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12 Years of Reflection
Looking back on the longest active business partnership in digital marketing
Success often comes where we least expect it. While we slave away trying to force a breakthrough, opportunity sneaks up behind us and puts us in a chokehold and makes us deal with it.
I bring this up as this year it’s going to be 12 years since Wilson Mattos and I started working together.
Like most good things in my life, this came about by accident. I was speaking at a seminar run by the legendary Dennis Becker - and someone had the idea that all speakers should meet up the day before the event and do a mini-mastermind.
At said mastermind, on a tangent, I vented about a product that I had attempted to buy but couldn’t because the website was closed during non-business hours.
Yes, a digital website keeping physical hours of operation.
And in a time zone not favorable to me.
The software was a “backup” tool for Wordpress blogs. Back then, Wordpress was just starting to gain traction online as an easy and free way to build blogs. Not websites, mind you. Just blogs.
The challenge with Wordpress is there was a lot of set up. Not just for the install itself, but also for the theme and for all of the plugin settings. If you really wanted to build an ultimate setup for a niche website, you’d spend 20-40 hours just in set up time.
So we all cut corners. My grand idea was to do the major set up once - a full 40 hour deep dive in optimizing a template - and then be able to clone and deploy that template and spit out website after website on different niches and topics.
But no tool at the time allowed this, except the one that was run by its sales prevention department.
I was venting at the absurdity of not being able to spend money, and said that I wanted to create my own version of the tool just so people could actually buy it. Then we took a break.
That’s when Wilson approached me and said: “If such a tool could be built, would it sell?”
“If you build it, I’ll sell it.”
And then we went on our merry ways, me expecting never to hear from him again (as that’s how these things generally play out). So imagine my surprise when a few weeks later I got an email from Wilson.
Wilson had built the tool. I’ll be damned.
That tool was WP Twin, and we did two really smart things with it. First, we marketed it as a cloner, not a backup tool. Yeah, it could do backups, too. But backups are safe and boring, whereas cloning implies more money-getting power. Second, we didn’t aim it at bloggers - but for use building websites. True, the websites were built in Wordpress, but the focus was on cloning and deploying sites to get traffic, make sales, and generate profit.
A decade later, WP Twin has successfully cloned and deployed millions of websites.
On the back of that initial success in October of 2010, we decided to merge forces, and Rapid Crush became a company on January 1st, 2011... and the rest is history.
There are several takeaways from this.
I will break these down briefly here:
80% of winning is showing up. Just being present early and often tends to force breakthroughs to happen. The more rooms you can get into, the more chances you have at invoking serendipity.
Positioning. If you take tools from market A (blogging) and move them to market B (internet marketing) and change an appeal like safety (backing up) into opportunity (cloning) - two little differences like that can be the difference between failure and millions. Is there a way you can change a word or two about what you do that could make it take on a whole new meaning?
Combine strengths. I had tried for about a year to build different software. Failed every time. I even had the guy who would later go on to program the most successful internet marketing marketplace of all time (JVZoo) working with me. I just suck at project management. Wilson, though? In 2 weeks and about $600 in outsourcing, he had the software finished. Sometimes the best way to handle a weakness is to match it to someone else’s strength.
Iterate to awesome. Credit to Marisa Murgatroyd for coming up with that phrase. The first time we launched WP Twin into the market, we flopped miserably. The sales pitch was wrong. We tweaked it, went back to the exact same audience and did 6 figures a week later. Sometimes when you have something new and different, you need more than one bite at the apple to make it work.
A decade is a long time. Most partnerships in this business last less than 2 years - and many of the biggest have come and gone since Rapid Crush was first created. So how has Rapid Crush continued to stand the test of time? Many reasons, but one major one is complementary strengths. Most partnerships are like two pairs of shoes trying to fit over top of each other, instead of a shoe-sock pairing. Or if food is more your metaphor, they’re two kinds of peanut butter being smashed together trying to create a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Bill Gates once said:
“People overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten.”
Rapid Crush started off as a software company. Then we morphed more into an eClass company that augmented our eClasses with software. Then we pivoted to Amazon and affiliate marketing simultaneously, combining our product and software expertise, as well as our ability to use webinars effectively in a Product Launch heavy marketing era. And then we had the most successful launch in the digital product space ever… by doing $57 million dollars.
We had tons of failures along the way and made more mistakes than you can count, but the glue that kept it all together for me is curiosity.
I try to stay curious like a child.
What else can I learn? In what ways can I show up better this year than the last? What innovations are laying dormant that I can liberate? How can I provide more service to my market than the next? And how can I do it and still stay sane, healthy and grounded?
And there’s your final takeaway - find that state in which you can operate that will propel you toward the goals and outcomes you seek. For me, it’s curiosity. For you it may be something else. But find it, tap into it, and grow it - and as a result, you will grow.
When we check in approaching 2030 - ten years from now - let’s compare notes on what we learned.