Jamie Birch | [Top Agency Series] Building an Affiliate Program and Best Strategies for Affiliate Marketing
Smart Business Revolution

Jamie Birch is the Founder and CEO of JEBCommerce, a full-service, online marketing agency that specializes in performance marketing. His extensive internet marketing experience includes all facets of online marketing: email, paid search campaigns, customer retention programs, and much more. Jamie is also the Host of The Profitable Performance Marketing Podcast and a member of the Bureau of Digital.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Jamie Birch, the Founder and CEO of JEBCommerce, about affiliate marketing and the best strategies for building an affiliate program. Jamie explains how affiliate marketing works, how it has evolved over the years, and how social media impacts affiliate programs.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Jamie Birch’s first experience with the internet in the 1990s and early work in search engine optimization (SEO)
  • What Jamie did after being laid off during the dot-com crash
  • What attracted Jamie to affiliate marketing?
  • Jamie explains how affiliate marketing works and how he educates clients about it
  • The connection between PR and affiliate marketing
  • Jamie talks about starting an affiliate program at Coldwater Creek and how affiliate marketing has evolved over the years
  • The impact on affiliate programs: using social media to build audiences
  • How Jamie maintains relationships with clients — and his strategies for building a sales team
  • The people Jamie acknowledges for their support and where to learn more about him

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.

Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. If you are new to listening to this show, go check out some of our past interviews with smart CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs, ranging from companies like Netflix, Kinkos’, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, and many more. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And my guest here today is Jamie Birch. He is the Founder and CEO of JEBCommerce. And he is also the Host of the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast, go check that out on your podcasting app of choice. And we also are both members of the Bureau of Digital community, big shout out to that community there. And to Carl Smith, who runs that community, great guy brings together a lot of great agency owners to share ideas. 

And of course, this episode brought to you by my company, Rise25, where we help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. You can go to rise25media.com to learn more about us. All right, Jamie, pleasure to have you here today. And, you know, we both graduated from college around the same time, so 98 99 timeframe. And what I love about that timeframe is the internet was just exploding at that time, it was just such the Wild West. And I mean, I can remember distinctly like, you know, first time getting onto the internet, I can remember getting an email account I can remember like from dorm rooms trying to tinker around and kind of learn about this thing and check the weather in Australia and weird stuff like that, that kind of blew my mind about the potential and the first you know, graphic inter unit fit neck Netscape, you know, using those hours. Tell me for you what your first experiences were with the internet, because obviously has a huge impact on your business, huge impact on your career, but when were the first like realizations for you and experiences with it

Jamie Birch 2:37

Gosh, I mean, I had a Commodore 128 in the 80s. And I would have to dial in to a BBS and it was my early early days, so that was and I would sit in the basement and program and basic you don’t just lines lit up moving around and and, and dialing into these bulletin board systems that was probably the first time of like, oh, there’s, this is fun. And it’s interesting and no one else that I know is really doing it. But then I think as I graduated college years later, and trying to just figure out what what I wanted to do, I hadn’t really done a lot really kept up with it. I I think the biggest interaction I had during college was on the Pine system sending email if you remember that though, colleges had it was a vague yellow screen, you’d have to go to the library to get it and I just remember emailing my computer science cousin who had graduated four years before he worked at IBM and it was they were silly little emails you know like I can’t believe we’re talking without talking and stuff. And then as I started to look for work I the big thing was my as I’m looking for all these different types of jobs and really from Dorn, window manufacturing to targets management program to finance and investing in those fields, my dad as as I’m going through the interview process, he sent me an article of this 21 year old internet millionaire drive a new Bugatti. And I love the this kid was two years younger than me. I love the idea of being a millionaire in my 20s or ever. And I’d love to fast, expensive cars. I had a 73 Ford F 250 that barely ran. So the idea of having a really nice car at this age was intriguing. And so that really was a time like whoa, maybe there’s something here what’s really going on. And then I shifted my interview process to find.com companies that you know, we’re looking for people who could make it work and Whatever that whatever that min. So that’s where I found myself at a company in Post Falls, Idaho, you know, in the middle of kind of nowhere, working for a company that was trying to piece together medical e-commerce, election SAS what we didn’t know then but now you would call sort of a SaaS offering and marketplace builder at the time. And it was it was amazing. Once we got there, then we really saw the potential we saw, I saw dollars coming in to the company and stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs and medical books being sold. And that was probably where we I saw when I loved what I was doing and saw the impact of the internet.

John Corcoran 5:46

And you were doing what really became SEO very early SEO. Right?

Jamie Birch 5:53

Yeah, and probably a lot of it will be considered Blackhat at this point. But in 99, I mean, we had no hats

John Corcoran 5:58

and nothing was black hat at that point, it was all black hat. It was all

Jamie Birch 6:02

black hat, it was all white hat, no one really knew what was going on. Yeah, my first job was SEO guru. And if they had printed business cards, that’s what would have been on it. And I showed up. And they gave me an old the machine and a card table in a huge sort of auditorium and said, Get the rankings and stuff. Because no one understood what it was someone in the organization was like, Look, we need search engine results. What are those, I don’t know, hire some kid to go figure that out. And that’s exactly what they did.

John Corcoran 6:36

And so this company that you worked for you were employee number 179. They ended up getting up to about 300 and then shrunk back down again. So we’re talking.com 2001 time period here. You saw them explode and then ride all the way back down. And you are down to four employees left and you are one of the last ones left. And then one of the co founders saw you in the hallway and said we need to talk.

Jamie Birch 7:04

Yeah, and there wasn’t, you know, we had a huge office building. And so it’s not like all four of us sat in the same area. So you could go a couple days without seeing anyone. And yeah, I heard him say, Hey, Jamie, and I turned the corner and, and he said, Come here and I went Nope. I turned around, and literally made him follow me around the office until he he cut me off somewhere. And he’s like, look, we gotta talk. I’m like, I don’t know, if we have to I know what’s going on. And he’s like, come back to my office. And he let me go on the way back. And I looked at him and said, Well, you know, we have like, all these workstations, all this computer equipment, how about I fill up my car and take what I can and you know, would would that be? Okay? He’s like, Oh, yeah, take what you can. So I put huge flatbed scanners in my car, huge, you know, monitors that, you know, weighed like 70 pounds, and just filled that up. And at the time, I think what

John Corcoran 8:00

were you thinking, were you just thinking like, oh, I need to be scrappy. And maybe I can start a business of these or I can sell them or what

Jamie Birch 8:06

I was thinking I’d start a business. I had two kids at the time. And I was 25. And I just was like, I don’t how is this happening? How what do I do, I really kind of panicking. You know, the other part of the story I usually don’t tell is after I put all that stuff in my car, I just sat there and cried, I had no idea. This is a first time I’ve up until that point, I’ve never been laid off. I haven’t heard of a layoff I I had worked kind of from 12 years old, until that day, and had always left a job or moved and gotten I’ve never experienced that. So a bit of it was like, I remember my dad going through the transition process. And I remember him talking about like you, you have to ask for things in that moment. Or you won’t get it and I thought well, I did I was really successful in the SEO and affiliate and email stuff that I was doing for that organization. And maybe I could figure something out. But I need to ask for as much as I can. And I know this company’s broke so it’s I’m not gonna get a severance package. But there’s a lot of stuff here that maybe I could start a business. And we we tried to start a web dev company after that and marketing and it didn’t work for years later. But yeah, I was thinking there are all these tools here. That at the time, young man starting out young family had no money to buy any of that stuff. So let me get everything I even think I threw a chair in there.

John Corcoran 9:43

Great presence of mind to actually speak up and ask for those things at this extremely traumatic, traumatic, you know, moment in your life where you’re, you’re experiencing such a big setback. Yeah,

Jamie Birch 9:58

I had you You know, I have been side by side with my dad through his climbing up the ladder and transitions and we’re the family that talked about those things at the dinner table wasn’t hidden from us like we went, you know, when my dad would experience a layoff or need to leave a job and or need to take a step up. We did that stuff as a family. So it was it, you know, our dinner table could be kind of weird. You know, we talk about those types of things. And yeah, so in the moment, I think it was shock of like, but then again, we had gone through weeks and weeks of going from 300 people down to four. So it wasn’t a surprise when it happened. But yeah, it was the what, what can I do right now, to at least position myself for some sort of, you know, whatever that next step is? Yeah.

John Corcoran 10:55

And now, years later, 15 years later, you actually ran into this person, this founder that gives you the day off on an airplane, and you had a chance to tell them what the impact was. Tell us about that?

Jamie Birch 11:11

Yeah, I, you know, you go through stages, and as you know, being 25 and getting fired, you know, I really despised all the founders, you know, for my where my situation was, but over the years, you get good perspective. And I went to sit down on their airplane, and right next to me was the HR, the VP of HR of from net ovation. And I just, I didn’t, I’m laughing to myself, because I know he had I, at this point in my life, I could empathize with him. Like, I’m running a business, I’ve had to let people go. And it’s really hard, and it never really gets easier, and you really impact lives. And so I had a lot of empathy. And so I was kind of laughing. And you do the small talk, and I just said, you don’t you don’t recognize me, do you? And he’s like, No, I said, I used to work at net ovation. He’s like, Oh, no. I said, I said, Do you? Do you remember, you know, letting me go. And he’s like, we did that? You know, we had to do that a lot. It was a difficult time. And so I told him a story. And we laughed how I, you know, ran the other way, essentially, when he, when he was, it was time to let me go. And it was a really good experience for me, I hope it was for him. You know, as a business owner, when you have to make tough decisions, those decisions affect people’s lives. And no matter how tough it is, as the leader, you don’t always get that empathy from, you know, employees and former employees. So I knew how important it was to you know, what if, if I let someone go, and years later, they come back and tell me that the experience was good, that would mean a whole lot. So I knew I wanted to do that with him. We had a great flight. We didn’t particularly get along well before, but we didn’t have a whole lot of interaction. And we just had a great flight, it was a good time to, to reminisce about the company’s quick expansion. And that all happened from me joining to me leaving in 11 months back then, why was rapid rise and fall very quickly.