How NOT to Run a Joint Venture

Sometimes you can learn how to do things by watching others do them poorly, then avoiding their mistakes.

Here is a story that illustrates that.

A while back I found out about a giveaway JV and signed up. I’ve built a lot of my list this way, so much so that I created a product based on the idea… so I’ve participated in quite a few of them.

I got my login info and looked for where to submit the details of the product I would be giving away. I didn’t see any obvious place to do that.

Then I noticed the fine print.

It explained that they were using a point system, in which you get points for each new member you refer to the site. When you get enough points, you can apply to be a JV partner.

In other words, you get to send them traffic for nothing, and if enough people you send them sign up, then you get to be a JV partner.

That’s assuming their point-counting software works – how would you know if it doesn’t? There’s no easy way for me to know if someone signed up, unless their system notifies me.

It also assumes they accept your gift once you finally get to submit it.

Oh, you have to send them 100 members to become a JV partner. Yes, one hundred.

Not 100 visitors, but 100 people who sign up on their site (which not everyone who goes there will do).

Until then, you can’t even submit your gift details.

Until then, all the new people signing up on their site won’t see your gift, so you won’t get them on your list.

Wow. What a crock, and what a one-sided arrangement. It’s sort of like having a store at the mall, but the mall owner won’t let you unlock the door to let shoppers in.

A JV is supposed to be a two-way street, benefiting both sides.

(Actually, it should also benefit the customers / subscribers, but it’s too hard for my brain to picture a three-way street.)

Maybe 100 doesn’t sound like many, so let’s look at some numbers.

Let’s say you have a list of 1000 people and send them an email promoting this offer.

Maybe 300 will open your email, if you’re lucky.

Of those 300, maybe 50 will be interested enough to click the link to the site.

Of those 50, maybe 25 will actually sign up.

So that’s 25 of 1000 who signed up for FREE stuff.

Meanwhile, you could have used that email message to tell them about some other product or service, or sent them an article, or whatever.

My problem here is not so much with the number 100. I’m confident I could send them 100 members if I really tried.

But why should I bother, with the apparent attitude of the person running the JV? What he is saying in effect is that unless and until you send him 100 members, he doesn’t even want to look at your gift.

Do you like that attitude in a partner? I don’t.

Is this thing run by some big-name “guru” with the clout to make strict demands? No, it’s somebody I (and probably you) have never heard of before.

I’ve been following the Internet marketing scene for years, so if I’ve never heard of someone, they probably aren’t very big.

Now don’t get me wrong; this person can make whatever rules he wants, as long as they’re legal, since it’s his site and his promotion.

But giveaways don’t work too well if you can’t get others to promote the site!

I wondered if maybe I was having a bad day and thinking too harshly about this one, so I contacted some of my marketing friends for their opinions.
Some of them could send the guy 100 members in a few hours if they wanted to.

They all thought the arrangement stinks and said they would not get involved.

Here’s what I predict will happen: most of those who sign up intending to be JV partners will be newbies or those who don’t read the fine print. They will promote the site, but 90% of them won’t send 100 members, so the guy running this JV will benefit some from their work, but they’ll get nothing for it.

Those with big lists will just laugh at the arrangement and avoid it. These are exactly the people you’d want to work with.

Those who do manage to send 100 members will get a few subscribers, but not many, since I don’t see this thing drawing much traffic in the first place.

Am I going to contact the guy and tell him what he’s doing wrong? No, I’ll let him figure that out for himself, if he can. Some people get upset when you try to point out problems like that.

So let this be a lesson: when you try to set up a JV or other business arrangement, make sure there’s something in it for the other people.

Put yourself in their shoes; pretend you are them reading your offer, and ask yourself how eager you would be to accept the offer if it were sent to you.

That should be common sense, but common sense is rare these days.

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