To: All Sponsors
From: SFI President Gery Carson

What’s the biggest obstacle to success in SFI?  Most would agree that it’s all about the lack of activity on the part of new affiliates.  Indeed, if the “front-end” of SFI could be more efficient in creating engaged, active new affiliates, business and income would EXPLODE for all.

“Cracking this code” has proven elusive.  I really should say “re-cracking,” because, in years past, we’ve been able to engage a much higher percentage of new people.  But the numbers have fallen off, despite our best efforts.  

Why have they fallen off?  That’s the million dollar question.  But I can tell you that, over our now-20-year history, the marketplace has shifted many, many times.  What worked last month/last year no longer works this month/this year.  Technology changes, governments change laws, behaviors change.  What was once novel and exciting now no longer works…and visa versa, too!  For example, email used to work wonderfully. Today, we’re probably lucky if 5% receive and/or open the emails we send them.

So, what’s the answer?  The answer is that we have to start testing new approaches.  Moreover, we have to start doing it more scientifically, instead of simply trying to interpret the numbers on our data reports.

That scientific approach is known as “Split” testing or “A/B” testing.  Here’s essentially how it works:

Let’s say I’ve got a new product I want to sell.  I create two different ads (an “A” ad and a “B” ad).  Each is distinctively different from the other.  I expose my two ads each to the same number of people.  The ad that produces the most sales is considered the winner.  The ad with the lesser results is discarded.  I now might take the winning ad and create two variations of it.  

For example, I might try two different headlines, or two different images, or different color schemes.  From my NEW “A” and “B” I now determine again which produces the most sales…and I discard the other.  I keep repeating this process until there’s essentially no difference in results.  At this point, I should have a solid, proven ad to generate optimal results from my advertising (well, at least for now, at least until the marketplace shifts).

See how that works?  You’ve removed guessing, speculation, instinct, “gut feeling,” etc…and you’ve replaced them with scientific testing and good ole math.

And that, my friends, is what we’re going to put to work for us on the front-end.  That is, effective immediately, we will begin A/B testing a variety of new landing pages/Smart Start approaches.  And, actually, because we typically generate THOUSANDS of new sign-ups a day, we have the ability to do A/B/C or A/B/C/D or even A/B/C/D/E testing.  

That is, because we have such a large sample size available, we can actually effectively test 3, 4, 5, or more distinctly-different front-ends at the same time, putting each of the different approaches in front of an equal number of randomly chosen sign-ups.  It also means we can much more quickly determine what approach is the most effective. 


It means, VERY CLEARLY, that you need to make sure you keep your welcomes and initial contact/training GENERIC…because, at this time at least, you’re not going to know which approach your new sign-ups sees.

The good news is, a generic approach is always what I’ve recommended be used.

There’s an old saying that people don’t care what you say until they know you care.  A very wise saying that is!  It’s also true that throwing lists of things to do, lots of links, etc. at new people is, more times than not, going to confuse and/or overwhelm them.  And as a good friend has told me many times over the years, “A confused mind says no.”

So keep it brief, keep it friendly, and don’t get into any potentially-confusing specifics (no matter how harmless it may seem).  


All of your messages should revolve around helping and serving your new PSA.  Make sure that this theme comes through loud and clear! Introduce yourself of course, but otherwise stick mainly to…

“Do you have any questions I can answer for you?”


“If there’s anything I can help you with, don’t hesitate to ask.”

There will be plenty of time later to recommend LaunchPad, the To-Do List, or whatever.  And, don’t forget, in the welcome letter they’ll get from SFI we’ll let them know about how to get started.  So don’t even worry about that, just break the ice and make sure they know you’re there to help them!

So…look over your welcomes/getting started materials and edit as needed.   Then stay tuned as we embark on this very important test that, with any luck, will lay the foundation for a vastly more effective front-end within a few months.  

Here we go!

Gery Carson

Head over to the FORUM–to the SFI NEWS DISCUSSIONS section–to discuss this announcement with your fellow SFI’ers now.

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SFI 20th Anniversary!

We have now officially entered our 21st year!  From a small acorn, SFI has grown into a tall and mighty oak tree, with strong and deep roots.  But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…because we planted an entire FOREST…and it’s spreading across every country in the world.

Happy 20th anniversary to SFI and all its thousands of awesome affiliates across the globe!

SFI President & Founder Gery Carson remembers the day SFI was born:

“As an entrepreneur, there have been very few holidays where I haven’t worked at least a few hours, and this day in 1998 was no different.  I went into my home office that morning planning to spend a few casual hours—on nothing in particular.  It was a holiday after all, and no one else on my staff at the time was working. So it was just going to be a relaxing day where I’d let my mind have a break from the typical daily grind.

I remember at the time that affiliate programs were becoming a big deal, thanks to the Internet, which made it very easy to track sales using affiliate links.  Numerous big-name companies were now employing affiliate programs as a part of their marketing strategy.  And I thought…why not us, too?!  

I remember being particularly impressed with’s affiliate program.  The word was, they had 60,000 affiliates.  60,000!  At the time, that number seemed enormous to me, a nearly impossible number.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong of course because, in just a couple years, we would be experiencing days where we’d sign up over 60,000 affiliates in a single day!  

But on this morning, I was simply sketching out a few basics on how our affiliate program would work.  At the time, we were publishing our magazine, Six Figure Income, which featured exclusive interviews with home-based entrepreneurs who were earning at least $100,000 USD annually from their business.  This magazine was essentially our one and only product.  By the way, it’s from the magazine’s name that the SFI Marketing Group name came to be (a few years later we changed the initials to stand for Strong Future International to better align with our vision for the program).

Six Figure Income magazine’s premier issue was the March/April 1998 issue.  Prior to this, and stretching all the way back to 1986, we had published other newsletters and magazines devoted primarily to mail order entrepreneurs, including Mail Dealer Newsletter, Mail Profits Magazine, and Profits Magazine.  During those years, marketing by mail was the “Internet” for many entrepreneurs.  At least for entrepreneurs like myself, virtually all my marketing was mail-based (with a little bit of help from phone, fax, and conference calls).

Six Figure Income magazine was published just four times per year, and a one-year subscription was $49, so we had a healthy margin…enough margin to pay a handsome commission to anyone who wished to be an affiliate of ours and sell subscriptions.

Within days of deciding to create our affiliate program, I had published information on how to sign up online (supplemented, if I recall correctly, with a small direct mail campaign ironically).  To my pleasant surprise, sign-ups starting coming in almost immediately.  Not a lot, maybe a dozen or two a week, but that number rapidly accelerated.  Soon it was hundreds of sign-ups a day, then thousands, then tens of thousands!

Driving this now hyper-growth was our decision to expand the program and compensation plan—many of the details of which were hammered out during a weekend at SFI affiliate Steven Sashen’s Boulder, Colorado, home with affiliates Gump Wallen and the late, great Richard Strayer (we miss you, Rich!).  By January 2001, we had exceeded one MILLION affiliates.  By the way, with our most recently assigned ID number, over 18 million others have joined SFI since, more than 19 million in total!

Yet, like many great accomplishments, it all started with a simple idea, a simple inspiration.  Today, SFI is the online home for millions of entrepreneurs from every country in the world.  Indeed, SFI today is very possibly the largest and most successful affiliate program in the world, and I couldn’t be more proud.  But look out, ’cause we’re just getting warmed up!”

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