Strategic Partnership Development

We don’t use Hubspot. #Inbound17 was great, anyway!

Full disclosure: at WorkBook6 (where we specialize in strategic partnership development), we’re not a @Hubspot user, but we loved #INBOUND17

We’ve tried hard to convince ourselves otherwise, but the truth is Hubspot doesn’t fit WorkBook6’s business model. That’s cool with us – we celebrate that our strategic partnership development focus isn’t like many others. For the record, nothing else works, either; Salesforce, Zoho and others have also failed to meet our needs.

We’ve built our own platform, instead (more on this another time, though). But, let’s be clear: while we don’t use Hubspot, I’m flat-out impressed by the company, and as we learned this past week while attending INBOUND 2017, their value stretches far beyond the utility of their products.

I walked away touched by their ability to build a thriving community and inspired by the platform’s enablement of great, thoughtful marketing.

This leadership team gets it – and they share it

But I did attend the opening talk by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah – Hubspot’s co-founders and leaders. Few firms grow as so impressively without experiencing significant turnover at the top. Through several rounds of capital and, then, an IPO, Brian and Dharmesh have remained at the helm.

I’ve seen too much of the opposite: having experienced plenty of top-level turmoil, I wanted to see these leaders in action. While one can’t catch the whole story in an hour, I did notice a few common attributes which I suspect have played a role in this success and longevity: they’re humble, they value their team, and they’re fun.

Brian joked about his family. He shared stories about his son. He acknowledged his leadership team – particularly Katie Burke, the Chief People Officer. He was open about the few times in their past when growth and progress was slow. And he talked about having to learn to say ‘no.’ Dharmesh called himself ‘indoorsy.’

He talked about stressing over an invitation from Sequoia Partners to join 100 top tech entrepreneurs – including Elon Musk – because he was afraid of being around so many people. This was artful. In front of something like 4,000 people, he admitted being an introvert. In a time when we see so many examples of bombast from men in leadership positions, he connected with his audience through precisely the inverse: he was vulnerable and humble. To me, that’s confidence.

They’ve inspired millennials through strategic partnership development

To anyone out there who thinks millennials don’t work hard, please visit INBOUND next year. From a strategic partnership development perspective, the place was absolutely jumping with young professionals and entrepreneurs from across the planet. They were hustling. And selling. And, yes, they were also drinking craft coffee. Here’s a thought, though: could it just be that many of the aspersions thrown their (our) way are merely rooted in misunderstanding. Ponder it. Maybe over a pumpkin-flavored micro-brew.

I could write more. But Rob Stevenson told me y’all wouldn’t read more than 300 words and not to use too many commas. And, I’ve nearly doubled that, so, you know, while I hate to do it, and it hurts so bad, I really, really, really gotta go, now. Thanks Hubspot – INBOUND was a blast! Lead Generation

Well Played

So #INBOUND17 happened, and the WorkBook6 team was representing in full force. Sponsored by Hubspot, #INBOUND17 is a celebration of all things inbound marketing (and lead generation), and let’s be candid – Hubspot (as the leader in this space) put on one hell of a show.

Thousands and thousands of marketers descended on Boston to participate, and to hear from such inbound luminaries as Michelle Obama and John Cena (wait, what?), but more specifically the value of Hubspot is the networking.

Traditionally, most trade shows build one or two stream or tracks with dynamic content, but in this day and age business happens face-to-face. Catching up with old friends, making new friends, watching the Red Sox take on the Blue Jays, getting your hair cut at 1:30 a.m., an important (and often understated) value prop of the trade show experience is the learning that happens outside the exhibit halls.


Outside The Exhibit Hall

What about on your way to the exhibit hall? Enter Act-On, a marketing automation platform and direct competitor of Hubspot. We all know that conferences and events like #INBOUND17 are VERY expensive, both to host and attend (and exhibit, too). So what do you do if you don’t have Hubspot’s deep pockets but you know literally thousands of your PERFECT clients are gathered together?

You buy a billboard, located directly between the airport and the convention center, for the duration of the show, that drives traffic to a comparison shopping landing page. Shout out to Marcus Murphy, the Director of Sales and Monetization at DigitalMarketer for the pic. Lead generation at its finest!

Well-played, Act-On. Well played.

Why are we doing this?

In launching WorkBook6, I spend a lot of time sharing our vision for the company with potential partners. Along the way, I get a lot of practice answering a common question: “why are you doing this?”

There are a bunch of ways to answer this. Because it’s time. Because I want to own it. And, control it. These all work. But when I take the wide view, the answer crystalizes: I started WorkBook6 because I want to focus on growth, forever.

I’ve always loved helping companies grow. I’ve served as a sales, marketing and customer acquisition leader in multiple industries, now. I’ve also seen the performance marketing ecosystem from many vantages. I’ve sold advertising and I’ve bought advertising; I’ve also helped existing efforts work better. In each setting, I’ve enjoyed the hustle and grind of building new partnerships the most, always preferring the time spent focusing on prospecting and closing new business and building recurring revenue through media monetization. I’m lucky in the sense that it’s largely gone well, and the places I’ve worked have mostly been successful in their growth.

Oddly, this growth has always led to a less fun thing for me: increased operational responsibilities. In every place I’ve ever been, the growth has pulled me away from the market, which until recently, I had accepted as part of the process.

I often hear this same story from our clients. Most of the folks who hire us are business development or marketing executives, themselves, and nearly all of them tell me that for a bunch of reasons, they don’t get to spend enough time on new partnerships. Instead, their days get filled with other stuff, just like mine did when I was in a management role inside of companies. They go to meetings (sometimes just to meet about other meetings!).

They do reviews, and they ponder growing their existing relationships. They assemble and approve expense reports. And they do quarterly and annual planning. They make stuff for their board to look at. They travel for this thing and that meeting. The list goes on. This is all stuff that matters, but in my experience, it’s not the stuff that matters the most. That’s where we come in.

WorkBook6 is hyper-focused on facilitating client growth through partnerships. We help our clients execute on growth strategies that are material and important. We work with companies of many sizes and scopes. Some of our clients are gigantic, multi-billion dollar companies with thousands of employees and millions of customers. Others are startups with fewer than 10 employees. These businesses share few commonalities, but it is universally true that they want to grow, and that they’ve come to us for help with that. We’re immensely thankful to them for the trust it takes to tab a new company as their partner.

We don’t want to do the other stuff. We’re here for one thing: to help the business grow through partnerships.

That’s why we’re doing this.

Here we go!

About WorkBook6:

WorkBook6 is a growth-oriented services firm. Our clients come to us for help with partnership development, coalition marketing programs and general revenue stewardship. Put more simply, we help our clients grow, quickly.The medium for this growth will vary, but our intention is to grow this business into the world’s very best platform for partner marketing. We’ll begin this process by helping a select number of clients with their needs on a 1:1 format.

The problems we solve:

Profitable, sustainable growth is hard, and many direct response organizations are severely hooked on the easy route. This looks different throughout the ecosystem, so I’ll briefly explain.

  1. Retail lead generation is convenient and scalable, so brands in many verticals rely too heavily on existing partnerships. They double down with their lead generation and affiliate vendors; as a result, these advertisers often find themselves with meaningful revenue concentration on the supply side of the business. Exposure to compliance concerns and affiliate fraud add further concern
  2. Media companies (lead generators, publishers, ad networks) suffer from the same issue, though from a different perspective. Because predictable scale matters so much to a media company, many sellers find themselves obsessed with their biggest clients. Senior leaders and sales representatives find their time being monopolized by existing, important clients. The resulting revenue concentration leads to real vulnerability in an inconsistent industry.
  3. Finally, digital media isn’t the only venue offering new customers. Many organizations either ignore or under-invest in coalition marketing partnerships. Because these partnerships take time and lot’s of effort to execute, few peer-to-peer partnerships get past the initial discussion.


We’re here to fix all of this.

WorkBook6 offers an outstanding solution to each of the above perspectives.  Brands turn to us for more immediate success with finding new marketing partners; marketing companies come to us for faster adoption on the advertiser side. Businesses grow. Revenues jump. High fives and fist bumps are had.

And all of this comes at a fraction of the cost of a senior internal resource.


Some thoughts on timing:

This concept has been on my mind for years, and I’ve been waiting for the right time to launch the company since it first entered my thinking in 2012.

You read that right. I’ve been thinking about doing this since 2012. I’ve learned that it’s damned hard to identify the right time to launch a company. Any number of elements can slow you down. I’m sure I’ll elaborate on this, someday, for now I’ll just say this: now feels like the right time to me.  Having worked extensively from the demand, supply and fulfillment sides of this ecosystem, I’m simply convinced that the market needs this, now. And, while I’ve had several opportunities to stop, take a breath, and go for it, it wasn’t time, yet.  And now, it is.


What does WorkBook6 mean?

By design, our name doesn’t mean anything, specifically. This doesn’t mean we don’t have a defined model; it just means I don’t think being specific is always a good thing. Some of my favorite companies are now on their second brand. Not because they screwed up; they simply outgrew very specific names. We’ve got lot’s to do before we even sniff the kind of success that companies like Invoca (formerly RingRevenue) and Jornaya (Formerly LeadID) have seen, but I’d like to think I’ve learned a bit from their success. And because I know it’s hard to build a brand that matters to its target audience, I’d like to only do it once.

I want this company and the brand we build to mean growth, simplified. To accomplish this, we’ll need to stay agnostic to both industry and channel – we have to be as useful to an online insurance provider as we are to a home security company.  We want to help trade associations monetize their membership just as well as we want to help cutting edge telecom providers diversify their revenue. It’s important that we not become too closely correlated with any one industry, category or channel. I bought countless URLs. I talked to as many friends in the branding and identity creation space as I could. In the end, I looked back to a funny moment when this journey first began: when building the preliminary revenue model in 2012, Microsoft Excel suggested workbook6.xlsx for the file name. For some reason, it stuck with me.  I liked it, then, and the concept persisted. So, I went with it, and now we’re WorkBook6.


When does it start?

Right now! We’re live with a small group of clients, and we’re obsessed with delivering for them. We’re growing, quickly, with revenues roughly doubling each month. This means our team will soon grow, too. We’re looking for talented, highly-driven folks in strategic partnership development, sales, account management, media services and finance. More on that, later, though. For now, welcome to WorkBook6 – and thanks for reading this opening post.

Sincerely, JT Benton

Let’s Connect!