With a keen focus on creating the world's best digital experience for guests, Avianca Airlines shares their growth journey in the competitive travel vertical
With a keen focus on creating the world's best digital experience for guests, Avianca Airlines shares their growth journey in the competitive travel vertical
For the past 12 years I have been out there: learning, speaking, listening, teaching, helping, evolving and sharing my thoughts and findings about performance (affiliate) marketing with the world. However that time and effort was mainly focused outwardly in the performance and digital marketing space versus understanding my own business as a whole. This year, I’ve been forced to look internally, re-focusing my attention back on my business, team and re-establishing a solid foundation to support organizational growth.
In just three and a half years, we have gone from five full time people to 32 team members today. We have seen an average of 100% growth year over year as a company for six years straight. Calculating our growth rate over the past five years, we are sitting at about 5900% growth.
As a result of that growth, we have gone from only servicing small to medium sized businesses to servicing and consulting for leaders in ecommerce, travel and B2C Lead Gen, including enterprise level brands such as Southwest Vacations, Dropbox, Norton by Symantec, and Swiss Watch International to name a few.
The industry as a whole has changed rapidly. Where there were only a couple of dozen “affiliate management” companies in 2009 when we launched, there are now over 400 “digital and performance marketing agencies” who offer affiliate program management or partnership management of some sort, amongst many other products and professional services.
As a result, and in order to remain a leader in the digital and performance marketing space, some things had to change within our own business:
In just six months (about the same amount of time I had taken from my blogging to focus on corporate growth), we have been able to address all of these pieces, and although they have not been entirely perfected, they have made an immediate impact on:
Further, with a focus on strengthening our internal team and operations, we have seen the following results:
Through this experience and in embracing and working more closely with our team, I have personally grown as a business leader and entrepreneur. I’m incredibly grateful for the grit, dedication, focus and hustle of our team, and I’m grateful for our friendship, purpose and combined passion for becoming and remaining a leader in our space. We are here to strive for constant excellence, to DIGG (our motto: Delight, Innovate, Grow, Giveback) at all times, and to become the very best versions of ourselves possible.
My learnings over the past six months have allowed me to understand a few more things about myself as a business leader as well. I better understand where to focus my attention, and how to invest my time and resources most wisely to make the biggest difference.
As a business owner, here are my key takeaways from this past year:
Going into the new year and forevermore, we are focused on four key metrics: D.I.G.G.
We look forward to an incredible year ahead of us, and sincerely thank everyone who stuck by us through our year of learning and transition, and for the constant faith and support as we evolved into something much stronger than we ever were before.
Here is to setting a new standard and continuing to strive for exceptional at all times.
What has been your biggest take-away or key learning this year?
Today, June 1, 2014, All Inclusive Marketing celebrates its five-year anniversary. We have had a lot of ups and downs over the past five years. But it is with immense gratitude and humility I reflect on some of the hard lessons I've learned along the way.
We've gone through many teammates trying to find the perfect fit for our company and culture. We want people who see our vision, live and breathe our mottos, deeply care about their impact with our team and clients, and put forward the heart and soul to see themselves and those around them succeed.
Investing in the right people was the first turning point for AIM that allowed us to grow into a global leader, and I'm exceedingly grateful for our team who strive to make AIM even more successful every day.
One of the more humbling lessons I've learned over the past five years is both giving and receiving honest feedback. At AIM we encourage our team to constantly strive for greatness. We want them to achieve personal and professional growth. We give each other constructive feedback and work very closely as a team to vet everything we do to ensure only the best quality work is put forward.
Through that process, I have learned that I don't always have the right answer. However, by listening and understanding people's different communication styles and personality types, I can adjust how I behave and what I do to be a better leader and make better decisions with and for the team. It has ultimately produced better results and increased moral.
I work on this every day. Some days I'm better at it than others. And our entire team has the mentality of constant growth and improvement, which allows us to flourish together. For that I'm extremely grateful.
There are things I'm very good at and much I bring to the table that makes me a strong, valuable player on our team. However, I’m lacking in other areas. Luckily, I’ve quickly found my strengths and weaknesses. I've learned that it’s okay to rely on others and delegate. In fact, it's essential if you're going to move forward as a leader in your space.
When I finally let go of the ropes and allow other people help me, they always managed to rise to the task. Giving them complete accountability for their areas of responsibility is empowering and that’s when AIM started to see its greatest success.
It's OK to rely on others to help you, which is why #1 is so essential when hiring the right team. By understanding your own key strengths and weaknesses you'll have a better time finding people who are exceptional at the things you're not so good at, making you that much stronger in the end.
If you're burnt out, you're not much use. I've burned out a couple of times since starting this company. It happened once when I brought my infant to a big industry conference where I was speaking; we had a booth; I was live blogging sessions; and I was nursing my baby. This particular conference was my third that month. Another time I had 10 flights in 6 days between three countries and three speaking sessions at three conferences while raising two little kids. You do the math. It all added up to me in the emergency room getting X-rays for Pneumonia and subsequently being bed-ridden for two weeks.
Although it was a crazy time, I look back now and I'm still grateful I did it because it helped establish ourselves as industry leaders and close some higher profile clients that helped take our business to the next level. However, it's not something I would risk doing again, or even recommend to others.
Driving myself that hard is not worth my sanity, my health and wellbeing, my ability to enjoy time with my family and ensure I'm strong for my team. Life is short. I've learned to take better care of myself and lead my team through example, so they can find a better work/life balance too.
Where there is a will, there's a way. Energy and persistence conquer all things. That's one of my favorite quotes from Benjamin Franklin.
I can't tell you the number of times my husband and partner, Iain, and I looked at each other and considered shutting down shop in the first two years and going back to work for someone else. It's certainly an easier path – a steady paycheck, benefits, paid vacation time, etc.
Being a business owner is not easy. However, the fire inside us would start burning and we always found a way to make our business work. We kept digging. Kept pushing. Kept fighting for the lives we wanted for each other and our family. And one day we turned a corner. And then another. And instead of taking two steps back and one step forward, we found ourselves taking one step forward, then another, then another, until we felt like we were spring-boarding ahead.
Life is not simple by any means. Whatever direction you chose to go, and whatever challenges you are having, others in a different city, life and situation also have their own challenges they are facing. The difference between those who succeed and those who don't is whether those people decided to quit or not.
So, if you love what you do and you believe in it, never give up. You will find a way, and in the end you will make it work. In our case, we're exceptionally blessed for how things have worked out. We continue to work hard every day on making our business a success, and are grateful for every opportunity that continues to come our way.
2014 is here and to differentiate yourself and get ahead of the pack, its essential to know where you're going and how to get there. In order to do that, every business needs to have a clear purpose and goals, a reason for doing what they do that's greater than themselves. It's their "Why?". One of the most useful TED Talks I've seen talked about what makes successful businesses, like Apple and Amazon, from the simple concept of starting with your "Why" first.
All Inclusive Marketing has the very clear purpose of pushing our industry forward and improving the lives of those around us. We do a ton of volunteer work for different boards, such as the Online Marketing Institute, The School of Internet Marketing and the Performance Marketing Association.
We work closely with our industry partners, clients, affiliates and team in order to ensure they are equipped with the proper tools and expertise they need to stay ahead and take a strong leadership role in what they do.
We contribute hours upon hours of content, videos, educational material, all for the purpose of pushing this industry forward in the right direction and it falls entirely in line with our DIGG Motto: to Delight, Innovate, Grow and Give Back. Every decision we make in our business needs to fall into one or more of these categories. If it doesn't, we don't do it.
So in 2014, I ask you, what is your purpose? What is your WHY? What makes you and your company tick, the something that's much bigger than just making money that fulfills what you do?
With that, and your eye on the ball of living and breathing your "why", 2014 will be bound to hold great things for you too!
I don't normally do interviews like this, as I prefer to speak about performance marketing, digital marketing or ecommerce over my own business. However, Iman is a friend of mine and someone I have an immense respect for. He recently immigrated to Canada, taught himself English and has built three successful businesses from scratch, one of which as the fastest growing business network in Vancouver.
In this interview Iman asked me about my "Why". What the purpose is behind All Inclusive Marketing. He asked me about my greatest failures and what I would have done differently if I could have started again. I share a lot of personal and private information in this video. If you'd like to watch it, you can do so here.
Let me know what you think!
Two and a half years ago All Inclusive Marketing helped a client called ZipIt Zipper Bags with an integrated online marketing plan and digital integrations. They hired us to optimize their website, increase conversions, perform affiliate marketing and search marketing duties, and naturally, we put several of our best people on the job.
A few months into the contract and after having several delays in payment from the client with promises of "the money is coming next week" we got ourselves into a big hole. We paid our team on time and in full, not expecting that one day several months in, ZipIt Zipper Bags would just disappear and back out completely...
When you're a start up this is a really hard and expensive lesson to learn. We took great care of our team and their account, but didn't receive a cent in return and went $27,000 into a hole in the process of doing what we thought was right.
As it turns out, there were two different partners and a strange legal arrangement between the owners of ZipIt. One owner had rights over the online store under one legal name, and the other over the offline distribution and sales. The owner of the offline sales and distribution, Itamar Cohen, had no idea that our team was $27K in a hole because of the other owner's dishonesty and poor money management.
Through a legal battle of their own, they parted ways and Itamar Cohen got ownership of the whole company, including the online store, and promised to honor what was due and pay it back in full, no matter how long it took, even though we didn't have the contract with him. He gave us his word.
To many people in business, a person's word doesn't go very far, but week after week Itamar called to update us on his progress, on his finances, shared his online sales stats so we could see how they were progressing (naturally we weren't touching this account anymore at this point). Some weeks he couldn't pay anything. Some weeks he'd send $500 or $700.
It's been two and a half years since we lost $27,000 on a client we wanted to help. Two and a half years later, and just as he promised, Itamar Cohen has paid back every penny owned, even though it was not him we had the direct contract with. He proved that honor does still exist in business and a man's word can still be worth something at the highest level of corporate promises, contracts aside.
I have the utmost respect for this man, who did what was right, even though legally, he didn't have to. It's great to know ZipIt is now entirely under the care of a man who understands true business sense and takes great care of those around him. It's leaders like this who make the greatest companies.
Itamar Cohen, CEO of ZipIt, receives my medal of honor in business this year hands down.
Due to several life changing events over the last few weeks, I've decided to write out my personal mission statement. I used www.franklincovey.com/msb to create mine. I encourage you to do the same for yourself, your business or your family here too.
I am at my best when I'm well rested, motivated and have a clear vision of what I'm doing.
I will try to prevent times when I am scattered or unprepared, tired or over-stretched thinking about too many things. I am unhappy when I have too many balls in the air so will refrain from committing to more than I can handle.
I will enjoy my work by finding employment where I can be with people and learning new things. This can be in any capacity: selling, coaching, training, brainstorming, strategizing, motivating, teaching, leading or inspiring. I get my best energy from those around me, especially when I can inspire and learn from them.
I will find enjoyment in my personal life through spending time with family and friends. I will experience and share the best life has to offer with others: travel, food, wine, laughter, nature, movies, books and learning new things.
I will find opportunities to use my natural talents and gifts such as being a good friend, mother, wife, daughter, sister, co-worker, etc. I'm a natural leader and a team player. Communication and leadership are two of my strong points, along with creativity and passion.
I can do anything I set my mind to. I will build a business that becomes world renowned and respected within my industry, then sell it. I will travel the world and enjoy experiences with people I love.
My life's journey is an extension of my mother: kindness, drive, determination and adventure. I'm here to make a positive difference in the world in every way I can - by being a great mom who will raise children who will also make positive differences in the lives of those around them, by being a great wife whose husband's life is better because of her, by being someone whose friends and strangers would cry over when I die because they knew I loved and cared for them so deeply.
I want to find a peaceful balance in my life - one that allows me to enjoy prosperity, good health, spiritual peace, laughter and lots of time with family and friends.
I will be a person who everyone I have ever loved, influenced, impacted and adored will come to my 80th birthday. That includes my kids, husband, brothers and friends, my neighbors and people I’ve ever worked with who were changed somehow by knowing me. I would want them to say that they did not know anyone who loved everyone as much as I do, that I worked hard for my family and friends and created incredible success for those around me, not because I was greedy but because I was selfless. I want them to say that I was compassionate and kind to everyone and that I was a fabulous friend because I was always there and could be trusted with the things that mattered the most. I would want them to say they loved being around me because I was so much fun – and that we had many adventures together.
My most important future contribution to others will be that no matter what happens in my life, I will always be there, at the drop of a hat, for anyone who calls on me, or needs me at any time for any reason, and that I will always be there giving of myself selflessly so others can enjoy a better life, feeling safe, well loved, and cared for in my presence.
I will stop procrastinating and start working on:
Getting back into shape to the point I can sprint two blocks and still feel great. Spending more quality time with my kids: just the three of us, or one on one, so I can really focus on them. Spending more time with my family and friends. Planning, setting goals and sticking to them.
I will strive to continuously incorporate the following attributes into my life:
I will constantly renew myself by focusing on the these dimensions of my life:
Yesterday in Vancouver, the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Coast Capital Savings put on a round table discussion with highly successful CEOs in the Vancouver Community.
This group discussed topics around what makes them unique, successful and different from the rest.
Here are some key takeaways from the group of CEOs who know how to do it right. On the Panel:
Coast Capital's Purpose: To Change the Way Canadians Feel About Banking Forever". Align your business model to your purpose. For them it's to provide simple financial help. The world of banking is complicated and confusing. They make it simple and fun. Behind every transaction, every touch point, their entire business asks the question "how we can help our client". They want to be as far away from the image of "banking" as possible, and that differentiates them. Instead of hiring experts, they hire attitude and train on expertise. They even re-wrote all of their legal documents so any customer could understand them completely in simple terms.
Their policies are based on the Litman's test of trust first. That means they trust everyone until they prove otherwise. "You're the boss" Campaign allows customers feel they are the boss and in charge of their lives, which they are. Coast Capital is simply there to help. They ask how each customer has a positive unexpected result or experience with then. They have "money chats" with their customers and prospective customers, and the purpose is to help them improve their lives. They found a fun, humorous way to present financial information.
They want their employees to believe with passion and conviction that they are positively changing for the better their customers' lives. They made a promise to their employees to change the way employees feel about work forever. Happy, engaged employees tend to make happy, engaged customers. Eliminate the friction that cause customer frustration and get your employees to believe and live what you are doing, and you will be successful.
Question toward Provident Security: "How do you continue to provide a service that makes you feel safe but also feel cared for?"
A: We ask what can we do that addresses the biggest problem in our industry and how do we do it better then anyone else who can service this solution. We can to take it from an end to end service, and we do it better and faster than anyone else. People would joke after singing up "we hope we never have to see you again". This sounded negative, so we wanted to change that mindset. So we created a concierge that takes care of you and your family and your pet and your needs before, after and while you're away from your home. Our entire goal is to ask every day - what can we do for our customers that makes them want to see us everyday, rather than never wanted to see us again.
A: 1-800-GOT-JUNK: You have to start by thinking differently - this is the road to being different. It's the little things you do for your customers that are far beyond what is expected that makes them go "wow, these guys are great" - and you do it consistently. You need to decide what things you do really well and get rid of the rest. It's the call ahead. It's sweeping up after you're done. It's watering their flowers if they look like they are dying on your way out. It's the little things that show you care.
A: Kids and Company: We all need to have innovation and integrity, but being different and standing out because the way you think about business and do business needs to be different from others. We're different because everyone of the 10,000 children we have, and all 2000 teachers and child care givers we have are grateful and thankful to have each of those kids. And I make myself available personally to each of my kid's parents - they all have my cell phone number and my personal email address and they can contact me anytime and I will take care of them personally - it's my pleasure to do it (Victoria Sopik has 8 kids herself).
A: Coast Capital - we are successful because we are addressing and servicing unmet needs. Employee retention is really important from a customer satisfaction standpoint because customers don't want to tell their story over and over again. They want to build relationships and have people know and care for them. We don't always get it right, but we always do our best and try to genuinely care for each of our clients personally, and it makes all the difference.
Comment - Too many businesses think being "different" is in their marketing, where as true differentiation is much deeper, it's company wide and it's in who you are and why you're doing it to the core over what you say on an ad.
A: @WOW1DayPainting - yes, we can get a house painted in a day, instead of 7-10 days. It's the same cost, same high quality and care, we just do it differently to deliver it differently.
A: Kids and Company: The customers we care most about so much about are the ones who leave. We want to know in depth why they are leaving and what we need to change. We never want people to leave or be unhappy, so we will offer them free service until they are happy again. There is no reason to not fix, whenever possible, someone's experience or opinion of you and your business if you genuinely care.
A: Coast Capital: we rarely look at what others are doing within our own industry. If you're continuing to follow "best practices" route, then you're just doing things the same as everyone else: WestJet, Apple, Google and industry leaders who do things differently outside of your own industry is where you should be looking to get inspiration and differentiate yourself.
A: Provident Security: Our single best inspiration was from Mrs Fields Cookies. We looked at how they ran their 900 stores and their tracking and their systems to consistently provide exception in an easy way for those within it that create exceptional products consistently. I have almost zero interest in the security industry at all, we look at businesses outside of what we do for inspiration. They didn't want stressed out staff, they wanted happy staff, so they made systems and jobs as simple and easy as possible. They were always clear what to do and everything was tracked and consistently tweaked for improvement, so the front line was happy and effective in doing what they were hired for - to take care of the customers in a wonderful way.
A: 1-800-GOT-JUNK: Sometimes the businesses that win are the ones that figure out how to find the people who will take that extra step, such as picking up the phone to call, instead of an email. Find staff who want to have fun and take care of what they are responsible for and have them believe with full conviction in what they are doing and you will be different from everyone else.
A: Kids and Company: The fact that we don't charge late fees, that we stay open an hour later, that the teachers will stick around to talk to parents are all ways that we are different because others are not willing to do that. When asked why, it's simply because they have always done that, so why change? That doesn't make sense. When we mess up, we have to give free child care. And even if they leave and they don't come back, at least they can tell the story that you tried, not that they left and you did nothing to help them. When you go to a restaurant and have a bad experience, the ones who take charges off your bill, or the Starbucks that give you free coffees or free vouchers when you're not entirely satisfied are the ones who win, because of the exceptional service and the genuine care to make it right. People will come back for that.
A: Coast Capital: Deal with the customer's concerns as soon as possible. When issues come to me, it's because we failed and somehow it ended up the ladder. So we created a program called "make it right" that allows our front line staff to feel empowered and make decisions to fix mistakes quickly to ensure customer satisfaction all the time.
A: 1-800-GOT-JUNK: You're going to make a mistake, but it's how you handle it which makes the difference. If you go far above and beyond even after you've lost hope with that person, the chances of them referring you on to several other people will go beyond any small short term cost you might incur in making it good again. Finding the right people to share your cause and being clear on what your cause is. Show them how to make something ordinary exceptional. You have really great people, you have really great systems, you have a purpose that's different than others, you have a winning combination. Stop focusing on your "great" marketing campaigns and start focusing more on telling your great story. That's what people want and that's what they will follow.
I'm currently sitting in a session at the Performance Marketing Insights Conference listening to a speaker who is discussing how to help your prospective customers choose you over your competition. Here are my personal notes from the session - with some side comments.
The single most important question in business is "how do you get your customers to choose you?"
Comparison to football - 11 people on the field who are tightly coordinated, highly motivated and have clear image of what their goal is - the touchdown.
Now imagine if only 4 of 11 players knew which end zone was theirs. Only 2 in 11 cared. Only 2 of 11 knew they position they played. His point was many companies run their business this way and it results in chaos, inefficiencies and lack of effectiveness. You HAVE to know what your company strategic plan is. Start with your vision and mission, and make sure everyone on your team knows what they are.
Typical mission statement: "It is our mission to dramatically initiate performance based opportunities as well as to proactively leverage existing quality leadership skills to meet our customers' needs."
Question - if you were an employee of this company, would you know what your end zone is, what your role is, why you should be inspired by their role? MOST employees don't even have a clue in what the company's mission statement is.
The unspoken ending to any mission statement should be "so please chose me." If this end does not make sense with your mission statement, then you're writing it correctly. If you can answer this one question "why should I chose you" it will guide and shape your entire investment relations plan, your entire marketing strategy, your entire sales strategy, your entire hiring process and so on.
The definition of clarify = Everyone is on the same page.
With the football analogy - everyone is on the same page.
All leading companies, all those who make a difference and those who drive success, regardless of their size, know WHY they do what they do. No one is investing in what you do or how you do it. They care about and buy into WHY you do it.
People, when they buy apple, are buying into changing the game.
Your Question: Are you a What company or a WHY company.
When you have a strong WHY, you have NO COMPETITION compared to those who are comparing what and how. If you are the only one in your field that has a strong why, then you are in a category of your own and you have no one else who compares.
If everything you do is a means to an end... what is the end? ___
What is your end purpose? It should be done in seven words or less.
Performance Marketing is an investment this is no longer a “nice to have” but a need to have as part of your overall marketing mix. Performance Marketing, also known as “affiliate marketing”, is a model that pays rewards based on the completion of a particular action, driven by someone else’s resources (time and money) and has a guaranteed ROI because spend comes only after a desired action takes place, which can be controlled (both from a margin perspective and a tracking perspective).
In simpler terms, it’s like having an online and offline sales force that works on a commission base only.
Whether the goal is to complete a sale, complete a lead form to capture someone’s name, email and phone number, a click, an impression or a phone call, affiliates can work with you to bring in new leads, new sales, more consumer engagement, more targeted traffic, additional brand exposure, and ultimately higher ROI.
“Publishers” or “Affiliates” take a flat payout, percentage of sales or “bounty” for contributing to driving targeted traffic that result in the completion of those sales.
Affiliates can be anyone from a stay at home mom or dad to a major global corporation. They can be bloggers, newspapers, mobile app developers, YouTubers and so on. One thing they have in coming is their entrepreneurialism and that they take on the risk of investing their own resources in order to earn from advertising others.
Affiliate networks act as a tracking platform and a bank. They offer client and affiliate support, host creative (such as banners, text links, datafeeds, coupons), offer communication tools, monitor for fraud, and so on.
Advertisers, merchants, sellers and retailers are all referring to the same thing. These are the guys who pay affiliates for promoting their brand and helping to convert a lead or sale.
Similar to having a store manager in a brick and mortar location, affiliate managers help their “online sales force” succeed. They provide training, tools, support, motivation and incentives, and team leadership, in addition to tracking, reporting, assessing data and holding people accountably for their actions.
Do you want to generate leads or sales? Do you want new customer acquisitions or customer retention or both? Knowing your goals will help you determine the type of affiliate network and types of affiliates you need to work with.
Choose one affiliate network to start and work your way up from there if you need to. Perform extensive due diligence and hire the right person to manage your affiliate team. This is a skill set that should be dedicated to the cause. Take a look at the mThink Blue Book for ideas of the top networks in the world to get you started.
Be clear and have ready ongoing promotions and campaign pieces for affiliates to promote before you launch. This should include content ideas through various deliverables, your creative, your coupon codes, your promotional offer schedule, upcoming high potential sales days and so on. Be prepared for all sales opportunities and communicate these to your affiliates in advance.
Work doesn’t stop after the program launches. Be sure to continuously manage your numbers, your creative, lead affiliates, watch behaviors and sales for dips and spikes, understand what your affiliates are doing, ensure affiliates are abiding by your program terms of service. Doing these things will help make your program more successful.
ROI goals are achieved by optimizing campaign sales sources. Pay more for quality, profitable traffic to scale volume and adjust or turn off unprofitable traffic sources. Continue to recruit the right affiliates and get them active. Be proactive in outreach, placement negotiations and communicating promotions. Understand your metrics and KPIs so you can identify opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re not sure how to do this yourself or you don’t have the resources or expertise in house to plan it out there are many industry professionals who can help. You can also reach out to an outsourced program management company to plan and executive it effectively for you.
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