How Being Authentic Can Return Great Results

By clariondevelop

Lee-Ann Johnstone looks at how adopting a fresh approach to her business towards the end of last year drove her in new and rewarding directions, and she recommends that you do the same in 2016.

It's a new year and we all use this time to make resolutions and bring about change. I therefore want to start my column with a quote from a good friend of mine (Mel, a successful bingo affiliate) that is: “Be authentic to yourself and it will reflect in what you do – as that’s what makes others buy-in to it.” Seems this advice rings true, as I started being authentic to myself in the latter part of last year and it has changed the way I work. It allowed me to focus my efforts on doing what I believe in, what made me happy and brought about the birth of a unique collaborative event for affiliate learning – AffiliateFEST. To me, being authentic means working with purpose, loving what you do and spreading your energetic work vibe around your immediate tribe (those who work with and alongside you) so that they too can help you build your business. I talk to a lot of affiliates and operators daily and have discovered that many seem to be missing out on this authenticity in their businesses and in themselves. Some have fallen out of love with what they are doing or what their business is about and where it is going. This happens sometimes, and it’s by no means a measure of you or your businesses success. But…how do you ensure you find your true authentic self and go back to working with renewed purpose? Answer: Change your vibe, and engage your tribe! Be cognisant of where you find yourself today - find the right people and the right tools to help you bring about change. Then take time to learn from that change. This is what will give you the head space to plan and strategize where you want to be in the future and what you want to be focussing on, as you expand your business, your program or yourself.

Stop talking and start doing

It’s really that simple! If you aren’t sure where to start (I have struggled with this at times too), find people who motivate, inspire and help you to get back on the right path. Being South African, I want to quote a very wise man who said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela. Saying NO to people, projects and so called ‘opportunities’ that aren’t 100% right for you or your business gives you the bandwidth and headspace to tackle the things that are.

The more you help people in business, the less help you need.

Collaborate with others in the same space, talk with colleagues, strangers and with your customers too. This is possibly one of the most powerful things I learned about how to be authentic with myself and the projects I delivered. Last year, NETELLER bought the Skrill Group and I found myself quickly collaborating with my competitors. Embrace working with people you haven’t worked with before and you may find some surprising and exciting results occur. *Technavio’s analysts forecast the global online gambling market will grow at a CAGR of 10.73% (in terms of gross gaming yield per year) during the period up to 2019.”

The market is buoyant and new brands are launching regularly with unique propositions to service this growing industry. If you’re new to iGaming, have already launched your affiliate business or are working for an operator in this sector, chances are you’ve got an idea, a niche or a brand that is already investing in the long term. Keeping abreast of digital and it’s constant change is not easy. It’s good to take stock and step outside of what you are already doing in order to learn something new. You will meet new like-minded people, you’ll feel energised about your thoughts and ideas and you may even find fruitful relationships which start to make these ideas - a reality! Andrew Edwards – CEO of recently shared his own authentic working experience with me: “My business grew dramatically after I learned to ‘let go’ and empower my staff to perform on their own. It meant I was able to refocus my attention on the SEO and coding side of my business, which is what I specialise in and love doing. I’m being more authentic to my business vision which reflects in how my sites have performed since.”

What else did I learn from being authentic?

Some of the best advice I received in 2015 was from successful I-Gaming entrepreneur, Luca Pagano, who told me: “Networking is key in this industry”. Taking time out from your to attend an event that is specific to your business can indeed open doors when you utilise these networking opportunities to learn. It certainly worked for me as in doing so, I developed new relationships that have increased our revenues significantly. Learning something new can surprise you! Last year I learned a lot about social, a medium that I didn’t really rate in terms of digital acquisition (or revenue generation) in the past. NETELLER sponsored Crystal Palace F.C. in 2015 (there’s an interesting piece of reading on Brandwatch if you care to read up about it - https://www. Social was a big part of this sponsorship as we wanted to increase customer engagement. I learned how to harness the power of social and turn it into real revenue, without even referencing the business, its products or its service.

  • Talking to our audience authentically about things they are interested in stimulated interest in our service and delivered ROI on our marketing activities as measured by engagement reach - by almost 60%
  • Playing with social media as part of our joined-up marketing strategy delivered revenue uplift. Truly understanding this channel and making it deliver calls for a level of grit and patience, which leads to an eventual “ah –ha” moment. You have to find what works for you as I don’t believe social media as a communication or acquisition channel has a one-sizefits-all formula and finding that trigger and tone is what makes it so exciting to work with.
  • Stepping out of my comfort zone forced me to focus on customer targeting before the acquisition messages - which led to engaging new audiences by stepping into their everyday lives as part of their personal interest groups.

I’m not about to write another list of “cool tools” for 2016, these lists already exist, but I am going to share with you one in particular: Openr ( It’s a social media sharing tool that can monetise and capture leads as well as help you co-promote with other brands. It’s trackable, functional and easy to use and it revolutionised my understanding of social marketing and content sharing. I was also impressed by how it transitioned across our entire marketing platform to engage affiliates and worked with our B2B clients (operators) as well.

How did I find Openr?

This brings me back to my fist point about being authentic to yourself and sometimes “playing hookey” to attend interesting events. I discovered Openr during a mentoring programme I participated in (The Accelerator Academy) to coach entrepreneurial tech start-ups in and around London. Not only did this program enrich my own digital learning by exposing me to a number of different businesses (from in store purchasing technology to video and social sharing tools) I made some pretty fruitful relationships as well.

My final words of wisdom...

Start this year with a desire to be more authentic and see where it takes you. Whether you are an affiliate or an affiliate manager, I think most of what I’ve said here can be applied to you. Make the changes that need to be made, don’t wait, work with purpose and passion this year!

“Saying NO to people, projects and so called ‘opportunities’ that aren’t 100% right for you or your business gives you the bandwidth and headspace to tackle the things that are.”

“I don’t believe social media as a communication or acquisition channel has a one-size-fits-all formula and finding that trigger and tone is what makes it so exciting.”

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