they’re going, this is worth it. It’s worth more than what I’m paying. These people are amazing. They’re changing my life. And you go, that endorsement is, is worth more frankly. I mean, in, in some ways it’s worth more, it’s more authentic, it’s more legitimate, it’s more genuine for sure. And the thing you gotta realize is that most of us, most of you, you don’t need hundreds and thousands of new customers to have the greatest income year of your life. Most of us need a couple dozen customers, a couple dozen of our, our greatest customers.
Like our our best perfect customers would, would, you would have the year, the best year of your life income-wise. So you don’t need celebrities with millions of followers. You don’t need millions of followers to make millions of dollars. That’s the law of AJ Vaden. That’s what we, we call it the law of AJ Vaden, because she says that all the time. And AJ has now been the co-founder of six different multimillion dollar companies, two eight figure companies. She’s had four years where she’s personally produced over a million dollars in revenue and she’s never had more than 10,000 followers. How does she do that? How does she do it? Because her strategy is to land and expand. Her strategy is to go deep, not wide. Her strategy is to do relationships and reputation and knowing that reputation precedes revenue. And that if you overdeliver, then you will win.
Because most people don’t overdeliver. What most businesses do is the least amount of e effort to acquire a customer, and then they go looking for the next customer. That’s what they’re doing. They’re now, and, and if anything, where they spend most of their time is on marketing and sales. And once they land the customer, they forget about the customer and they just move on to try to find the next customer. That’s not the, that’s not the strategy. At least it’s not the strategy that works for us, right? I can’t say it’s, it’s not the right strategy, or it’s not the best strategy. But, but the secret to how we’ve grown these large businesses in just a few years with no venture. We’ve got no private equity. We’re not venture backed. We have no outside investors. We have no debt. We have no bank loans. How do we do that?
It’s by helping people
So first of all, make it easy for people to agree to be affiliates. So make it easy for them to say yes. How do you make it easy for someone to agree to be affiliate? First of all, over deliver for the thing they’re paying you for. Second of all, over deliver for things they’re not paying you for. Ask yourself, how can I, what other ways can I add value to this person’s life? What other way can I help them? Right? What people can I introduce them to? Do they need vendors? Do they need employees? Do they need team members? Do they need speaking opportunities? Do they need podcast opportunities? Like, uh, who, who are they looking for? How can I introduce them to people? How can I, how can I give them advice, encouragement, uh, how can I cheer them on and, and give them, like, you know, celebrate them.
Those are things you can do that cost nothing. And then, and then also it’s like, what, what services can I add to people’s lives that maybe are just things that you don’t even offer for sale, but you do it for people to help them? Like, so one of our brand builders group mantras. Build relationships before you need them. Build relationships before you need them. Build relationships before you need them. So find those people and over deliver. The other part is serve people who have the same audience as you, but who have a different offering than you, right? This is part of making it easy for them to say yes, serve audiences who have the same, or, or, you know, try to, try to pick, when you looking at affiliates, look for people who have the same audience as you, but a different offering from you, right?
Amy Porterfield is a great example of that, right? So she’s a client of ours who became a client first, then became an affiliate kind of at the same time. But, but really she was a client first. We were, we were, we were serving her first. We were adding value, um, first as friends, then officially informally as a client. Well, Amy has our audience, but Amy doesn’t sell one-on-one coaching Amy teaches, she, she, she has course, right? She has courses, but her flagship course is a course on helping people create courses, right? So her primary business model is teaching. Uh, so selling courses, you know, digital Course Academy is her primary thing, right? And she does that. She’s had thousands, tens of thousands of students go through this program, right? So she has a great course on helping people, uh, teach them how to launch courses.
So her business model is different from ours. Our business model is not courses. Our business model is membership one-on-one coaching. We’re nurturing our community all the time. We have live events, right? We have pay for hotels and people fly in and like, we pay for food and catering and coffee. Like we have a, we have a, a human like interactive in-person experience. And then we do one-on-one coaching over Zoom. That’s what our strategists do. And then we have a training, we have live trainings constantly. We have 10 live trainings a month that are virtual, um, that, you know, I lead two of them for our community. So it’s a very heavy, you know, human experience. And it’s not as, it’s not as much digital or, or automated. So it’s not that one is better than the other, not they’re, they’re both good, but they’re different, right?
So our people can benefit from her stuff, her people can benefit from our stuff, and we’re not, we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re both trying to serve the same audience, but we offer different things. So that’s a part of what you wanna think of. It makes it easy for people to say yes, you know? So you wanna find who has your audience, who has the same, who’s going after the same people as you, but they do something different, right? Like if I’m ACPA, right? And I’m doing, I, uh, let’s say I’m looking for small business owners. I wanna maybe form alliances with insurance agents who sell, like employee benefits and stuff, because we’re going after the same person, but we serve different, we, we, we have different offerings. We serve the same audience with different offerings. That’s part of how you make it easy for people to say yes.
The second key to to having affiliate program work is make it easy for them to market You. Make it easy for them to market you, right? Part of the reason why we do so well is we don’t ask our affiliates to do 50 email blasts and do these open cart, close cart launches, like the all between specific dates. That’s not bad to do. That’s not wrong to do. A lot of affiliates do that. That’s great if you can do that and you can get people to do it for us. All I have to be is a podcast guest, like any other podcast guest. And I just, I just, you know, and, and their, their mind is blown when they go, how does this work? And I say, just invite me on your podcast like any other guest. And they go, and that’s it. I said, that’s it.
And then we will build you a custom link. We build a custom landing page for each podcast we’re on, and we say, the only URL we’re gonna give it on your show is that link. And when we do that, everyone who comes through that page, we pay you a 10% lifetime referral fee on all strategy services that we sell to those people. Boom, there it is. And they go, you’re kidding. It’s that easy. It’s like, it’s that easy, right? Make it easy to say yes, then make it easy for them to market. And then if they say, well, are there emails I can send out? Sure can. I’ll write the emails for you. Here you go. You wanna post on social? I’ll give you assets. Here you go. You wanna know what ad you wanna read an ad for us on your own podcast and get affiliate fees?
Here’s a script for it. You don’t have to use it, but it makes it easy. Like you create all the assets, you create all the materials, you do all the work to make it easy for them to say yes, and then make it easy for them to market. And then the third thing is, make it easy for them to make money. Make it easy for them to make money. Make it easy for them to get paid. And you do that by having a great product, by having proven funnels, by having digital, you know, dashboards and metrics that you can tell them, you can estimate for them on the front end. Hey, if, if you send an email to this many people, this many people open it, this many people come to our free training, this many people watch this, many people buy, and this is how much money you’ll make.
Like if you don’t have those metrics dialed in, you’re not ready for an affiliate program yet. I don’t think like, I mean, you could do it more casually, but like not a large scale one. And we go, why do people refer us? Hopefully, because first of all, we’re awesome at doing what we say we’re gonna do. We’re over-delivering for them as clients. But second, we make it easy for them to say yes. We don’t compete with what they do. We do all the work of creating the assets for them. And then we send a massive passive mailbox money. We just go here, click this link, set up your bank account and we’ll wire you money every month. And boom, it’s on autopilot. And we’re sending out massive passive mailbox money to our affiliates. And that is my goal. My goal is not to go, how can I get something from them?
It’s not so much what can I, you know, what’s the least amount I can do to get them to refer me? I’m going, how can I constantly overdeliver for them in a way that they wanna say nice things about us, they wanna help us, and I’ll pay ’em on top of it. Massive passive mailbox money. So guess what happens? People are flooding to invite me on their podcast, right? They’re flooding us to invite ag on their podcast. They’re, they’re talking about us without us even being there and using their own affiliate link, because that’s how this works, right? And so start with your customers over deliver, build relationships before you need them. And that is how you build an incredible, amazing life-changing referral fee affiliate program. One of the most powerful dynamics in all of small business. Make it happen.