How Not To Approach A Potential Joint Venture Partner

By Yaro Starak
46 Comments

Let me state an obvious fact about Internet marketing:

Joint ventures (JVs) are the quickest and most effective way to make a lot of sales and/or bring in a ton of targeted leads.

The reason this is the case is fairly obvious. You get someone who already has access to and a relationship with a large audience, who then recommend your product. The combination of distribution and trust, two of the most critical factors for online success, makes this marketing method hard to beat.

The only thing that beats a good JV is an internal promotion where you personally have distribution and trust, in which case the connection between you and the product itself is seamless – because it’s your product you are recommending – there is no disconnect in the mind of the audience, like there is with a JV or affiliate promotion.

Unfortunately building your own audience and establishing trust with them takes time, so if you are in a hurry, going the JV route is the best option. It’s also the quickest method to expand reach, so this is a technique you simply have to get on top of if you want to really explode your business online.

How Not To Approach People

I’m approached every week by people looking for me to promote their products. I’ve also been rejected more often than I’ve had success with my own JV approaches, so I know what works and what doesn’t from both sides of the relationship.

I often receive template emails suggesting I promote a product, which I delete before reading beyond the first paragraph. Other approaches come from genuine people, who appear on the surface to have a great product and are sincere in their intentions, yet unfortunately this approach usually fails too.

So what exactly does it take to convince someone to promote for you? Let’s take a look at the dos and don’ts of seeking joint ventures.

Please note I am not directing this feedback and any specific people who have approached me. The intention of this article is to help anyone find success with JVs. I’m not hear to bring people down, so if you have approached me with an offer and I declined, don’t take it personal, nor is this article an attack on you – use it to help you in the future.

1. Keep It Personal

The first rule is an obvious one: Don’t use a template. Template emails that are clearly templates will not work and make sure you use the name of the person you are approaching. If the email begins with “Dear website owner” or something similar, you are not even going to get through the door.

2. Don’t Approach By Asking For Something

Here’s the biggest mistake I see. Many people assume that because they have a great product that could sell well and make a person a lot of money in commissions, they are approaching a potential JV on equal footing. The truth is, when you ask someone to promote for you, you are asking for a favor.

We all know the favor-bank begins with nothing inside of it. If you go in trying to make a withdrawal and you’ve never made a deposit, you are going to get rejected. Do not make your first approach an overt suggestion that the person promote your product, no matter how good you think your product is and how well suited it is to their audience.

The same goes for any kind of strategic relationship. Don’t go in suggesting something or that someone do something, even if it can potentially make them a lot of money, if you have never established a positive relationship with them. Why should they trust you? Why should they even read your email? You haven’t done anything to warrant respect or justify their attention.

Beyond the general courtesy humans offer each other when they meet someone new – which doesn’t stretch very far when attention is in short supply and the medium is something less personal like email – you should not expect any favors.

3. Don’t Take Rejection Personally

I’m amazed how many times I tell people that I don’t wish to promote their product or work with them that they read into my email as a personal attack. I’m actually unusual in that I reply to some of the JV request emails I get, most people just delete them. Yet, many times I’ve received an angry email in response to my rejection or even just my clarification of where I currently stand with my promotion schedule.

Don’t take rejection personal and definitely do not ever send back an angry email if you ever hope to work with that person. That will immediately flag you as a potentially bad partner, further justifying that rejection was a good choice. Relationships take time, and sometimes you have to go through a few no’s before you get a yes, so don’t go wailing and ranting at the first no you get, that just demonstrates emotional insecurity, not a good trait for successful business relationships.

4. Start By Making Friends

Every successful joint venture I have been involved with included some kind of prior relationship. If you go in cold, you get a cold response, but if you go in knowing each other you are much more likely to have the person at least listen to what you have to say with sincerity.

This is why it’s so important to attend events. Personal time spent with people is the best way to get a personal connection. This is especially important if you have no existing stature (preeminence) in your market.

A guy like me, who has a well known blog, can approach people with less work invested in relationship development because my blog has already done it for me. My blog is proof of my credibility, my preeminence and the value I could potentially offer in return. If you don’t have this kind of social proof, you will have to work that much harder to prove to people you are worth working with, and the process begins with friendship.

Get on someone’s radar with a soft approach first. Get to know them, find out what is motivating them today, what projects they are working on, and then, as the next point talks about, find out what YOU can do FOR THEM.

5. Do Favors First To Invoke The Law Of Reciprocity

If you want people to consider your offers, you have to make a deposit in their favor-bank, or in other words, build some goodwill with them and invoke the law of reciprocity, which dictates that as humans we feel obligated to help those who helped us.

Reciprocity is a HUGE motivator. Think about how you personally feel when someone does something for you and then they come back and ask you for something. The idea of not returning the favor is emotionally painful because it goes against your basic sense of what is right, assuming you are a reasonably normal human being.

One of the best ways to get someone to at least consider your JV offer is to promote their product and make a ton of sales. Obviously that’s not easy, but if you are in the same market it’s the best way to get attention. Make someone lots of money first and they have to pay attention to you when you come knocking on their door (well they don’t have to, but your chances are much better).

If you can’t realistically make a lot of sales or even any sales, think about other ways you can help. Maybe you can foster a relationship for that person with someone else. Being a connector is a great way to make friends as you are seen as someone important and worth knowing because of who you know. Again this role doesn’t suit everyone, but it’s an option.

If in doubt, say hello and ask about the projects that person is working on. Write brief emails, get to know what they are doing and then see where they might need help. Sometimes just being the source of an interesting piece of news for example, if you are approaching a top blogger who writes about news, is a good way to open the door to a relationship.

6. Have A Great Offer

Adam and Alen from Niche Profit Classroom, who I recently promoted in a JV, approached me in the right way. They came knocking on my door purely to open up a relationship and were always focused on what they could do for for me. They were persistent, demonstrated the potential value they offered and most importantly, came across as “normal” guys – nice human beings who didn’t really mind if I said no, but where willing to form a relationship just to get on my radar regardless of anything else.

The first thing we did was a podcast interview where Adam interviewed me for his members. It was a content call given for free to their audience. This of course helped me gain exposure to their customers so I was happy to do it, although I only said yes because they proved they had an audience large enough that it was worth me taking the time to do the call, Alen and Adam seemed professional and the general vibe of our interactions prior to that had been good.

This call helped me get to know both Adam and Alen and verify the kind of people they were. This is an important step, because the people behind the product must be honest and trustworthy before you promote their goods. When you send your people to someone, you want to know they are going to be looked after – it’s your reputation on the line too.

I’ve made mistakes recommending people who turned out to offer inferior products, and this has hurt me. As a result I’m very careful now who I choose to partner with and what I promote.

Adam and Alen also have something special – something rare. Not only were they achieving above average results online, they had customers who were too. They had proof that they knew something unique and are capable of teaching it. On top of this, they have a genuine desire to help their customers achieve results, which translates into a quality product, with top support, good systems, and an offer that is extremely appealing to my audience.

To put it simply, Adam and Alen ticked all the boxes and Niche Profit Classroom, being a reflection of the guys behind it, was a good JV target for me. I didn’t make the decision based on the content in their program, I made it based on the quality of the people I was dealing with, the real proof already in existence online and the obvious value they represented that we could then give to my audience regardless of whether my readers decided to make a purchase or not.

How Good Is Your Offer?

You might feel that your offer is good, but ask yourself –

A good JV is a result of you being on top of your game and understanding the nature of relationships. If you want to benefit from this superior form of marketing, you need to come from a place of strength and awareness of how things are done. If you have never done a JV before, treat the lessons in this article as your first step towards becoming a good potential partner.

And one last point so this article doesn’t result in a flood of JV request in my inbox – I’m not looking for new products to promote for a few months as my focus is now turning to the opening of my Membership Site Mastermind coaching course. Please don’t approach me for a few months, now is not a good time (so as point no. 7, since things should always be in sevens: Timing is important when doing JV requests).

Good luck!

Yaro Starak
Joint Venturing

PS. If you really want to get on top of joint ventures as a marketing tool to grow your business one of the best resources by a person I consider a mentor is Rich Schefren’s Joint Venture Guide.

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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46 Comments

  • Great tips Yaro…

    Now I don’t ask you to promote anything. Just add me to your Gtalk, so that we can be good friends. !

  • Interesting tips. I’m involved in some offline businesses as well. My parents advice is not to have any joint venture than your own husband/wife. There won’t be anyone will understand well about you.

    • There is a difference between business partnership and joint ventures. What your parents refer to is a business partnership. Affiliate marketing is JV. Piggy backing, sponsored reviews are also JVs. Starting a business from scratch with 50/50 investment and an agreement to have 50/50 profits is a partnership and most of the time does not end in good terms because there is no metric to calculate the efforts put in by each person.

  • Great advice…I haven’t had much experience in JV partnering as of yet, but I have extended some interest for group posting, joint ventures in general, and business relationship building in prior blog posts and places like Blogcatalog.com.

    I always try to think of these activities as helping both participants, although I’ve targeted other bloggers and writers that were around the same level as myself. If I asked the biggest and best players directly, I could see how they’d be a bit hesitant.

  • Good advice,
    Anyone seeking angel funding or partners for their fledgling business would do well to follow it too. All the same principles apply :)

    What can be hard especially for entrepreneurs fresh to the game is that promising the stars when they’re not yours to give, doesn’t make for a very enticing offer :)

    Always consider counter-party risk when formulating any deal, it’s more important than your promised rewards!

    Cheers
    Hugh

    PS. Can I request an article? I’d love to hear about the major ‘inflection points’ for you and your business over the past 2-3 years.

  • Diogo Slov

    Hey Yaro. The great thing about what you said is that it is also applicable to other areas of our life.

    Want to build an audience? Than give, give, give content that is interesting for them. Answer the questions they have.

    Want to build a list of prospects? Than give useful content as well; fish their interest with a PDF or something.

    Want to make friends? Want a girlfriend? Then make it all about THEM/HER, and eventually everything will be about YOU.

    It’s all about making it about others and being on the top of your game.

    Cheers, D.

  • Very good and reasonable tips. Building relationship with people is just the same, in all areas

  • How to win friends and influence people….Dale Carnegie’s classic work is still so very apt and applicable today, and applying some of those techniques do merit looking into.

    This has been a most informative and comprehensive post by Yaro, and what really stood out for me is the advice dispensed of starting out by making friends first.

    You can’t expect people to buy into your dreams and schemes if they don’t like you. It’s that simple.

  • DaphneChick

    Great article — the part about building trust relationships first is really common sense stuff (but common sense isn’t all that “common,” is it?).

    But now I have a question I’d like to open up to you and other readers:

    I responded to a blogger’s call for guest blog post submissions several months ago. The blogger acknowledged openly that he understood that none of us is in this strictly for fun and welcomed product or service pitches within or at the end of the article. I responded with a classic query letter and was invited to submit a post.

    I wrote a post and sent it to him with the post-related information product I wanted to promote. To make a long story short, the blogger declined the post because he did not feel the product was congruent with his approach (which is absolutely his right). He was quite complimentary about the post itself in terms of it being well-written and well thought out, going so far as to say that he felt bad because it was obvious I had put so much time into it.

    The part that unnerved me was that he forwarded my information product to several colleagues for their comments and included their negative feedback (some of it bordering on nasty) in his return email to me, as if to say, “not only do I think this is ridiculous, but everybody else does, too.” I have shared this same info product with other freelance writers and have gotten nothing but compliments from them (one says that, several years later, she still uses it in her business).

    So the question is, am I being too thin-skinned, or is the whole “forwarding my copyrighted material to others without my permission” thing kind of whacked? I would have thought the “this isn’t congruent with my business model, but thanks for contacting me” would have sufficed.

    Sorry for the length, but I figured this would be the ideal community to bounce this off of!

    • DaphneChick,

      I can certainly understand your frustration. I’ve experienced this quite a few times in my copywriting business. It’s a similar scenario – I’ll write a piece for a client, and a week later I get a response saying, “Well, I showed this to some people, and they think___ is wrong with it.”

      Here’s a few tips from a guy in the trenches:

      1) Unless the person specifically names the people who made the comments, you really don’t know about the credentials/experience/education of those people. I don’t usually do this, but I pressed one particularly difficult client by asking, “Whom exactly did you show this to, and what credentials do they have?” I found out that the client showed it to his sister, his girlfriend, and his freelance programmer – none of whom knew anything about copywriting.

      I don’t say this to be dismissive, but unless I know who is critiquing my work and why they have the expertise to do so, I don’t take it too seriously.

      2) Most people don’t understand the nuances of copyrights, and feel it is their right to show it to whomever they please. Unless they pay or otherwise compensate you for it with the express intention of “transfer of rights”, you still own it. But most people don’t know that. Unless you specifically state that the recipient doesn’t have the right to disseminate the work, there’s not much you can do.

      3) Objectively evaluate the criticisms. Many will be useless and unfounded, but every now and again, you will find a helpful hint that can help you improve your work. If you find one, consider it a “gift” from someone who didn’t even realize s/he was helping you out.

      I hope this helps. As an internet marketer, a copywriter, and a published author, I’ve experienced plenty of rejection, and not all of it cordial or professional. I don’t think you’re being “thin-skinned”, but you do have to adopt constructive ways of dealing with these types of experiences. Even the thickest-skinned people need to develop survival techniques.

      To Your Success,

      Lee

      • Jo

        To both DaphneChick and Lee. You both have written immensely thoughtful and mature comments. You both speak with the capability of genuine professionals,
        and reading your comments was pure pleasure.

  • Hi Yaro,

    Another bad move is to come out of nowhere and DEMAND the number of subscribers you have.

    Also PRETEND to be a long time subscriber but when you check you find they subscribed a few days prior and DIDN’T even bother to confirm their subscription.

    Oh yes, it happens.

    LOL

  • I like that you’re careful with your joint venture programs. I look at them as sort of “guest lecturers” with a pitch inside. Yet, because I know that they’re trying to sell me something, I go in resistant, even if I might want the product. Because I know that if they can sell to me, then their selling vibe/persona will work well with resistant audiences out there, like me.

    I came very close to buying into Adam and Alen’s program because their area of expertise interests me and I like the way they do things.

    However, I’m still working my way through all the great BMM and BaB+ material, along with other projects. There’s enough material between those two — let alone my other projects — to keep me busy for quite a while.

  • “The same goes for any kind of strategic relationship. Don’t go in suggesting something or that someone do something, even if it can potentially make them a lot of money, if you have never established a positive relationship with them. Why should they trust you? Why should they even read your email? You haven’t done anything to warrant respect or justify their attention.”

    Haha. You’ve made a very good point there. There was this period when I was asked to help some other blogs out there to promote their books or web products, and I had to turn them down (yeah, I was going through some examinations during that two months time from Jan till today).

    One of them in a reply email increased an offer to even pay me for promoting the book and add a review link on his site – which was quite a turn off.

    Another blogger sent the pdf as an attachment in the email, but couldn’t be opened, and pointed out to me to go download from another link while making the situation turn out that as though I was at fault.

    Hmm. Yeah. Those two examples could add to the list on how not to approach someone. :)

    I too had a great time reading this article. Thanks Yaro!

  • Hi Yaro,

    great insights to JV approaches and I agree about Rich Schefren’s excellent guide being a great resource for anyone interested in following this marketing approach. Of course it’s the same sort of approach Jay Abraham has recommended for many years for off-line marketing – the principle is the same though; create a relationship of trust before trying to jump in with both feet.

    As Diogo said your points apply to other areas in life and business; I’m thinking specifically of people who contact marketers / copywriters completely out of the blue to try to persuade them to write copy for free – on the basis ‘this is really gonna take off and I’ll need loads of paid for writing later on’. Yeah – right.

    I always reply politely explaining that my time is rather taken up at the moment, but I wish them every success in their new venture. And of course they can always get lots of free advice on writing their own copy both from me and all the other generous copywriters on the net. ;)

    Sometimes I get an occasional response – but not always.

    Definitely one to share with my blog readers – thanks.

    Carol

  • Awesome post….I see all the jv’s going on. That is one of the advantages of building your list. You can do just that…Super information on the subject. Partnering with credible people and offering super content to your readers is advantageous not only to you readers, but to you too….David

  • These are some great tips, I agree with all of them especially the one with keeping it personal, its always a turn off to see the a template email when asking for something. You can tell its a template because it is not personal and it looks like there is a spot where they change it for what ever company they are emailing.

  • The best tip seems to be to form some kind of relationship with your potential partner and talk about what you can do for them rather than the other way round. People always respond well to that in any form of business or personal relationship. I guess we are all more interested in ourselves at the end of the day. Show how you can help someone else and they might just return the favour some day. : )

  • Thanks for the insight. Great to see various perspectives!

  • Thanks for the tips. I’m a newby and appreciate all the insights of the pros like you.

  • Yeah I agree with what almost everyone else has said this is great advice. The thing that is probably the best out of this article is number 4, start a relationship first before you approach them to do a JV. It is like another relationship, you have to first get to know the person before you ask them to do a big favor for you. Granted there are certain instances that you will get some one to do something nice for you with out getting to know them first but that is super rare.
    It all comes back to, it’s not what you know it is who you know.

  • Thanks for the post, Yaro. I’ve always been impressed by your work, but about a year ago you took the time to personally answer an email where I asked you one question and wanted to post the answer on my blog. I didn’t keep that blog going, but I’ll always remember the experience, both as a testimony to you and as an example of how to do business online.

    Someday I will return the favor.

  • Well this was a timely read… I recently reached out to someone to partner up on a project. It took some looking around. I approached a few people with an open mind and we discussed things freely (it didn’t work out with some and I didn’t take that personally; as you suggested, I don’t think anyone should ever take it personally). Ultimately, I found someone who complemented what I do very well! Had I not kept an open mind about the conversations I was having, we never would have connected.

    I’d say that it’s important to look for and connect with someone who possess the strengths that are your weaknesses and visa-versa. That type of partnership always works best!

  • Ok, I will take note of that. I guess that it all begins with being friends first (relationship building), not thinking of getting any thing back in return, but a friend for life.

  • Hi Yaro,

    I’ve read some of your posting and watched a few videos from you over the past months. All great.

    Your insights are fantastic because they are so simple and true. It can be easy to get so involved in our own projects that we forget about the person we are approaching.

    Building a relationship, providing value and being consistent in the quality of our work is the best sales pitch of all.

    Thanks!

  • Great article and very true. If you contact somebody who does not even know you and then ask them for something, then you are likely to be ignored. Instead, you must first become friendly with that person and get to know them. That way, you also find out more about them and can judge better if you even want to do a joint venture.

  • Joel

    Speaking of Adam and Alen – when clicking the link you posted above, you are taken to a page that says, “This account has been suspended.”

    I followed your advice last week and took the $1 trial to their program. I didn’t get much time to play around but I thought what I did see was pretty good. I did not cancel, and planned to let them bill me for a few months to see how it went.

    As of yesterday I can no longer log in. Upon my log in attempt, I was redirected to another “special” $1 “deal” sales page. I created a support ticket and still have heard nothing.

    Now today when I try to log in, I get an “Invalid Log In” page. Nowhere did I get an email with new instructions nor did I get a redirect to a page with instructions to re-enter my billing details. (By the way, my credit card is valid and in good standing. Used it today.)

    It was my understanding that unless I canceled (which I didn’t) I would be billed automatically. So why am I locked out and why can’t these guys answer their support tickets?

    “When you send your people to someone, you want to know they are going to be looked after – it’s your reputation on the line too.”

    • Hi Joel,

      Send me an email supportATblogmastermind.com and I’ll direct you through to Adam and Alen personally so they can sort this problem out for you.

      About 5 of the 400 people or so who have taken up the $1 trial via my referral are reporting similar problems to what you talk about. I expect it’s a combination of the rapid success of niche profit classroom (they broke 1200 members in a matter of weeks) causing technical errors and communication issues.

      So far Adam or Alen have sorted every problem out personally via email for me when I ask.

      Yaro

  • Great post Yaro! You had some awesome tips and strategies to effectively succeed in a jv promotion.

    I will be pursuing jv partners this year for my new product that I am creating so I am glad I read this post! It should help me quite a bit!

    Have a great day!

    David

  • Yaro, what a fantastic article.

    Relationships take time and as you have said and others have commented its all about them.

    Your favourite topic in the whole wide world is yourself.
    But once we have talked lots about ourselves and found out what is in it for us, then we start to think what can we give back. And that ends in great relationships giving and taking.

    Everyone just remember Givers Gain the more you give the more you get

    Carl

  • Hi Yaro,

    I have done a few JV’s in my time and from my experience if you are going in cold, you have to do a lot of convincing that you are genuine and are the real deal.

    As you say, getting to know someone first is probably the best way of developing a good JV relationship, or even being introduced to a great contact through a friend.

    However, JV promotions and deals are a great way to promote ANY product in any market or niche not just internet marketing so all business owners must dedicate time to building their own lead/customer base and doing joint promotions with other business owners in similar niches and markets.
    Grant

  • Thanks for this extremely useful post. Have people found it easier to get involved in JVs as their mailing lists grew larger?

  • Great post. I agree with you about making friends first and helping others. Its much easier to get exposure for something important if you have a network of friends in your target community.

  • I think networking and relationship-building is key. You need to make yourself stand out to potential JV partners, otherwise you’re just another random email that gets deleted.

  • I think that the most important part of your article was where you explained how people shouldn’t ask for something at the very start of the JV. In my experience it’s best to offer value before asking for it. This means you either offer 100% commissions for the first promotion or at lease some kind of monetary incentive even BEFORE they promote your stuff.

    Andy

  • Well I think keeping personal relation in a JV can help it to go to a long way. But everything can not go on a good faith.

  • Hi Yaro,I’m a newbie in IM…Good article and especially the tips but I prefer you might have the tricks about your JV project.btw Good Luck

  • Yeah, people using templates when asking for something that after all is just a favor are silly. Noone will take a message like this seriously.

  • I love the emphasis you place on “The Favour Bank”.. it’s so true, people are far more inclined to listen and to help if you have some preexisting relationship with them already in place.

  • Great points thank you! I recently heard a seminar from Jeff Johnson, and he emphatically said that “Majority of his offers that he gets solicited for, do not send a sample of the product for him to review”. That is one of the keys to having the super affiliate feel comfortable and confident its a reputable product.

  • […] (a blog which you really should add to your favorites and read often!) has a great primer on how NOT to go about asking for a joint venture.   And he should know – because he’s a pretty popular guy in the marketing world and gets […]

  • Your Message

    Thank you for the information and tips Yaro, it will certainly help those of us wanting to take our business to the next level by using joint ventures to connect with potential partners.

    Have a great day

    John

  • Blogging is so much more than ‘I enjoy writing and want others to read it!’ The business development lessons you convey show the diverse knowledge we need to be successful. The more you know – you know there is more you need to know :) These lessons are great – but experience still ranks highly. Making your own mistakes gives you emotional connection to things that are good and bad. Nigel.

  • I just terminated a joint venture on an offfline (and online but mostly offline =p) business and I can honestly say the weight is off my shoulders.
    Honestly It actually motived me to work harder so I dont rely on anybody.

  • Super! Thank you for sharing this article. Any product or service needs to be offered thinking about the customer – to keep a relation with the customers is very important. The customer come to you because he trusts everything about your product: quality – efficiency

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