COLORADO COMPANIES ARRIVE IN BRITAIN TO FIND OPPORTUNITY AND INNOVATION

COLORADO COMPANIES ARRIVE IN BRITAIN TO FIND OPPORTUNITY AND INNOVATION

This week I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat to help lead a ground-breaking inaugural outreach to develop an exchange of innovation between Denver and London and the greater UK. The most exciting aspect of this partnership is the cooperation between the public and private sector as we forged new relationships and identified new opportunities. The Denver Economic Development and Opportunity office and The UK Department for International Trade, along with London and Partners and the UK Foreign Trade office hosted 5 innovative Tech Entrepreneurs this week in and around London Tech Week Events. The UK welcomed us with open arms and more than one cup of coffee as we discussed political climate, economic development opportunities, and in short, how we could link arms together to create a seamless flow of business between the heartland of America and the gateway to Europe.

Our Colorado Entrepreneur Delegates consisted of Tech Focused companies that already lead our economy. This includes myself, Matt Frary, Chief of Chaos at SmarterChaos, (a digital marketing and customer acquisition solutions provider). It also includes Andrea Pearson, CMO of Dispatch Health an (on demand urgent care platform), Shail Mehta, CEO/Founder of The Last Gameboard (a physical and virtual gaming platform), Charles Von Thun, Chairman of RemoteLock, (an access control as a Service, focused in the vacation rental, retail and short term rental market) and Jon Nordmark, Founder and CEO of Iterate.ai (an end to end innovation workflow platform).

The 4 key takeaways our Delegation received were:

1.  Companies and Government Departments that wouldn’t normally interact can in fact create new and interesting partnerships to build unforeseen opportunities. We had members of Parliament such as Dr. Liam Fox, the UK Secretary of State for International Trade spoke directly to our group of start-up Entrepreneurs inspiring us one on one to think differently about how to approach issues and to work directly with the UK to bring our certain brand of collaboration and innovation to London.

2.  Brexit is just a distraction for the tech sector and startups that has minimal concern for our companies as we break down the actual borders and create a virtual borderless eco-system. The Department for International Trade has done a wonderful job of ensuring that disruption will be minimal and that we can accelerate past Brexit into a much more blue ocean opportunity.

3.  There are unexpected and very creative solutions for real problems that exist in the tech sector in Britain. We expected before we came on this Delegation Trip to London Tech week that there are great companies, but we have confirmed that such creative companies exist in the London and UK technology scene that are ready to activate and get to work to solve global challenges together. We knew that there must be innovative solutions out there, but to create this bridge between our countries has now created a super-highway of ideas to flow.

4.  Not only did we find conversations interesting, but we have been able to activate real sales discussions and opportunities in real time before we even go home. There were multiple occasions that during our meetings and sessions that several of the Entrepreneurs in the group made deals or started to make deals right during the session. This was an opportunity to do actual business, rather than just talking about it.

Frannie Matthews, CEO of Colorado Technology Association says, “Some of the most productive moments were unexpected. We were able to get a group of Entrepreneurs and Private Sector folks in the room together and like a bunch of fireflies, the ideas sparked and lit the way for actual opportunities to ignite.”

Adding to that, Tim Martinez, Global Business Development Manager at Denver Economic Development and Opportunity expressed, “Denver and London are so much more parallel in our values and opportunities than other markets, which raises our profiles as cities to compete arm-in-arm in a global technology eco-system where together we can punch above our weight class and capture true value.”

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Giving Back: Our Mission to Help Those Less Fortunate #givefirst

Giving Back: Our Mission to Help Those Less Fortunate #givefirst

Often as we grind and “hustle” our way through building our businesses, we start to lose a part of ourselves. At least, that’s how it’s been for me over the last 20 years. We look at chasing the almighty dollar almost like a religion, and we start to feel more and more empty inside. I’ve been reflecting and focusing on this over the last few years, and I have decided to do something about it. First, I took some time to build a spiritual relationship with God, and with myself and my family. Second, I’ve looked at those around me to whom I can make an impact. I’d like your help and we can grow together! Would you be willing to help leave a legacy in this world with me? Can we all start looking both inward and outward to improve the world around us? #givefirst

Let’s start chipping away at these large problems together. Problems like hunger, the environment, equality, loneliness, obesity, homelessness, and much more are begging for people to make a difference every single day. We can’t tackle them all at once, and we can’t even tackle one of them all at once. What we can do, is try every day to make a small difference, which leads to many of us making small differences everyday, which then leads to many of us making a big difference over time. I feel strongly that we are called to serve, and for those legacy-minded individuals, which is better……a legacy of giving and making an impact, or fast cars and fancy homes? I’d prefer the first and I hope you will join me.

We would like to connect you with our family, our family mission, and an opportunity coming up next month for you and our family. I rarely ask for anything, but I feel strongly about our upcoming family mission. We have prayed hard to find ways to make an impact and a legacy in this world, and we believe this is the start of something amazing. Our family mission most recently has been to find more ways to give back. We go with #givefirst in our family, and we feel we have the perfect opportunity coming up.

We are very excited to head to Peru later next month where we will be working with a community center in Lima and an orphanage in Cusco to help underprivileged children. Among other things, we think this will be a great way to show our kids first-hand the value of giving to the less fortunate and how they can make a direct impact on people’s lives. We feel that our kids’ focus on Spanish should make their interactions with Peruvian kids even more meaningful and they are really excited to help.

For the trip, we are joining our dear friends the Unruhs and their kids, we are blessed everyday to know them. The Unruhs have partnered both with the Elim Orphanage in Cusco as well as the Lost Children of Peru community center in Lima, so we’re excited to piggy-back off of their history and prior experiences in Peru. Among other things, our goal is to bring supplies to the children at both locations.

Our family is not asking for anything for ourselves as we just feel blessed to be able to go down and help. However, as part of this effort, we are asking if you are interested to donate some funds to help cover some portion of the estimated $3500 to cover building 1 house, and then we are looking to raise $100,000 to help re-build the Girl’s Home in Elim. We are also using a portion of the donation for supplies to paint and repair sinks in the existing girl’s home.

If you can’t provide a monetary donation, we are also collecting phones and laptops for the school and the girl’s home as well. Please drop those with me, or send them to us and we will take them down to Peru with us.

Please do not feel obligated to contribute, but, if this is of interest, you can donate by clicking on this LINK: and receive a tax deduction. Alternatively you can donate with cash or check, with checks being made out to ‘Come Unto Me’. If you can make a corporate donation, please and THANK YOU!

Again, there is no pressure, but any contributions will be very much appreciated and should go a long way.

May we all be blessed in this world, may we create prosperity for ourselves and others, and may we always think about what we can #givefirst and build the better world that we want to see in our lifetime, and for our kids.

Cheers, and God Bless!

The Frarys

@chiefofchaos

ENTREPRENEUR INSIGHT: Want to know my “Why?

ENTREPRENEUR INSIGHT: Want to know my “Why?

Why after 20 years in Affiliate Marketing are you starting a blog or a personal brand?

20 years of “grinding” and “hustling.”  20 years of working in Affiliate Marketing.  The question is, “Why am I still doing this after so many years?”  Why would I put up a website about myself and my thoughts on the industry?  Ego?  Financial Gain?  No.  I do this for the passion and love of giving first, and to make things happen for people that they wouldn’t have made happen otherwise.  Put simply, I have the resources and happiness to last me a lifetime.  I’m most concerned about the industry as a whole and helping others right now.  If my business grows as a result, or if I come into more, that’s ok but it is NOT my primary focus.  I’m looking to truly change the world, to change the industry I’m in, and to change the lives of those around me.
There are so many “Gurus” out there you can follow that will tell you what to do and profit from you buying their books or enter into their courses.  You would have to question their motive as they ask for your credit card to make more money, to tell others how they made money.  That is NOT my motive.  I absolutely ask for nothing except enthusiasm and surrounding myself with like-minded people that want to engage in digital marketing and entrepreneurship to make a better situation for themselves or their companies. #givefirst

 

Starting with my “Why”

 If you want a great book to really change the way you approach things, take a look at Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. This helped me really evaluate what gets me up every morning to do this “hustle” and “grind” as an entrepreneur of 7 different companies after 20 years of doing it.  I found out that my God-given purpose is to help others who can’t fully help themselves, and to add value in the lives of Clients, employees, and friends and family.  I also discovered upon further reflection, that I am only driven to help those that truly get out of their own way that are ready to do the work that it takes to help themselves.  I don’t provide handouts, and I don’t offer free advice.  My advice comes with an implied homework that the person I’m in that level of relationship must do for us to move to the next level.  If the person or employee I’m working with isn’t motivated to put in the work, then I too lose interest and move onto those that will.

It is important to learn these types of things about yourself and it was important for me to learn it about myself.  Why do so many business relationships or personal relationships drop off so quickly for me?  I have learned that it is because we are in an exchange of time, knowledge and resources, and when I “give first” and the receiver doesn’t give their time and energy equally, I lose interest.  That’s ok, now I know.  If the person I’m working with gives a damn about themselves, their situation, and understands none of this happens without time and energy, then we are a good fit to move forward and work together.

 

Continuing on to my “How”.  How do I do all of this?

Once I discovered the “Why” recently, I moved onto Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle and the next layer was to evaluate my “how.” The good news is I have fumbled my way to a pretty good answer for my “How.”  I have built 7 companies sub-consciously to support my “why” that I hadn’t realized yet, perfectly supporting the overall “why.”  The 7 companies I will not all layout here because this is not a self-promotion piece.  Instead, I can tell you that they all help companies online acquire users and new customers more effectively and efficiently than they could do for themselves.  There, I did it right?  I built out companies sub-consciously and effectively to achieve the “Why.”  Nope.  We are not done.  Building companies around this is not enough.  That is only part of the “how.”
To really truly get to my “how” I could support the “why” I have to go deeper.  I have to go deeper within myself to really achieve the “Why.”
I learned that upon further inspection of my life, I was finding success building these companies, but I was letting myself down.  In order to achieve your “why” in life you really have to see “how” you are going to do that in your own life.  I took a look at several areas of my life, and much like in business I had to orient those things to my “why.”
I use a journal and I write down all aspects of my “how.”  The sub-categories or headings may be different for you?  The point is that you have to find in your life what really drives the “why”.  This is called your “how.”
These aspects in my life are:

1. Family

This is the #1 most important “how” I am able to do everything in my life.  My core family is THE most important aspect of my life.  When this is not in alignment or they are not happy, I cannot move on to the other areas of my life.  It’s a fact that everything else will fall out of balance in my life.  Many say this, many realize this, but not many practice this.  We came up with a mission as a family to always “leave a legacy of giving, kindness and compassion and to build strong kids and legacy-minded futures” and we try to practice this in all we do.  We also set aside time and resources to achieve this mission, and we re-align when we aren’t on the right trajectory as a family.    Our family doesn’t let other family members have a negative impact on our life, and we pause from any activities that perpetuate that or walk away from situations where it doesn’t follow our family mission.  Write down your family goals.  Build a family mission, and stick to it.  Meet regularly with your family to see if you are on track to achieve those goals or if you are on mission.  Take time for your family, and be present.  

2. Health

Without your health, you cannot get to your goal.  If you do get to your goal and you still haven’t taken care of your health, you will quickly fade and won’t be able to enjoy that goal. 

A few years ago, I was completely unhealthy.  I was over weight by too many pounds, and I had allowed my iron levels in my body to go to almost nothing and had to have a blood infusion.  During my journey, I also sustained a traumatic brain injury from slipping on ice and hitting my head, and it took months to speak again and over a year to be able to go through a day without throwing up.  In addition to that, I got in a skiing accident tearing both ACLs and Meniscus, undergoing double knee surgery.  I was in a wheelchair for a whole summer.

At this rock bottom health point, I realized that it didn’t matter how hard I worked or how hard I focused on the other areas of my family, I was going to need to make health a priority as part of my “why.”  Today, I’m one of the healthiest places I’ve been in my lifetime.  I implemented a “move” policy where I work out or do physical therapy at least 30 minutes per day, I do yoga when I can, and I am following a Keto-based diet.  As of this post I’ve lost 32 lbs and still dropping!  

Many say they will work out when this or that happens, or they will change their diet when they aren’t so stressed, but when you are stressed is EXACTLY when you should be working out and eating right.  It helps you have the reserves to attack your “Why.”

 

3. Financial

“I want to make a million dollars” says every Entrepreneur.  I realistically looked at it and I know to retire and to be able to give back at the rate I want to give back, I probably need to earn personally $10 million in net worth.  If that sounds high, that’s ok, it’s my goal not yours.  The point here is that you should stretch and reach and be realistic with yourself.  What will it take for you to really achieve your “Why.”?  You don’t have to say it out loud, and you don’t have to run it by anyone, just write it down.

We often just survive with our finances, and we live on a day to day cash basis.  Planning your personal finances is just as important as planning your business finances when trying to achieve your “Why.”  The amount of stress you feel when you don’t have money or don’t know how to pay a bill will absolutely consume you.  I carefully considered the amount of cash I had on hand when I started SmarterChaos, and how long I could go before I could pay myself.  I would also look at my assets and come to grips with the fact I may be selling them off if things didn’t go well. This gave me a ramp time that I could build the company without having the day to day stress of figuring out where money was going to come from.  Many of you may want to start your company as a side-hustle or you may have to work other jobs to make it happen.  The quickest way to self destruction is ignoring your finances.  The second quickest way to self-destruction is to rely only on credit cards.  If you are running up credit cards without ANY plan to pay them back, you are on the highway to bankruptcy.  There is fat to little chance you are going to pull out a Hail Mary and just pay them off in the future.  That doesn’t mean credit is bad, but credit is bad if you have no plans on how you will pay it off in the future.

Buy some personal finance software like Quicken, and map out your expected income, your expenses, and stay on that budget.  Find innovative ways to earn money like consulting or helping others in their businesses and getting paid for it.  At the top of each month, write out your goals for the next month, the next quarter, and the year.  Plan 2-5 years in the future.  I would write down the income that I wanted to earn, and each year I would surpass it.  

 

4. Spiritual

This is an area many don’t talk about in business but it is very important.  The internal drive that I have comes from a higher power.  I am a Christian, plain and simple.  You may be something else.  It doesn’t matter the religion, the theology, or the drive. The point is that you really have to get in touch with that spirit and that higher being that you feel drives you.  In my life God plays a part in my life to help me make the ethical decisions, as well as to give me strength and power to move forward.  Fear can be crippling and the dark nights can be very dark during this journey.  To properly execute your “Why” you should explore your spiritual side.  For me, that is going to church every week, going on church retreats, participating in Bible studies, and volunteering on missions.

Another part of spiritual growth is meditation and being present.  Prior to this Entrepreneurial journey I thought mediation and the power of being present was all bologna.  I would make fun of people that thought they could somehow center themselves.  Since I’ve ridden such a rocky road to get to where I am, I downloaded some meditation apps like HeadSpace,  then I set aside 15 minutes a day when I wake up to focus and meditate.  Many CEOs have told me about the positive benefits of meditating, and I agree with them.  Meditation gives you a sense of quiet and focus on your “Why” and let’s you better execute your “How” and “What.”

 

5. Learning/Growth

 “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein 

Growth and purpose takes learning to fuel it.  Most entrepreneurs and CEOs read regularly.  I personally break reading into several categories.  I read for industry knowledge, personal growth, and for fun. 

In any industry, especially digital marketing, the cutting edge technology and the techniques change all the time.  In order to stay ahead of these trends, I find myself always having to read every week and study new methods.  You can join industry newsletters, read industry websites, or participate in industry conferences.

For personal growth, I read spiritual books, management books, and I try to learn more about emotional intelligence.  I have learned that in order to continually grow I must keep reframing the world around me with different personal growth models.  I take what I can use from those models, and I leave what doesn’t make sense in my life.  I read a passage from the Bible every night, and I reflect how it fits into my purpose and my life.

You have to escape once in a while, and there is no better way to give your brain a vacation than to take it to another world in a book for fun.  Don’t forget to read for fun!  This is one of the hardest things for me to remember because I do consume so many management and industry books, that I don’t want to take the time to read fiction.  It’s important, and its a good exercise to increase the imagination.  

 

6. Business

There is an entire discussion that could be had here on structuring your business to achieve your “Why.”  That would be another post entirely.  My purpose for putting it here is that you should realize that your Business is one of the main vehicles by which you can achieve your dreams.  If you realize this, it becomes exciting!  Your business is one of the most valuable assets that you have and that you can nurture and grow to achieve your dreams.  Remember that people that work for you do not have the same dream you have, so you have to structure the business to achieve your goals but also to achieve each person’s goals that works for you.  

Plan regularly.  Every month just like my financial plan, I write down goals for the business and major tasks that would help me get closer to that financial goal in the business.  If you write down 5 things each month that are deals or projects that you could accomplish that would earn you what you are looking to earn, then you will always be stretching and getting closer and closer to the financial goals we talked about earlier.

 

7. Travel

Often I hear Entrepreneurs, even those close to me, say “I don’t have time or money to travel.”  My response to this is that everyone should find a way to take a vacation and get outside of your geography.  Save for it, plan for it, make it a mandatory expenditure.  Too much concentration on the business without getting outside of your head, outside the office walls, or even outside the city limits will absolutely drive you nuts and burn you out.  When you are burned out, you can’t achieve your “Why.”  

Write down your goals for travel.  Where are all the places you’ve dreamed of traveling?  Think exotic lands and exciting trips!  Nothing is too silly or crazy.  We have dreams to stay in an ice hotel in Sweden, to travel to the Galapagos and swim with sea turtles, or to heli-ski in the mountains of Alaska.  Our family has taken amazing trips to Hong Kong, England, France, Vancouver, and all around the US.  Nothing is off limits except dangerous destinations, and we discuss regularly the next places we are going.  It gives the family a chance to dream together, and it lets us realize the entire family’s dreams.  Remember, the family has to be part of your dreams and experience since they are there to help you achieve your “Why.”  A trip once a Quarter will re-energize your family and yourself, even if it is a camp out in a field outside your town, or just a road trip to grandma’s.  Do not fool yourself into thinking “we will travel when……something happens.” 

Know Your Why, Dig Into Your How, Get to your What

At the end of the day if you start with your Why, as I have done, the rest falls in line nicely and everything will drive towards your life’s purpose.  If you live each day on purpose, focused on that “Why” then you will realize you are happier and healthier.  It’s taken me 20 years to get to this place, but I plan on spending the next 20 years focused on my “Why” and realizing all of my dreams.  I know that focusing on the Why, leads to me planning and digging into the How, which then gets me to the What.  I know you can too and I’m here if you need to bounce anything off me, understanding you have to put in the work!

 

ABOUT the Chief of Chaos:  Matt Frary is a Digital Marketing Entrepreneur who started in affiliate marketing at eBags.com in Denver, CO in 1999.  He has since built one of the top CPA Networks called ROI Rocket and built some of the most iconic companies in customer acquisition to include SmarterChaos, She Is Media, Elite Media Partners, and Webfluential US.  Matt is a Graduate from The University of Colorado in Marketing and International Business, and earned an MBA from Thunderbird the School of Global Management in Phoenix Arizona. Recently Matt has purchased affiliate sites, is helping mentor startups and is driving innovation in influencer and multi-channel attribution. Matt spends time in Colorado skiing, jeeping, and building a life for his family.  Matt is available for speaking and panels at conferences or events.

 

 

 

Matt Frary – Founder & CEO, SmarterChaos.com – Underdog.nyc

Matt Frary – Founder & CEO, SmarterChaos.com – Underdog.nyc

Matt Frary is founder and CEO of SmarterChaos.com, a digital performance marketing agency focused on driving customer acquisition for large brands such as eBags, ValueMags, Dollar Shave Club, JewelScent, Meredith Magazines, FabFitFun, and many more. SmarterChaos.com has been recognized two years in a row as one of Colorado’s top 100 fastest-growing companies, listed three years in a row on the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America, and as a Forbes Agency Council member.

Matt has achieved great success in building highly-profitable companies and loves to share his knowledge. As a founder institute mentor in Denver, Colorado, Matt has worked with thousands of startups to drive profitable growth and build award-winning marketing campaigns. A national expert on brand management and customer acquisition, Matt is a frequent speaker and influencer in the affiliate marketing and digital marketing community. A passionate serial entrepreneur, Matt is also founder of SheIsMedia.com, founder of Pollen-8, and founder of Elite Media Partners.

Tell me about your early career.
Early on, I knew that I wanted to work in business and marketing, but I really didn’t have an idea what that meant. After graduating from the University of Colorado in business and marketing (and Russian language), I looked for a job in marketing or sales. I was lucky to come across a posting for eBags.com in 1999, which was just starting along with the great rush to build eCommerce sites. My first job was to build links for eBags through their affiliate program, and later to manage merchant relationships at an affiliate shopping mall for charity called Kickstart.com. I was told to call as many websites as possible and have them place ads on their site for luggage and bags, and through those links, they could earn commissions. This was called affiliate marketing and everyone was starting to do it, including Amazon and eBay. I was hooked, voraciously learning everything that I could early in my career about affiliate marketing, online tracking, ad placements, ad sales, media buying, and search.

After a year at eBags and Kickstart, I moved onto DriveOff.com, which was later CarPoint.com and MSN Autos. My job there was to build an affiliate program to drive auto dealer leads for more than 5,000 auto dealers across the U.S. Here I got chops in lead generation, and building out lead paths for auto programs, including partners such as Costco Auto Buying, as well as Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds.com. Microsoft quickly purchased DriveOff.com and I was looking for a new position.

From there, I went to a traditional advertising firm called The Integer Group, and we launched a digital division called Integer 2.0. Anything that was even remotely considered “digital” was passed along to me and my team, and we developed creative interactive strategies for large brands. I realized quickly that I wanted to have a larger part of the digital space and moved to another position with a software development firm, and then decided that if I was going to have a real shot at business, I’d have to take it to another level.

In 2003 and 2004, I went back to school to get my MBA in International Finance and Brand Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management. I focused on how to build brands profitably, and with a positive return on investment (ROI). I had to learn accounting, finance, statistics, organizational management, and cross-cultural communications – all of which became valuable as I built my own businesses. During my time there, I interned at Mercedes Benz, working on the launch of a massive brand called the “Smart Car”. Taking on the monumental task of working on this brand and researching the market, so that Mercedes could determine when to launch into the U.S. market, was eye opening and a quick schooling on how large corporations make decisions.

In the spring of 2005, I found myself starting from scratch with a newly-minted MBA, $100,000 in student debt, and no job. I reached out to a former friend that I had worked with online before Thunderbird, and he told me that he was making millions doing Internet marketing. I called him, and we agreed that I’d consult for him so that I could help build his business and earn some income myself. After a few months, he and his business partner asked me to build them an affiliate network, which I did. We built ROI Rocket from 2005 to 2009 into one of the top 25 affiliate networks in the U.S., grossing millions in revenue. The result, when I sold my 25% share in 2010, was over 1,600 advertisers with more than 60,000+ affiliates. We had built from scratch a profitable digital affiliate ad network.

How did the concept for SmarterChaos come about?
Even though I had been a part of building a profitable online digital company at ROI Rocket, I had also faced quite a bit of adversity through my partnership. Through some discovery and investigation, I had found that my partners were doing things in the business that were not in my best interest and in fact were very detrimental and inequitable. After intensive litigation, I prevailed and settled.

The concept for SmarterChaos came about when I was sitting on a beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico trying to recover from the dizzying, pending litigation and stress from my exit at ROI Rocket. I started to draw out the eco-system of the online advertising universe, and when I was finished, the players were all interconnected in a very chaotic, very unstructured way. I thought that if I could provide clarity and value to the advertiser, I could help develop more profitable online channels than an advertiser could do for themselves.

When I returned home, I went to work right away to find software and build a business that could easily track online channels and help me manage the chaos for large brands. I also had to jump on the phone and begin calling every affiliate, affiliate network, advertiser, and ad tech company out there to shop this idea and get them on board to build my business. I discussed the idea with a few friends and neighbors, and my two business partners, Doug Davis and Stu Butler, immediately jumped at the chance to help me build this business. We met in the Castle Rock, CO Library on February 3, 2010 and bought the domain and sketched out a business plan for SmarterChaos.com. The rest is history.

How was the first year in business?
Our first year in business was an absolute struggle. We had several battles to fight. One, I was still fighting litigation from my former company and business partners, and that was time-consuming, expensive, and energy-draining. In addition, I needed to quickly educate and socialize my business partners to the online marketing world, but luckily they were driven and smart and picked up very quickly. We relied on some of my past business relationships to build the business and drive revenue and sales. We also had to choose and invest in technology to run our business, but found a great partner in Impact Radius. Almost immediately, Impact Radius helped us wire up our business so that we could track, pay for, and serve great ads through our affiliates for our clients.

What was your marketing strategy?
Our marketing strategy has always been to drive referrals via past clients, relationships, and thought leadership. We participated in conferences, speaking engagements, and articles about the industry and best practices. We asked friends and family to refer us to anyone that they knew that needed digital strategy and execution. We were fortunate to be able to trade on my past reputation and to quickly grow that into current clients that would also recommend and refer us in the future. We aimed at landing large clients that were growing fast so that we could become a part of that growth. In the early days of SmarterChaos, we landed large accounts such as Meredith Magazines, Dollar Shave Club, BeachMint, Fab Fit Fun, and more.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The company grew at a profitable enough rate to bring on employees, but not profitable enough for the owners to pay themselves for a while. We had to let go of our desire for security and a paycheck to drive our vision for growth of the company. Our name grew faster than our profit, but that’s often what happens in a start-up. You spend most of your money hiring the next person, investing in the next technology, and doing marketing. We would eventually, after three years, get listed on the Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest-growing companies in America, and then earn that two more times. We also made the top 100 Colorado companies to watch, two years in a row. The top line revenues were growing, and our company was stabilizing. We did all of this organically with no outside investment or investors.

How do you define success?
To me, success is defining a goal, and then reaching and surpassing that goal. If you stop and look around you, and you want what you have and you have fulfilled your short-term goals, you should feel successful. If you are working towards your long-term goals, and putting in the work to achieve those, you should feel successful. You can’t feel successful without knowing where you are going and measuring whether you got there.

What is the key to success?
There isn’t one key to success, but there are factors. The factors that play into a person’s success, and that make them more likely to be successful are:

1. Be willing to take risks – without risk, there is no opportunity for reward. Take measured, calculated, and large risks.

2. Be willing to work when others won’t – you may not have more money or resources, but you can outwork your competitor or the other person.

3. Build a team around you – you cannot do anything alone. Everything in life that makes you successful requires a team around you. Choose your team wisely, and be willing to cut from that team when necessary.

4. Always be learning – there is no such thing as an expert, but only those that continue to learn and evolve in a certain subject. Consume information about your work, industry, peers, competitors, and also for personal growth including your health, money, spirituality, hobbies, and family.

5. Don’t stop, keep moving – if you stop growing, learning, building, dreaming or executing, you are dead. You have to have a restless quality that never quite gets fulfilled and that allows you to yearn for growth and movement. Settling, quitting, or giving up is not an option to reach success.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The greatest lesson that I’ve ever learned is that failure is an opportunity for growth. When we view failure as an opportunity for growth, we can find many growth opportunities in many different situations. Fail fast, grow often.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Never give up”, “Always be closing”, “Want what you have”, “Make it happen”, “Without rain, there would be no rainbows”, and “Don’t let worrying about yesterday take away your today.”

What are some of your favorite books?
The Bible, Know Your Why: Finding and Fulfilling Your Calling in Life by Ken Costa, Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive by Harvey B. Mackay, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving Inby Roger Fisher, The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferris, and The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
It’s very difficult to choose one tough day, but I’d rather have tough days on my terms than “normal days” on someone else’s terms. One of the toughest days I’ve ever had as an entrepreneur is when I realized that my business partners were stealing from me by using company funds to enrich themselves, and that they were providing me with false documents to cover their tracks. I realized that all of the hard work that I had been doing, other people were profiting from without having to put in the work themselves. They had frozen my cash, told me that I wouldn’t be able to work there anymore, and pushed me out of a company that I had built. Essentially, I had to start all over and to fight them at the same time. Building a brand new company while draining current resources to get out of an old one, were my toughest moments.

The lesson learned is make sure that you know who you are in business with and build your team very carefully. You are only as good as the five closest people around you. Loyalty to the mission, to the company, and to me is a key trait and more important than anything else when I’m looking for talent and partners in business.

The other lesson learned, and this is THE KEY, is never, never, never give up. You might be on your knees begging for mercy from the tough days, but don’t forget to be on your knees rejoicing when you reach success. If you give up, you can’t experience the latter. What separates a successful entrepreneur from someone that you have never heard of is that the successful one didn’t give up.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
When facing adversity, you must have faith. You need to have faith spiritually that your God or someone greater than yourself will pull you through, but you also need to have faith that the people you love and your family and friends will be there to support you. Strengthening my family and being able to give them everything they need drives me. My wife and kids push me to move forward, and at the end of the day, I realize that, “Without rain, there would be no rainbow.”

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
I would advise entrepreneurs not to get wrapped up into trying to “act” like an entrepreneur. You either are, or you aren’t. Don’t get wowed by the stories of people making millions or billions, but instead by those that have faced adversity and overcome it to be successful. Be ready to adapt and overcome anything that is thrown at you in your business and personal life, because you will NEVER be able to stay on plan. Build plans, build goals, but realize you’ll never stay perfectly as planned.

 

This interview was conducted for research purposes by Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

Check out our Books page to see the top books recommended by successful entrepreneurs and executives.

Is Influencer Marketing A Performance Marketing Strategy?

Is Influencer Marketing A Performance Marketing Strategy?

You bet it is!

To be fair, I’m a pretty die-hard advocate of Performance Marketing, and tend to see hints of its existence and absence in every marketing strategy known to man. That being said, I truly believe that Influencer Marketing checks off all of the boxes needed to be considered a performance marketing strategy.

#1: Performance Tracking

Let’s start with the simple mechanics of Performance Marketing: tracking. Without the tracking component, Performance Marketing wouldn’t exist. In order to understand what performs, what works, what doesn’t work – we need to track activities.

When it comes to affiliates, we track impressions, clicks, sales, leads, conversion rates, LTVs, refunds, times spent on pages, bounce rates, and so on. Affiliate managers are able to track and analyze the performance of each affiliate in their program, each product those affiliates promote, each offer the affiliates broadcast, and the cross-sections of each of those performance measures.

The same can be true for Influencer Marketing. In fact, many savvy advertisers have begun using their affiliate program tracking links and attribution models to track the performance of their influencers alongside and/or in conjunction with their affiliates. Whether or not they use their affiliate tracking and reporting platform, advertisers can assign each influencer their own tracked links, landing pages, hashtags, and coupon codes to track the activities of the visitors and customers back to the referring influencer.

In my humble opinion, if an advertiser isn’t implementing tracking mechanisms into their Influencer Marketing campaigns, they are doing it wrong. Placing performance tracking at the heart of Influencer Marketing will be key in seeing this popular strategy stick in the long run.

#2: Performance Compensation

There’s a interesting proclamation from member, Matt Frary of SmarterChaos… it goes something like this: Affiliate Marketing is a compensation model. That quip has been shared by Todd Crawford of member, Impact Radius from both the Affiliate Manager Days stage and the Influencer Marketing Days stage.

The statement resonates in both settings.

While many affiliate marketers may argue that there is so much more to affiliate marketing than the compensation model, it’s hard to argue with the fact that merchants and advertisers ask affiliates to go out and promote in a wide variety of ways – but they all compensate the affiliates based on their performance. Commissions on the sales they refer, bounties on the leads they generate… merchants compensate affiliates by sharing a piece of the revenue they refer.

Whether influencer marketers funnel activities through their affiliate programs or not, they too can and ultimately DO compensate influencers based on performance. At the most basic level, compensation stops when an advertiser determines that a particular influencer isn’t performing at an expected rate and simply stops hiring the influencer. At a sophisticated level, influencers are compensated based on the amount of business they refer to the advertiser with commissions on sales, bonuses for reaching thresholds, and tighter partnerships like co-branding, “celebrity” appearances, and other public-facing activities that tie the influencer’s brand to the advertiser’s brand (and visa versa).

As Influencer Marketing matures, I predict that we’ll see many of the same evolutions in tracking and compensation as we have in Affiliate Marketing. Again, savvy advertisers have already picked up on this and are running their Influencer Marketing strategies as an extension of their affiliate programs.

#3: The Third-Party Endorsement

While both influencers and affiliates have been asked to use ad units like banners, infographics or video spots, advertisers (should) agree that the most valuable content in both of these strategies is that which the influencer or affiliate creates. And out of that publisher-generated content, the best is the endorsement. That third-party voice saying, “This product is great. I tried it and liked it, and I think you will too.”

Whether it’s in words, a video, or a photo – influencers and affiliates who communicate with their audiences with passion, intelligence, and authority are the heart and soul of both Influencer and Performance Marketing.

Just as I predicted a similar pattern in compensation models, I predict a similar crack down from government authorities on Influencer Marketing as we’ve seen on Affiliate Marketing. The FTC’s focus on disclosure is a clear indication, that these third-party endorsements that both strategies rely on are viewed as one, regulation-worthy practice in the eyes of the consumer protection agents. How long before the tax agents begin to see the similarities?

 

Rachel is a partner at Rust Built Ventures. She has been an active participant in the affiliate marketing industry since the late 90’s with executive leadership roles at KowaBunga!, Lurn & FMTC. Her advice and views have been shared in FeedFront multiple times as well as from the stage at Affiliate Summit.
Matt Frary on Merchant Risk and Technology Investment

Matt Frary on Merchant Risk and Technology Investment

Chris Trayhorn Interviews Matt Frary on Merchant Risk and Technology Investment

Matt Frary on Merchant Risk and Technology Investment

What’s the easiest point of entry for a small merchant wanting to test the affiliate marketing channel? How much does the merchant have to put at risk?
Our agency wrestles with this question all of the time. We don’t want a small merchant to have to invest a ton of money into the channel just to find out it doesn’t work for them, but at the same time in order to test affiliate marketing you have to be willing to spend money.  Our litmus test of whether or not a merchant is going to work in affiliate is dependent on how much they are spending in Social and Search Media.  Launching an affiliate program without any other form of paid media will ultimately result in poor results in affiliate.  Affiliate marketing is not the silver bullet and cannot be used as a stand alone marketing tactic.  All forms of marketing play off of each other and a small merchant has to be willing to invest in all channels.  Another misnomer is that Affiliate Marketing is not risky or has low risk.  Just like any other channel you have to invest in the people building the channel either internally or externally, you have to invest time into building the relationships, and you have to invest in the technologies required to run the affiliate channel.  The affiliate channel may take 6 months to hit stride and the merchant has to be willing to accept the time and money spent to get it there.

We have seen a number of networks introduce new platform features or interfaces recently. Is technology investment by networks increasing? If so, why?
Technology investment is increasing at some networks, but not at others.  The ones that are not investing in technology will find themselves going out of business, or at a minimum not growing.  This industry is so fast paced and there is such a demand for information on demand that networks have to keep up.  The network and platforms that recognize this are the ones that will still be in the game 5-10 years from now.  Unfortunately there are very large networks that haven’t changed since 2000 and we are seeing our Clients wanting to leave those networks or not work with them at all.

What is lead scrubbing? Why is it necessary?
Lead scrubbing is the practice of returning a lead to the Publisher in order to not pay for it as the Advertiser.  Different companies have different policies about lead scrubbing, and you should be sure that you understand those policies before sending leads.  Our company has different reason codes for returning a lead that include for affiliate fraud, consumer fraud, partial information, or any other reason that the lead is not usable coded as “other.”  We return sales in much the same way with similar reasons, but we also include for sales a return if the product is sent back to the company and the sale has been reversed.  It’s necessary in our industry for an advertiser to make sure that they aren’t paying for leads produced fraudulently or under conditions that were not contracted for.  The industry faces a challenge policing those advertisers that return leads or sales for the wrong reasons, but also with the publishers that are producing leads in nefarious and questionable ways.

The FTC seems to have been more aggressively enforcing their rules over the last couple of years. How has that affected affiliate marketing?
In my opinion the FTC is aggressively enforcing their rules that should have been followed by people in the affiliate industry a long time ago.  If you already do everything ethically and above board there is most likely no issue for you as an affiliate or an advertiser.  The industry is maturing from the wild west days and mostly the FTC is just closing up loopholes that were being exploited.  The latest FTC actions are focused on disclosures and truth in advertising.  An advertiser or an affiliate can look at FTC.gov and quickly determine what he/she needs to do in order to be in compliance.  If you are ever in doubt, remember the “Yo Momma” rule.  Just don’t market products or in such a way that would offend your mom or that you wouldn’t sell to your own mother.

About
Matt Frary is CEO and Founder of SmarterChaos.com, an Internet marketing and sales agency focused on large brands. Matt was a founder of a former top-30 online ad network called ROIRocket.com, and is a frequent speaker at online marketing conferences. As a Mentor at The Founder’s Institute in Denver, CO, Matt enjoys working with start-ups to realize positive ROI quickly and is a passionate and serial entrepreneur.