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!

The True Value of Facetime

By: Chris Cox

As we kick off the new year, business travel for conferences and events seem to be in full swing. For me, this is an important time for a couple reasons. First I need to be careful about budgeting my time. My role on this team includes weekly (or in some cases, daily) communication with each of our clients. When I travel for an event, this work doesn’t stop, so I need to be extra careful to make efficient use of my time. More importantly, though, trade shows in particular give me an opportunity to connect on a personal level with many of the people I communicate with every day. Slack, email and phone calls are a great primer, but our business thrives on the strengths of its relationships. I always value the opportunity to connect face-to-face with our clients and partners. It’s something I really look forward too. We live and operate in a world that allows for easier and more efficient digital interaction, but I think in-person communication is still critical. So where does traditional face to face interaction fit in?

The tools available to us today have transformed business. They’ve made it easier than ever to remotely interact and work with others. These tools are democratized – we all have access to products and services that help us work efficiently and maximize the value of our time. But this doesn’t change the value of 1:1 communication. It’s impact on our clients’ success is still very real and measurable. It’s important.

Why? If these tools are so great, why is face to face still necessary? A few reasons, I think. First, you can only know someone so well via digital interactions – you complete that picture when you engage 1:1. Second, virtual communication is just that – virtual. Need a real, important answer from someone? Email, slack and phone calls work, but only if there’s a layer of accountability and trust already there. That accountability and trust is still best built in-person. Finally, humans are built to interact. We flourish in one another’s company – tech can’t replace that, entirely. (For fun, check out this Conference Call Parody – I think they nailed it!)

Here’s the deal: there’s no replacement for face-to-face interaction. In-person conversation and interaction allows for things that you just won’t get, or might miss, when you interface digitally. Being there , at least occasionally, let’s relationships grow in a way virtual communication never will match. As we continue to head down a path that relies heavily on technology, we can’t forget this.

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!

Happy Veteran’s Day!

For those who don’t know me, I’m Justin Guido – I joined this awesome team in June and my role has been to develop relationships with strategic partners for our clients. Specifically, I focus on organizations serving a certain membership audience – entities which are truly looking out for the interests of the group, above everything else. Under this umbrella, I mainly focus on military & veteran organizations. I like working this category for a few reasons. These organizations not only protect veteran entitlements on Capitol Hill, but also provide practical, everyday benefits (which can include significant discounts on every day products and services, as well as programs built around major initiatives like the VA Mortgage program or the GI Bill). WorkBook6 actively works to help our clients serve these communities; I can’t think of a group I’d rather support.

I know from my own experience that it feels good to align our clients’ success with real and direct benefits for the military community. So, I thought it might make sense to share a bit about how corporate partnerships can help the military community. 

How can for-profit organizations support and engage with, the Military community?

First of all, they need to keep in mind–this is a very large and diverse group of people. They come from all corners of the country with varied backgrounds and life experiences.

There are approximately 22 million US veterans and active military members, combined. It’s unrealistic to assume they all think the same way or have the same needs. Universally though, they all need and deserve our help.

There’s a big difference between wanting military customers, and actually being committed to achieving this. There are several ways companies can provide support (while creating brand awareness and loyalty) and they each involve dedicating meaningful resources to benefitting this community. This may come in the form of donations, sponsorships or other monetary contributions. Maybe that ties into special initiatives or corporate-sponsored programs (with supporting web content) that highlight a particular military need or cause. Or, support could simply come through hiring; rolling out a dedicated effort to hire veterans making the transition to civilian life.

One thing to keep in mind throughout the process—you’ve got to be patient. These types of relationships and partnerships don’t come easy or quickly. Patience pays off, though. Once you’ve established credibility and have shown your company’s willingness to support this community, you’ll never find a better or more loyal customer base.

Real examples

I thought it might be helpful to provide a few examples of WorkBook6 clients supporting this community:

  1. NBKC Bank- NBKC has extremely strong ties to the military community.  They are the key sponsor for the TV Show Military Makeover and they have a history of giving back to the Military Community. They’re also one of the nation’s top VA lenders and have specifically built loan products to help veterans take advantage of their VA Loan Benefits.
  1. PureTalk USA- A proud veteran-owned cell phone/wireless provider that’s always very eager to support the military community. They offer exclusive discounts to military group members, collaborate on co-branded military group landing pages and contribute “match” donations made to the group.
  1. Seniorly- Open search platform for senior housing options. Seniorly has recently produced a free Veterans Benefit Guide for Senior Living. This in-depth and comprehensive guide provides information to veterans on the types of available programs, aid and assistance, eligibility and application requirements to assist in securing the best senior housing options on the market.

WorkBook6 is focused on scaling current military partnerships and always eager to create new ones.

If you’re a company interested in supporting this community in some way (maybe you’re not sure how, just yet), we want to hear from you!

If you’re a military group or organization and could benefit from corporate support, we want to hear from you!

And finally, if you’re neither but you know of a company or group we should be working with….WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

HAPPY VETERANS DAY!!

Fancy Goldfish Principle

The “Fancy Goldfish” Principle

Let me start this post by being 100% honest – I recently read a wonderful LinkedIn post by Tony Cañas, about the concept of the Fancy Goldfish principle.

To bring you up to speed: Tony travels a lot for his job as a Territory Manager for Liberty Mutual Insurance, and on one of his travels he decided to stop at a PetSmart location to pick up a gift for his children. Tony walked in, headed to the fish aisle, and was confronted by…well, fish. Classic goldfish, available for $0.32, swam in packs as Tony deliberated.

But just above the “regular” goldfish, Tony saw a sign reading “Fancy Goldfish”, priced at $32.

Like me, Tony had questions – what is a fancy goldfish? And what – aside from the fanciness – could possible make one goldfish worth 100 times a regular goldfish?

Turns out “Fancy Goldfish” is a wonderful (fish) industry catch-all top describe a goldfish that is “fancier” than a traditional fish, gold or otherwise. Or to put it another way, it’s a simple way to explain a complex idea (like subbing Fancy Goldfish for Carassius Auratus).

I love the Fancy Goldfish principle. Too often as marketers we get caught up in branding or approved language or trying to speak at customers and consumers. We forget that more often than not, our customers are looking for fancy goldfish, and probably don’t know what a caraasius auratus is.

Marketers “carassius aratus” when they should “fancy goldfish”.

I am often guilty of this: here at WorkBook6 we specialize in bringing like-minded companies together to monetize common target audiences in a bilateral, mutually beneficial capacity…but it took us MONTHS to boil that down to “We Power Partnerships”. The concept of strategic partnership development is easy to understand but incredibly difficult to write down. And I need to constantly remind myself of the fancy goldfish principle.

Tony summed this up beautifully:

I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned from this, for all industries, and especially for our insurance industry. The customer doesn’t shop for auto insurance, they search for car insurance. They don’t look for commercial insurance they want business insurance.

Are you using terms your customer will search for, or is your language on brand? How can you migrate your brand to better reflect the language your customers use on a daily basis?

And most importantly, how can you make your goldfish fancy?

#FullStackExecutive

Is the #FullStackExecutive a good thing? 

By JT Benton

The #FullStackExecutive – if you haven’t seen it already, here it is. Seth Besmertnik’s article on Conductor’s website garnered a lot of attention. I’ve seen it on Twitter and Facebook, it’s been all over LinkedIn, and has now been emailed to me twice. So, yeah, it’s a thing.

In the article, Seth talks about the emergence of a new kind of leader – the “#FullStackExecutive” – who is effectively efficient in every area of the business. The FSE can pitch the sales deck, give development feedback, speak to sprint progressions and work with the finance team. Write content and decipher API documentation. Run a CRM report and conduct deal diligence. So, basically, a Swiss army knife sort of person at work.

So here’s the deal.

Everyone is going to say they’re a full stack executive. Doers. Roll-up-the-sleevers. Suck-it-up-and-dealers. We’re all FSEs! And no doubt it’s largely true – folks today are far more versatile than ever before.

But How is the #FullStackExecutive even possible?

Technology makes this possible – but so do the working environments we chose. This is good, right? Probably most of the time.

But what about the other side of this? I mean, this article is certainly sharable content, but is a workforce staffed primarily of multi-dimensional doers always a good thing? What happens when the software engineer blows a deal because she didn’t have the same training as the BD lead?

Or, as we saw recently, what do you do when the finance executive talks your client out of an engagement by pitching a SaaS model when a revenue share structure would make everyone more money?

Or, when a not-to-be-named CTO from years past insisted on being involved in, like, everything the business did? Weren’t these folks just “full-stacking” it?

Just to clear up confusion, there’s no doubt that broadly skilled beats a silo-ed expert most days. At WorkBook6, we’re stocked to the gills with super-talented folks like this – and we deploy them well beyond the areas their titles might suggest.

And while I certainly wouldn’t change that fact, I think each of us would admit to the occasional shortfall. We get distracted. We lose efficiency within our primary area of responsibility. And we drive one another nuts on occasion. Okay – I drive everyone nuts on lots of occasions.

My Life as a #FullStackExecutive

I love to write. And have all kinds of content ideas to share. But our VP of Marketing says I use too many commas. (I think, he’s just being, you know, kind of, well, ticky tacky, you know what I mean?) Our operational leader – my partner – becomes multi-colored when I derail meetings to allow for certain things to be further explored.

I bring random furniture to the office to be ‘helpful’ – but I really undermine the space’s flow which was actually the result of a lot of work. I suggest completely useless technical concepts which overcomplicate the business.

Helpful? Maybe. #FullStackExecutive? You betcha!

Now it’s your turn – tell me your greatest FSE challenges. Or better yet – tell me how I can overcome mine.

Let’s Connect!