How an entrepreneur propelled the growth of her advertising consultancy through affiliate marketing
Many entrepreneurs who run very small businesses have had to revise their marketing strategies to make them more effective as the pandemic has imposed more time. One avenue that is often overlooked is affiliate marketing. This is an arrangement where other like-minded entrepreneurs agree to promote your business in exchange for reduced sales.
Selena Soo, 39, has found affiliate marketing to be a powerful tool in growing his business, S2 Groupe, a marketing and advertising consultancy that focuses on clients in the small business space and has a strong representation among those involved in personal development and well-being. The three-person company generates more than $2 million in revenue annually, thanks to offerings such as Impacting Millions, an annual PR Soo developed course that will begin taking registrations on March 17, as well as its Impact Accelerator group. – coaching program and public relations services for certain clients. Soo, who lives in Puerto Rico, relies on the help of two full-time employees and a dozen contractors, depending on whether or not she has a big project underway. Living there, instead of her old home in New York, has allowed her to enjoy pleasures like swimming in the ocean in the afternoon and avoid clutter like owning a car, as she described it. to Ramit Sethi, author of I will teach you how to be rich, in a recent article.
Soo began laying the groundwork to lead the business as a student at Columbia University, when she created the university’s first undergraduate conference on women in business. While working on this project, she found she had a knack for attracting high profile speakers, including Susan Lyne, then CEO of Gilt Groupe; Pattie Sellers, former deputy editor of Fortune magazine; and television journalist Maria Bartiromo. Soo developed this talent when she became a senior program manager at Step Up Women’s Network, a non-profit organization. In this role, she organized professional mentorship events and recruited junior board members who would be involved in fundraising.
Soo’s knack for building relationships like these proved invaluable in 2012, when she launched S2 Groupe. She had no formal training in public relations, but discovered that she had a natural strength for influencing others and creating bonds that both people benefited from. When it was time to set up her company’s website, she reached out to some of the high profile media contacts and influencers she had come to know, for a short written testimonial. One came from inspirational speaker Danielle LaPorte, author of Hot White Truth. The other was life coach Marie Forleo, host of MarieTV. Soo found that these testimonials made an immediate difference in attracting customers. “I had this instant credibility,” she says.
During the first few months of her business, Soo started with her first client who paid her on account, as many PR firms do. It helped her earn a steady income, but the relationship was stressful and she found it made her unhappy. Still, Soo loved publicity work and didn’t want to give it up completely.
Luckily, she realized there was another way to share her expertise: teaching it. She began planning a two-day workshop in New York around the theme “Elevate Your Brand,” and promoted it on Facebook and her 150-person mailing list, which she had created after writing a guest post. for a major commercial publication. . She charged $600 for the workshop and hosted it at her home. Seven people registered for the event in the fall of 2012.
It was a small number, but Soo realized something extremely important for the future growth of her business: she had earned more in two days than she had earned in a month working with her client and, perhaps more importantly, she really enjoyed the interaction. with customers in the workshop. Once she got this proof of concept for her workshop idea, she repeated the event in the spring of 2013 and raised the price to $1,200, finding that demand was still high and she was still able to fill it.
Hoping to grow her business further, Soo joined a mastermind group led by Monica Shah, a business coach who has worked with business coaches, creative professionals, and entrepreneurs. Soo had noticed comments on Facebook from entrepreneurs in Shah’s mastermind group that they were making $10,000 or $20,000 a month.
Participating in the mastermind group required a substantial investment, but it helped Soo broaden her thinking about her business and inspired her to create her own six-month PR mastermind, for which she charged $9,500. She offered one-on-one coaching, media meet events and group calls. This led to a year-old mastermind, for which she charged $24,000.
But Soo realized that not everyone could afford a high-end brain, so she created her first class. She was mentored by Sethi in her program called Zero to Launch. During the course, he encouraged her to do market research. “You have to validate your lesson idea,” she says. “It’s not just about talking to friends who say, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s a good idea. “”
The real test, she learned, is whether people are willing to pay for it. Sethi recommended that students ask prospects if they would be willing to pay a particular price for a given course, as in “If I sold this for $297, would you be interested in buying this?” She paid close attention to their responses. Unless the general response was something like, “Please, I want to give you my money,” she wouldn’t go ahead. During her research, as Soo connected with more of her ideal clients, she listened carefully to what they were saying and what they needed, as Sethi recommended. She was able to develop Get Known, Get Clients, a six-month program to help college students attract their ideal clients, based on what she learned.
A business coach initially advised Soo to limit the program to three months, set a billing goal of $1,000, and aim to enroll ten students, but Soo questioned this approach. It should put three months of work in advance without a sufficient return on investment. “$10,000 for six months of hard work didn’t make sense,” Soo says.
She trusted her instincts and opted for a six-month program, with twelve training sessions she taught live online and an additional Q&A session each month. The course also came with scripts and templates to help customers with processes like sales calls. She charged $3,000. She attracted 50 students and won $150,000.
Once Soo knew how to create successful courses, she continued to build her knowledge and eventually developed her flagship course, Impacting Millions, in 2016. Impacting Millions helps entrepreneurs gain media coverage and become go-to experts in their business. sector. It includes seven video training modules, twelve months of live Q&A calls, a private Facebook community, and access to an online membership area. The one-year course sells for $2,997. Soo has found that continuing to update and refresh this course is a better investment of his time and brings more value to his clients than the continuous introduction of new courses.
Now that thousands of clients have taken her courses, Soo has found that affiliate marketing is especially useful for spreading the word. “It’s one of the ways we keep our business lean,” she says. It pays a 50% commission to affiliate partners who run coaching programs, courses, email newsletters, websites and other properties if they refer paying customers to it, slightly more than the 40% offered by many influencers. “It’s really good for visibility and customer acquisition,” Soo says. “You only pay if you get customers.” Soo issues affiliate links so she can track their sales. She finds her mastermind or Impacting Millions graduates to be the ideal affiliates and tend to gravitate. “It’s an additional source of income for their business,” she explains. Those who meet certain sales criteria can win a trip to Tulum for a mastermind retreat. Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of takers.
In 2021, Soo has over 200 affiliates, 70% of which are active promoters, and will accept more until the beginning of March. Affiliates will begin promoting this year’s Impacting Millions course on February 15th.
It selects the affiliates carefully, on file. “What does it take to be a great affiliate? A big part of it is treating a launch like it’s your own,” Soo says. “Sometimes people think they can send an email or two to their subscribers. When launching as an affiliate, you need to bridge the gap between who you are, what you offer, and why you are recommending someone else’s program.
The most successful affiliates often offer a bonus package – a gift or offer to someone who uses their affiliate link. “Maybe you offer some of your one-on-one services, to help them get results faster,” Soo says. “Perhaps you’re offering a workshop, event, or mastermind to complement what the people you’re promoting are offering in their program, creating content that shows some type of connection between you and them. It’s important to explain how you know each other and why you trust them.
Because affiliate marketing is so dependent on the efforts of outside partners, many entrepreneurs prefer to use it in conjunction with other marketing efforts. Soo, for his part, has also achieved great results appearing on podcasts, including contractors on fire and Smart Passive Income. She’s also found that guest posting on sites like Positively Positive is extremely helpful in reaching her ideal prospects. “People there really like coaching,” she says. “There are a lot of coaches, healers, spiritual people out there. This is one of the audiences that I seek to target. A good rule of thumb for those who want to try guest posting, she says, is to spread the word in places your audience already frequents. “Advertising for tech entrepreneurs is very different than for solo entrepreneurs and coaches,” she says.
Soo also uses Facebook ads, but says she waited to do so until her business started generating multiple-six-figure revenue: “They’re hard to understand. You can spend a lot of money and not getting results if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Fortunately, even if you make marketing mistakes, you can learn a lot. Ultimately, if you’re open to their lessons, they can be a powerful source of the knowledge you need to build a small business that makes big money.