This week we present a brief interview with Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov. This Entrepreneur is an excellent example of how hard work and determination can pay off. Geno is considered one of the leading strategists of the affiliate marketing world!
Can you name a specific company that you own so that we can talk about you as the “owner” of that business?
I own several businesses, but my primary one is AM Navigator LLC, a company focused on affiliate marketing consulting and affiliate program management.
Can you tell us a little background about yourself?
I was born and raised in a Russian family in Moldova, a former Soviet republic and now a country of its own, landlocked between Ukraine to the East and Romania to the West. I lived in Moldova until the age of 21, which was when I travelled abroad for the first time. The first Western city and country that I travelled to were Oxford, England. I studied psychology, as well modern and classical languages at the University of Oxford, while completing the Master’s part of my 5-year BA and MA linguistics degree in Moldova. It was a fun time of travelling between two countries, and studying at two universities at the same time. Once I graduated, I travelled to the U.S. where I studied counseling psychology for two years. After that, I went to back to England – to get a Master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge.
In early 2000s, right at the dawn of it, I got involved in e-commerce. I must admit, the field fascinated me more than any of my studies. And my fascination with the world of e-commerce greatly predetermined my future destiny in affiliate marketing.
Describe your company’s primary activities and how you provide “value” to your customers, readers, exhibitors, etc.
First, let me clarify what “affiliate marketing” is. Sometimes being called “performance marketing” it presupposes working with independent marketers who would refer business to you, whereas you would compensate them only when performance (sales, leads, referrals, etc) happens. At AM Navigator we help businesses tap into this highly cost-effective type marketing. We consult on what it is and how it works; we help businesses set up and launch affiliate programs; we provide management services for those who do not have the resources to either hire someone or train an employee. Over a dozen years that I have been in this business I have made affiliate marketing work for businesses as large as Forbes, Hallmark, and Skype, and as small as mom-and-pop online shops [more here].
How did you get interested/involved in affiliate marketing?
While at Cambridge, I started my first online business, a Russian gifts and collectibles store. Having tried numerous avenues of digital marketing (from paid search marketing to banner advertising, and everything in between) I discovered affiliate marketing, and started my first affiliate marketing program. As that program flourished, I was approached by a online jewelry store whose owner asked me if I would manage their affiliate program too. I agreed. In 2006 I bade my own online store farewell, and turned into a full-time online marketing consultant and affiliate program manager. In 2007 I published my very first book “A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing” while in 2011 my “Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day” came out. To date both of these remain as the bestselling affiliate management books out there. They’ve been used to train literally thousands of affiliate marketing professionals, and are currently used in multiple MBA courses worldwide.
At present time I am actively involved in the affiliate management, online marketing consulting, writing, and public speaking. I also run the world’s only conference dedicated to affiliate program management, Affiliate Management Days.
What are the biggest successes and challenges you have faced?
My two biggest successes so far have been: (1) the birth of my daughter, my joy and my inspiration, and (2) obtaining the status of US permanent resident as an “alien of extraordinary ability” (due to my contribution to digital marketing, in general, and affiliate marketing, in particular). Of course, I’ve published several books, studied at good schools, founded a conference, and achieved good success as a speaker and business consultant. But nothing compares to the aforementioned two – I’m sure it has something to do with their embodiment of our two deepest needs: one for belonging, and one for recognition. Yes, those that you’ll find right in the middle of the proverbial Maslow’s pyrmid.
What advice would you offer to new Entrepreneurs?
We have a proverb in Russia: “He who does not risk, never gets to drink champagne.” A healthy degree of adventurism is integral to entrepreneurship.
Additionally, learn to discern constructive criticism from the “critics” that will never be happy. Keep your goal in focus and press on, regardless of the obstacles. In a brief speech on personal branding, delivered over two years ago I’ve illustrated this principle with a story from my childhood which can be seen in this short video clip.