Monday Sales Call 9-1-08

In August, publishers that chose to offer our Races and Rolls promotion saw a significant increase in player sign-ups, deposits and MGR. The goal of Races and Rolls is to bring the biggest and best rake races and freerolls to Internet players throughout the world. If you haven’t opted in to this promotion you should consider that promotions like Races and Rolls give you competitive advantage over your competition. It enables your site to stand out and makes players excited about signing up with YOU. Promotions mean conversions. It is something you can accentuate and market to your userbase. When players see $100k in overlays, it encourages them to sign up for that free cash. Upon signing up on your site, the players deposit and begin playing poker. This process ends with you the publisher making more money.
Basically, there is no reason that you should not be taking advantage of this free promotion.
All members of the Poker Affiliate Solutions network of publishers are able to offer this promotion to their players. In September, you have the opportunity to offer over $100,000 in promotions to your players FOR FREE! For information on how to opt in to these promotions please contact me at TonyG at PokerAffiliateSolutions dot com.

In other news, for months, the poker community has discussed the pros and cons regarding the implementation of a new schedule for the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker main event. Commissioner of the WSOP, Jeffrey Pollack, announced on May 1 that the final table of the main event is going to be delayed until November 9th. Pollack’s plan is to have the head ups battle for the first place prize of $9,119,517 broadcast live on ESPN on November 11th.
The WSOP commissioner commented on the reasoning behind the final table delay saying, “I think this same-day telecast is really going to be a cliffhanger that will be must-see appointment television. Really, what we’re doing is shifting the paradigm. Now, poker fans will be anticipating who will win instead of just talking about who won, and after seven weeks of live play at the WSOP, there will now be an additional 16 weeks of promotion and relevance that I think will lift the entire game of poker and further mainstream the incredible personalities that make the WSOP so much fun and so interesting.”
This is great news for us in the poker marketing business. I believe we will see an increase in mainstream media attention towards poker. And with media attention comes advertising. Online poker sites are already battling for commercial spots, player sponsorships, signs, and other branding techniques for the final table broadcast. We will see many of the rooms we offer on our sites all over the television. More media + more advertising = more players! These players get to online poker sites through online marketing companies like ourselves. We provide incentive for the new player to join a poker room through our rakeback program.
It is important you seize this great opportunity. New players will be looking to the Internet for information pertaining to online poker room offers. While our publishers in the United States are not allowed to purchase advertised links on the major search engines, our international publishers have more options. All publishers should also work on improving their SEO (search engine optimization) in anticipation of increased poker related word searches in upcoming months. Additional design work can be very helpful for publishers as well. As marketers, we want to keep our potential customer’s attention on our product. To increase conversion rates, be sure that your rakeback sub-domain is linked in a number of places from your homepage and interior pages. Come November, their will be an influx of new players combing the Internet for information on poker rooms and special offers. Let’s be sure that we are ready for this great opportunity to increase our player base and branding.

Tony G

Life is hectic

I am getting married on September 20th, my company is constantly undergoing changes, being challenged, and adapting. This is great, but at times it can be overwhelming and the pressure can really build. My fiance, Ann, is freaking out about the wedding and all the crap that goes along with throwing a party for the day of your marriage. This is by no means a pity party, I am thrilled with my life, business, fiance, and realize I am EXTREMELY lucky to have these problems. I wanted to get myself and Ann unplugged from our lives for a few days. I found a cabin in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin about a 3 hour drive from the Twin Cities. The place had no internet, no tv, and was just a tiny log cabin in the middle of the woods!!! This is right up my alley, my plan to destress Ann may have backfired though. I think no TV or internet may have added to her stress 🙁 Well done Chris(A for effort though).[singlepic=3,320,240,,]We got there Saturday and had a little fire with marshmellow roasting and a trivia battle. We love to read Trivial pursuit cards to eachother and keep track of who answers the most right. She almost always kicks the crap out of me :([singlepic=2,320,240,,]On Sunday i got to do a little fishing. Pretty nice small mouth if i do say so myself.[singlepic=4,320,240,,]This is my dog finley, i am obsessed with her, and if I take to writing in this blog about my personal life more, you will undoubtedly hear about her, she rules my existence and every one in the office and my future wife are sick and tired of hearing about Finley and watching me fawn over her…..hahahIn owning my own business there is very little separation between my personal life and my work life. Work is ALWAYS on my mind. There have been times when I am working in one or another every waking hour of my day. This is really not a healthy way to live, for me personally, and at some point my business will suffer as a result. There is some point of diminishing returns and there is a lot to be said for having a healthy balance of personal life and work life. When I strike that balance I find my work is output is of a much higher quality and my personal life is extremely pleasurable. Anyways, unplugging over this past weeekend was great for me and enabled me to come in fresh for the upcoming weeks fires that would inevitability arise and need to be put out.

PAS Voyeur – Response to Estimations

The average publisher that comes into the system will mean _____ in revenue for Poker Affiliate Solutions over the next two years.
We are currently signing up ____ new publishers per day.
If all features were finished, we would be signing up _____ new publishers per day.
If bankrolls were fully integrated, we would be adding _____ new bankroll publishers per month.
The average generating bankroll publisher will produce _____ in monthly revenue.
If traditional (our internal word for non-incentivized poker affiliate marketing) were fully integrated, we would be making _____ in monthly revenue.
Therefore, currently, we are leaving _____ in revenue, PER DAY, on the table.
In life, there are often no deadlines other than the ones you impose on yourself. I will quit smoking by December. I will go to the gym four times this week. I will send out 200 emails this week.
December, four, and 200 are completely arbitrary. Could I make it January, two, and 100? Of course, but I need to push myself. A loose estimate is not enough. I am not happy with myself when I don’t meet my goals. Honest Question: How do you respond when tech doesn’t meet the “estimations”? Is there anything that can be done by management to alleviate any negative feelings? Can you verbalize what you need to meet the “estimations”? Or at least turn the estimations into deadlines?
There is little that is external to push us. We are defining the product as we go. It’s currently better than anything on the market and is only getting better.
But you’re right Chad, a lack of external deadlines makes it harder. Of course, if we stop leaving the money outlined above on the table, we will all make more money, have greater job security, the ability to move on to things not yet even thought of, and so on. That said, I will continue to think about deadlines and a lack of external motivation.
As far as “Having no idea what we’re doing,” it is all of us, collectively, not knowing what we’re doing. (We all know this was an exaggeration intended to evoke emotion.) It’s not that management doesn’t know what you’re (meaning tech) doing. We know. This business was built five years ago on midnight shifts in home offices. We’re all adjusting.
I think the new incredible office space that is coming will help with this tremendously. Because it’s not just that not being in the office is a problem, it’s that working too much away from the office is also a problem.
(Technical Output x Time) has never been this company’s strongest number
(Meeting Customer Needs x Flexibility) has been and is.
[Note to the reader: those numbers above were shared with tech, but unfortunately, cannot be shared with you.]

Estimations

I’m glad to see this blog getting under way. Things are pretty busy, so I’ll dive right in.Two topics stood out to me in your post, and I’ll respond to each in turn. First, the topic of our office’s working dynamic. Second, the topic of dates.As you mentioned, the company started with two guys who could make things work by tackling everything by themselves. Now that we’ve grown much larger, communication is especially important. Employees need to know how their work fits into the whole project, and management needs to have all the information necessary to make top-level decisions. With regard to why we don’t have everything finished yet, you said the following:[INDENT]Plainly, because we have no idea what we’re doing.[/INDENT]If you have no idea what we’re doing, it’s probably because you spend so little time in the office. I can always give you a status update, but it’s a tall order to keep you posted on all the information you would glean by simply being present for the full work day.Regarding dates: there are estimates, and there are deadlines. Estimates are not deadlines.Whenever I provide an estimated release date, I make it very clear that they are ESTIMATIONS, NOT COMMITMENTS. That’s usually met with something like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know they’re only estimations, just give us the dates.”I’m not opposed to deadlines, but I think they should be in place for the right reasons. Say we have the opportunity to provide rakeback for amazon.de, but a German law is going into effect on Jan 1 which would block any new gaming partnerships. Obviously, this is a good reason to set a deadline.On the other hand, say we just want features to roll out more quickly. Deadlines now become dangerous. With those in the tech department hard at work (I’m proud to say they are), assigning deadlines based on imperfect information leads to buggy software and unhappy employees. We’ve already learned from this mistake once in April.Tech did not meet your expectations for a quick rollout. We didn’t meet our own expectations. But the problem was not with our productivity, the problem lay in the expectations. Our estimations are better now than they were six months ago, but they’re still admittedly bad. Here are a few reasons our estimations will improve:

  • Experience – The more we produce as a team, the better we can estimate how long it takes who to do what.
  • Project Tracking – Software management tools will help predict when resources will be available.
  • Subversion and Testing – Ironing out the kinks in these two practices will cut way down on integration time (time spent making all the developers’ code work together), which is difficult to estimate.

Estimates usually change because of something unexpected, like a bug or a power outage. These unexpected things tend to increase time requirements, so it’s no surprise that poor estimates are so frequently short rather than long.If anyone reading this has experience in software management, I’d love to hear your thoughts. We’re writing good code already, and I hope to put some lightweight practices in place to help us continue writing it faster and with better predictability.Here are my latest estimated release dates.Release 2.4 – 9/5Dashboard NewsNews RSSDashboard Widget ControlGlobal News ControlPublisher Payments Reporting (sortable, filterable statements)Publisher Payment Controls (payment notes, payment search, edit cashout options)PAS Affiliate ProgramRelease 2.5 – 9/22Additions to Websites PageFull Domain DNS CheckingWebsite Reporting (MGR, Sign-Ups MTD, etc.)Website Controls (host disabling, alias editing, etc.)Publisher Players Overview Page (manual player creation, aggregate player data/graphs, ect.)Publisher Player Page (manual tracker creation, individual player data/graphs, helpdesk history, etc.)Release 2.6 – 10/10Publisher Player Referral ControlsPublisher Player Referral ReportingStatic Groups (groups of players selected by publisher)Smart Groups (groups of players live-generated on criteria selected by publisher)Group Controls (export, email, etc.)Release 2.7 – 10/24Publisher Product Pages (like product-version of dashboard)My Account PageRelease 3.0 – 11/7BankrollsRelease 3.1 – 11/28Website Grouping (by domain, product, localization)Client ScoringGlobal CRM (pending details)Release 3.2 – 12/29Bayesian Processing for Bankrolls

PAS Voyeur – The First Post

We wanted to have a system that offers turnkey rakeback sites, turnkey free bankroll sites, non-incentivized poker affiliate marketing campaigns and much more up THREE MONTHS AGO! Then we revised it to September 1st. Guess what – there’s not a chance we’re going to make that deadline either.Why? And more importantly, why am I telling you?I’m telling you because we want to share with our partners, friends, and the poker affiliate marketing community what we struggle with. We want to publicize our statements to each other. We want to have a record of all the effort that went into building the first true poker affiliate network.Why isn’t it up yet? Plainly, because we have no idea what we’re doing.Oh, we know marketing and we know software and we know code. We know how to make money online and we know how to help others make money online. We’ve been building successful online properties for years. We currently have 200 publishers and they all have working systems. Many are making real money.What we don’t know is how to completely work together as a team to produce feature after feature and add one huge project on top of another. It’s one thing when it’s two guys building a startup out of their garage. It’s another to have 75 employees and thousands of partners. We’re somewhere in between.So we, as management, put a ton of pressure on tech. Get it done! Do it! Why doesn’t this work? Should we just outsource this whole thing?We pressured them into rolling out a huge upgrade three months ago. It was too early and it took weeks to weed out the bugs. After it was live. Won’t do that again.We threw Chad into the role of project manager, responsible for the whole thing. He didn’t have any experience in project management, but we saw his potential. (Still do, most days 😉 ) Who doesn’t love a good trial by fire?Management of this company wants it all and wants it all now! That’s what keeps us ahead of the curve. But how to get there isn’t a straight line. It’s trial and error.To our credit, what we put out is quality. It works and it makes people money. A LOT of money. We just don’t put out enough and don’t do it quickly enough. Last Thursday, for example, the new and improved publisher dashboard was supposed to be live. Today is Tuesday. WHERE IS IT? And obviously I assume this pushes back the whole roll-out schedule?Chad, in his response, is going to provide his perspective.Bottom line, we will reach our goals, and we’re going to keep getting faster and more efficient as we go. We guarantee it. Hope you enjoy reading about our screw-ups along the way.-mgmt

Leveling the Playing Field

Way back in the day, anyone could enter the rakeback market. All you needed was an excel spreadsheet, an aptitude with PM’ing, and some hustle and drive. Back then, rakeback providers had a relationship with their customers. If the customer needed something, the affiliate would deliver.It changed somewhere along the line. It changed because players became focused on the promotional money they were eligible for. While sites like Raketracker focused on customer service and were less concerned about sheer volume, sites like RaketheRake poured money into promotions. Players may or may not realize that freeroll promotions are designed to sign-up new players and rake races are designed to reward the highest generating players. Affiliates are aware of this.But what happens to the mid-generating player in the middle? He thrives with a rakeback relationship because of personal attention and customer service.Ultimately, a quality rakeback site must have all of the above elements. Personal attention, customer service, promotions – both freerolls and rake races, as well as on-time payments, stats, room selection, good affiliate website, and easy sign-up.That’s why Poker Affiliate Solutions offers its publishers the ability to instantly offer $40,000 in promotions. In September, it will be significantly more. That way, an affiliate with only one or two players signed-up can be part of a huge promotional series, yet still give the personal attention the player needs.Click Sign-Up to instantly get your own rakeback site now!