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StartupBD: Learning from LinkedIn to Take Intelligent Risks

One of the partners I’ve worked very closely with over the past few years is LinkedIn. They are a great company and it is a great experience to work with them and understand both their strategies and their tactics.

Clearly, something is working well for them as they recently celebrated the amazing milestone of 400 millions members!

I was recently at their Sales Connect event and was struck by LinkedIn’s approach to taking intelligent risks. This is something they’ve mastered so it was really inspiring to understand how they approach intelligent risk-taking.

I’ll do my best to summarize but in short:

  1. Understand the upside and the downside
  2. Consider the expected outcomes
  3. Manage your portfolio balance

I explain more in the blog post linked below:

Source: LinkedIn Sales Connect 2015: Take Intelligent Risks, Says LinkedIn’s SVP of Global Solutions — Hearsay Social

Startup BD: Focusing on local for social content marketing

One of my favorite Hearsay BD deals was to partner with Trapit to resell content aggregation services. As many of Hearsay’s customers were ramping up their social strategies, they often realized they needed a lot of content.

So enter Curated Content Channels, a Hearsay-branded content aggregation service that lets our customers find and curate exactly the stories and articles they need to power their content marketing.

One of the first customers using Curated Content Channels was Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee (FBIT). What was interesting about FBIT was their focus on using local content to create a very localized, very personal brand; an absolutely great use-case for Hearsay’s Curated Content Channels!

These are BD deals that I love doing; working with partners to create a whole new value-added experience for customers.

You can read more about how FBIT uses Hearsay’s content offering in the case study below.

Source: Local Content to Engage Local Audiences: A Look Inside Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee’s Social Strategy — Hearsay Social

Partnering to bring new skills to industry

I’ve worked on quite a few great partnerships at Hearsay, but this is one that I’m particularly proud of. I come from a long line of teachers so anytime my work contributes to education, I get a bit of a rush.

Maybe there is a teacher gene in me somewhere.

The American College is the leading post-secondary institution dedicated to training and educating financial advisers. Pretty soon these students will be using social to better reach out and connect with prospects and clients.

They’ll learn the ins-and-outs of social through a great new course offered jointly by The American College and Hearsay Social. The College is providing the forum and the credit, Hearsay is providing the content.

This is a great example of academia and industry working together to bring the latest in-demand skills to students.

Source: The American College Of Financial Services To Add Social Media Curriculum… — BRYN MAWR, Pa., Nov. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —

Platform Partnering is Selling

There’s a lot the partnering/alliances world can learn from a well-run sales and marketing team. The pitch, the focus on results, and the need for a predictable, repeatable funnel-conversion system are all hallmarks of an efficient sales machine.

These should be the hallmarks of an efficient alliances machine as well, especially if the machine is focused on building and maintaining large ecosystem integration and go-to-market partnerships.

Here’s what I mean:

Partner to the Problem

Remember that scene at the end of “Wolf of Wall Street” when Leonardo DiCaprio is asking people to sell him a pen? In reply, his audience members talk about the virtues of the pen rather than the customer problem the pen solves. His point in the movie was that to sell, you needed to see the pen from the eyes of the customer and understand what problem the customer is facing.

The same is true in partnerships. Too often companies sell the virtue of their technology and why the whole litany of features on offer makes the company such an attractive integration partner.

What is lost is that partners, like customers, have problems too. If you’re encouraging a company to integrate their application with yours, then you need a solid business case that goes beyond the technology benefits and addresses real partner problems. How does integrating with your technology address a partner’s needs or, even better, the needs of a partner’s customers.

Do Sales and Marketing

The systems developed for sales to fill the top of a funnel and then move a prospect along to that final sale are all relevant for partner organizations. To build an extensive ecosystem, you want to have a strong marketing component to pique the interest of a potential partner and get them to interact with your company in some way (attend an event, download a whitepaper, etc.).

Once engaged, then there should be a process by which that lead can be passed along to an equivalent to an SDR who can qualify the partner and send them down the right track; ie: is this partner a high potential one who needs special care, or could they simply avail themselves of self-service modules?

If the partner is deemed to be high potential, then they need to be placed in the care of a more senior alliance professional who can ensure the partner get the sales, marketing and technical support appropriate.

The same process for passing along a customer from marketing to SDRs to a sales professional holds true in the partnering world as well; especially if the goal is to build a large partner ecosystem.

Grow and Tier the Partnership

A sales team will tend to have an account plan for a high-value customer. A sales rep will check in, understand what the customer is up to, and figure out how to upsell, cross-sell or just plain sell, sell, sell to keep happy the customer and grow the business. This is only achieved via an intimate knowledge of the customer’s business and business imperatives.

The same can be said for managing partners, especially for high-value partners. An intimate knowledge of the partner’s business will help you understand which of your offerings would be of most use to further build and expand their partnership.

Of course, you won’t be able to do this for all your partners but rather for the highest value ones. But if a partner is deemed highly strategic, then it makes sense to have a dedicated partner manager who is executing against a dedicated partner plan.

There should be a plan as well for partners that don’t merit a dedicated resource. There should be an automated or light-touch way to continue to develop those partnerships and find the ones that can move up the ranks and provide more value to your company.

Teaching social media skills to finserv – Hearsay and The American College

Happy to see another new partnership for Hearsay announced. We’ve been speaking to The American College for some time about how to bring great social media training and education to their students and today we’re happy to talk about what we have planned.

In case you don’t know, The American College is one of the leading institutions of higher learning dedicated to financial services. They do am amazing job teaching people how to be helpful and successful financial services professionals.

Look for more details soon at the series of courses we’ll be offering with The American College to help train both this generation and the next generation of financial services professionals to use social media in a responsible and effective way to communicate and educate their client

“The American College of Financial Services has a longstanding reputation for offering innovative and relevant practical education and high ethical standards for financial services professionals, so we’re excited to partner with Hearsay Social and include social media for the first time as part of our formal curriculum,” said Robert R. Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of The American College.
“Advisors know that being social media and digitally savvy has become a prerequisite to reach and connect with both today’s and tomorrow’s generations of clients,” said Hearsay Social CEO and founder, Clara Shih. “More than 110,000 advisors use Hearsay Social and Hearsay Sites today, and we are thrilled to partner with The American College to help them, as well as thousands of others, achieve the next level of professionalism and success through our new joint social media education offering. Advisors asked, and we are delivering.”


Hearsay Social Teams With The American College to Advance Social Business Education — Hearsay Social.

Curating the Authentic Voice

An authentic voice. We all have one.

It is who we are. It is the words, grammar and syntax we use everyday to communicate our thoughts and talk about what is important to us, to the world around us.

Our authentic voice communicates our personality, and expresses our humanity.

How ironic it is therefore that on the most human of technologies, social networks, we often find ourselves communicating in a way that is robotic. Too often advisors post and re-post the same series of financial updates on social in some vague attempt to engage a following.

But ask, is that how an advisor communicates in the offline world? As an advisor of a person’s financial wellbeing, something that is highly personal, do you begin a conversation citing stats and dry, distant financial content in the hope your listener reacts positively?

Or do you make yourself relatable. Talk about your personal interests, ask questions and uncover the interests of others around you?

You do the latter. You want people to connect with you first as a person, and then as a financial advisor.

As Clara Shih, our CEO, has often noted, financial advisors have always been social. They have always first dawn on their personal connections and personal networks to build and grow their financial business.

Understanding this, Hearsay Social launched Curated Content Channels, an innovative way for advisors to find and articulate in their authentic voice on social.

With the help of our Customer Success team, Hearsay admins can now create new content channels in the Hearsay content library. These content channels can be on any topic, general interest or financial, and can even be localized to focus on content from a particular region or city.

The Curated Content Channels offering will draw on tens of thousands of online sources to present the relevant content to the Hearsay admin. The Hearsay Customer Success rep can work with the admin to actually teach the system what content is desired, so the system will actually learn and seek out more relevant content in the future.

With a few clicks, admins can create a stream of relevant, curated content to make available for their advisors. This will save admins the considerable time they now spend to find content to populate content libraries.

Advisors, for their part, can find the content that is more relevant to them and that helps them best find their authentic voice. Sharing and commenting on their personally relevant content will help the advisor evolve from a seemingly automated poster to their original human, and social form.

f8: Facebook finds your audience

The f8 conference was an epiphany for me. I saw the rise of a totally vertically integrated media company where content, IMG_4440communications, commerce, audience and advertising were all neatly wrapped up with a bow on a single platform called Facebook.

One of the big ah-ha moments for me was when Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, illustrated the evolution of sharing. In the early days it was all about text. It then moved to images (hence the acquisition of InstaGram) and now video, where Facebook is rolling out a series of new video experiences for the user, for video producers, and for brands.

In the not-too-distant future, sharing will evolved to virtual reality experiences as well (think Oculus).

What was amazing to me was that this evolution wasn’t about the most life-like way to share a cat video or what you had for breakfast, it was about sharing and broadcasting content in general.

Any content in any format can now be targeted at exactly the right audience at the moment they are mostly receptive to it.

Facebook is a platform where you can browse for content and rely on serendipity for discovery, where content is recommended to you by your friends, and where content can find you based on your stated interests.

For the everyday consumer, that content could be the mundane (cat video) or it could be the profound, as in the example Zuckerberg gave of sharing moments of a trip to Venice.

Media companies and brands (which are rapidly becoming the same thing, but that’s another discussion) can use these same immersive, targeted experiences to tell stories and provide information to their audiences.

The sophisticated targeting on Facebook means you can aim both content and advertising at exactly the right audience. Want to target a piece of content to 35-45 years olds? No problem. Within that content, do you want to target advertising only to females 35-45 years old? Facebook has you covered. No wasted ad-spend here.

IMG_4442Presentation after presentation demonstrated that Facebook is one of the premiere platforms to share any sort of content; personal, professional or corporate.

I recently heard the clever phrase “If content isn’t spread, it’s dead.” That is so true. As a brand, agent or advisor, if you have amazing content that isn’t shared by your audience to their audiences, it isn’t making any more sound than the proverbial tree falling alone in the forest.

Through its reach, targeting capabilities, and both organic and paid distribution options, Facebook is ensuring that content producers, be they cat and breakfast enthusiasts, brand or agents, or Pulitzer prize winning publications, can locate, zero-in on, and engage exactly the right audience at exactly the right time.


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