Growing your agency through partnerships with Dustin Riechmann
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“Partnership marketing is all about getting your expertise in front of someone else’s audience in a win-win-win fashion (you, them and their audience)” - Dustin RiechmannI’m always telling my clients that a smart way to grow your business is by working with partners. After all, it means you manage a few relationships that get you, multiple clients, by getting in front of their (often bigger) audience.

I am excited to get some new perspectives on this topic by being joined by Dustin Riechmann, a business coach who helps ambitious entrepreneurs get unstuck & rapidly increase their profits with confidence. He is best known for his Partnership Marketing System, which he has used to grow FireCreek Snacks into a 7-figure business without paid ads.

Time Stamp

[01:58] Dustin shares how he grew FireCreek Snacks and why he thinks you should be focused on building partnerships

[04:18] How did you grow FireCreek to 7-figures without using paid ads?

[04:18] Different types of partnership – marketing and sales? (referrals). Any thoughts on these and/or other types of partners?  Should money exchange hands?

[04:18] Podcast guesting - a great example of partnership marketing and the long tail effect

[11:28] Another example of how partnerships can be so beneficial (HubSpot)

[12:27] Other partnership examples

[15:20] Different kinds of partnerships (marketing, sales, affiliates)

[17:43] How do I go about finding my potential partners?

[22:10] How do you detect a good partner from a bad partner?

[29:17] How do you keep a partnership alive beyond the initial excitement and promises made?

[32:48] If you could go back in time and give your younger self just starting out in business one piece of advice what would it be?

Quotations

“Do your research first before you reach out to a potential partner and explain how you can serve their audience.” - Rob Da Costa
"Make sure you follow-up with partners after a successful project together - put it in a system." Dustin Riechmann

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 Full Episode Transcription

Partnerships are one of the smartest sales and marketing strategies any agency can employ, especially a smaller agency that probably doesn't have tonnes of money and time to invest in things like advertising. So, that's what we're going to cover in today's podcast. We're going to dig into the different types of partnerships that you can look into - how do you go about finding the Idol partner, what your outreach strategy should be and how you can keep partnerships alive. Som I'm excited to dig into this really important topic.

So, let's get on with the show. I'm Rob Da Costa, and this is The Agency Accelerator podcast as someone who has stood in your shoes, having started, grown, and sold my agency and just how it feels in the ups and downs of agency life. So, this podcast aims to ease your journey just a little by sharing my guest and I’s experiences and advice as you navigate your way to growing a profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable business. 

Hey everybody! And welcome to this week's episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast. Now, I'm always telling my clients that a smart way to grow their business is by working with partners because it means at the end of the day that you're managing a few small relationships that can potentially deliver multiple clients and that's a really smart thing to do, especially for SME agency owners. I've talked about partnerships in the past, and if you go back to Episode 71,  I talked about the importance of building partnerships as a solo episode. But I'm excited to get some different perspectives on this topic today by being joined by Dustin Riechmann, who is a business coach who helps ambitious entrepreneurs get unstuck and rapidly grow their profits with confidence. So, that's music to my ears. Dustin is best known for his partnership marketing system, which I'm sure we'll talk about which he has used to grow fire, and crack snacks into a seven-figure business without using paid ads. So welcome to the show Dust, and I hope I did a reasonable introduction. But why don't you tell us a little bit about how you grew Fire Creek? Sorry, Fire Creek snacks, and also why do you think our audience should be focused on building partnerships? 

Absolutely. Rob, thanks for having me. It's a real pleasure. The story that I'll give you is the 32nd background of kind of where Fire Creek emerged from because I think it's very relevant. One phase of it was when I had my marketing agency. So, I hope it shows people how these relationships and these partnerships can flow the relationships that you would never expect. So, my background was actually engineering, so I had a speciality in traffic engineering practise for 18 years. As part of that, I had some side businesses, and I really got deep in digital marketing and growing some of my digital businesses.

My very first business was called Engaged Marriage. It grew out of Marriage Ministry, and so that's where I really cut my teeth and learned how to create a business in digital marketing. And looking back, that was where some of my first partnerships came from, although I wasn't really consciously doing it at that point. When I left engineering, I took on a lot of kind of local marketing gigs with people in my community, like my dentist, my real estate agent and one of those was actually a local butcher shop. And in serving them and mark helping them market their brick and mortar locations at numerous locations of a family business. I grew a great relationship with the owner, and he had a brand that he was just selling in our local market, and he wanted to take it online, and he had no idea how to do that. So, I helped him with that, and that brand became Fire Creek snacks, and that was right at the beginning of 2019. So, we're about three years into that brand, and we are well into the seven-figure revenue mark at this point, and we've done it in a non-traditional way. So, a lot of e-commerce is direct response.

S,o some of your audience, maybe agencies that work with e-commerce companies, for example. It was kind of the default path, paid ads row as direct response, and we've done some of that, but the vast majority of our growth has come from what I've coined and what I call now “Partnership Marketing.” 

So, you hit the nail on the head in a way that a lot of the audience? 

Certainly, a lot of my private clients are working in that e-commerce space or they're supporting e-commerce businesses, and they may well provide SEO Services or PPC like paid ads services.

So, I'm really interested to know more about how you grew that to that size, using a non-traditional approach of partnerships rather than paid advertising. 

So, maybe to give context, partnership marketing. The way I talk about it is really getting your expertise, and your services in front of your target audience in a win fashion, meaning it's obviously a win for you because you get exposure to your target audience. It's when it's a win for the host of that audience, and it's a win for their audience because you're providing value.

So a real, it's funny to say traditional when talking about podcasting, but a real typical approach to this would be podcast guesting, and I listen to your episode with Alex Sanfilippo. 

Excellent. 

Alex and I are friends. That's been a big part of my history and my growth as a guest on podcasts like this one. So this would be as if the audience wants to think of partnerships in a specific way. Just think of what you and I are doing, Rob, I'm hopefully going to teach your audience some very valuable tactics and are going to hear some good stories that help you grow your audience. That's a win for you. And then if there's someone listening, who wants help with partnership marketing to grow their agency, maybe they'll reach out to me. And then that's a win for me. So this is, in a microcosm, an example of partnership marketing. There are many others, and I would love to go through multiple examples, but as far as Fire Creek specifically, there's been, too. I mean, there's been a dozen, but there's been to that.

I would say the primary driver of the growth of Fire Creek, specifically, Number one was podcast guesting. So I've been on probably 30-35 podcasts, a mix of business C podcasts where I'm telling the Fire Creek business story talking about Shopify tactics and conversion rates and things like that, and some that are more for our actual target audience. So I've been on like ketogenic diet podcast, talking about that part of my life, talking about gluten-free mom. We call them one of our avatars their types of podcasts because the product that we sell is better for you craft protein meat stick. It's only sold in the United States at this point, but it grew out of my business partner. 

His kid had a food allergy, and so there's a very compelling story there about how this came out. He's a third-generation owner of this butcher shop company, and yet he was struggling to keep his kids feeling good with the food that they're eating. So he kind of had to learn new things and use the traditional route. So anyway, there's a compelling story, and so that podcast guesting it's driven some growth, and this is what it's funny for e-commerce. It's probably like the least direct application, if you can imagine you're an agency and you have some great tactic for SEO and you get out there and you teach it, you will get inbound leads that could be high-quality leads. There could be agency-level leads. I'm getting on a Shopify podcast and talking about meat sticks. So, the irony in that is we do still sell meat sticks on that podcast and will give a coupon code, but that is by far.

That's like the 5% of what we're trying to accomplish. What we're really trying to accomplish is brand partnerships and distributors who hear us, people that have really good services that want to come tell us about their services. So, it's establishing relationships. So, when I first started doing this a few years ago, the podcast route specifically, I was like, “Hey, I like podcasting. I knew I could tell this story. I would love to get feedback about the product because it was fairly new.” I wanted to kind of practise telling our story in a way and then I made the offer at the end. If someone wants to try a bundle of meat sticks, have added, and we sold, we would sell a couple $100 up to several $1000 direct, and that's good. It made it worth my while. What I didn't expect was on the back end - the relationships, the SEO, the relationship with that podcast host, who's an influencer in their space. 

There's a relationship with the audience, some many, many unspoken, but also some that are spoken right. They'll reach out and they'll want to zoom, call or they want more information or they want to connect me with someone they know. And those relationships have been gigantic. There's also been SEO benefits, talking real practically. I get backlinks from Shopify because I was on their podcast and I was, that's really good for Fire Creek. It's really good for our domain authority and those sort of things and podcast specifically has a long tail effect. So, you get that first week's release and you get some activity, but I still have people reaching out from two years ago who just found an episode, and they're interested to talk. And so again, you can think about this for your agency, but just think about you. Get out there and this. You're putting this message out into the world either, right? And then some portion of that comes back to you. So, I've had our private hour-long zoom call with the head meat snacks buyer at WalMart because I was on a podcast and some younger guy and finance at WalMart heard it, thought it was a great story and put us in contact. Now, we haven't yet. We actually do sell to Walmart. We haven't got a national deal out of it, but I got a lot of insight and know what they care about. 

I've had marketing interns that have worked for our company as a result of being on podcasts, countless brand partnerships, collaborations, distributors, etc. So, that's podcasting. And again, Alex did a great job on how to do that - the pitching. 

There's a back into that I would love to talk more about here in a second. That makes it a true system for your business. I think that's a real distinction. 

The second partnership and I won't go nearly as long on this one. For physical products, like e-commerce would be something like a subscription box. So, you think about whether we donate a product or we sell it at cost. That's a win for the person who owns that box. And then their customer gets to discover a great new brand. So that's a win for the customer. And a win for us is obviously the visibility and discovery.

We had one partnership that started two years ago. I was on a podcast. Someone reached out. They were from a company in the US called Snack Nation, and they sell to like be to be Fortune 500 type companies. They provide better for you snacks for the employees. We got a very small placement. We had to donate the snacks very small in their world, which was like 8000 boxes and we got great reviews, then the podcasts had great reviews, and that was the end of the story. I thought fast forward two years to about two months ago, I got an email from the new snack buyer for that category, and she said I was looking at old product reviews and I listen to all the podcasts that are relevant to my category, and I loved your story.

This is what podcast for my business partner, and I got to tell the whole brand story. Specifically, it's called Brand Builder is the name of the podcast, and she was compelled to reach out because based on that data and that experience and hearing our story, she wanted to have us be engaged fully in this calendar year for the last three quarters. And she placed a purchase order for 600,000 snack sticks. So it's kind of a business changing, and it all came out of a very simple Lincoln conversation that turned into a podcast that went dormant for two years.

And that's the beautiful thing about partnerships is you're planning on these seeds and you don't really know what's going to sprout and you'll get some outliers that just make it all worthwhile. So you're getting a lot of singles to use a baseball analogy, right? And every once in a while, a home run will pop out of it and you won't even be able to expect where it comes from. So I get very excited talking about this because it's really changed my life, not just my business.

I love that enthusiasm, and it's just so true. I just want to share my own example of that, not quite as in terms of selves as you, but I have my own sort of partnership strategy. And one of the partners I really wanted to target was Hubspot, because in the marketing world they are a really big player and extremely good at marketing, and everyone has heard of Hubspot. So I pursued them to write a guest blog for them, and they're quite stringent about the process and eventually having jumped over all the hurdles, I got to write a blog around client and account management, and that was probably three or four years ago, and I'm still getting people downloading stuff that I could promote in that blog.

So I think the whole longevity of marketing partnerships is something people should not overlook because like you, say you're so innocent and you don't know what, how it's going to grow and what's going to sprout. So I think that's good really quickly. Can you give, so you talked about podcasting as a marketing strategy? You've talked about putting products in a physical food box, which is great. A lot of our listeners will be sort of service-based businesses. They're providing a service. Can you give us any other examples of the kind of partnerships that they might look into?

100%? Yeah. So there are the things that are analogous to podcasting, like radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, some kind of that traditional PR podcast is really just a new spin on that, you can have a more targeted audience, but something I've had success with and my service business. And what I do now with my coaching business would be joint venture webinars things like lead magnet swaps. For example, if you're really good at SCO and you serve a certain clientele and you find an agency who's really good at Facebook ads and they serve a similar clientele, at least provide a similar outcome.

You guys are collapse. You can be collaborators rather than competitors, and you can kind of cross-pollinate right, and eventually, you may become like direct business partners. You could at least be direct referral partners. But as a way to date before you get that serious, I'll email our email list with your cool strategy about Facebook ads, and you can get people to draw people over on your email list and your email us about RSCO strategies, right?

So I think that in the agency world if you're doing specialised services, I think that's a really key way to do it. And you get to kind of hand select your partners because you can see how, if they're really high quality, high octane people you want to work with, that's a great way to do it. Other examples would be like participating in virtual summits around your area of expertise. Just traditional speaking events. You can get a lot of clients that way. I've done some of that myself, but if I had an agency and I specialised in a certain service line, I think that collaboration with like-minded agency owners is one way to really start brainstorming.

And again if you want to. If you're going down that route, the thing I would encourage people to think about is how can I lead with a win? How can I provide a win for someone else? Because the reciprocity would come back and provide a win for your agency. It's really good gold nuggets in there that I hope people listen to and write down and put into their marketing mix. Because all of this stuff is smart, especially when you are finding pilots that have a bigger audience than you or an audience that you want to get connected to that you don't have that direct into SEO and guess.

Posting, as you mentioned is it can be key to what you said. What you did with Hubspot, that's the entirety of High grew my engaged marriage business. This was back before the podcast had started in 2009. I was just a rampant guest blog poster, and it turned into collaborations with other people in the relationship space and e-books. And you know, all these things that I didn't think about are being partnerships. But it was. It still is. What I would have called it, then is like relationship marketing, right?

It's building relationships with other people who you would love to do business with and growing together. That's really what it's about. I am completely great now in the marketing world, People traditionally think about partnerships in terms of like referral business, and a lot of my clients always ask me, Rob, how do I do that? And should there be money exchanging hands? And so we've talked about marketing partnerships, but there's also this kind of like sales referral partnership. So I'm interested in your view on that and how you should make that work.

And if there are any other kinds of partnerships as well, I do think, the sale of what you just referred to. I would like you just said everything I've talked about at this point, I would consider a marketing relationship, so it is valuable. But it's a bit transactional, right? It'll hopefully be ongoing, but it's not. It's very much casual. If you get into a sales relationship, that's like saying I highly endorse their services. You should go work with them. That's you know that's getting into to use the relationship analogy, dating right like you're there's some trust has been established.

They've proven themselves. Maybe they've provided those services to your agency, and you really trust them. So how? I think you could do that purely on an “I'm gonna send your business. You send me a business and then you kind of see over time if that's kind of working out if there's an evenness to how that's working.” But it could definitely be monetary, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all. If you're giving a finder's fee, a referral fee, I think that's totally fine.

You just have to obviously be super careful because you can't do it for the money. You have to let the money just be a byproduct of trying to do the right thing to service that client by giving them, referring them to someone that you really legitimately in your heart feels going to help them. Because if they failed to perform, you're the one whose reputation suffers. So you just think it's perfectly fine and good, but I'd just be selective on who I apply that with. I couldn't agree with you more if I often tell a lot of my clients don't make those transactions monetary base because no one gets rich off a $100 referral here and there.

Make it about building your audience, make it about providing value. Make it about protecting your audience because you're referring to people within your network. So you're not going to lose them because your networks saying, Hey, come to us and buy this service instead. So that's my personal view. But of course, there are a lot of people that have built very successful businesses off affiliate sales and all that kind of service, right? So let's just talk about hope. People are nodding their heads, agreeing with everything that you said so far. Dustin.

But they might be thinking, Where on earth do I go and find these partners? So let's suspend a few minutes talking about how do I go and find these partners? And how do I bet them quickly to work out whether they're going to be a good day or a bad day? So if it's okay with you, we can continue to use Podcast as kind of an example. The case study. I told you I talked about multiple different types of partnerships. The same process applies to all partners.

Podcasts are very easy to talk about because we're all aware of how they work. They're very visible. They're easy to find. So for research purposes, they're there. They're kind of easy, right? And so what I found. So first when I started doing this, I was kind of a hodgepodge. It was like, I listen to some podcasts. I should reach out to that host and see if I can get on the show and I would do that and I would have pretty success.

I would get on the show and then three months go by and I think of another one and, you do get results, but you don't get very consistent results, and you don't build momentum in that way. So, as I said, what I typically get on other shows and talk about is how to be a really good partner, and how to be a really good podcast guest. You and Alex covered that 100% in a previous episode, so definitely if people like this, they should go listen to that for sure to learn about how to find podcasts, how to pitch them, how to be, you know, how to perform well as a guest.

Those sort of things. The piece. I don't think you guys covered that. I think if I was an agency owner listening here is “how do I make this a system? How do I make this an asset to my business?” Alex mentioned, “you can go to higher agencies. There are agencies out there who basically will place you on podcasts, right?” I'll tell you, they're expensive and they tend to place everyone kind of the same podcast because they have those referral relationships, whether there’s money or not, I'm not sure.

And that's fine. And maybe that's a good way to test the waters. If you just don't want anything to do with this what we've done for Fire Creek and for simple success coaching, which is my coaching business. In each of those businesses, I've got an ongoing running system that we own, and we do that gets my personal goal, and this would change based on how big of clients are going after enterprise-level versus small businesses, those sort of things. My personal goal is to have one new partnership opportunity per week for each of my businesses, and that's not necessarily being on a podcast.

It's not necessarily something that results in the sale. It could literally just be a great introduction to someone that gets added to my LinkedIn network. But the whole idea of there's a goal. It's consistent. I've got other people doing the late work. The way I teach this stuff is, there's like Four steps, purpose, plan, pitch and perform. The purpose part is really on you as the agency owner like, Why do you want to get a partnership? What's in it for you? What, you're going to be a call to action.

If you're on a podcast, for example, What's it all about? That's kind of you do that kind of once, and you may modify that, depending on the audience, but you're kind of just do that and then I'll zoom to the last part, which is performed. That's doing your part in the partnership, showing up doing the interview well, following up with the host, and leveraging and maximizing that relationship that's on you as the owner. But the middle two pieces where it's almost all the work, which is the planning and the pitching.

That's like researching where to find these opportunities and then drafting up a pitch and a follow-up. To those pitches that can be trained and that can be outsourced. And you can have a virtual assistant or someone on your team who is just running that all the time. And so what you're receiving is the brand owner. The agency owner in this case is just opportunities like, they're calling the links there just like show up and do the interviews in the podcast example.

That's kind of the lightbulb moment for me in the past six months really is like, Let's do this. Let's make this a system and asset to our business. Let's own it and let's have this be a continuous thing. And since doing that, everything is kind of like 10x right. There's just something about that consistent focus and just putting in the reps and just showing up and doing it. But you could do it just totally on your own. But that becomes exhausting.

So having someone else do a lot of that leg work, and you just get to do the part that you really love is great. So I'm happy to go into the details of the research, which was your original question. I know you and Alex talked about that some extent, but I'm happy to dive deeper into any of those steps. And I just wanted to say you might share this later on. But you if people want to download your partnership marketing blueprint, then we will put a link in the notes attached to this podcast, and you can dive deeper into those four stages.

I’m just interested to know “How? What? How do you quickly detect this?" Probably put you on the spot. But how do you quickly detect a good partner from a bad part? Because we don't want to invest loads of time going on lots of dates with somebody to work out that actually, they've got a whole different mindset to us, and they're never going to be a great partner for us. How do we work that out pretty quickly? Yeah. So if we stick with the podcasting example.

There are some quick screening-type things that you can do in two minutes. So if you say so, you're looking at a certain vertical like you target food companies. You want to be an agency for e-commerce. Food companies like Fire Creek, right? So you go look at podcasts that feature food company founders telling their story because those people would be perfect targets for you on the surface, as an opportunity. So if you're as the agency, you want to get featured on that same podcast because you know a lot of the audience listening are food company founders.

What you want to do, though, is you can go to Apple. You can go. There are tonnes of ways to do this research. But you can just Google search, CPG, Food Founder, small business owner, podcast or whatever, and you'll get Top 20 list of 2022 those sort of things. So open those up and then 1st screening is how they published in the past month or two. Because many podcasts go dormant, there's no point writing them if they're not doing new shows. Number two, do they do interviews consistently?

If it's a solo show, there's no point in reaching out. And the number three, depending on the size of audience you want to be in front of and you're comfortable with you can get a really good idea of the size of the show based on their Apple ratings and reviews like how many ratings and reviews do they have so really thumbing off its below 50 would be kind of a newer show, maybe a smaller show, depending how many episodes they've got. 50 to 150 is kind of mid-size and then 200 up is large.

But there's like 202,000 and 20,000, so there's a huge range there, but just to give you an idea, So if you just if you want, if you're newer to this and you want to get your story refined, maybe you want to target some smaller shows and getting on those and kind of get your feet wet. I kind of live in the middle of the medium to like the smaller, larger podcasts. That's where a lot of my coaching clients would live because they're small businesses a lot of times that are running these podcasts.

So that's kind of the the technical screening like. Let's first of all, get to a curated a list that would even make sense to approach and then at that point, what I would encourage. If you're doing this yourself, that's fine. Or you could easily train someone to do this, look through some episodes and find some that you think would be relatable to the same type of topic you might talk about, right? So if you're wanting to get on this food show and talk about how food brands can use SEO to grow their business, maybe you see if they've talked to other marketers about other topics like TikToks, ads or something, right?

And then you listen to one of those episodes and you'll quickly get a flavour for the host. Their values, how they ask questions. Why are they having these people on? Are you a competitor, or would you be complementary to them like you can listen to one episode? You could really listen to the first five minutes in the last five minutes and you'll get a really good flavour of. Would this be a potential partner for me to go on and share my expertise? Would they value this partnership?

Would they be likely to say yes based on the content that they typically feature? So that's really it. And you do want to have good rapport with that host. But keep in mind, it's not just about the host. It's also about their audience. So maybe you and the host aren't going to become best friends. But you share enough value that you think their audience would still resonate with your message. That's a really good advice, and I just want to say to everybody that's listening to this.

Apply everything that doesn't just say to any type of marketing activity. We're just using podcasting as an example to want to bring this story to light. But it applies to everything there is, to really key messages that I just want to put out. One is to do your research as a podcast host. I get inundated every week with data, but you know, I get 5 to 10 people pitching themselves or their client to be on the podcast, and I get rid of a lot of people really quick because they just haven't done any flipping research.

What they've done is they say, how their client has grown this multizillion dollar company and sold it, and they're really amazing. And here's their biography, and here are some things I can talk about and I would normally think, Well, that's so not relevant to my audience. So do your research. And then when you're reaching out to your partner, make sure that you are really thinking about how you can serve your partner's audience because the rest of it will follow. As you said earlier, Don't if you're the first to approach, like if you'd approached me and said, Hey, Rob, I've got this amazing system for partnerships that I'd really like to talk about on your podcast.

I'd have thought that sounds a bit new. Cell Z to me. You didn't take that approach, and hence we're talking today, so make sure you do your research and make sure you focus on serving their audience. Not selling will follow. Rob, you're a podcast host. So when I say this, I'm sure you would be nodding along, but so I'm not a podcast host. But I do have several brands, so I get pitched constantly for you're engaged. Marriage is a guest posting for Fire Creek.

It's vendor services. It's kind of all the same thing. And I say pitch with that kind of a negative connotation. All that really means is to reach out in a relatable way to try to get a response, to see if it's a good partnership idea. But I'm very big on research and the first part of every message that people receive from me whenever I'm doing this it's filled with relational anchors is what I would call it, right? So it will be clear if you received an email from Dustin asking about a potential marketing partnership that I know who you are.

I know all about your show and who your audiences and probably know something about you personally. And I try to find a way for us to connect in each of those ways, right? So if I find out if I listened to an episode and I find out a host lives in my state like that's going to be in the first paragraph or that we went to the same college or they have kids and I have kids or they do a business with their wife. And I do business with my wife like they don't have to be deep connections, but something that immediately lets them open in emailing me like this person has actually spent some time figuring out, not in a creepy way, but they figured out like who I am.

It can be as simple as Rob. I listen to your episode with Alex Sanfilippo. I actually know Alex, but I just wanted to say I got this nugget out of that episode and it's really going to help me roll my e-commerce business. It shows at least that I listened to an episode and that I cared enough to mention it. And then the second piece of every email you receive from me is typically, like, basically a really simple bullet-point breakdown of what I would like to teach your audience.

What stories I'd like to share, what tactics I like to share, because then again, it makes you just like it's gonna be so easy. He's already written a show for me, and you can tell if it's going to be something that fits. And then the third is just a really simple direct call to action. Are you interested? so that those are kind of my email template. In a nutshell and that's what we really help people home that for the first time, and then you can tweak it for each of the potential partners after that.

Okay, so my last question before we wrap this up because I'm conscious of time, and I'm not sure how well this applies to the podcast example, But how do you keep relationships alive? So once you have established this relationship, you might have met and talked about an idea in theory, like maybe running a joint event together. And then everyone goes back to the desk and gets busy. How do you keep the relationship alive? So for us, at this point, that's part of the system, right?

So if we've had a partnership, if I've been on a podcast, we make it a point to check in every three months or so. Just say hello or share some new resources. Or a lot of times it'll happen organically because of someone come into my world and I'll be like, this person serves agency owners they got to talk to Rob. I think this would be a great podcast guest for Rob. So there, once you're in my world, you're kind of trying to keep you in my world, not in a selfish way, but just think of ways to serve maybe that at some point hits the limits like I know too many people I can.

I don't think it does, though I think we continue to build relationships, some naturally philtre out over time. It's just life. But we proactively try to keep names bouncing back up to the top of our CRM to keep them warm. But I like to connect also in multiple ways. I'm pretty active on LinkedIn. So like Rob and I connected on LinkedIn before this interview. So you know, I'll interact with some of his posts that will get him on my feet and then when he has an episode come out, I can comment on it, share it, like it, and that makes him remember who Dustin is.

So maybe if someone comes into his world and once, like, implements a partnership, marketing systems like go talk to Dust. And he was a former guest and you're gonna remember my name because I've kept myself active in your ecosystem, you've got to kind of choose your ecosystem because there are way too many options. For me, it's LinkedIn. I'm pretty active on Facebook personally, and then I'm big in the podcasting, so I often hear like Rob is now part of my subscription on my iTunes on my phone.

And so I'm not going to guarantee I listen to every episode he puts out, but many of his will be relevant, and so I'll be listening to those. And that keeps it fresh. So Rob could expect, at some point to get a LinkedIn message from me saying, “Hey, I listen to your episode about four days per week. It was super helpful, Rob.” It can be as simple as that, but it's just keeping your name on the top of people’s mind because one partnership can very often be leveraged both ways and to serving each other's audiences for a long time.

You can pass on knowledge that you learned that you think might be relevant, and that's going to work both ways. I gotta be honest. That's really good advice, but I feel like not a lot of, for example, my previous guests have done that. It's been a bit of a one and done, which might be my fault as much as as anything. I always make sure I do connect with my guests on LinkedIn and try to sort of follow them on, LinkedIn.

But that is just really good advice, especially when you find it's honestly and over out of time. But it is the differentiators, the 80-20 rule following up with someone after you have a relationship, and it's been successful in any way that you're gonna get 80% of results that way because it's just what you said. Rob, you've had some excellent guests. They don't ever follow up. You kind of forget about them. Anyone who can just casually be every quarter, checking in and saying, “Hi!” It's going to be top of mind and there's going to be another opportunity for us to help each other with a referral either way and just again, stand top of mind is very simple, but you will completely not do it unless it's in a system.

And that's why I'm a big advocate of this idea. No, I think that's a great idea. So hopefully people will go and download your system so they can learn more about that. Let me just ask you the last question that I ask all of my guests before we wrap this up, which is, if you could go back in time and give your younger self just starting out in business one piece of advice, what would it be? 

So for me, that would be the piece of advice that I give to every college kid or a young person who comes out of school who comes to me and asked me a question. It is that with very few exceptions in life, there are almost no permanent decisions, right? So I mean, hopefully your marriage is a permanent decision. Having children as a permanent decision. Maybe some religious orders are permanent decisions, but almost nothing else is. And this has helped me back many times in life. The most poignant of which was my engineering career. There were many years where I wanted to be out of it, and I just felt like, “Well, if I leave it, then I'll lose my identity and I could never be an engineer again.” And there was something that clicked for me in 2017 that was like, “Wait a second, I could leave. And then if it doesn't work out, I can go back right, like this is not a permanent decision. I'm not abandoning my engineering life forever.” And so it then just freed me up. And so ever since then, I mean, you've heard me. I've been involved in and continue to be involved in multiple businesses and multiple things. That's what I like to do, but from my marketing for a business venture or whatever, I view almost everything now through the lens of experiments, not like permanent decisions. I'm not permanently tied to any of this stuff, and that's been very freeing. It's opened my mind to be much more abundant in, the opportunities that I'm able to see. 

That's such a good piece of advice. I remember just a really quick side personal story. I moved down to the south coast of the UK in Brighton in 2010, and it was at the end of a relationship. Unfortunately, a big life change and I moved down here and I didn't know anybody. A lot of my friends were like, “Rob, you're really crazy or really brave and I'm not.” And I thought exactly what you just said, which is, “well, what's the worst that could happen in bricks and mortar? But I'm selling. I could always move back.” And that was what took me to be in my late thirties to figure that out. But it is a great mantra to live by. So, thank you for sharing that. If people wanted to find out more about you and your business, where should they go? 

So you know the main thing for your audience today is if they want some snack sticks in the US, they can look up Fire Creek. But I think the main relevant thing is my simplesuccesscoaching.com. And I'm like one of the big things that I'm very passionate about in life is transparency, so I'm kind of an open book. So, if someone has a question, they need a connection, or they have some kind of follow-up, they can just go email me. It's just dust in the US at simplesuccesscoaching.com, and also on that website, as Rob referred to earlier. If you go to the top, there's a link that says Partnership Marketing one on one. You can get access to a short video series that walks you right through those four steps that we talked about earlier about how to use partnership marketing smartly and how to make it a system.

So I'll put all the links into that. And just to say that I did watch your videos before we jumped on this call so I can contest that it's going to be useful for people to go and look at that. And I think the idea of systemizing this is a good one. That's my big personal big takeaway from today and something that I need to do because I am guilty of doing this in a bit of an ad hoc way. So listen, Dustin, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been insightful. I know the audience will find it useful, and I appreciate your time. 

Awesome. Rob, it was all my pleasure. And I look forward to connecting with your audience. Thank you. 

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