Episode 23: How to Use Joint Ventures to Build Relationships, Become a Bestselling Author and Grow Your Business!” with Willie Crawford

September 30, 2019

In this episode, marketing expert, Willie Crawford shares what joint ventures are, how they are different from affiliates and barters, how to get them and uses them to build relationships and grow your business, as well as tips on how to incorporate jv’s into your book and book launches, and the secrets to why his first book, a cookbook was so successful and what you can learn from his success!

Resources mentioned

Free Joint-Venture Consultation with Willie
(Be sure to listen to the podcast to see if it’s right for you)

Book: How to Crush it in Business Without Crushing Your Spirit,
How Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Depression and Find Success

3 Key Points

Change your mindset from thinking you are in competition to the idea that you are working together.

There are many ways to set up joint ventures, don’t assume you have nothing to offer. Everyone has something to offer.

Ask. No one is going to volunteer to promote your book. Plus the law of reciprocity states that they will feel obligated the second time if they have to pass the first time.

Show Notes

[0:51] Today’s guest is Willie Crawford. Willie Crawford grew up in poverty on a farm in North Carolina. His parents divorced when he was about four years old. His father then took the oldest of five boys and continued his military career while his mom took the youngest three.  Willie’s mom left the two younger brothers and Willie with his grandmother, and he was raised by her and a community of hundreds of very living relatives.

[1:19] Since Willy’s grandmother was born in 1900 and already 65 by the time Willie turned seven. She began teaching him and the other boys how to cook fairly simple dishes at first, and then Willie later leveraged those cooking skills into his first book which he self-published in 2000. Willie’s cookbook was an instant success.

And as he shared his secrets on online discussion boards, he soon became known as a bit of a marketing expert, which led to his first speaking engagement in December of 2002. That first speaking event served as a springboard, which eventually led him to host live seminars speaking at international events writing over 80 books most of which were only published in PDF and releasing a line of information products.

[2:07] Today in his early 60s, Willie coaches a few promising students, lucky students, oversees online-marketing enterprises that he began back in 1996, does a lot of pleasure traveling and spends as much time as practical playing with his four grandchildren.

[2:24] Ellen was thrilled that Willie agreed to come and talk with her about joint venturing, something that he is one of the best at. Ellen added that Willie is a co-writer in her collaborative book, How to Crush it in Business Without Crushing your Spirit, How Entrepreneurs can Overcome Depression and Find Success.  And he is so modest that when he sent Ellen his bio, he didn’t even mention that he’s up for a very prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award with Michael Gerber and other luminaries.

[00:43:52] Ellen’s added that Willie is so nice and honest; a lot of people in his position make it a lot harder to deal with, and he’s always been nothing but generous with Ellen.

[00:44:19] He said as long as things are going well, he’s nice but he thinks most people but I think you go away farther than that.

Ellen then got into the joint venturing and asked Willie to define it.

[3:45] Don’t complicate the definition.  Willie said that a joint venture is basically two or more parties working together to mutually benefit each other and to mutually benefit each other’s audiences because in the end is how well the audiences are pleased that determined the success of the parties.

And so, it’s just looking for ways to work together because a lot of times, especially with artists and authors, they don’t maybe see themselves as having a lot of cash available. And so, you have to try and figure out how you can work together to use what you do have to grow your businesses?

[4:30] Ellen added that that was how she got started and how she could never have done what she did without joint ventures because she didn’t know a lot about Internet marketing or book marketing at first, only about book writing, so she brought on other experts to fill in the blanks.

[4:59] Then Willie talked about mindset. When he started out it was in the internet marketing space, He saw himself as “me against the world”.  His thought was “If I help someone else out in my space, then their customers are buying… my customers are buying their product and therefore my customers don’t have any money to spend on my product.”

[5:24] Then all these other guys he was working with, they all suggested that they co-produced products and do teleseminars together and Willie’s thought was, “You want to work with me instead of against me?” and it’s like “Yeah, we make the pie bigger for everyone.”

[5:43] So do joint ventures always involve some split of money? No, they didn’t always involve some sort of money. A lot of times, it’s “You have assets that the other person doesn’t have and why don’t I get you to promote me on the backend some way. I’ll tell my audience about you if you tell your audience about me.”

[6:06] “You sell something and on your thank you page you tell your audience about me and send them over to my sales page or in your newsletter or on your podcast or on your product launch download page. Somewhere in your process, you tell your audience about me and I’ll do the same thing.” So, the majority of joint ventures Willie did, did not involve any direct exchange of money.

[6:31] Or working together? What about creating products together?

A lot of the joint ventures Willie did were creating products together because he would partner with someone who had the skills or knowledge he didn’t have and those are good. What that does for you is it leverages the other person’s notoriety.

[6:53] And if it’s just you doing a project by, a product by yourself, a book or whatever, and someone reads about it, it’s just little old you. But if there’s like two or three or four other people, the group has more weight than just an individual. So even if all the other individuals are relative unknowns, just working with someone else makes it seem more authoritative.

[7:23] Ellen added that that’s what she loved in the beginning, leveraging other people’s knowledge. Now, she is usually looking to leverage their lists.

Willie said, “That’s what a lot of people want is to leverage their list for the reach”

[7:40] It doesn’t have to be just an email list; it could be their social media or their stage presence, or speaking on a podcast.

[7:58] One of the things Ellen said she’s been looking at a lot is how people get on the big bestseller lists. She mentioned that on the podcast with Marc Guberti he said that you have to have get forty or fifty joint-venture partners and do it really fast to get on those lists.

[8:55] But, Ellen saw one book where there were maybe 20 people, but they all were really well established, so it really depends on who the people are.

Willie added that when you’re talking about Amazon bestseller, it doesn’t take a lot of people, just a lot of sales and in a fairly short time frame.

Then Ellen asked Willie what the difference is between people joint ventures versus affiliates.

[9:31] In the Internet-marketing space which is where Willie built most of his reputation, when people say, “Will you joint venture with me”-, what they really mean is “Will you promote my product as an affiliate? I’ll pay you a commission.” It’s not really a joint venture. It’s asking the person to be your affiliate, whereas a joint venture benefits both parties.  And the joint venture partner typically gets something more than a regular affiliate.

[9:59] If you’re getting a super affiliate onboard the savvy ones might come back and say “Well, you know, I have all these choices of products I can promote, so I will promote your product, but I want something more than the average affiliate gets, whether that’s a higher commission or you somehow doing a favor for me on the backend.” And that to Willie is sort of a joint venture saying “Okay, I know that I have what you need, which is my list or my audience and you’re not going to get your project off the ground unless I do work with you …or it’ll help a lot if I work with you, so what are you going to do in exchange for me that’s more than the average affiliate would get?”

[10:41] It’s “I’ll promote your product on the backend maybe or I’ll promote your product later or I’ll incorporate you into the product.” And it’s not uncommon for someone to ask you if they can interview you on the topic and what they’re actually working on is putting together a product on that topic.

And so, then they come back to you and say “Well I created this product on the topic and while you’re not obligated to promote the product, but would you consider promoting? And there, because you’re in the product, the Law of Reciprocity kicks in and you want to see the products succeed since it’s promoting you too.

[11:24] Can you explain that the Law of Reciprocity?

“The Law of Reciprocity is just that if I do something for you than you feel, regardless to the culture you’re in, you feel an obligation to do something for me in exchange, and from the poorest of cultures in the world-someone does you a favor you feel that you should somehow do something back for them. Even if they don’t ask for it directly.”

[11:50] Ellen’s response to that was people would probably think to themselves, “Well, what do I possibly have to give that person could want?”

It could be something as simple as you saying good things about that person in public, a testimonial. Everyone has all kinds of assets.

[12:11] When Willie looks at the average person he asks, “So, what does this person have?” They might have talents and skills that I need, for example. It could be as simple as proofreading doing some web work, some graphics work, or programming.

[12:32] And in the offline world. They may have extra warehouse space or extra service space on their computer or they may have an underutilized to every truck or someone who works for them that’s not being employed full time that they could use to help someone with a project.

[12:59] People don’t usually think about bartering. But Willie is big on bartering. People come to him and say “Well, I can’t afford your fees or whatever.”

Willie says, “What do you have?  Can you do editing for me or some graphics?” You have something … if you don’t have the money, then you have the time. So, what do you know how to do that that you could spend that time that you would normally spend watching television.

[13:41] What’s the difference between bartering and Joint venturing? Is there is there one?

With Joint venturing, it’s focused on a project that’s going to benefit both parties. Barter is “What do you have that I can use and what do I have that you can use, basically?”

What are some other examples of joint ventures that don’t include money?

[14:31] It could be a joint venture where the benefit to both parties is the creation of a list, so it can, for example, be contests, where as a condition for entering the contest, you agreed to receive emails from the people putting together the contest.

[00:55:52] So you get three or four parties- hotels, factories, whatever, who’ll throw in a gift or a prize or chipping on the prize, and they all get the right to follow up with the individual who entered the contest.

[15:20] Or, you jointly sponsor a quiz where there’s a prize, but the condition of entry is you have to agree to receive communication from the sponsors.

[15:33] Ellen shared that another thing that Marc talked about was if you wanted people to help you promote your book, then you could say later on you’d help them promote their book. Or if you knew that wasn’t viable invite them on if you had a podcast or to whatever it is you are doing, thinking about how could they benefit from something that you’re doing down the road.

[16:01] Willie agreed and added, that you can indirectly promote them by sneaking mention of them into your book or your product. So, in the additional resources section, if you’re writing a book on how to do something, you can recommend the other person’s product or service, provided you really looked at the product or service and believe that it. Then you’re doing your customers a favor, but you’re also sending that person who worked with you and helped you out, so it’s a joint venture.

[16:33] Would you expect that person to then give you free access to that or would you feel like you had to purchase it?

There are two different trains of thought on that. It is about taking care of your customers because if you recommend something your customer that burns them that doesn’t improve their lives, they’re going to remember that long-term.

And so, you’re destroying your relationship with your customer. You have to care more about your customers, your end-users, getting the benefit of using the product than you do about the money. There are always lots of ways to earn money. The question is, does the product work as advertised?

[17:17] Ellen wishes more people would take that into consideration though when they’re trying to get affiliates because it’s annoying when they have a whole page telling how much money you’re going to make, but you don’t know what they are selling.

Or, Willie added, they say, “Your audience is going to love this; they haven’t even read your newsletter or what you typically offer to your audience.

Then Ellen said, the other one is when they try to get her to promote something she is known for like writing a book.

Willie, pointed out though, that when someone is interested in a topic, they often will purchase more than one product on that topic.

So, Ellen clarified and said that if they came with an offer to promote a children’s book, for example, she might be interested but not writing a non-fiction book.

And Willie agreed that you want to work with people who are not direct competitors and shared a story.

[18:28] “When I went to my first seminar my friend, Jonathan Mizel, was talking about people who out-competed him at the pay-per-click search engines. So, they were getting in front of his ideal customer, and he would approach them and say, “I know not all the people that you attract your website are buying your product, so why don’t those who don’t buy your product why don’t you recommend those people buy my product because obviously, yours wasn’t a perfect match for them.

[18;55] And get some of your money back that way.”

[19:12] The reciprocity and the fact that if a customer is not perfect for your product, then why not recommend my product to them, provided again, it serves their need?

What about non-monetary joint ventures that are using social media?

With social media, Willie likes running contests and recommending people in your groups; that’s a non-monetary joint venture. So, you could cross-promote with another group owner.

[20:02] Do you have any other tips about using social media?

Willie likes chatbots, on Facebook, but he sees them abused. It should be about two-way communication in your absence, but some people constantly bombard you with the messages; that’s not the idea behind a chatbot so it becomes like email spam.

[01:01:29] It should be, “Hey, I have a new product or service or I’m doing a contest or I’m doing a product launch. Can I tell you more about it?” When the person says Yes, then you send them a link to take a look at it, but it’s not just bombarding them with offers.

Willie believes that the single most effective marketing tool on social media is probably groups where you’re the authority figure.  And because you’re an authority figure, people tend to listen to you. Facebook lives are extremely effective because people can see you.

[21:28] What’s the best way that you get people into the group?

The best way to get people into groups is to invite them. Say, “ I have a group.”  Make it feel or sound special like “I have a group that I have to approve anyone who gets into the group.” So, Willie says in his outreaches, “I invite you to request to be added to the group, but there’s no guarantee.” You have to fit in with his group purpose.

[01:02:54] You have to be someone that he wants to interact with. He doesn’t want someone who’s always picking fights or always talking politics or race or religion or whatever. There’s some exclusivity, and there’s that feeling of making you a part of, and that makes people want to join your group actually.

[22: 17] So, back to joint ventures. Any examples of joint ventures involving leveraging underutilized assets?

An underutilized asset is a bounce-back offer when it bounced back. Say you launch a product or a book, and in the book, you send people to a webpage to get about the other person. That works very well with like Amazon. Amazon doesn’t give you the names of the customers, the buyers of your book. And so, you need to sneak in an offer.  Like with Willie’s cookbook, he might say, “If you go to this page, I have a bonus collection of dessert recipes.” And so, you push them over to a page where they need to register to get the dessert recipes. And that’s how you build an email list and you can recommend someone else’s product on that same page.

Where do you put it? On the Amazon page or in the description?

In the book, somewhere near the front and let them know It’s in the back.

It says, “For this bonus, go over and claim it.”

Or, in print books you say, “Here’s a bonus DVD or CD, just fill out this form” Now someone who bought the book in a bookstore is on your physical mailing list, and you can just tell them that they need to pay the postage whatever, powerful though.

[24: 25] Ellen shared that she used to put it right on the description all the time, but that Amazon has gotten much more “squirrely” the last couple of years so she doesn’t do that anymore.

[24:46] Ellen then asked Willie about his cookbook and why he thought it was successful right out of the gate.

Willie thought it was his copywriting skills. He did what Jay Abraham called “future pacing”, which is where you place the person in a sense that they see themselves experiencing the product.

And so, he used expressions like “Imagine your kids coming home from school thinking about fast food until they smell the odors, in the house” or “Imagine food so good that your kids sneak back downstairs in the middle of the night and fight over the leftovers.” And when someone can envision that, then they’re like, “Wow, these must be really great recipes.”

It was that and it was also a published newsletter of Willie’s.  That newsletter contained recipe submitted by list members, but people read those recipes, and for some reason, they associating those recipes with Willie, and so they thought, “Well, Willie’s” must be really great too.  They asked him if he had a cookbook before he wrote it.

They associated enjoying the recipes in my email list with “Willie must have great recipes”. So, that was a part of it too.

But, you have to stay close to your topic for future offers. When Willie recommended anything not cooking related to that particular list they would push back so it had to be him, recommending a high-end gas grill or something else related to cookbooks.

[26:30] So with joint ventures, how do you decide who gives first?

That’s a sticky point because a lot of people have this scarcity mentality in their thinking… “If I promote your product like in a cross-promotion first, then my customers will have spent the money they had, and so they don’t have any money left to spend on my product.”

You have to basically get over that mentality and say perhaps 50% of the time, you agree to let the other person go first or the other party go first.

And other times, you suggest that you go first. Actually, with a joint venture, you look at who has the greatest leverage too.  For instance, Jay Abraham believes he has the name recognition. the large list and therefore wants 70% of the benefits.” And he wants to go first.” He never even promises that he will reciprocate. They just hold hope out to you. And the majority of the time they don’t reciprocate.

Many also won’t give review copies. Some people see their clout, their name, their brand as being that big, and he doesn’t deal that much with those people anymore.

Ellen agreed and said that for her, she usually works with people she already has a relationship with.

[28:47] Willie added that even when you have a strong relationship, you need to put it in writing because there’s so much room for misunderstandings.

What’s the benefit going to be to each party? Who’s going to handle the money? Who’s going to do the fulfillment. Who’s going to do what. So, you want to be able to point to a particular paragraph so there is no misunderstanding.

[30:09] Not only that but you can think there is an understanding but because someone is using the wrong vocabulary there is still a misunderstanding, which once happened to Ellen when she joint-ventured with someone who was very well established in her niche. So, she recommended to never take anything for granted. You just never know.

Willie added, “President Reagan when he was dealing with Gorbachev. He said ‘Trust but verify.’”

[31:03] So, you’ve got a project coming up. At that point, aren’t you’re just going to reach out because you need help with it and not worry about the fact that you haven’t given them anything first if you have a relationship?

Willie said he finds ways around it like going to a third party.

But if you make friends in advance, you don’t have to worry about it so much.

Then Willie shared the legendary story of John- the first to make a million dollars in sales in a day with Traffic Secrets, which he has since sold off to Russell Brunson.

For about three years prior to him releasing that course, John went to seminars and conferences and made lots of better-level friends, so when he got ready to release his course, at around a thousand dollars a copy, He said: “I have this course I’m getting ready to release.” He described it to them. He said, “Can I send you a copy?” He added, “And if you can’t fit in right now maybe you can fit it in in the future?” It was very low pressure, but these people knew him and met him. They had sat around and drink right with him or just gotten to know him. And so, he was a genuine friend. It seemed like he’d made that all that both sales overnight, but he hadn’t. He’d built up; he started working it up far in advance.

[33:25] That reminded Ellen that most people wait until they’re ready to do something, and then they’re scrambling, and then they wonder why it doesn’t work.

Willie then said you can leverage third parties. He used to work as a joint-venture broker, and so people would come to him and say, “I have a product that I’m launching. Can you help me?” And he would leverage his credibility with certain people asking them “Can you promote this product?” And they would promote the product on their trust of Willie.

[34:56] Do you have closing thoughts for my listeners?

Don’t be afraid to go for your dreams.  If you’re thinking about getting your book out there, the worst that can happen is that people will say no to you. But people don’t like saying no. People like being liked; they like saying yes, and so don’t be afraid to ask for favors, to go for what you want.

Most people aren’t going to come up to you and volunteer to promote your book. You have to ask.

And the worst that can happen is they’ll say no. And if they do say no, because of the Law of Reciprocity, if they say no, next time you go back to them, and you say,” Well you couldn’t promote my last product, can you take a look at this one? They feel an increased obligation to say yes because it’s like “Well, I said no last time so this time I need to say yes.” So, it’s that type of mental Jiu-Jitsu.

[36:02] To learn more, what’s the best place for them to tune in to your teachings?

They can go to my website:
www.WillieCrawford.org/Ellen or www.WillieCrawford.org/ellen

Willie gave out links that let him know that they visited his site as a result of this show. He always wants to try it to know where people are coming from, what’s working for him and you should too. And if later they see a service offer they want, that tracks back to them coming from this show too.

You can also find Willie on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn-W-i-l-l-i-e.

[37:04] You can also get a free consultation with Willie.

Willie will set up a time for you two to talk on the phone and see if there’s a need for you to work together. And if there is, he’ll set up some longer calls where he would do a number of things: one is reading your book. So, be at the stage where you have a rough manuscript. Willie will point out things that jump out at him that you didn’t think of that will help in your marketing because he’s written around 80 books, so he knows what he’s doing.

He will read your manuscript from the first page to the last page and look for things that would improve it without changing your message, and then you can have two calls that are each about an hour long to explore ways to market your product more effectually, especially looking at joint ventures and that session won’t be free, but it’ll be well worth it.

He is looking for people who are ready for what he has to offer and will take action.

Willie shared that he enjoys interacting with Ellen. He looks forward to meeting Ellen’s audience members and helping them out.


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Until next time!

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About the Author

Ellen Violette

Ellen is an 3X award-winning book, including being named one of the Top 20 Book Coaches of 2022 by Coach Foundation. She's also a multiple #1 bestselling author, a 3-time eLit award winner, podcast host, and a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She has been helping entrepreneurs increase their credibility and expert status, become #1 bestselling authors, and make a bigger impact in the world since 2004. Her mission is to make the world a better place one author and one book at a time!



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