This is a guest post by Jim Griffin. Thank you Jim for contributing here at SA.
There are very few people in the world of online gambling that are not well familiar with the Calvin Ayre story. Born to Canadian pig and grain farmers and a past that involved selling peaches road side to make a living, in 1994 he managed to scrape together $10,000 to start a technology company that he’d later rebrand as Bodog. After spending much of the mid and late 1990’s helping the first online casinos get started, in 2000 he launched his own sports betting website Bodog.com. His success came so rapidly that in 2006, Forbes magazine covered his story and estimated his net worth at over a 1 billion USD.
For gambling affiliates, there is ton we can learn from his story, so long as we don’t brush it off as luck. Doing so would obviously be foolish. After all, this a man that was virtually broke, and rather than working small jobs for someone else to make a little extra cash, he borrowed Cisco training manuals and began teaching himself network design. I’m sure during Bodog’s early years there were plenty of opportunities for him to sell and retire. He obviously passed on these and instead kept building, kept working and kept reinvesting in his brand.
While it’s easy to get lost in the idea that Bodog’s success came from drinking, partying, degenerate gambling and having fun, that’s all just marketing! When you scratch the surface you’ll see the foundation behind Bodog’s success is their constant desire to be the best. This one single element, a burning desire to be the best, has led so many other success principles to fall naturally in place. I’ll cover those shortly, but first let me show some of the ways Bodog proved their goal actually is to be the best.
In the early days of online gambling most sports betting sites were nickeling and diming players left and right. They charged high fees for a payout and had all sorts red-tape associated with their bonuses. In 2003, Bodog changed all this becoming the first online betting site to take deposits and settle with ACH e-check. Here deposits were instant, and came with an automated, no strings attached instant sign up bonus (yes, there were no strings, all you needed to do was rollover your deposit a single time – and the funds were free and clear to cash out). When it came to cashing out, again it was a free and you’d have the money in your bank account in a few days. At the competitors the only payout method was often Western Union and they’d charge 10-15%.
Bodog’s betting software also helped revolutionize the industry. When it came to customer support, this is another area they excelled. Elsewhere you’d get a Spanish speaker who knew just enough English to communicate. Bodog realized this and created a separate company in Canada. When you called support, the phone would ring no more than two times and you’d have a well-spoken, knowledgeable customer support rep ready to help. If you emailed them, you’d always get a response in under 15-minutes. Bodog paid attention to every minor detail and inside each detail they looked for ways to be the best.
It wasn’t long before Bodog was the most popular brand in the US market, and became the company the talent from around the industry wanted to go work for. After all, no matter what your position, be it a CRM, database, tech, or odds maker – if your background was a gambling and you needed a job, did you want work for some site called Direcbet, Lazer Wager or some other lame name that probably wouldn’t still be around in 2-years, or do you want to work for biggest name in the industry? It’s a fairly obvious choice and Bodog benefited greatly from this hiring some of the best talent from around the industry to be part of their team.
Having beaten around the bush enough, let me go ahead, be direct, and cover some of the things gambling affiliates can learn from the Calvin Ayre Bodog story.
- Better Yourself Today – Remember Calvin Ayre might be best known for his wild lavish lifestyle, but back when he was living month to month, he wasn’t partying, nor was he focusing on earning more money for something “today”. He picked up Cisco Training manuals and learned a meaningful skill he could begin using to better his business future in the immediate.
- Have a Vision –Many people like to say I’ll believe it when I see it, while successful people realize in order to see it they’ll need to believe it first. It takes a lot of guts to sell everything you own to scrape up $10,000 and invest it into your own startup business. To get anywhere in life we need have the vision and take our shots.
- Be the Best – By this I mean ACTUALLY BE THE BEST! Many affiliate marketers get caught up in tricking Google to think they are best, or talking the talk and walking the walk at conferences, only to continue to build mediocre sites. One the biggest reasons Bodog became what they are is the fact they left no stone unturned in searching for all the small areas to strive for perfection. This is company that TRULLY strived to be the best. With this one element alone everything else will fall into place.
- Trust is Everything – Bodog built a business model where their players, suppliers, business associates and affiliates trusted them. For more than a decade now, when you request a payment at Bodog it comes. Yes, this is with small hitches here and there due to DOJ or whatever else, but it’s hard to argue Bodog has not always gone out of their way to pay everyone timely.
- Reinvest – In order to be the best, you’re going to need to reinvest. Over the years Bodog has bailed out several brands. The Big Book, WWTS, both leaders in their day later had all thier accounts migrated to Bodog. From here they reinvested in small areas, hiring away talent, marketing, etc. You won’t get anywhere without solid bankroll management, which means continuously reinvesting in your brand.
The final area is a point I couldn’t include on any list. It so powerful and such a key to making life as an internet marketer SOOO much easier you don’t want to miss this point. So without further ado my advice and what I best learned from Calvin Ayre is this: BE YOUR BRAND! Drill this into your head “I am the brand” “I am the brand” “I am the brand”. Say this as many times as you need to until you understand it and believe it. You see, if you focus on building the absolute best sites, building trust, and reinvest – and then put yourself behind it – people are going to remember “You”.
In affiliate marketing we sometimes changes sites, launch new projects etc. We all need links, we all need affiliate deals or advertisers. Most of us also need content writers, website programmers, graphic designers and so many other things. Can you see the advantage of being the brand yourself? Having people remember you? Now if you’re ignoring the other advice and are simply striving to game Google, work out the loopholes etc. there’s no need, in fact you want to stay private. If you’re truly focused on being the best this is where this advice best comes into play. From being the best, and being known as the best, affiliate deals, links, google traffic, quality staff – all this stuff comes your way so much easier. Also no matter where you go in gambling affiliating, the brand near certainly always will follow you.
A final point, you don’t need to use your real name. If your names John Smith, you brand could be something entirely different. It might be Dealer Dan or pokerprop (if you’re a PAL forum user I’m sure you get my point). It can however still be your own name – Michael Martinez and Randy Ray are a couple that come to mind, though I have no way to confirm if that’s their real name or if they’re pulling a Cole Turner. This is a small point – what I’m really getting at is this: if you’re in it for the long haul and building things that are truly special – you want put as much of yourself into the brand as Calvin Arye has done with Bodog.