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In today’s world, tradition and innovation must work hand in hand to thrive. That being said, hybrid marketing is now the key to unlocking the full potential of a business. In this episode, we sit down with Kody Bateman, the founder of SendOutCards, as he shares his company’s background. He discusses the ever-changing world of marketing and how his company has stayed relevant through it all. Kody emphasizes the importance of hybrid marketing, a strategy that combines traditional marketing, such as network marketing, with modern methods like affiliate marketing. As the world becomes increasingly digital, Kody has thrived through leveraging the strengths of both marketing types. He also discusses the challenges of balancing traditional and modern marketing methods and how his team navigates these complexities. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to stay ahead of the game, then this episode can offer valuable insights for you. Join us as we dive into the era of hybrid marketing.
Kody Bateman: The Era Of Hybrid Marketing
In this episode, I am with Kody Bateman. Kody, I’m excited to have you with us. I’m going to learn a lot. You’re a visionary and Founder of a well-known company, SendOutCards, that’s been around for a long time.
Patrick, it’s an honor to be with you. I’ve heard great things about you. I love what you’re doing out there.
I appreciate it very much. The readers are going to get a lot out of it. You’ve got quite a perspective. Tell us a little bit about the backstory, if you would. You knew network marketing before you started SendOutCards.
I was a supplier in the industry way back in the ‘90s so I got to know the industry quite well. I worked with direct sales companies and top distributors from those companies. We put together marketing materials for them and I had various services that we offered to those companies. I was very fortunate to get to know both sides of the industry early on before I launched my network marketing company.
That was SendOutCards we launched in 2003 and that business has been around since then. We’re still cutting commission checks every single day so we’re known as a legacy company. We’ve been very fortunate to have our product affect the lives of millions of people around the world. We love the direct sales and network marketing space. It’s a great way to share your message with the world.
Why SendOutCards specifically? Did you have experience writing personal letters? What was the thing that struck you about starting in that space?
We’re very much story-based here. This SendOutCards started with a story and I’m wearing it on my shirt. I’ve got a word on my shirt called Promptings and that’s where the story comes from. Back in 1989, I graduated from college and got an offer to work for an ad agency in New York City. I lived in Utah at the time. There came the time when my wife, our new baby girl and I had to move from Utah across the country to New York.
We went over to my mom and dad’s house to say bye to the family. When we went to leave, my older brother, Chris, was in a lot adjacent to my folks’ home. He was moving some vehicles around in his lot and I had what I call a prompting that I needed to slow down, stop what I was doing, go over to him, tell him I love him, give him a hug and say goodbye because we were moving across the country. I ignored that prompting.
We were in a hurry. People were waiting for us. We jumped in the car. I honked and waved at him and we drove away. I ignored the prompting. A couple of months went by and I got a phone call in the middle of the night from my mother who let me know that my brother, Chris, has been killed in an accident. He was 29 years old and had 3 children when he passed away. When I got that news, all I could think about is I had this prompting to say bye to him and I didn’t do it. That night when I got that news, I made a promise to my brother that when I had a prompting to reach out in kindness to people, I would act and do all I can to help as many people as I can do the same.
In 1989, in a little apartment, when I made that promise, that’s where the dream started to build this business called SendOutCards. I needed to find a way to act on prompting. I learned very quickly that it was easier for me to express my appreciation to people in writing. I figured it might have something to do with greeting cards but a long story short, that was way back in the 1990s. It was pre-internet days back then so we did all kinds of crazy things.
Long story short, when the internet came, we created a technology where you could go on the internet, choose a greeting card, type a message, add a picture, click the stand button and over the internet, it would come to our printers. We would print stuff, stamp and mail the card out for you. That was an idea way before its time back in 2001. That’s what we did. We were pioneers and we created that technology. We launched SendOutCards in 2003. We’ve been here ever since.
What an incredible backstory. We’ll save this part of the conversation for another time. I have seven siblings and lost the youngest, my brother, a few years back. I could hear the emotion in your voice. That’s a tough thing but something incredible you’re doing with it. That’s pretty exciting. I’m sure your brother looks down fondly on the whole story. That’s pretty cool. You are so committed naturally to the relationship and the authenticity that is paramount in network marketing.
It’s such a big part of it. We see a shift where people are jumping from company to company. The compensation plans are shallowing out. Sometimes they’re jumping on board with influencers that aren’t fully committed to the product or the service. How do you find yourself bridging that world that exists?
One of the advantages that we have is we’re very much story driven. The story I shared with you is the foundational story behind the business. From day one, we’ve used that story and conducted live events where we tell that story and then teach people the significance of promptings, why promptings are so important, what you can do with them, how powerful they are and the products that we have to help you act on promptings.
Naturally, because of the story, we created a culture around personal development and bettering yourself as a human being. Also, the product itself is heart-driven. It makes people feel good. Between people sending cards and gifts every day of kindness and like-minded people meeting together and talking about this positive appreciation energy we send out, it’s very natural for us to create a culture and community around kindness. That’s been what’s been fortunate for us. That’s the reason that we’re still here. It’s several years later and we’re still moving along. There are not a lot of direct sales companies that can say that. It’s the culture that stands us together.
The SendOutCards has been around for years. When did you put Promptings front and center in your marketing?
We just debuted Promptings and we have our kickoff event in January 2023 calling it the Promptings Premier so it’s a brand-new launch. We are running under the business name Promptings.com. SendOutCards is still the marquee product. Promptings is powered by SendOutCards but that’s what we’re about, helping people act on their promptings.
Have you read Play Bigger by chance, Kody?
I’ve heard that. I haven’t read it though.
You’d love it. The basic premise of the book is that when you’re building a company, the reality is that what’s even better is to win the category and be a category king. You build it around, in this case, promptings. You’ve got such an extraordinary story to tell that becomes anybody that ever types in promptings, you own that space.
Anytime you have a prompting, you’re communicating that story and then SendOut becomes the solution. You’d find it interesting because you are doing a great job of it. How has that changed in a short time? Other people reading might be thinking, “Maybe I need a better story around the brand or the product?” Have you seen any changes yet? It’s early in the game.
We have seen changes but the foundational story was always the same, the whole reason we’re still in business. In the early days, we led with our product, SendOutCards. What we led with is, “We have a card system. It helps you follow up with people.” A lot of businesses would use us to follow up with our products. Back then, when you said the word promptings, you’d get deer in the headlights from people like, “What do promptings mean?”
As time has evolved, the whole world is different. The world is poised and positioned desperately needing the message of promptings. We have chosen to lead out with promptings. We are all things promptings here. We are here to help you act on your promptings to reach out with kindness. If you will follow us, we’re going to show you the promptings ways to create better relationships, relationship marketing success with your business and manifest your goals and desires in life. That’s helped us to own it. We own promptings. We make no mistake. If you google promptings, we’re all you’re going to see.
That was that Play Bigger methodology for sure. Are you adding other products and services to the SendOutCards line then?
We have numerous products we’re adding to the line. We’ve been in greeting cards and gift all of this time and we still have greeting cards and gifts but we have different facets of cards. We have heartfelt greeting cards. We’re all about sending an individual heartfelt message to an individual one at a time. We believe that in doing that, you create what we call appreciation energy. We’re big on heartfelt cards. We even have a program where you can send unlimited heartfelt grading cards anywhere in the world, stamps included for $97 a month. The reason we do that is that we want people to be in the habit of individually sending cards every day.
We have what we call System Cards. System Cards are what all businesses want. They want a system that sends them automatically. We have that product but we always distinguish the difference between a heartfelt card and a system card because it’s the heartfelt card that makes the real difference. We have that. We’ve always had gifts that you attach to cards. The prompting might be to send a card to somebody and the afterthought might be to attach a gift to it.
System cards are what all businesses want. They want a system that sends them for them automatically.
We have a new gifting company called Bella Cadeaux. Sometimes, you want the perfect gift and the afterthought is to attach a card to it. Bella Cadeaux is a high-end gift that we offer people. We have a virtual assistant service so a virtual assistant can help you set up a contact manager and help you set up all of your groups and everything so that you can utilize our services. We have relationship marketing training services.
I have a personal development company called Promptings Academy, where we have personal development courses that we teach. We even have a nutraceutical line. A lot of times, when we talk about promptings, you’re being prompted by your body to take care of your body. You know what your body needs before anybody else does. Your body naturally speaks to you and tells you where you are nutritiously deficient. We have an assessment-based nutritional product line that goes along with it as well.
Let me shift gears a little bit in this affiliate world. You talked a little bit about it in the notes that I got and I thought that was interesting. I’m going to set the stage a little. Some companies are struggling with this affiliate marketing space, this influencer space and the fundamentals of network marketing, depth, simplicity, relationships and authenticity that make network marketing very sticky. I don’t think a lot of companies are doing it particularly well. You seem to have found a bit of a balance between being able to work with both. How are you doing that, if I have it right?
You do have it right and it’s taken us some time for sure. We spent the last few years in transition moving more to at least support and affiliate-based marketing. We have a product where the sponsor, the person that’s bringing on new business is pretty actively engaged in getting somebody set up. We naturally appeal to an affiliate base because as a sponsor, I have a lot of activity with somebody. I need to make sure those people are adequately compensated.
A couple of years ago, we shifted our comp plan to put more commission on the front end and we have what we call an affiliate commission. A few years ago, I changed the name of our independent reps from distributor to affiliate. I got heavily criticized when I did it saying, “You’re just faking it.” I’m like, “No, I’ve got a plan.” We’re always going to have a network marketing back end. But we want an affiliate front end because we knew that the world was going to be affiliate-based one. Everything’s driven by the internet now. If you want a new product, you google it. When you google it, you end up on a sales page and the sales page goes to a funnel and the funnel gets you to buy the product.
Somebody wants to be a super seller of the product. They can become an affiliate. They’re going to focus on product sales and earn that commission. How does that work for the distributor? Does it damage their ability to create depth, volume, security and residual income? Maybe it does and maybe that’s nature or is it a win for them as well at the same level?
This is my opinion and it’s shared by a lot of people in the space. I got back from the Direct Selling News Conference down in Texas with 75 CEOs of network marketing companies. Every one of them is trying to embrace an affiliate type of system on the front end of their network. Nobody wants to get out of network marketing but they want to get into affiliate marketing and the entire space is looking at that. That’s what we’re doing and it’s critical.
I don’t think it’s a matter of, “Should I do it or shouldn’t I do it?” You have to do it because it’s the world we live in. You’ve got to create a place where you will attract an influencer. Let’s face it. There are influencers out there that if you plug into them can sell 1,000 bottles of shampoo for you tomorrow. If you don’t embrace that, you’re going to lose out. You’ve got to get into the affiliate space.
In the world we live in now, you have to create a place where you can attract an influencer. If you don’t embrace that, you’re going to lose out.
We’ve leapfrogged because a lot of people are getting into the space but they’re telling their affiliates to come up with their sales pages, funnel systems and email marketing. We’re doing that for them. My background is in marketing. Early on, I’ve been writing sales pages for my affiliates. We’ve built funnels, like email drips and all kinds of stuff attached to that, for our affiliates.
I have a marketing team that I’ve trained to do that but we want to make sure that when an affiliate joins us, we can plug them in. We got the tools for you. You’re the sheriff. You’re the one that’s got to get the message out. We’ll give you the tools that will do the selling for you. Direct sales and network marketing companies need to embrace that.
The win for the distributor though is your margin is going to go down because the retail affiliate that’s retailing is going to earn a much higher margin but is this your perspective on it? The idea should be the volume goes up and they make up for the difference of having a real affiliate program. They move more volume so it’s a win for everybody.
There’s no question and beyond that, in this world, if you have a network marketing organization, you have to have a way for a brand-new affiliate, distributor or whatever you want to call them to join you and be able to make some decent income quickly. If you don’t, they’re going to go drive Uber and do a million things you can do in this gig economy to earn an extra couple of $100 a month.
You got to have a way for that brand-new person to do that. If you have success at the entry-level, everything else takes care of itself. If you keep people engaged at the entry-level, then the team stuff will take care of itself. If those people get disengaged or move over to some other gig or other side hustle, then everybody loses.
Attention spans are pretty short, for sure. People as distributors or affiliates still have to talk to people. They still have to get the prompting story no matter how good the story is. It’s got to get told and the follow-up needs to happen. What are you trying to do on that front to help your team identify the lead measure, prospecting, follow-up effectively and consistency in terms of personal development, training or accountability? What are you doing on that side of the business?
First of all, when an affiliate joins us, we plug them into our system and our tools. With the nature of our products, we’re teaching philosophy and the promptings way to succeed in business and life. We have a plethora of products we offer. The best way for us to get that entire message out ironically is with an eBook. We have an eBook at the top of our sales funnel. The eBook is called The Promptings Process. You share the eBook and people read the eBook.
The eBook has a bunch of attachments in it that guide you to our different products and services. When you click on those, it takes you to sales pages. The sales pages, hopefully, do the job of selling you why you need these services. That’s what we plug people into. Once they’re in, we have the training and different things we do with our affiliates all the time to teach them how to use the tools.
Last a few things here. The difference between affiliate partners and the more traditional networker is still targeting affiliate partners themselves to market. If you don’t mind sharing, what percentage of your volume is coming from the affiliate side versus the more traditional build-a-team networking side?
We’re in transition so we have an old network that was all in network marketing and we have a new team of people coming on that’s generating income in affiliate marketing. The affiliate marketing is also tied to the backend network marketing plan so we’re a hybrid. If we talk about people that are joining us in 2022, I would say that probably 60% of the income is going more onto the front end side of that and 40% is going on the backside. If you were to look at our whole organization, it’s still 80% on the backside and 20% on the front side because we have a long history of thousands of reps and customers over the years.
That is a pretty significant shift in methodology. Has the organization settled around that concept at this stage?
They pretty much have because the existing networkers know that for them to grow, they’ve got to keep somebody in. They’ve embraced this new methodology. They probably have the best of both worlds because they’re still benefiting from a large network of people on whom they earned team commissions.
How do you deal with a retail customer that comes to SendOutCards directly and wants to purchase?
We’ve always been on the side of protecting the affiliate. However, we’re learning that the best way to protect our affiliates is to bring everybody we can onto our service as fast as we can because if we don’t, we lose them. We have embraced the concept that when people are introduced to us in a myriad of ways, whether they google us or whatever, we are making it easier for someone to buy products directly from us instantly, as quickly as we can get them in the system and plugged into one of our email drip systems to keep them engaged. We then will take and assign them to active affiliates that we know will take care of them as customers.
You’re not violating the trust that is built with the company. You’re not selling directly against them and certainly not at the same price point. That’s the thing that’s causing companies trouble because they’re not honoring the relationship or the trust that they have with the company with their customer, which is the team as well.
It’s a tough battle because no matter what you do, reps immediately think, “You’re competing with me.” It takes a while for us to educate that we’re not at all. A rising tide raises all ships so we got to bring the volume in and then assign it out. You never want to block any revenue from coming into any organization.
Congratulations on the success. Any closing thoughts on those other leaders out there or enterprises that are trying to navigate this time and space that we’re in? There are a lot of rapid changes in the industry.
I got to emphasize, don’t get caught up in the hype of things. There’s so much hype in the world, especially with social media. Fundamentals are fundamentals. I read something that you’re into stoicism, is that right?
Don’t get caught up in the hype of things. Even when there’s so much hype in the world now, especially with social media, the fundamentals are still fundamentals.
I love some good stoicism.
Take good stoicism principles and implement them into your business because those principles stay true forever. Principles like what you send out come back to you. How you treat people is the way you get treated. Honesty and integrity mean something in the world. Provide good service. Be a humble servant. Those are all stoic types of things that are crucial for us. We live in a day and age where there are a lot of hypesters and a lot of people who look flashy, wonderful and great. You have to be like them to be successful but you don’t. You need to be true to your values, who you are and the fundamental principles of goodness. That’s what’s going to make the difference going forward in my humble opinion.
Kody, the concept of prompting all around is one of those types of principles that if people want to learn more about that, that can benefit them in their networking business. How do they find out more about Kody Bateman and the Promptings concept? What’s the best way?
The best way is Promptings.com. That’s going to get you a quick clear vision of what we’re doing. Also, KodyBateman.com. You can see some stuff there. You can go to PromptingsProcess.com and that will give you access to the eBook I’m talking about. Those are some great ways to find out.
Congratulations on all the success. Thanks so much for taking the time with us.
Patrick, I appreciate the invitation. I love what you’re doing. Keep doing it. We’re going to make this industry great.
I love it. Thank you.
- Play Bigger
- Bella Cadeaux
- Promptings Academy
About Kody Bateman
Kody Bateman is the founder of the modern-day Promptings Movement. His mission is to bring the world together by helping people act on their promptings and create genuine human connection.
He is first and foremost, a teacher and storyteller that has mastered how to create positive stories in your mind that manifest into stories of your life. He developed the Promptings Process to help people accomplish exactly that.
His multi-faceted approach of pairing the Promptings Process with relationship marketing and personal development in an affiliate direct sales model has resulted in world-renowned results for people around the globe.
His systems have been used by over 1 million people with over 200 million greeting cards and 13 million gifts sent to people’s friends, customers, clients, and family members. This activity has generated over 20 million referrals and $100s of millions of dollars in incremental business to his users. His direct sales model has consistently paid out millions of dollars in commissions every year over the past 18 years, making him one of the few legacy direct sales companies in the world today.
He offers countless free tips and trainings via online and social media platforms and offers life-altering and business-generating events around the world.