The Art of Hype in Affiliate Marketing

In the world of affiliate marketing, creating a buzz is not just a tactic; it’s an essential strategy. This concept was brilliantly underscored by Matt Frary, the Founder of Chief of Chaos, in his recent live discussion with Dustin Howes on his LinkedIn Show Affiliate Nerd Out.

It’s All About Relationships

Matt’s approach to affiliate marketing is akin to what Deion Sanders brought to Colorado and the CU Buffs – it’s all about the hype, but more importantly, it’s about delivering on that promise. Just as Sanders sparked excitement and anticipation, affiliate managers need to create a similar fervor around their campaigns and offerings.

Engaging Partners – The Matt Frary Way

Since his early days at in 1999, and his innovative work with, where 50% of proceeds went to charities, Matt has been a pioneer in building meaningful relationships. His journey took him from launching ROI Rocket from his Arizona apartment to establishing Smarter Chaos, an agency that worked with giants like Dollar Shave Club, FabFitFun, and Manscaped.

One of Matt’s favorite ways to engage partners is the old-fashioned telephone. This direct, personal approach was instrumental in growing his companies. The realization that 75% of purchasing power came from females led him to start SheIsMedia, and later, the acquisition of Deal Taker, before selling his enterprises to DMS in 2020 and founding Chief of Chaos.

The Vision Behind Smarter Chaos

The inception of Smarter Chaos came from a moment of clarity while sitting on a beach, envisioning how to better organize the affiliate industry. The result was a novel approach – mapping out affiliates and networks to create a streamlined, more efficient system. Matt’s disdain for the title ‘CEO’ led him to adopt ‘Chief of Chaos,’ a moniker that reflects his unique approach to leadership and strategy in the chaotic digital landscape.

Embracing Chaos in Leadership

In his early 20s, while working with Mercedes to launch the Smart Car, Matt realized that the traditional corporate environment was not his arena. The chaos in his mind needed a different outlet, an apology he often extends to his team for his unorthodox leadership style, but ultimately the reason for all of his company’s great success!

The Secret DNA of Chaos

Matt dives into what he calls the secret DNA of Chaos, an acronym where each letter stands for a key value:

  • C for Compassion – Understanding and acknowledging the human element in every interaction.
  • H for History – Remembering the work done with people on past projects, both the triumphs and the challenges.
  • A for Ambition – Fostering a mutual goal to succeed and be top in the network.
  • O for Objectives – Setting clear, monthly goals and holding each other accountable.
  • S for Success – Celebrating and recognizing achievements together.

This approach, starting with compassion when reaching out to affiliates, transforms professional relationships into meaningful partnerships.

Offering Value First: A Game-Changer in Affiliate Relationships

One of the core principles Matt Frary champions is the concept of providing value first, whether it’s to affiliates, colleagues, vendors, or investors. The norm in many meetings is a focus on what one can gain, but Matt suggests a different approach. Imagine extending a hand with your palms up, offering help before asking for anything. This approach, where you prioritize adding value to others, leaves a lasting impression and sets the stage for genuine, mutually beneficial relationships.

Legacy of Value-First Approach

By consistently providing value first, you create a legacy of being a helper, not just a taker. People remember those who come to their aid, those who offer support and guidance without immediate expectations. This philosophy doesn’t just build partnerships; it builds a reputation of trust and generosity that endures.

Engaging Without Asking

Typical communications often start with “We should talk,” which can be perceived as asking for something right off the bat. Instead, Matt advocates for a more value-centric approach. For instance, approaching a brand with suggestions on setting up an effective affiliate program, offering resources for enhancing their brand recognition, and giving free recommendations where they can make a real difference. This approach of providing value first establishes a foundation of goodwill and collaboration.

The Affiliate Marketing Landscape: Insights from Dustin Howes

Dustin Howes points out that affiliate marketing in the U.S., despite being a $10 billion industry after 27 years, isn’t as large as it could be. One reason is the perception of affiliate marketing as a last-click attribution channel, often leading to other channels overshadowing and ‘stealing’ the attribution. Affiliates are frequently on an island by themselves, oftern misunderstood within the company that should be engaging with them,  and with their contribution to traffic generation underappreciated.

The Challenge of Last-Click Attribution

Matt Frary adds that the issue with last-click attribution is its narrow focus on the final interaction, ignoring the cumulative effect of all preceding marketing efforts. This limited view makes it challenging to measure and defend the true value of affiliate marketing, often leading to its undervaluation. Affiliate marketing, as he emphasizes, is not just a channel; it’s a unique way of paying for the media. Every channel can incorporate an affiliate structure; it’s about understanding and leveraging these relationships effectively.

Conclusion: A Human Approach to Affiliate Marketing

Matt’s philosophy centers on treating affiliates like humans, aiming for meaningful collaborations. This mindset has been a cornerstone of Matt’s success and is a testament to the power of human-centered strategies in the digital world.