What if you could steal affiliates from your competition? That would be pretty freaking awesome right? Not only is this one of the easiest ways to start and grow an affiliate program, but it has the added benefit of growing your market share while decreasing your competitors’. In this episode, I’ll show you exactly how to steal your competitors’ affiliates.

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Previous Episodes of The Affiliate Guy

How to Promote Challenges as an Affiliate

How to Build Strong Relationships with Your Affiliates

How to Use a Challenge for Affiliate Marketing: How Entrepreneurs on Fire Made More than $250,000 in One Affiliate Launch

10 Lessons I Learned Launching a Bestselling Book

Affiliate Profile: How Holly Homer Went from $0 to $3500 in Affiliate Commissions in Her 2nd Promotion

How to Steal Affiliates From Your Competition

What if you could steal affiliates from your competition? That’d be pretty freaking awesome, right? I mean, not only is this one of the easiest ways to start and grow an affiliate program, but it has the added benefit of growing your market share while decreasing your competitors.

So listen up, because today I’m going to show you exactly how to steal your competitor’s affiliates. So as far as I know, a part of the story I’m about to share, I’ve never shared before. I’ve talked a lot about how I got into the affiliate world and how the company that I ran at the time, there were three of us that were partners, how we were basically ten days away from going bankrupt.

We couldn’t make the next payroll. We just paid payroll. It was a Friday, and we just paid payroll. And we could not pay payroll in two weeks. We did not have enough money, nor enough like, we didn’t have enough money on hand, nor enough money projected to come in over the next two weeks to pay payroll. And we kind of had one of those I call it the business equivalent of trying to pay your mortgage by finding change in your couch, right, or doing a garage sale. We’re trying to figure out, okay, how are we going to make payroll? And we’re just trying to survive two weeks.

And the answer ended up being to start an affiliate program. And it’s an affiliate program that over the course of about the next 18 months, we built into a million-dollar-a-month powerhouse, and we became a respected player in our industry. We grew and we grew and we grew. And a lot of times I tell that story, and just for the purposes of time, I don’t tell the whole story.

I talk about how we started an affiliate program, and what the advantages are. I’m actually doing a training coming up. If you want to hear parts of the story I’m not going to share today, I’m doing training. How I built a million-dollar-a-month affiliate program in only two years. Really? Less than two years without any connections or credentials. And we’ll put a link to that in the show note.

Well, the part that I’m probably not going to share on that because it’s not relevant and I don’t know that I’ve ever shared it publicly really is the middle part of that story. How do you go from zero to a million dollars a month in 18 months? What did that actually look like?

Did we grow by $75,000 a month? Was there an inflection point where we had $100,000 a month a year later and then we suddenly skyrocketed? What happened in that mix?

And what does it have to do with stealing affiliates from your competitors? Well, for us, what it looked like was we worked our butts off in the first month. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but the first month, we did like, $10-12,000. Awesome. Great start. That plus some other stuff was what allowed us to kind of stay in business.

Then we grew to about $25,000, $40,000, and so on and so forth. About six months in, we got it up to $100,000 a month, just shy of $100,000 a month. And that’s amazing. And that came through hard work and doing what I teach on the podcast, right? Developing those relationships and all the things, all the things that we talk about. If you want to know where to find affiliates, I’ve got a free report, right?

And I’ve talked about that before. Your First 100 affiliates, mattmcwilliams.com/first100. We’ll put that in the show notes, and I talk about the ways that we did that in there. But here’s what happened around month six, we had gotten to the point where we were doing about $100,000 a month, and we got what at the time felt like really bad news. Our biggest competitor had just gotten acquired by a large publicly traded company. We were talking about a multibillion-dollar company.

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And I remember I think we found it out on a Thursday, and I was so busy with some work stuff that I kind of finished up the Thursday and didn’t really think about it. And then Friday, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I left work.

I mean, I was young, I was single, and I was running a startup. I worked 90 hours a week. I worked seven days a week. I worked ten to 15 hours a day. And I’m not saying that’s a good thing. I’m just telling you that was the norm.

I left work at, like, three on Friday afternoon. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to do it. That Saturday I watched more college football than I’d watched in years. I didn’t want to work. I never got my laptop out.

And I remember that Saturday afternoon I don’t know how else to say this, but I was using the bathroom, and I had this revelation, like, I went from, this sucks. That’s the natural emotion for the first 48 hours. This sucks. This isn’t fair. They’re going to put us out of business. They have more money than they know what to do with.

They’re going to be able to steal all of our affiliates. They got more money. They’re going to be able to crush us and paid advertising. They’ve got more money. And as I’m sitting there in the bathroom, this thought went through my head.

Wait a minute. What if we could use this to our advantage? What if we could use this to our advantage and we emailed all of their affiliates or all the ones we could find, at least, and basically said, “Hey, you may have heard that such and such company just got purchased by a big, behemoth, publicly traded company.

Here’s the deal. That company has a reputation. They have a reputation for treating their affiliates like a number, not person. They even sign their affiliate emails. The affiliate team at such and such company, and they don’t want to get to know you. And if that’s not what you’re looking for in an affiliate program, let’s talk.

As a matter of fact, here’s my personal cell phone number. You can text me anytime, and let’s talk. And over the course of the next two months, I sent hundreds of those emails, and I got probably close to 100. I probably sent 700 emails. I got probably 75 texts. I had about 60 calls, and I got about 40 of them, including some that were doing in excess of $25,000 a month.

Why did they want to become an affiliate for us? Because I found the angle that appealed to them, and we’ll talk about that as we go along here, but, like, I couldn’t pay them more commissions. Our stuff didn’t even convert better per se.

We had no attraction other than, we’re going to treat you like a person, not a number. I’m going to give you my cell phone number. Just try getting that from one of their affiliate managers. Their affiliate managers hide behind an email address. Never talk on the phone. I’ll spend an hour getting to know you and talking to you.

I got on so many phone calls over the next couple of months. I mean, that’s practically what I spent, I’d say, 50% of my time doing, was just talking to affiliates, getting to know them. I learned things about them.

To this day, I still remember many of their spouses’ names, and I remember where they live. I remember where they went to college. We talked about that a few episodes ago.

Or we talked about building strong relationships, right? To this day, I remember those things to this day when I interact with them because some of them still promote our clients. Here we are 18 years later.

I can still tell you who their favorite teams are. And you can bet when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, I reached out to a few of them because they’re Chiefs fans. You can bet that when their school plays well in an NCAA tournament or whatever, you bet I reach out to them.

But ultimately, what we did was we stole affiliates from our competition. And when I say that stealing affiliates from your competition kind of sounds a little bit cutthroat, right? But it’s not.

You’re not stealing them by lying. I’m making that assumption here that you’re not a liar. You’re not stealing by promising something you can’t deliver on.

You’re not stealing by denigrating them. And you could argue, well, Matt, you kind of said that they treat their affiliates, like, a number. If you searched for their affiliate program back then, the second post down or the second article down was exactly about that.

The first listing was their affiliate program. The second one was an article on affiliate form where they talked about that. And you could argue that I denigrated them. I mean, I didn’t say they were terrible. In fact, I acknowledged in the email, hey, this is pretty much all we can offer. So we’re not stealing them by lying.

You’re either giving them a better offer, or you’re offering them something as I did, that their competition isn’t offering them. In other words, you’re giving them a choice. If that’s a bad thing, then you hate capitalism, right?

If you don’t want affiliates to have a choice, then move to North Korea where there’s no competition. That’s all we’re doing. And so you need to change your mindset. If you see it this way, you see I don’t want to steal my competitor’s affiliates. That’s an evil thing to do. They worked hard to get them.

No, you’re just giving them a choice. I didn’t threaten them. I didn’t lie to them. I didn’t offer something that we couldn’t deliver on, which is a form of lying. I did none of that stuff. All I did was offer them a choice.

So again, if you see it that way, I want you to change your mindset. So I shared one way to do this in my story that I shared to walk you through, what did I do? I found them. I went to Google. This is 18 years ago. Still works today. I went to Google, and I found all the people who were promoting our competitor.

Now, I’ll share some other ways that you can find them in a moment. But regardless of where you find them, then you offer them something that the competition can’t offer them. Maybe it’s a higher commission.

Maybe your competition has lower margins. Maybe they have a physical product that you’re not offering. So let’s just say you have both have a $500 price point and they have a physical component. Let’s just say, cost them $100. So they can only offer 25% commission, and you don’t have that. So you can offer a 30% commission or a 40% commission. If you can offer a better commission, then do it. We couldn’t. Maybe you can offer better conversions.

I would argue that because we were in the lead generation business and our form was a little bit shorter than our competitions early on that we did convert slightly better. I had no quantifiable data on that, to be clear, because I didn’t know their conversion rate. I didn’t know their exact conversion rate.

But I did say that we had a shorter form. So I was offering better conversions or at least saying we had something that should lead to better conversions. If you definitely know that, then use it.

Or maybe you have better upsells. We didn’t have that, but maybe both companies offer a $500 product at a 30% commission and they don’t offer anything on the back end and you sell a couple of $1,000 worth of stuff on the back end so they’ll make more money long term. Maybe you offer a longer cookie.

Side note I’ve talked about this probably in 50 to 60 episodes do a lifetime cookie. Offer a lifetime cookie. There is no reason to not offer a lifetime cookie, 96% of the orders will happen within 30 days. But saying we have a 30-day cookie or a 90-day cookie versus we have a lifetime cookie, which one sounds better?

So if that’s something you can beat your competition on, then offer it. Maybe you have better creatives. Maybe you have a better copy. Hey, well, we can’t beat them on conversions. We can’t beat them on commissions.

We both have lifetime cookies. We both have roughly a $2,500 average order size when upsells. But we’ve got tons of better creatives and we’ve got tons of better copy.

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So we make it easier for you. Can you make it easier for them? How about that? We’ll get on a strategy call with you. We’ll help you craft your promo. We’ll get the owner of the company to do an interview on your podcast or a video or whatever.

We’ll co-create some bonuses together. How can you make it easier for them? How can you allow them to do something they can’t do with the competition, like those bonuses or like custom landing pages or things like that?

Maybe you have more promotion opportunities. Maybe you have a variety of them. So your competition basically has a sales page and maybe a lead magnet funnel, right?

And you’ve got webinar challenges, summits, workshops, lead magnets, and half a dozen lead magnets. You’ve got mini-courses, all that stuff. Or maybe your program is more fun. You make your program more fun. You personalize things for them.

So again, treat them like a person and not a number. Maybe it’s just because you talk to them and help them do those strategy calls, getting on the phone with them, makes it easy to contact you.

Here’s my cell phone number if you don’t want to be reached, by the way, you can put your phone on Do Not Disturb. I’m not saying you have to answer the phone when you’re eating dinner with your family or you’re at a movie.

I have to be reachable 24/7 if you’re not, you don’t. You don’t have to be reachable 24/7. Just put your phone on. Do not disturb. That’s why they created that. And I love the feature side note where it’s like it automatically goes into Do Not Disturb when you’re at a certain address.

So there are certain places I go, like our kids’ soccer. My phone automatically goes on. Do not disturb. My wife can get through, just to be clear. But I’m coaching soccer. I’m not going to talk to you.

So you can do that, right? Maybe you can promote them so it becomes a two-way thing. Or maybe you can introduce people to them or whatever the case may be, but offer things that the competition can’t offer. And that’s your angle, to get in with them. That’s your angle, right? And so we’ll talk about where to find them a part in just a moment.

But going back to our story is we were about $100,000 a little bit short of that. And two, two and a half months later, after doing this, we were a little bit over half a million dollars a month. That was the catalyst to getting to a million dollars a month.

It allowed us to scale. And we did exactly what I just shared. As I mentioned, almost every day I would get a text or an email reply, and I would set up calls, and I would set up calls, and I would talk to people.

And yeah, I mean, it was a heck of a lot easier back then. Like I said, I was single, I was young. I was working 78 hours a week. And so I was talking to people all day long. Sometimes it would take two, three calls, hour-long calls, and follow-up emails to convince them to just give us a test promo just to convince them to try us.

And here’s the thing: What they found was the combination of the fact that we didn’t have better upsells, we didn’t have better commissions, I mean, marginally better conversions. We did offer a lifetime cookie when the competition offered something like a seven-day cookie. So that was one way where we stood out.

Quite frankly, we did not have better creatives at that time. We were working on it, but we didn’t. And we did have a variety of promotional opportunities.

But one of the things that stood out was just the fact that I got on the phone with people and I helped them strategize, and I helped them scale and I offered them tips, and I shared what was working and what wasn’t working. And I found Typos on their website and made corrections to their marketing. We didn’t have social media back then, so I wasn’t able to do that.

But I was finding these ways. I subscribed to their email lists and I would reply back to them and say, great email, things like that. Love this, love this, when they would promote something else that wasn’t ours.

And I interacted with them. And so we had this one affiliate come into town. This is a funny story here.

This guy came into town to Franklin, Tennessee, where we’re at at the time. And we’re at this restaurant that like every place in the Nashville area had live music. And we’re there, it’s loud, we’re talking, we’re getting to know each other.

And basically the day before, they had agreed they were going to give us a test run. They were going to try us out effectively, like one 10th of their traffic, right? So we’re excited about that.

And again, the fact that we brought them down and hosted them and for lack of a better term, wind and dined them and treated them really well, played the big bar in that. The other company wasn’t doing that. So we had this personal relationship.

We’d spent almost 48 hours, or probably not spent 48 hours. We spent like 20 hours together. We broke bread together, we hung out together.

We went to a hockey game together. We did all kinds of fun stuff. And the night before they’re leaving, we’re at this place, and sitting at the bar is I can’t even tell you the guy’s name, but he’s like the lead guitarist for Rascal Flats.

Well, this guy’s a huge Rascal Flatts fan and he’s freaking out because the guy is not the lead singer. But the other guy from Rascal Flatts is there like one of his favorite bands and he’s there. And where this guy’s from? He was from Ohio. You don’t just see famous people at the bar in Nashville. I mean, quite frankly, it happens all the time.

You can’t go into a store or a restaurant. I can’t tell you the sheer number of people that I sat near in restaurants or ran into at stores. It’s crazy, right?

So anyway, I had a Windows Phone. The Windows Phone had just come out and so I had internet in my pocket now. It was super slow. That went on. You know what, this was like a quarter of a G. We’re on five G now. This was like point 2G. But I had this Windows Phone, and I’m looking up like, the Rascal Flats band trying to figure out who this guy is, and I couldn’t even tell you. I should probably look it up, but I’m not his name is Clark.

We’re going to call him Clark. And I’m like, okay. So I was like, “Dude, come here with me.” I take this guy over. Name is Lev. I take Lev over, and I go I was like, “Hey, Clark.” He turns around, and the guy from Rascal Flatts. I was like, “I’d love to introduce you to my friend Lev here.” Kind of a risky move because I don’t know Clark.

I just learned his name 12 seconds ago. And the dude plays it off like he’s like, “Lev, nice to meet you, man.” I’m like, “Hey, guys, let me take a picture.” And I got, like, my point-2 megapixel flip Windows Phone. And I’m like, “Let me take a picture of you.” It’s dark, so it turns out basically looking like crap. But I take this picture of Lev and this guy from Rascal Flatts, and Lev is on cloud nine.

Lev is on cloud freaking nine. I text him the picture. I think I emailed it to him as well because it was like, higher res that it came through again. This is 2005, so pictures are a little bit different back then.

And Lev looked at me. He’s like, “All right, man. you know what? I’m in. I get it now. I’m in. Let’s do this. Let’s just go all in.” He’s like, “You guys are amazing. I want to work with you guys.” And then, like, two days later, they flipped over half their traffic to us.

Within a week, they’d flipped all of it over. Now, that’s illogical, right? It might have cost him a little bit of money, but I created an experience for him that he’ll never forget.

To this day, I’m not sure. I don’t know if he listens. I doubt I’m not sure if he knows. I still don’t know who the guy is from Rascal Flatts. I know a lot of country music singers. Growing up at my dad’s golf course in Franklin, Tennessee, it was nothing, right?

I knew so many famous I knew a lot of famous golfers, but I knew a lot of famous country music singers. I did not know this guy. So I took a chance, and it worked.

But the point wasn’t that I did that. The point was that we had hung out. The point was that we had bonded, and that was something that the competition could not offer.

So find that angle. Find that angle. What is it that you offer that they don’t? I give you probably ten or twelve things you could think through. Get creative if need be. So where do you find them?

Well, Google, as I shared earlier, still works 18 years later. You go to Google, you type in the name of the company. You want to find their competitors, and you go find their affiliates.

You can watch leaderboards and a lot of affiliate programs. We post the list of our top affiliates and maybe not even some of our top affiliates. We might post a list down 50, to 60 deep.

Watch those sign up, join their Facebook groups, join their email lists, and make sure you watch those affiliate programs. Also, maybe they only post a list of, like, their top 20, but what about their 30th biggest affiliate? Some companies’ number 30 affiliates might be a $ 60,000-a-year affiliate or even just a $5,000 affiliate.

Don’t you want the $5,000 affiliate? Do you hate money? Do you not want the $5,000? I do. So watch who posts in their Facebook groups. And then, as we talked about, don’t reach out to them in that group, duh…!

But reach out to them privately. And then groups, as I said, groups where people hang out, whether it be an affiliate group specifically for a company or just a place where, you know, the affiliates are hanging out. Like people in a certain niche are hanging out, coaches are hanging out, business coaches are hanging out there, gardeners are hanging out there, whatever the case may be.

Gardeners who have platforms. So then you reach out, and I’m going to share more on how to do this. I mentioned the training earlier, how I built a million-dollar-a-month affiliate program in only two years.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level and start an affiliate program, start with my free report, Your First 100 Affiliates. This report takes nearly two decades of experience, trial and error, and lessons learned about finding top affiliates in nearly every conceivable niche and puts them all into one report. Grab your copy here!

Less than really without any connections or credentials. If you go to mattmcwilliams.com/Millionamonth, we’ll put that link in the show notes for you there. You can register for that training. In the meantime, shoot me a text and let me know what you got out of this. Okay?

Did you change your mindset on this? Do you see? You know what? This isn’t unethical. This is just giving them a choice.

Text me. Let me know what your biggest takeaway is. What are you going to take from this?

More importantly, not what your takeaway is, but what is your take action from this? What action are you going to take as a result of hearing this episode today? So shoot me a text anytime at 260-217-4619 and make sure also that you hit subscribe because you do not want to miss the next episode because I am telling you now it’s going to be a good one.

Why your affiliate program is failing. Why your affiliate program is failing? What are the reasons why affiliate programs fail?

More importantly, what to do about it? So we’re talking about that in the next episode. Make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss it.

I’ll see you then.


Text me anytime at (260) 217-4619.

Or…check out some of my free reports to help you get on the right track:

Find Your First 100 Affiliates

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