Building an 8-Figure Performance Marketing Empire | AWasia 2017

Thank you for that awesome intro Eric.
Guys, it’s it’s truly an honour to be here to share my story with you. I’m
gonna do my very best to pass on some of the most important things that I learnt
along the way and hopefully save you guys some of the grief that uh, that I
had to deal with in the last few years. So about 20 months ago, so just under two
years ago, I was having dinner at an airport and a guy walks up to me and
asked to join me, it was kind of weird because there were tons of other open
tables around but you know I’m a nice guy so I said yes and he sat down we got
to talking and it turns out that he worked at one of these family office
investment management type companies in Geneva in Switzerland and at the time, I
really needed some help managing finances I just didn’t want to deal with —
have that time taken away from work, so it’s kind of interested and we continue
the conversation and a few weeks later I ended up going to Geneva to meet
his bosses meet the people he works with and it was a pretty surreal experience,
like you know, they rush you into this really ancient looking building but kept
in pristine condition into a big board room with a beautiful table and you
know these curved LED screens everywhere, a bunch of professional looking people,
accountants, lawyers, finance people sitting at the table and they asked me
to go through the story much like I’m gonna go through today with you guys and
at first, as I begin to tell the story they’re very interested in taking notes
and you know stopping to ask questions and stuff and as time goes on, they kind
of slow down and I wasn’t sure if I was boring or if it was going on too long
but everyone kind of calmed down, didn’t say much and when I got done, Ross the
main guy who I deal with on a weekly is now for venture capital stuff and ICO
stuff, he said something along lines of wow that’s fascinating, so you built this
asset base, you know from about two and a half to three years in the affiliate
marketing space and I was like, yeah that’s right and he said, well the good
news is we specialise in solving the problems that you’re having, we’ve been
doing it for centuries, it’s a really old asset management company and we can do
that for you, but then he says but let’s handle that tomorrow, I’ll organise some
meetings, you can meet some big people and make some decisions there
instead, do you mind if I take you out for a drink tonight and pick your brain
about this affiliate marketing thing because I’ve never heard anything quite
like this before and that really made me step back and realise how unique this
opportunity is guys, and we ended up going out for drinks and dinner with
three other people at the table and they had a billion questions to ask, so when
when these people, whose job it is to help people manage their finances, when
they’re super interested in something like this, that really made me realise
how unique and how special this industry is, I mean, what other industry do you
know of where you can start with basically no experience like I did very
little capital and achieve as much as we can in such a short time it really
really is a one-of-a-kind industry and I just want to tell you guys that story to
to impress on you, that you’ve already, you’ve already done the hard part by
finding out about this industry and I really would love to see you guys, you
know, grab it with both hands and use it to achieve whatever you’d like
to and I definitely want to hear any stories about how oh affiliate marketing
is as tough and how it was easier back in the day because when I got into this, in
2012 was the exact same story, people were saying think at the time it was
dating, dating offers are dying, Facebook doesn’t like them anymore, there’s gonna
be problems it’s the end of affiliate marketing there’s always these, you know,
there’s this there was always a way to look back and go oh it was easier back
in the day but with merging technology like video ads
becoming much more widespread, things like e-commerce have blown up and I have
no doubt that with the pace at which technology evolves this is gonna
continue to happen so to go back a bit more I grew up in South Africa during
the apartheid era, I could talk for years on lessons from that you know, every race
had their own place to live, their own schools, our own restaurants, we weren’t
allowed to mingle and when I was about 10 years old that was abolished and all
of a sudden, we were thrown together and I mean I’ll leave it at I think that
that had a very positive experience on my outlook, having to manage that and
deal with that I went on to study actuarial science at the University of
Cape Town and work as an actuary and like every good responsible actuary, I
think it was yeah my first paycheck I bought a super bike and took up
motorbike racing at the racetrack, no idea what inspired it, I’d never ridden a
motorbike before but decided to go for it and as you’ll find out as I talk more
and more I’m a pretty competitive guy and a few months into my racing career,
my weekend racing career, I was chasing someone and managed to overtake him just before the last bend before the straight and I really wanted to hold onto this,
this is this new position so I hit it really hard down the straight completely
missed the breaking point, ended up missing the turn, first turn off to the
street and crashing at about 160 kilometres an hour,
luckily I’m still in one piece, the only big thing that happened was I kind of
lost my thumb was dangling down here, the ligament was snapped and so I couldn’t
hold a pen for a while and I couldn’t write for a couple months and during
that time I was kind of bored, and I came across this video off I think it was
Taylor, Taylor KB was his name playing poker online and he made a lot of money
in a very short period of time and I thought, if this is skill I should be
perfectly qualified to do this right, as an actuary modelling risk, yeah
modelling risk and it a long-term risk is kind of what we specialise in, so I
started to dabble in it and I think I have the gambling gene pretty bad, so the
first time I deposited money, lost them the first day, hated it, promised myself
I’d never do it again, a week later deposited some more money, lost it again,
again promised myself I’d never do it again, but sneaky affiliate marketers are very very good I got an email, saying hey, deposit ten dollars, we’ll give you a free 100, comeback to party poker and
that’s what got me, third time I did it, I was very disciplined played the one cent,
two cent game and within three months, I think that the fourth month that I was
playing poker, I’d made more that month from poker than an entire year’s salary
as an actuary and that was pretty damn awesome, that was totally unexpected, it
kind of came out of the blue and opened up a lot of doors for me, so what
I ended up doing was negotiating a month’s leave with my boss to go to
Europe, I wanted to see if I could travel and play poker and if this would
work out, if it was realistic and it was about a week into the holiday, there was
a you know, I kind of realised a massive internal shift for me, I all of a
sudden I realised that my personal power, my personal autonomy, the ability to
choose what to do, when to do it and to see it direct, a direct results from the
effort you put in, which is very hard at a big corporate company that became
non-negotiable for me, no matter what I wanted that kind of freedom and that
kind of autonomy moving forward and that was that and that’s kind of my first
takeaway guys, I know it’s it’s a cliche thing in in the personal development
space that you’ve got to first decide what you want and I think even more than
that you’ve got to decide what is absolutely essential for you, what what
are you willing to you know to to do whatever it takes,
to make happen, what are you willing to not negotiate, not given on
and that’s that’s been that one thing that’s stuck with me the whole time,
that’s you know that’s motivated me through some of the tougher times here
and there and just, it provides a unlimited source of energy, it’s the best
way to put it. So I went back home after the holiday and managed to cut quite a
quite a cool deal with the HR department of the company, if they
allowed me to leave for two years, do whatever I wanted and at any time, I
could come back get my job back or get a better job and if I decided not to come
back after two years, I just have to pay them back the money that they paid for
my board exams as an actuary. Great deal took it set off to travel and play poker
and that was that never went back to work, it was a great
time I mean, I I would basically open up map at the time, pick a city that I want
to live in rent an apartment for three months, something near a gym with good
food fast internet and I was set, I could live wherever I wanted, experience a new
culture, dabble in different languages and I think this travelling experience, really
helps understand people of different cultures, it really helps you develop
empathy and understand how others are reacting to what you’re saying and I
think it’s been a big advantage for me in board meetings and stuff like that, so the honest truth is, once I left and
started playing poker full time, it didn’t last very long, I very quickly
realised that if I wanted a healthy life, if I wanted a you know to have a family
and raise kids, being a professional poker player wasn’t wasn’t very
conducive to that, you the emotional swings were just you know, really rough
as were the financial swings in the short term at least and it wasn’t a very
stable way to live, so I began looking for other things to do and
somehow, someway I went back and have checked my emails and stuff I couldn’t
quite connect the dots but somehow I discovered this information product
business, and I always love reading books there was something I’ve done from a
young age and I thought, I could do this so I created some quick inform
information products and ebooks, some audio courses and video courses through
that out there and it’s old people, I still can’t believe it the first night
waking up and I got these emails from PayPal like 23 people had sent me money
for something I had created, it’s pretty awesome, it was a pretty pretty good
feeling and so I immediately transitioned from poker on to that and
very quickly, I moved on to approaching authors that write written books that
have done very well in the real life and approaching them, offering to digitise
their stuff, create some video courses for them create, some audio courses and
sell them online and give them royalties, they loved it, it was a great business
model, it lasted about I want to say a year and a half or so, until I got a very
very nice offer from a Australian company that published real books, you
know physical hard-copy books, they wanted to get into the digital publishing
business and I couldn’t say no to the offer in retrospect, having spent the
last two years in the VC world, I probably couldn’t negotiate it that way
better but I was just super excited to sell my first company and that was that
sold the information product business and kind of retired and floated around
the world for a bit and this is kind of where it gets interesting,
so I’d say after about three or four months, I got antsy right, wanted to do
something, wanted a new challenge and one of my friends that I’d grown up with in
South Africa, Michael Lee, he might be here, stayed in Bangkok for a while, now he stays in Taiwan, he was like, why don’t
you check out affiliate marketing and I was like what do you mean, you know I
I’ve dealt with affiliates befor,e we use them, they used to sell our stuff in the
in the info product business like they were basically our employees, you
know that was kind of my attitude and thankfully I listened enough to log on
to STM and that absolutely blew my mind right, I start seeing these screenshots
of people doing these massive volumes, massive ROI, I mean as the product owner
and the info product business we were doing like twenty to forty percent
profit margin on these products and here these affiliates are showing these
screenshots with these massive numbers and massive ROI is, I was it was quite a
hit to my ego but it really fired me up and pumping up to get me,
gave me that energy a motivation to get in and figure it all out and that was
that you know, that’s when I decided I’m gonna jump into the affiliate world and
and figure this whole thing out and that’s my second takeaway, that I’ll
change the slide to in a second, there’s a really good article in the 2005
Harvard Business Review about emergent versus determined strategy and they
define determined strategy, as strategy that you start off with you know, you put
on paper, you’ve got this idea of some product or some some problem you’re
gonna solve an emergent strategy a strategy that emerges from external
opportunities and this article basically talks through a ton of these fortune 500
companies that had one strategy when they started out or one plan or one
product and completely change to something totally different within a few
years it changed to take advantage of opportunities that I have that had
emerged and then you know, in in normal everyday language, I like to say
opportunities arise out of your control right and they may not have been your
plan and it’s your job is the entrepreneur to to make the call, as to
whether spending the time to learn and take advantage of this is is better than
what you’ve currently got going on and I think the reason I brought this up is
even in a microcosm of where affiliate marketing is right now, when the whole
ecommerce thing came along it would have been your job to take a look at it and
go, hey how much time is gonna take me to switch over, what how big is the
ceiling here what do we have to lose, so I think yeah tying that back to that
Harvard Business Review article, I think it’s a strategy that a lot of these the
biggest companies in the world use and something we should take to heart and
use as affiliates so I jumped right in logged on to every forum, every paid
forum, every free forum could read everything, I could bought every book, no
matter how old, I mean some of the books I was reading were like five years old
but I just wanted every piece of information, every reference point I
could get in the affiliate industry, learning from every resource I could,
testing everything I could just trying to fail as fast as possible and it’s
it’s this massive initial effort this period I like to call obsession, this
period of obsession where you’re learning a lot very quickly and failing
very, very quickly because that’s that’s the way we learn right, you want to fail
at things as fast as possible, this is for me personally, when I look back at
all the things that I’ve really gotten into and done well that it’s always
characterized by this beginning phase of massive effort failing at things very,
very quickly to learn what works and I’m sure that that you guys experienced this,
when you’re posting pictures on Facebook of you traveling or you know on some
mountain you’ll have friends from high school hit you up and be like hey, you
know I want to get into this affiliate marketing thing will you help me out and
and they’ve got this idea in their head that they’re gonna roll out of bed at
like 11:00 p.m. and do some yoga on the beach you know and have someone lay out
a table and cook their food for them and that’s fine later on but in the
beginning, I’m just trying to make the point that there’s a massive amount of
effort that goes into building that initial momentum to learning the initial
body of knowledge you need, in order to compete in the field and I just want to
say be okay with this initial phase, be okay of with being unhealthy for a
little bit, be okay with having one thing run your life for a little bit because
when I look at my past experience and other people I know who’ve been through
this we all share this common thread of a
period where there’s a massive amount of effort and something dominates your life
as you’re as you’re getting into it, so for us the we’re in this, I was in this
period of testing everything I could, trying every traffic source, every
vertical and the first thing that kind of stuck were submits on Google it
was kind of interesting but the ceiling wasn’t high enough, so I looked elsewhere
and someone said hey, why don’t you try a health and beauty, it’s really big and at
the time I was learning Dutch, so I thought well, do it in the
Netherlands throw up some health and beauty stuff on Facebook in the
Netherlands, worked very well right off the bat but again the ceiling was a bit
low and I thought well where’s the biggest market, you know I want to in my
mind if if someone’s doing something I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to do
it better, after some time and after some trial and error so like what was the
biggest mug with a high ceiling and it kept coming back to us, health and beauty
but everybody I spoke to was like don’t do US health and beauty, it’s very
competitive, the cost of traffic is very high Facebook and Google are very strict
with their policies in those regions you know, but if there’s one one way to get
me to do something is pretty much to tell me not to do it, so I went and
tested the US health and beauty and that was that I decided, this is where
we’re going to kind of place our stake in the ground this is where we were
going to compete and this is where we were going to dominate moving forward
and what I want to say here, is once you find what works something that meets
your goals, narrow in right focus on it and both on kind of try to build an
unstoppable momentum this is at this phase you’ve got your first few
successes on your belt, you’re probably making some money try to resist the
temptation to you know, to blow it out and then go partying crazy and
all that good stuff, instead kind of buckle down and and build some kind of
momentum that can’t be stopped, Cement your place at the top of that and
at the top of that part of the industry now, that was really my goal at that time
and the way I did this I guess the best way to explain is some of you might know,
I spent nine months fighting full time in Thailand here actually in Phuket and
I’m a match nerd right, I wasn’t actually never been in a fight before that I came
out to learn more Thai, I decided to do one fight for fun, lost it and that’s
obviously the way to get me obsessed with anything, so I stayed and did six
more and after I lost the first fight, I looked at and went you know I trained
really hard for this, my cardio was awesome, skill set was awesome, what
happened here and I spoke to some experienced fighters and they said hey,
you know it’s just that common thing of in your first fight, when you’re getting
hit or when you’re about to get hit, you tense up and you don’t breathe properly
and this kind of this ties you up way sooner than you should have, so you can
have this amazing cardio but if you’re not able to relax and be okay with being
hit you’re tensing up you’re not breathing and it’s and you’re tired by
the second round so here’s what I did, right I had this big maori friends like
this tall, massive dude you know built to play rugby from new zealand, paid him 500
baht i think it was four Saturdays in a row, paid him 500 baht to get in the ring
with me and hit me and my job was to stand there and be okay with being hit,
wasn’t allowed to hit him back, wasn’t really allowed to move, it’s kind of
allowed to block but you know he he made it past my guard more often than not and I
stood there for an hour and let him hit me over and over and over again, just
focusing on being okay with being hit and so at the end of the world, probably
not gonna die, probably not gonna get hurt seriously and and and that that was
my strategy for getting over what I perceived was the bottleneck in my
fighting career at the time and it worked I went on to win the next six
fights that I fought and it was the best thing I did I think in my entire
fighting career and the reason I bring this up is because I think the guts of
building our business multi-way media and then
re-brand to digilitic when we moved over to Dubai in 2016 is the simple
process of identifying leverage points or bottlenecks and in the fighting thing,
the bottleneck was being able to be hit and be okay with it not letting it tie
you up, not letting it stress you out, create a plan my plan in this case was
exposure with exposure, I was going to get rid of that fear or get rid of that
that automatic reaction to tense up and kind of duck or whatever test it
immediately so another way of saying, this is try to break the plan,
you know implement it, try to get it to fail as quickly as possible see if it
works get some feedback, you want that initial feedback as soon as possible and
you know, adjust the strategy if necessary, so I use this right from day
one would with with health and beauty in the US, you know we had challenges with
credit cards initially we had challenges with with being able to spend enough, you
know accounts had limits on what you allowed to spend we had to get over
those we had to get over funding credit cards in time and you know when you’re
buying six figures of media or even seven, sometimes a day it takes like a
day to send wires and a wire to receipt to reach somewhere and you’ve got these
real problems you’re dealing with and always I just came back to this you know, I’d wake up in the morning and go hey, what’s the single most important thing I
can do for my business today, what’s the plan for doing this, you know, do I need
to speak to an expert to get an opinion on how to solve this do I need to do
some googling, don’t need to do some reading, do I need to do some
brainstorming whatever it is coming up with a plan testing that plan
immediately and adjusting it if necessary and talking about the credit
card thing actually reminds me we had one hilarious one, we we have four had
and still have a MasterCard license in Europe and there was some bug at some
point in Facebook where we were running about 200 accounts in a business manager
using a set of credit cards and and Facebook had some kind of bug where they
refunded the last charge on every single card
in the in the business manager and so you can imagine MasterCard call this up
and we’re like, what’s going on here you got 213 are charges that were reversed,
they thought we were you know into fraud or whatever they just couldn’t make
sense of it, but yeah that was just one just one example of the crazy problems
you run into and I always come back to to this thing this this this little plan,
super simple identify what’s most important figure out a plan to to solve
it or leverage that point test it and fail with that plan immediately an
adjust if necessary and after doing this for about I’d say two years by myself 18
hours a day, seven days a week, you realize that you’re only one person and
in order to get to the next level of scaling you’re gonna have to delegate
and automate and thankfully for me I have my little sister Alicia, who’s also
an actuary that’s been able to help me out a ton with what with managing a lot
of this stuff I think in the affiliate industry, when I think about what our
what I was superpower is what are we really doing we’re solving unique
problems right where most of the time the creativity for the marketing stuff
is is not it’s not as important or as crucial as solving the problems that
come with maintaining these accounts, being able to spend enough, having enough
cap on the offers you like managing relationships with the advertisers so
for me the biggest challenge in delegating this was finding someone I
could trust to solve those problems and I do get asked a lot about this how to
hire better and one book that I recommend a lot is becoming the
evidence-based manager by Professor Gary Latham if anyone’s interested in hiring
better, he goes through a bunch of evidence-based strategies for employing
better and it’s really helped me, the other one of course was automating, we
built some tools that initially were just very similar to what is it ad
express oh yeah pretty similar to ad expresso, we both an in-house
and then we automated stuff according to the style that we like to do it,
integrated some machine learning because we’re all you know we’re nerds like that,
it’s fun and and that’s really saved us a bunch of time and helped us use our
time in a more more efficient way thanks to being able to automate and delegate
you know it freed up a lot of time for me and I got into the VC world about
eighteen months two years ago as a way to look into high-risk investments with
my personal funds and that’s been a whole new learning experience, all and of
itself you know when you’re in the affiliate world, I feel that a lot of our
work is very personal, where we’re at home, we’re working with
our teams we’re not on a daily basis interacting and working with with other,
very successful high-powered people and in the VC world and the couple deals
that I got involved in and ended up on boards with, you come in contact with
really impressive people, right people with just unique skill sets and talents
that I couldn’t really compete with, I just don’t have that background or
that inclination, and one of the biggest like kind of eye-opening things for me
in the last year, thanks to the whole VC world is being able to communicate a
shared vision with other, very successful, very important, powerful people and
having them able to buy into this vision and work together collaborate on it is a
very, very useful and profitable skill and that’s what I’m trying to say here,
that as much as I’d like to think so, I can’t be the master of everything and
once I started to come into contact with people that I really admired, that I
looked up to that had skills and abilities that I just didn’t, I really
started to dig and there’s a lot of literature, business literature around
this idea of being able to communicate a shared vision, being able to increase the
size of the pie for everybody so that we can work together and create something
bigger and better and that kind of brings me up to the last I guess six
months, to nine months, where it was the natural progression for me given the
marketing background stuff, the VC stuff and my finance
actuarial background to get into the underwriting and marketing ICO business,
and that’s where I’ve been spending a lot of time, recently the last six months
or so that’s been a full-time thing and it’s pretty exciting to step into
something new, be a newbie again, you know and go through that same process and as
a quick summary, it’s the exact same process that I described earlier,
it’s sorrow for this two-month period of massive focus, where I was reaching out
to every single resource, speaking to every person that I could, making
mistakes, making a fool of myself, trying things out coming up with ideas, most the
time that didn’t work but just connecting things in different
contexts, so that you can internalise this information better internalise what
you understand about the ICO world and use that to solve problems in unique
ways and once, I found something that worked, which was a certain type of
projects to work with and and our role in them the exact same thing, focusing on,
focusing in, on that and going to that process of identifying, leverage points,
coming up with a plan and testing that plan and the first leverage point was I
guess, deal flow and now it’s kind of being able to scale, without me having to
be involved in these things 24/7 and that brings it, that brings me to the end
guys, that’s been my journey, this is some information on how you can contact me, my email, my telegram, I hope that I shared some stuff with you guys that you can
use, that will help you moving forward, I’ll save you some time and some grief
and that’s it, thank you very much!


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