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Interview With Michael Jenkins – Founder of Market Leverage

By:     Topics: Entrepreneur Interviews

Michael Jenkins runs one of the biggest affiliate networks on the net, in just over a year you have seen it boom into a power house for affiliate marketers and read multiple success story’s from it. In this interview Michael shares his top tips for making money online with Affiliate Marketing and gives us the scoop on what’s next for Market Leverage!Can you give us a little background information on yourself Michael, where do you live?

I live in Lake Mary, FL, which is just outside of Orlando.

And how old are you?

I’m 34 years old.

What motivates you?

I’m very motivated by affiliate marketing and performance based marketing, which is the culprit behind affiliate marketing.  I’m also extremely motivated by making

 

What were your original goals for MarketLeverage.com ?

I started and still own a company called PrecisionPlay Media.  PrecisionPlay is more of an online advertising agency and media buying company.

When we started MarketLeverage, essentially we automated a lot of what media buying was to PrecisionPlay Media.  PrecisionPlay Media would have a group customers and a group of publishers; we would make phone calls, handle legal agreements, build creative, and manage the technology to get those two parties to work together.

When it became clear to us that there were platforms out there that would allow us to automate that process, which is what affiliate marketing networks do, we realized that we needed to get involved in that. That is our principal reason for starting MarketLeverage.

MarketLeverage has now grown to become one of the web’s largest cost per acquisition, or CPA networks. Can you highlight anything in particular, such as a policy or approach, that led to this happening?

Our customer is number one and I know that is so cliché, but it is really the truth and the reason that we’ve been able to grow as much as we have over the last few years.

We have dedicated affiliate managers that work with each publisher, and a number of advertising managers that do the same.  We try to create this one-on-one perspective.

We’ve innovated a lot of things like the internet’s first affiliate marketing TV show, MLTV.  We have a new episode once a week, and we’ve started to notice it catching on in other places.  That is primarily a way for us to be known personally by people out there on the internet.

Being very personable, reaching out to people and placing our customer’s interests first are the primary drivers of why MarketLeverage has been able to grow the way that it has and will continue to.

There are plenty of CPA websites, what makes your stand out and get such a large following so fast?

Again, I think it really does come back to the fact that we’ve got great people. We go to a trade show, for example, and attendees know the people at MarketLeverage. They say “oh wow, there’s Mike Kelly or there’s Dina,” and they feel like they know who these people are because they have seen us on MLTV, they’ve gotten video e-cards from us and they seen their presence on the website.  I think that is a big part of it.

Beyond just being personable, it also implies a certain level of trust.  When I was an affiliate, which I was from the very beginning, even until today, I learned very quickly that this is still the wild west. There are a lot of people, unfortunately, that don’t pay.  So we decided early on that it was extremely important for us to make sure that all of our publishers not only got paid, but also got paid the highest payouts, and got paid on time.
We are the only affiliate marketing network in the industry that I’m aware of that pays all of our publishers by FedEx.  We do that because we know how important receiving those payments on time is. We have the best paying referral program in the industry, and a wonderful rewards program as well.

It’s a priority for us to give the benefits back to the publishers and as a result of that we’ve grown organically, and they’ve referred a lot of people to us.

Tell us a little about MarketLeverage and MLTV .  People are very impressed with the idea- Michael from Retire at 21 loves the top offer feature in the video.  How is MLTV going?

MLTV is going great.  We’re very, very happy and just recently celebrated our first year of MLTV.  We’ve probably done now about 55 episodes now.

We just built a custom studio in our office, and we’re beginning to add some new features to MLTV, which I haven’t seen anywhere else online.  The new version of MLTV is really neat, because it’s clickable. For example, you can roll your mouse over it and you can click on Dina and that will send an email to her.  You can click on the various offers that we have, and if you’re logged into MarketLeverage, you’ll automatically go that offer.
We’re starting to integrate clickable video into MLTV in a way that makes it very efficient for our publishers; that’s really exciting.

 

MLTV has given us a lot of ideas about video; I think it’s going to allow us continue to pioneer video as it relates to performance marketing industry overall.

We also just introduced something called GreenLinks at Affiliate Summit. It’s a very modest program right now, but we believe it’s important because it’s going to teach a lot of affiliates how to do affiliate marketing, just by watching videos on the subject.  Right now if you go to the MarketLeverage home page, you’ll see a green text link with the word ‘payment’.  When you click on that, a video automatically pops up and it talks about MarketLeverage’s payment structure.  We’ll continue to implement a lot of GreenLinks on the site.
MarketLeverage’s future, MLTV’s future, is to continue is to enable us to innovate other video solutions. We’ll also be changing MLTV’s format soon to be even more useful than it is today.

For someone new to affiliate marketing who wishes to become a successful full-time affiliate, is there anything in particular you would suggest that they do and not do?

That’s a great question because there are so many different types of affiliates these days. Because all of these affiliates exist, there really isn’t a particular methodology that you can just recommend to all of them.  It really is based on what somebody is doing.

What I find is it’s important for affiliates to understand and to work with a network that they can trust. A network that they can get good advice from on the type of marketing they do.  It makes all the difference in the world to be able to take good offers and put them up as soon as possible.

If you think about it, the publishing game is one of going out and placing offers from networks or advertisers on your site and seeing how much money you make. If you’re not satisfied with that offer, you try another one, until you find one that work for you.  The faster you can make that process, the more efficient you will be, and hopefully in turn you’ll make more and waste less.

At MarketLeverage, we put a lot of value on this.  All of our publishing managers are dedicated to certain publishers, and if a publisher calls their affiliate manager, their affiliate manager will have suggestions on the offers that would work best for that particular publisher.  I think that is a real winner for publishers.

Additionally, it’s very important for publishers to taking middle and longer-term approach to making money online.  There are some fast ways to make a lot of money, and I find that publishers tend to get addicted to these ways.  Then when those offers start to go away as they inevitably do, our publishers begin to scramble and find other things.

The most successful publishers that I’ve met are ones that have set up enduring long-term publishing solutions, web sites that have great content. Those are the men and women that are going to be around in 10 years. You should always be thinking about how can you serve your end-user, and advertising is the next thought after that.
Are there any particular niches that have historically done well, even for newbies? Are there any new niches that are particularly hot at present?

I think that the particular niche that works well is going to depend on the type of publisher you are.  Different ads work differently.

As far as hot niches today, I’m excited about the opportunity that Facebook presents.  There’s an enormous amount of un-monetized users on Facebook, and it looks to me like Facebook is very open minded in trying to figure out solutions to this.  With content appropriate ads, and MarketLeverage certainly has a lot of content appropriate ads for different social media users, there is a really wonderful opportunity for people.
Video is also going to be something that will become larger and larger as this year concludes.  Those are two areas I think that affiliates who have the resources and time should begin focusing on.

What are your top tips for advertisers or businesses who are considering CPA and affiliate marketing for the first time?

The first thing they need to do is line themselves up with a company that is very street smart in affiliate marketing.  The great thing about this industry, particularly when using a CPA model, is that the advertiser only pays when they get the results they are looking for. This is really revolutionary; I don’t know of many instances that this has happened in all of world history.

The ability of the advertiser to go in and only pay when they get what they are looking for is part of the revolution that sparked the entire affiliate marketing industry.

There are also publishers who are unfortunately rigging the system as much as they can, and trying to produce leads that aren’t very legitimate. We interview every publisher that we let in, and turn down far more publisher applications than we approve during the interview process.  You have to work with a network or an affiliate manager who has a really good publisher base and is keeping an eye on things.

I compare it to being a lion tamer.  I wouldn’t want to just walk in, grab a chair and climb into a chamber with four lions.  There are people who know how to do that; that’s what we do in the affiliate space.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself as a website owner, what advice would you give yourself?

If I could go back in a time machine, I probably would have been more aggressive in growing the company faster.  We’ve been very conservative, we’ve always wanted to make sure we had plenty of money to pay publishers and accomplish all we have so far; we’ve been very successful in that.

There have been opportunities in the past, that because of our conservative nature, we could have been a little bit more aggressive with.  It’s kind of hard to judge where you’re at when you make the decisions for that time frame. We’ve made some very good decisions and we’re happy where we’re at; but given the growth in this industry, we would have been more aggressive and grown faster.

Is there anyone that you look up to model yourself on? 

I look up to people that are around me, and there’s people that I work with everyday.  Certain talents that people have are wonderful.

There are also people in business, such as Steve Jobs- an amazing innovator and creative person. Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Martin Luther King and Gandhi. These people just transformed the lives of so many around them.

 

In general, anybody that has a real strong ethical core and acts with integrity, that’s brilliant or creative, those tend to be my heroes.

Do you have any favorite business related or personal development books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Great question.  I try to read all the time, and I find this has really helped me with making decisions. There’s a remarkable concept of almost being able to have lunch with Jack Welsh or somebody like that- that’s the feeling I get when reading their books.

I do find that Jim Collin’s book Good to Great has been important to us.  We’ve actually been reading it going on 4 or 5 years now, and we integrate a lot of the concepts from that book into our company.

I also like Robin Sharma who’s a motivational speaker and thinker. There are a lot of history books, too.  Wonderful books on Teddy Roosevelt, for instance, that I find to be very motivating.

There’s also a group of books that I read every morning by Peter Drucker, who is a business philosopher.  He came up with the concept of the knowledge worker, which changed the way that we dealt with our employees. That’s been very successful for us.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

My father has used a lot of different aphorisms that I’ve grown up with and served me fairly well.
One of things I always say about affiliate marketing and performance marketing is “he who has the gold makes the rules.” This is really the case with what the CPA industry does.

The advertiser is the person with the gold. At the end of the day, they are the ones that get to make the rules. They get to define what it is that they want to pay for and mitigate their risk by doing so.

CPA is the advent of a brand new way of marketing. It’s extremely efficient for the person with the gold, so we believe that that’s the driving force behind this industry. That little saying has really influenced the way that we think about the business.

What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur setting up their first business?

It’s enormously exciting, but you have to pay attention to the bottom line at all times. Every dollar is an opportunity to invest; it can give you a greater return.

It’s important to know your customer, too.

I’ve been an affiliate.  I know what it’s like to not get paid.  I know what it’s like to swap-out a lot of different offers.  Our company knows what the metrics look like when something’s working and when it’s not. We understand the needs of affiliates and its made us better in serving them.

To sum it up, be very conservative; know what the marketplace is; and really know who your customer is and serve them.

If the internet had not existed, what do you think you’d be doing?

I’m glad the internet does exist, because I have no idea what I’d be doing. I’m so happy with what the internet, and this industry in particular do. It’s so revolutionary – that’s exciting.

What do you like best about the internet?

There’s a sense every day when I come to work that the best is still ahead.  The internet is constantly changing and optimizing. New opportunities are available regularly on the internet, and I find that to be so thrilling.

I know that if we just continue to focus and take advantage of all of the new innovations that come to the internet and put them into MarketLeverage, we’ll be better at serving our customers.
The great thing about the internet is that it’s constantly open to new innovations, which gives people the ability to fold them into their business.

What do you like least about the internet?

The internet tends to be a haven for people who don’t want to be known and don’t want to be transparent.  There are literally millions of people with computers that are trying to manipulate some of those great systems like affiliate marketing.

I would like to see more accountability and more responsibility come online but until that happens, I think the opportunities far outweigh the downside.

Have you any personal or business plans that you can share with us about your future plans or lifetime goals?

The growth of MarketLeverage is one of the primary goals for me.

I’m also excited about the future of social media and video.  There are opportunities to combine both of these things.

Email marketing is also a really interesting medium.  It’s a great direct response medium that allows the marketer to get a lot of customer feedback and to implement relevancy in the message- I don’t think that’s being done very much.

It’s going to be really interesting to see what Google does and what a lot of other people do, because that’s going to change our business.

As far as personal goals, we just want to provide the best service we can to as many people as we can… and continue to grow the company.

Thanks very much Michael for the interview, to find out more about Market Leverage , click here.

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