LeadsCon 2019 Wrap Up

Well, it’s over. Four days in Las Vegas finds me reflective and proud. And, at least for the first few days upon returning, tired. Like, the kind of tired where you fall asleep at dinner. Or while helping with homework. Super, super tired. Given this, I waited a few days to draft my wrap up post for this event.

I’ve been attending LeadsCon for 10 years, so the Las Vegas event is equal parts reunion, brand-building, and business development for our clients and ourselves. This year, we saw more of that trend, with some adjustments here and there. Read on for a quick recap.

Partnership Marketing Workshop
We were fortunate to be chosen by LeadsCon and AccessIntelligence to lead a Partnership Marketing Workshop on Monday (prior to LeadsCon’s official kickoff). This event, our third in a row, has become an important anchor for our business. We look forward to it every year and commit significant (to us, anyway) resources to making it happen. This year, I was very proud of the effort. Among the high points, I’d include the following:

  1. This was our largest audience, to date. In fact, we filled the room.
  2. In addition to the audience size, we attracted the most diverse group we’ve ever had, with a particularly strong showing from brands and channel sale organizations. (This is very important to me, as without these folks actively engaged, things can get salesy, fast.)
  3. Our speakers did an amazing job keeping the audience engaged, and also staying real. In fact, our first session, led by Damon DeCrescenzo and Jason Kaplan from the Credit Pros, was as contentious and frictional as any I’ve seen. That’s what we aimed for!

There’s plenty more I could say about this event, but the above struck me the most.

Balling on a Budget
As a bootstrapped startup in an industry full of well-funded and established firms, we’ve got to be thoughtful about how we make a splash in Las Vegas. This year, we held a series of cocktail parties at our suites in the hotel. These were super fun, and they didn’t break the bank. For three consecutive nights, we hosted our clients, friends and partners. The venue was perfect, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. And, we got to throw a party….every night!

Meetings off the Floor
While we were each active at the show and in the sessions, we used these same spaces as private meeting rooms, which worked out really well. These folks are always going hard, but I saw sixth gear from the team in Vegas. I think we took Anna to the point of critical illness, but at last check, she’s still among us and returning to normal. As is often the case, I’m blown away by the team’s effort in Vegas.

Innovation Seems to be Slowing
This is the only critical comment I’ll make, and I promise it’s constructive. When I walked the floor of the exhibition hall, it felt as if there are a large contingent of companies fitting into three buckets: networks, call centers, and software. The networks are buying and selling media, typically in a very transactional way. The call centers seemed hard pressed to differentiate. And the software companies appear to be locked in competition with one another on a product level.

None of the above is surprising, but it’s also a little disconcerting. I think there’s a lot of innovation left in this space, but sometimes, you couldn’t get a sense for that. I hope that next year, we see more innovation and disruption. It will keep the space vibrant, ya know?

That’s it from me. What an awesome week in Vegas!

Strategic Partnership Workshop – Full Speaker and Format Announcement!

Strategic Partnership Workshop – Full Speaker and Format Announcement!

LeadsCon is less than two months away. Let that settle in. I’m guessing most of you still have holiday decorations up, and the biggest event in performance marketing is, like, right around the corner? Excited? Us, too.

We’re thrilled, actually, because we’ll be hosting a Strategic Partnership Workshop for the third consecutive year. This event, in particular, has become the cornerstone of our first quarter – we’re expecting a record turnout.

At this point, it feels timely to share some exciting and important details about the event. Our agenda and speaker roster are both finalized, and I’m confident that this year’s workshop will offer previous attendees and first-timers huge value. Attendees won’t just hear from a talented and diverse group of thought leaders; they will also be treated to an entirely unique format that we believe will help involve the entire audience in the discussion.

Here’s the full agenda:

Session 1: Unit Economic Spotlight: Achieving Better Commercial Outcomes Through Partnership

Our first session is meant to be a live wire. (In other words, we want it to get weird!) This will be a candid discussion about the true value of strategic partnerships in a direct response business. Many have experienced, first hand, the dissent that often exists between the business development and finance/operational leaders. We’re bringing this discussion to center stage, pairing two business partners who’ve grappled with the topic for years. Join Damon Decrescenzo and Jason Kaplan from The Credit Pros for a very real discussion on the commercial justifications of forming strategic partnerships.

Session 2: Forming, Developing and Executing a Partnership Strategy

We have three incredible panelists lined up to address critical phases to any successful partnership platform. But, in this setting, our panelists aren’t the stars – the audience is. The first half of this session will feature targeted breakout sessions, which will be headed up by our panelists. Will Curry from PureTalk Wireless will lead the group focusing on program strategy; Vince Lewis from Quicken’s Core Digital Media will cover prospecting, and Chrissy Ingalls from LightStream (SunTrust Bank’s innovative consumer lending business) will facilitate the discussion around program execution. These folks each boast tremendous backgrounds; merging this expertise with the audience’s perspective will, I think, be really cool.

Session 3: Group Mentality

Over the 10+ years since the first LeadsCon was held, our community has grown ever-more transactional. Publishers, networks and lead sellers all depend on paid media to create valuable inventory, while brands enjoy the convenience of per-lead (or, action) pricing formats. To maximize yield, competitive bidding formats have taken hold – pitting eager advertisers against one another and testing the limits of profitability.

But, what if brands and publishers could access customer populations through less competitive channels? Hundreds of millions of Americans each year join membership groups and associations, or participate in similar, brand-sponsored loyalty programs. In each case, the groups actively represent their members’ interests, often offering specialized products and services to their constituency. To better understand this ecosystem, and the dynamic relationship between affinity organizations and their brand partners, we’ve recruited two tremendously talented leaders from this ecosystem. Join Rita DiPalma from Augeo Affinity Marketing and Jason Nierman, who helped build TrueCar’s partnership program before spearheading Rollick Outdoor’s innovative partnership platform.

As you can tell from the above descriptions, we take this event very seriously. It’s critical that our audience walk away with real value from each of our sessions. If you’ve attended one of these events in the past, you’ll hopefully join us again. If you’ve not participated previously, please know how excited we’ll be to welcome you to this one. Here are the event location and time details:

Strategic Partnership Workshop

Monday, March 4
Mirage Hotel and Convention Center
Grand Ballroom D and E
8 AM – 12 PM

Registration Link: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ereg/index.php?eventid=319804&
Discount Code: SPKR100 ($100 off current event pricing)

WorkBook6 to lead 3rd Annual Strategic Partnership Workshop at LeadsCon

Today, we’re thrilled to share that WorkBook6’s has been selected by LeadsCon to lead another Strategic Partnership Workshop as part of their annual Las Vegas event in March. This event, our third in partnership with LeadsCon, is something we’re very excited about. We’re expecting our largest audience to date, and we’ve made what we think are some fairly material improvements to the format to reflect the larger group. In fact, just about every session we’re planning is new territory for this event. We’re actively recruiting a very diverse group of speakers and thought leaders, and the format will be entirely different than any event we’ve ever promoted. We’re excited to involve our speakers and attendees in ways that we haven’t seen done before.

We’ll publish our full agenda, soon, but for now, I wanted to share this exciting news while it’s still fresh. While it seems like it’s a long way off, March will be here before we know it. If you’ve never been to one of our partnership workshops or summits before, I hope you can make it to this one. And if you’ve attended in the past, I hope to see you again! Finally, if you have an interest in participating in one of our sessions, we’d love to hear from you. We can’t make any promises, but we’ll always try to help!

For those who want to register, now, here’s the link. 

Discount Code: SPKR100 ($100 off current event pricing)

Remember, you’ll need the full access pass to attend our workshop – we promise to make it worthwhile!

From M/A to Partnerships: Understanding the important relationship between Mortgage Firms and Insurance Providers

A couple weeks ago, as thousands of professionals from within the mortgage and insurance categories flooded Las Vegas (for InsureTech Connect) and Boston (for LeadsCon’s Connect to Convert), a bombshell fell on the two industries which will surely impact business for years to come in each category. The news, in case you missed it, was the announcement of LendingTree’s (TREE) intention to purchase Seattle-based insurance lead seller QuoteWizard for north of $300 Million. (You can read the full report, here). On the surface, this deal makes a ton of sense. These two firms have independently done incredibly well in their primary markets; their joining forces should lead to even more impressive dominance in performance marketing space, with coverage in two of the most active and important lead generation industries.

Much of the work our firm does touches these industries – we represent leading players from both the insurance industry and the residential finance (mortgage, home improvement) ecosystem. In fact, we’ve been the driving force in a number of partnership programs between insurance providers and lenders. While we weren’t surprised by the news of the transaction, we do find it both extraordinary and noteworthy. I figured I’d write a little bit about the transaction, and more importantly, the general benefits of a mortgage-insurance partnership strategy.

First, though, some background. I know each of these businesses pretty well. My relationship with LendingTree dates back a number of years – I consider a number of folks on their senior team to be close friends. It’s a business that I respect tremendously. QuoteWizard has been a great partner to a number of the companies I’ve been involved with as well, and while their senior team typically communicates with my partner, Brett (our COO), I’ve come to similarly respect their work. These are good companies, and I’ve got exactly zero doubt that they’ve done something very smart by joining forces.

I’ve also believed for a long time that mortgage lenders and insurers make for very good partners. Dating back to Brett’s and my time at DoublePositive (when we launched the now-mothballed ReadyForMyQuote mobile product), I’ve been thinking about how to profitably align these industries. I’ve seen firsthand the success that USAA has had in helping their Members on both the bank side (which is where their mortgage products live) and the property and casualty business (I’m a Member and I’ve supported that business in the past). Later, at my last ‘real job’ (a national property and casualty insurance agency) we worked hard to partner with residential lenders. In other words, I’m a believer that mortgage customers make good insurance customers, too.

It would seem I’m not alone. This acquisition is certainly big news, but if you read the ‘trades,’ you know that there are a number of businesses out there who are thinking about insuring borrowers. Some are wholly-focused on this; these businesses exist specifically to leverage the relationship that these two industries can and should have. Others see this as a program or a channel – though not a business model. Whether all-in or simply playing at the margins, the list of firms looking to bridge the mortgage application and the insurance policy is growing. (Quick note: We represent some of these businesses, so I face a weird thing, here. I either mention just the ones we work with, share a broader list or just skip naming them, entirely. I’ll go with door number three to avoid any feather ruffling.)

So, why is this happening?
Given the level of activity between the insurance and mortgage industries, one’s mind naturally looks for the motivation behind this. Let’s put the acquisition that inspired this post on the shelf (as the parties involved may have had additional/different motivations than just the synergistic relationship these industries can have). I’ll focus instead on the perspective of a mortgage entity (which could be a direct lender, a broker, or even a loan officer) and the insurance provider (maybe a carrier, an agency or an agent). Specifically, I’ll try to nail down why they’re valuable to one another. To my mind, there are a couple major contributing factors, and then a bunch of secondary benefits. Both are briefly described below:

Major Factors
These industries are either critical or supplemental to one another’s ability to sell. You can’t borrow money for a home that isn’t insured. This means that for a mortgage firm to close a loan – and for a loan officer to get paid – an insurance certificate is required. (Further, RESPA mandates that the lender can’t sell insurance.) For the insurer, the relationship is less necessary than it is beneficial. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work leads who have to buy what you sell?

Secondary Benefits
There are likely dozens of solid justifications for lenders and insurance companies to work together. Some, though, are really simple and important; I’ll stick with these.

Insurance Benefits

Homeowners = better insurance customers.
While insurance carriers rely on dashboards that look like a nuclear submarine control panel, their profitability really comes down to just a few elements: acquisition cost, customer longevity, and products sold per customer frame the basics; loss ratios and claims frequency form the more advanced perspective. Working with homeowners aligns to better than index outcomes in each of these areas: they’re more likely to buy multiple products, less likely to move, and generally display a lesser risk profile than non-owners.

Exclusive leads rock! Cheap, really good ones are even better.
This actually speaks to the above point. Typically, when a mortgage firm refers its customers, it does so to a single, trusted entity. And, often, they do so without charging market rate for a lead. Insurance agents prefer exclusive leads to those they have to share with their competition. And because these leads don’t typically carry the weight of expensive media COGS (costs of goods sold), these programs can mitigate – or even eliminate – upfront acquisition costs.

Lender Benefits

Incremental Revenue.
Lenders have very few opportunities to engage their customers. If they’re successful in funding a mortgage, it’s likely years before they may be approached about a new loan (either purchase, refi or line of credit). Further, as consumers become more and more rate conscious, there’s no guarantee of that repeat business ever happening. Forming a partnership with an insurance company can mean incremental revenue for the lender.

Increased NPS and Loyalty.
Helping customers with things you don’t necessarily sell isn’t just good for revenue; it’s good for referral activity and loyalty. When a lender partners with an insurance company, and that partner delivers great service, it reflects well on the lender. They can expect an improved Net Promoter Score and a greater degree of customer loyalty.

Let’s wrap this up. LendingTree and QuoteWizard makes sense. So do the many business models and programs looking at the relationship between banks and insurers. To me, the more important message is that these programs aren’t just formed by acquisitions and deployed capital. There’s nothing stopping residential lenders and P/C insurers of all sizes from forming partnership programs that can leverage this value. These kinds of engagements help companies grow, but more importantly, they help customers have a better experience.

I hope you like this content. I’ve loved writing it. I think this stuff is fun to think about, but it’s even more fun to execute. I typically don’t use this blog to promote our business, but here I will:

If you’re a lender looking for an incredible insurance partner, we can help.

If you’re an insurance company looking for great lender partners, we can help.

If you have a technology that makes it easier for mortgage applicants to buy insurance, we can help.

Thanks for reading. Peace!

LeadsCon 2018

WorkBook6 at LeadsCon 2018 | Strategic Partnership Marketing

Hey folks! JT Benton here, and I’ve got an amazing update on the Strategic Partnership Marketing Workshop that is kicking off Leadscon Las Vegas this year.

So with LeadsCon’s annual Las Vegas event fast approaching, I thought it would be good to write a bit about this year’s event. Since launching the company about 18 months ago, we’ve worked hard to make LeadsCon as successful and eventful an event as possible.

This year, we’ve taken this to another level. We’re in a full-on sprint around here. We’ve got a full calendar of events planned, and we’ll have greater than half of our team on the ground in Vegas.

I’ve summarized what we’re up to, and also what we hope to accomplish at LeadsCon this year, below. Read on!

KEY EVENTS

Monday, March 5:

Partnership Marketing Workshop: 8:00 – Noon

For us, the single most important event at LeadsCon 2018 is our StrategicPartnership Workshop, which we’re hosting on Monday, March 5. This program is meaningful for many reasons, and represents the entire spirit of what we’re trying to accomplish at WorkBook6: partnership. We’ll be leading jam-packed four-hour series of sessions with some of the very best and brightest minds in the performance marketing space.

Attendees will hear from senior-executives and product leaders from companies such as Facebook, Spring Venture Group, NBKC Bank, ActiveProspect, WD Social, Motus and InsuraMatch. This is not a typical LeadsCon format because it isn’t focused on leads at all. Instead, we’re diving DEEP into the ways that leading companies leverage strategic partnerships as a growth engine for their business.

Attendance for this event is capped at 200, and we’re closing in on selling out. If you haven’t registered, yet, you can do so, here. But hustle up – I suspect it will fill up within a few short days of this post.

LeadsCon 2018 Late Night: 9:30 – 11:30, Budweiser Beer Park

This is a really cool venue, and promises to be a fun event. We’ll have wrapped up our partnership workshop earlier in the day, so I’ll be looking forward to celebrating that effort and also catching up with friends from around the industry.

Tuesday, March 6

Creation Coalition: 2:30 PM

In addition to the partnership workshop, we have the honor of joining Todd Nelson from LightStream to discuss his company’s cutting-edge approach to building win-win partnerships. LightStream, which is owned by SunTrust Bank, is among the US’s best lending resources for high-income, high-credit consumers.

And the bank’s approach to growth strategies is entirely unique. Todd will share some incredible concepts for attracting and supporting strategic partners, with a material focus on creating uniquely valuable experiences for consumers.

I’ve known Todd for years, and have been proud to help him with several of these strategies – his session promises to be very impactful.

Tuesday Night Parties: 6:00 – Roughly Midnight!

Tuesday seems to be the night for the party circuit. While I’ll be hosting a small group of CEO’s for dinner as part of an annual tradition that we have the honor of hosting this year, there’s no shortage of great parties planned.

From whiskey tastings to hosted happy hours, there are too many to list, here. But our team will be all over the place – we’re looking forward to running into y’all on the circuit!

Wednesday, March 7:

Sessions, Sessions and more Sessions!

I’ll admit it – with so much going on and a full slate of meetings and events, I often miss out on some of the conference’s best content. This year, I’m blocking off as much time as I can to take in Wednesday’s sessions. There are many good ones to choose from, but I’m most looking forward to the following:

The Great Clips Customer Journey: Consumer Engagement through Smarter Data Analysis: 9:00 – 9:45

LeadsCon MasterClass with Zeta Global: We Know Your Customers, You Just Don’t Have Them Yet; Valuing Customer Engagement: 9:55 – 10:40

The Homeowner Expectation: Satisfying the Needs of Today’s Home Services Leads: 1:00 – 1:50

How Two Successful Financial Services Publishers Earned the Respect of the Millennial Consumer: 2:35 – 3:00

 

Our Goals for LeadsCon 2018:

While everyone has a unique outlook on LeadsCon and what they hope to accomplish, we’re leveraging past experiences to inform our focus a bit differently than you might find with other firms.

For WorkBook6, our goals are less revenue focused and more closely related to communication and enablement of future wins – and everything we’re doing in Las Vegas revolves around our clients.

While we’re working hard to schedule important meetings for our clients in Las Vegas, much of what we’ll do will focus on brief, directional discussion which will inform deeper engagement after the event. This, we find, will make the most of our time, and also provide for a broader base of opportunities to pursue on behalf of our partners when we’re back in the office.

And, while it may seem to be backward logic, we’re not looking at LeadsCon as an opportunity to grow WorkBook6. Instead, we’re organizing our time around helping our clients grow.

We know from past experiences that if we do this well, our own success will surely follow.

Leadscon 2018

Leadscon 2018 is Coming | The Power of Three

It’s absolutely crazy when you think about it, but Leadscon 2018 is only four weeks (and counting) away! We’ve been hard at work as we plot and plan the second Strategic Partnership Workshop, which is being held in conjunction with Leadscon again this year, and the lineup looks amazing!

Do you have your tickets yet? Pro tip: use the promo code: LCLVSPKR and get a $150 discount off your total event registration. And remember – prices go up February 8!

For example – the WorkBook6 team has collaborated with our friends at Insuramatch to present “The Power of Three: Aligning Advertisers, Publishers and Customers”.

Join InsuraMatch CEO Marc Buro and WorkBook6 Founder & CEO JT Benton as they discuss how publishers and advertisers can align to drive sustainable growth for each side, while providing the highest possible utility to the consumer.

This session will feature an overview of important partnership phases, including discovery, diligence and engagement formats. Brands and advertisers hear useful tips around how to select the right publisher partner, while publishers can benefit from perspective around monetization and engagement format. Everyone can gain insight around constructing a deal that is ultimately beneficial to everyone – especially consumers.

And that’s just one of the five amazing sessions we’ve got planned – will we see you there this year?

Leadscon is coming!

Leadscon is coming | From Likes to Leads Session

It’s absolutely crazy when you think about it, but Leadscon 2018 is only six weeks (and counting) away! We’ve been hard at work as we plot and plan the second Strategic Partnership Workshop, which is being held in conjunction with Leadscon again this year, and the lineup looks amazing!

Do you have your tickets yet? Pro tip: use the promo code: LCLVSPKR and get a $150 discount off your total event registration. And remember – prices go up February 8!

For example – the WorkBook6 team has collaborated with our friends at Facebook, Active Prospect and WD Social to present “From Likes to Leads: Leveraging Facebook Lead Ads for Customer Acquisition”.

Facebook changed the way companies reach and engage customers. Like, forever. This isn’t just true for awareness and branding efforts; Facebook’s lead ads product has also helped many direct response brands win big. Join Sona Parikh from Facebook and Active Prospect’s CEO, Steve Rafferty, for an overview of the lead ads product and a deep dive into how brands and agencies are profitably deploying it. 

This session will cover not only the medium, but also technology components which help marketers get the most out of their investment. We will also include key advertiser insights from Sam Bhatt of WD Social. This first-party knowledge and best practice content will help ease the learning curve for those new to this product as well as provide new perspectives for anyone already active in the channel.

And that’s just one of the five amazing sessions we’ve got planned – will we see you there this year?

Let’s Connect!