Tuesday, 1 September 2015

How I Met your Awesomeness: Good Audience, GrowSumo, Calendly & Intercom

This post is about how I met Social Media Marketing Assistant startup, Good Audience and how I feel their services could assist UK and US educators. I also detail how exploring their partner program led to the discovery of some other seriously interesting startups that could benefit educators.

I get a Direct Message on Twitter from Sherman Lee from Good Audience. We follow each other, but I need to check his bio to remind myself about his company. The message is intriguing, 


"We opened up our revenue dashboard to the public... Do you think we're crazy for doing it?" 

I like counter-intuitive ideas that might appear to be insane to others, so I click on the link... And I am blown away! Every aspect of the business is online, completely transparent:


Good Audience and their Totally Transparent Revenue Dashboard

My first thought is "This idea would be absolutely fantastic in education!"

The reason for thinking this is because of the anti-business comments that can come up from time to time, how some educators can have a negative view of for profit companies... there can be a tendency to think that many suppliers are more interested in making money, than making a difference.

This kind of transparency could prove to be useful in building trust by demonstrating the kind of overheads that businesses have to pay out... Or how little money there can be once all the bills have been paid!

I explore further and like what I see. I can think of a few uses for Good Audience that ties in with one of the yardsticks I use for assessing ideas. 

I tend to borrow from KIPP's Mike Feinberg when exploring any potentially interesting technology;

Great Teaching... and More of It!

Good Audience could apply to this "Great Teaching and More of it" criteria in a few ways;


Get back 2 hours of your life
As marketing can be one of the first casualties when budget cuts are being discussed in post-16 education, which can mean that people are being asked to do more with less. If marketing departments have been lost a few members of staff, Good Audience could allow colleges to increase their marketing activity in a cost effective way.

Increase College Admissions 
In this interview with Good Audience Co-Founder Sherman Lee, he explains how they came up with the idea;

"My wife started selling these t-shirts online, kind of like the ones Justin Beiber wears, and I was trying to understand how I could help her reach more people. These teenagers were all over social media, so I ended up following about 50,000 of them manually by hand and we ended up selling $30,000 worth of merchandise"

Given how colleges are always looking for ways to bolster their admissions, it's surely worthwhile for a college to speak to any organisation who knows how to reach 50,000 teenagers.

Generate Revenue
For staff who are still in post, they could apply to be a Good Audience partner and then assist relevant organisations with their marketing needs. 


This suggestion would tie in with my Business Development Ideas for FE report where I suggest that college cost centres could think of ways to start generating revenue.

The ways that Good Audience could assist UK Vs US educators or schools Vs post-16 education with their current services would differ quite a bit, but I think it would be worth having a discussion to assess some of the possibilities.

UK Further Education
Whether marketing departments are working at a reduced capacity due to budget cuts or if marketing departments have remained the same as pre-recession there are opportunities.

FE Marketing: Reduced staff
Good Audience is used to delivering large numbers of their clients target market... At a cost that cash strapped startups can afford. Marketing budgets may have shrunk, but the need for admissions has not.
  • Could Good Audience help FE Colleges do more with less?
FE Marketing: Same as pre-recession
Partnering with Good Audience could provide a new revenue stream for the college and for Good Audience. There are a number of ways that a partnership with FE could develop with things like recruitment, apprenticeships and reducing the number of calls from educations suppliers.

US Education
EdTech companies seeing that education is "ripe for disruption" may mean there are more calls than ever before, at a time when they have never been more unwelcome. 
I love the Hashtag Susan: #GoAwayPushyEdTechSalesPeople
How come suppliers can see how and where education needs disrupted... but can't see how and where sales have changed and that their processes are in need of some disruption?
  • Any time an educator gets an unwelcome call they could refer the company to Good Audience to help them to become more social.
Connected Educator Agenda
I've mentioned a few times how the connected educator agenda appears to be about to "Cross the Chasm" and Social PD in education has the potential to be recognised as formal PD, but getting the unconnected to connect remains a challenge, and could perhaps do with a "Nudge"
  • Could Good Audience work with organisation like Connected Educator Month, EdCampGlobal, EduMatch and others to develop a strategy to get more educators online?
Crazy Ideas and Trolls
Then there are the ambitious crazy ideas that I will try to rope these guys into on behalf of educators... Marilace Curran (@mbfxc), Julie Szaj (@Shyjand Sarah Thomas (@Edu_Match) you may want to put in your diary some time for "Tech Stories Crazy Ideas."
More on the crazy to follow.

After a brief DM conversation on Twitter Sherman asked if I wanted to join his Partner Program. I said yes as;
  • I wanted to see what being a partner for such a transparent organisation would be like, I want to do the kind of things that these guys are doing with their "Totally Transparent Revenue Dashboard" so feel I can learn from them.
  • I wanted to check out what the experience of being a Good Audience partner so I could provide some feedback to educators.
Birds of a Feather: Good Audience, GrowSumo, Calendly & Intercom
Through joining Good Audeince's partner program I have discovered a number of other really cool Tech Toys that could potentially benefit educators. Here's who I found out about and how;

When I was accepted for the partner program I was taken to their GrowSumo page, "WHOA! Now this is interesting too" ...I take to Twitter to Tweet out

I engage with a couple of people around the content of this Tweet, which leads to Russ Thau's article "Why Cold Calling is Dead." Russ works at Intercom... Where have I seen that before? On GrowSumo's page like 2 mins ago and on Baremetrics, who power Good Audience's revenue dashboard.

I have a quick chat to GrowSumo via the Intercom messaging service, Co-Founder Luke Swanek sends me a message asking "What brought me to the site" and we have a quick chat.

When I activate my Good Audience account I get a follow up email from GrowSumo asking "How can we help with my business goals" and ask if I want to schedule a chat so they can find out more about what I do, and how they can help. Luke sends me an invite to connect using Calendly.

The Russ Thau's post is totally intriguing and the user experience with Intercom is positive too, so I check their site out too. Good Audience, GrowSumo and Intercom all look super cool.

Some Awesome Startups... But EdTech is Tough

Good Audience, GrowSumo, Intercom and Calendly... All services that I think could POTENTIALLY benefit educators A LOT!

I have spoken with Sherman and Luke recently and both said that they want to work with educators, but are not focusing specifically on this area because they have heard how tough EdTech is.

I am going to do what I can to make it easier for them to 

1) See if we can build a value proposition for educators, and then 
2) Assess if there is a demand for their service within education.

Am I saying that there is? Nope. Am I saying that there is enough potential to spend a bit of time building and exploring a case for Good Audience and GrowSumo (As well as Calendly and Intercom) in education... I sure am!


More details on how and why I think that GrowSumo and Intercom could facilitate "great teaching and more of it" in the next post.

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