This is going to be a bit more “business oriented” than some of my other writing. If that’s not your forte, you have my permission to tune out now. Or better yet, just peruse through any of the other posts I have written (there are many).
We’re going to discuss how to go about crafting joint ventures that don’t make you come across as self centered — and dare I say, actually be seen as someone others would want to enter into a proposed venture with.
You may very well wonder, with the countless experts (some self proclaimed, and those with a legitimate claim to the title) why I would even want to discuss this topic, much less what on earth makes me think I’m qualified to do so. That’s a legitimate question. Afterall, rule one should be to learn from those who have actually done what they’re professing to know something about.
So here’s a bit of background that I hope shows I’m at least somewhat qualified to talk on this topic (my intention isn’t to toot my own horn here. Quite the opposite actually). Back in 1996 / early 1997, I started my first website, a community site, focused on delivering self improvement & motivational content. That site is still running today, it began as a hobby, and over the years has grown to include other niche topic websites (each focusing on its own personal & professional topic), related newsletters, products (physical & digital), consulting, etc. The website was later rebranded with a different URL, which is now GetMotivation.com — over the life of the website, it has been visited by millions. There have been ups in traffic, downs, and back up agains. Change, as they say is the only constant.
Naturally, I’ve learned quite a bit over the years of doing what I do. I’ve also seen a lot of teachers “teach” techniques and ways to do things that just aren’t near as effective as they could be. I want to stress that my point here is not to pick on anyone in particular. If you happen to be reading this, and you feel I’m somehow talking about you, or someone whose work you follow, I assure you, I’m not. Plain and simple, this is a compilation of thoughts created over many years, and many, many different people.
First, let’s identify what a joint venture is. In its simplest form, two or more people agree to come together for mutual benefit. There are any number of ways this can occur.
One of the more common ways this happens is that person a, has a newsletter, person b, wants to have person a offer their product / service to person a’s newsletter list (it could be their blog, really whatever platform / audience they have).
While this sounds all good and well, the problem is that along the way people have been taught to believe that there is some huge, win, win that comes from person a being granted the “right” to offer person b’s products & services to their client / customer base. It’s worth noting that person b, does in most cases offer to pay a % of whatever sales result.That said, I assure you, if you’ve been in business for any amount of time, and are trying to create a long term business, this arrangement just isn’t as exciting, nor a “win” for person a as person b often thinks it is.
I concede that this fly’s in the face of quite a few people, out there who are teaching this technique. I know there are tons of people who take this as the absolute truth — because, as someone who over the years, more than once has built newsletter lists of over 150,000 subscribers I get my share of people who contact me with just such arrangements. Not near as often, but on occasion, I also get what I consider the “better way” of making the request. And yes, I will outline below what I believe is a more effective way to ask for a truly win, win joint venture.
Before I do though, here’s why the “traditional, more common” approach above is a crappy approach (in my humble opinion) to take.
Look at the following example:
Imagine you were selling a great tie, it was all the rage, and everyone who saw it loved it. They absolutely loved it. However, since you are just getting started in business, you haven’t grown to the point where you can afford to open a storefront, or haven’t built your customer base to the point where you can get your “incredible life changing, stylish tie” to the masses. No worries someone says, “there are stores in every mall, and other places that are established, just tell them if they’ll include your tie on their shelves, thereby offering it to their customers, you’ll gladly give them a piece of any profit you make.”
If you read the example above and are asking, “what’s wrong with that?” — let me assure you that it isn’t that simple. First, major retailers often charge for placement, beyond just selling your products, assuming they even get picked up. That said, your willingness to “share the profit” is at best a given. I’m not picking on anyone here, and I’m not saying JV’s aren’t a terrific way to grow your business. I’m just saying you have to think beyond what most people suggest, get creative, and truly creating winning (yes, for ALL involved) proposals.
To connect the example, to what we are talking about, you need to understand that a person / companies list is in fact their business (for anyone serious about serving others, it’s not just a list, but rather, living breathing people who one is committed to serving to their best of their ability). And a lot has gone into building trust to the point that each person has chosen to join their particular list. Just like “the established store” doesn’t just haphazardly stick things on the shelves for their customers to buy, people who are serious about building long lasting businesses are going to be more guarded about what they share. The more willing you are to accept this, the better results you are going to have when you’re thinking through what is a real win for all involved. Your offer can’t be “ALL about you.”
Now that I’ve gotten the reasons why the approach that most folks are taking (and it isn’t working, at least not as well as it could be) covered let’s get down to some steps you can take that will put you above the crowd.
Steps for crafting Joint Ventures that People are far more likely to say yes to…
1. Remember that you’re not doing someone a favor by letting them sell or promote your product. At best, that’s the price of admission now. With countless, and more creative offers (JV’s) to participate in you better be willing to up your game.
2. Focus on building a relationship with others first. Look for (and actually act on them) ways that you can help and champion the work that others are doing. In other words, if someone has been a real champion in helping get the word out about what you are doing aren’t you going to be more open to helping them out when possible? Of course you are.
That said, I see a lot of people who count the costs of everything they do in this respect. And quite frankly, that is a good way to sabotage yourself. If you’re just doing something with some agenda, hoping that eventually you can “cash in” on that thing later on that’s not going to be something that’s going to work for you. Sure, you may guilt some folks with this approach, but later on those people are going to remember the way they felt, and simply not allow you to “do them another favor” (i.e. because it’s not really a favor you did them anyway).
To this day there are a lot of people I have helped in some very BIG ways. I’m proud of that. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of in all the years I have been doing what I do. That said, I simply can’t help everyone, no matter how much I wish I could (I bet you can relate?). So, I have to prioritize. Naturally, those who have gone above and beyond, get my attention. Understand that above and beyond doesn’t mean I’m counting what they have done for me. I’m not counting apples to apples. Heck, a person who takes the time to just stay in touch and genuinely be a friend naturally gets my attention. That said, those who seem to always show up when they’ve got their latest “zippity doo dah” about to be released, just don’t get the same response or excitement on my part that those who are their “just because” do.
3. Here’s an actual bit of wording I use when reaching out with a request, and I should add that I’ve seen work very well when others use it. First, off, credit to my friend, mentor, and colleague Bob Burg (burg.com) for teaching me a variant of this so many years ago. I’m going to paraphrase it, but if you know Bob’s work, you’ll recognize it for sure. If you’re not familiar with his work, you should be. Visit his site at www.Burg.com and dig into his writings. The time you spend doing so will serve you well!
Use the following words:
“I totally understand if you’re unable to participate, but I did want to ask.“
In other words, I ask for what I have in mind. I make the offer, but I make a point to include that statement, or some variant of it. If you are saying to yourself, “Josh, what if they say they can’t help me” and you have a problem with that, then you’ve missed the point entirely. I include that wording, because, quite frankly, if someone is unable to help, I want them to know I genuinely understand, and accept that.
The sad fact is that the vast majority of people don’t do this simple step, and a far more disconcerting number of folks actually phrase their request in a way to assume that the person they are asking something for, should just jump right on board and do it. Heck, they don’t even phrase it in a way as to ask. This doesn’t make people feel good about you. You may never have anyone tell you otherwise, but I can assure you it’s not the approach you want to take.
That said, if you give people the opportunity to say no, when it genuinely isn’t a fit for them, as if by magic (it’s actually not anything close to magic) far fewer people will take the “out”. Again, this is of course assuming you’re not seen as someone who is a “taker” — I don’t want to be harsh here, and anyone who knows me knows that’s not in my nature, but I have to make that point. Because so many people, unwittingly I have to assume, are inadvertently positioning themselves in this way because the only time they show up in the lives of others is when they want to “do a joint venture” (i.e you share my product or offer with your list / audience).
I can hear you now, “if I don’t ask, I know I won’t get what I want.”
True, but here’s another truth… the way you ask, and the kind of person you are perceived as by others greatly influences the results you will get when asking. And to borrow a phrase from Si Robertson of Duck Dynasty, “that’s a fact jack!”
4. Craft a true win, win. As we discussed above, just offering to share profits from the sales of your products or services, when you are asking the other person to make the offer to THEIR customers isn’t likely enough to get folks clamoring to do this for you.
Here’s a simple twist you can try. It’s always more appealing, for me anyway, when people reach out to me when offering this type of JV arrangement.
Ask to do a simple ad swap, or free product swap. The idea here is simple, you have a product (something that is of actual value, that other people would appreciate getting a copy of). You see, the person you contacted is willing to share your free offer (you can also do this with a paid product), and in return, you agree to do the same for them. Emphasis on being willing to do the same for them.
Here’s why that approach works:
You’re showing that you are willing to champion, and stand behind what the other person is doing, and of course they are willing to do the same (plus, your customer, and the other person’s customers, win because they benefit from whatever agreed upon gift, or product was offered). Simply put, this approach makes you a person who goes above and beyond those who are just asking you to do something for them. You’re saying, “I’m willing to share what you have, if you’re willing to believe in me & what I have to offer, and to act in kind.”
I realize some people are going to scoff at what I have suggested here. Hey, I accept that, it takes all kinds. And of course I’m not under the misconception that what I’m suggesting is the “only way” to do something. I can tell you though, with more and more people, the approach I outlined above for you will be the best, if not only way to get a response.
As with any partnership you enter into, you’ll do well to go in looking for ways that each of you will truly benefit. Even better, if someone has to get the better end of the stick, if that has to be the case, let the other person have it. It will inevitably come back to you in time anyway.
Btw. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the ideas above in the comments below.
It’s Your Life, LIVE BIG!