How do you grow your business without spending too much money? Using performance-based relationships and identifying key partners to spread the word about you! Doug C. Brown’s guest in this episode is Janeesa Hollingshead, the Co-Founder of JJ Studio. Janeesa discusses with Doug the advantages of hiring passionate people and getting out of their way. They also discuss why it’s crucial to find creative ways to spread awareness of your brand. Join in the conversation and grow your business with cost-efficiency!
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Leveraging Performance-Based Partnerships, Referrals, And LinkedIn With Janeesa Hollingshead
We got a great guest for you. Her name is Janeesa Hollingshead. She’s from JJ Studio. She’s a Cofounder. They are an organization that focuses on helping people with marketing as well as other facets of the business. She’s highly intelligent. She was one of the forerunners of Uber. We’re going to talk a lot about how they did it at Uber, how you can take lessons from Uber, as well as lessons that she’s doing. We talked a lot about the performance-based partnership, which I call building an agency. It’s a very powerful tool. For driving, we’re going to talk about how they’re doing for referrals, how they use LinkedIn and a bunch of other great stuff about the success pieces to growing a company. She was responsible for driving tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for Uber. They did it on a guerrilla marketing play. Without further ado, let’s go to the interview.
We got a great guest for you. She’s a very smart lady. Her name is Janeesa Hollingshead. She has a company called JJ Studio. They added $1 million in revenue in six months to the business. That’s why she’s here. We’re going to sharing a little bit of the CEO sales strategies that she’s using. She’s a Cofounder in JJ Studio. Janessa, welcome to the program. I want you to tell people what you do.
Thanks. I’m excited to be here. What we do is we provide fractional COO and CMO services to startups all the way through Series C funded companies. We also do project-based work on marketing operations and product launches.
For those of you who didn’t catch that, that is funding. If you’re looking for funding for your company, she’s the lady to talk to. She’s got a lot of experience there. We’ve talked about this in the past. I think you’ve got some great experience for what you’re doing because you are one of the forerunners and initial people that helped build a very small company into a very large company called Uber. I know Uber, with the pandemic, has taken a little bit of a hit. It’ll come back again as soon as things are cleared. I suspect. You were there from the beginning. You were the driver in a lot of the areas of Uber’s growth. What was Uber’s secret sauce? What was their primary driver of driving revenue in the company you would look at it and say, “This is a sales revenue strategy?”
I joined in January of 2015, which was relatively early for the company. All the way through around IPO time, we had a super localized strategy. What that means is they hired smart people to figure out how to grow the company without spending very much money. What that meant is we would basically do things like go to bars when they’re closing and offer people their first rides with a discount to show them what Uber was, get them right at that moment when they were going to need a ride and get then hooked on the product. We also did things like negotiating partnerships for no out-of-pocket money. Instead, it was performance-based partnerships.
It much allowed us to grow rapidly and identify partners that could help spread the word and increase our audiences. We experimented with everything. When you get that many people that are passionate about what they’re doing, into a room and tell them, “This is the goal. How about it?” You come up with some cool ways of getting those goals or achieving them. We tried a little bit of everything and then we would share our ideas with the other teams. They would spread them to their cities. That’s how we made it work.
I want to unpack that a little bit. There were four great points that I caught out of this. Firstly, you hire great passionate people and get out of their way. We at Chet Holmes International, when I worked there as a President of training and sales, we used to do the same thing and go find what we call Mavericks. The people would go, “They’re not a good corporate person.” We put them in there and they would light the world on fire. It was a great strategy. Number two, I love what you did. You go into the bars like you’re doing guerrilla marketing. You walking in into the bars, recognizing, “There’s a person who needs a ride. Let’s offer them the experience of Uber.”
There were lots of things like that. Giving bartenders that local college hangouts, nice church-key bottle openers that said Uber and maybe had a discount code on them. It’s identifying that opportunity when people are going to need the product and making sure you’re there.Performance-based partnerships allow us to grow fast. Click To Tweet
What you said was permission or performance-based partnerships. I talk a lot to my people about building what I call agencies. Which are those performance-based partnerships that you were talking about? That gives an instant increase in the salesforce without having to put a lot of funds into it. We got to manage the independent channel of that but what we do there is exponentially grow our reach through people who already have our client base that we’re looking to reach. It’s brilliant what you people did. I love the fact that you go into the bars and do the guerrilla marketing. I remember a luxury auto dealership. We’d go down to the country club and pull up in the Mercedes and say, “Why don’t you take this for the weekend? Say what you think.” Most of the time they didn’t return the car without paying for it.
The fourth point was you let people get creative. Many times within organizations, I see this creativity gets stifled because the leadership is putting the fear into the people saying, “If you get out of line, we’re going to fire you.” From what I understand from what you said is you did the opposite. You’re like, “Come up with these great ideas. Let’s try to implement them. Find new, low cost, high yield, tactics for marketing and client generation.” Is that right?
Now we know why Uber grew the way it did. It wasn’t just a fluke. It goes back to and a lot of times people are like, “How long did it take you to be an overnight success in what you’re doing?” They don’t see all the hard work that you and others had put into Uber. We see Uber all over the globe pretty quickly. I wanted to plug this because you’re working on this cool project. It’s called The Knowledge Society. This is an accelerator for kids basically for technology.
It’s a global innovation program or an educational accelerator for teenagers.
The fact that you can work and give back and start shaping the youth that’s going to take over in years to come is a noble thing. I see some very successful companies doing that and a lot of companies not doing that. Everybody get out and do it. Pass on your knowledge because they’re going to be making the decisions for the people when we get older like we are doing for the people that are older. Kudos to that. I wanted to go to how you were building your business. You added $1 million in revenue in six months. You were saying about 60% of it was through word-of-mouth referrals. Some people are going, “I can imagine here in 60%. Is that a fluke?” Was it hard? What did you do?
I’m calling back to what you were talking about the years of hard work you put into to getting to this point. I’ve made it a point to help people that I’m not benefiting from throughout the years and my career to share their job postings, make recommendations to them, give them advice when it’s warranted or when they ask for it. In doing so, I’ve created a lot of goodwill. That’s one part of it. When people found out I was available and no longer at Uber, they started to get excited about that and make recommendations for me to other clients, make introductions or ask me to work with them because they had been waiting for that time. That’s one part of it. That was the very beginning.
What we do is we prove to our clients that we have their long-term best interests in mind. What we do is we will build a playbook for them so that they can start to replicate or in-house what we do for them. We’re teaching and educating. We’re not dragging out contracts and more projects to benefit ourselves. Our viewpoint is that if we teach these clients how to do what we’re doing, educate them and they bring what we’re doing in house, they’re going to find more work for us to do that. That’s been the case. They get excited about that too. They start recommending us to people they know or other CEOs. That’s made up a lot of the growth after we got started.
Basically, what you’re doing is what Jay Abraham taught. Which is, “Go give it all away, do the right thing and get paid. Give it away, give more value far more than you’re getting paid for.” Magically that opens up new opportunities for us when we’re doing that. Those of you who are out there, running your companies, drive your sales teams to do the exact same thing. You don’t have to give it away, discount or do all of that stuff. Go above and beyond. Don’t be differentiated, be different in a positive way. What will happen is you’ll find that goodwill. It is built and then people trust you. When they trust you it’s a natural conversation, “Can you help somebody that I know? I’m looking for this specific type of profile to help do what I do. Do you know 1/2 to 1 dozen of people that might be interested in that?” People put so much resistance about referrals because they’re afraid of rejection or it might ruin the relationship. If you do a great job and you promote that goodwill, it’s going to work out great.
I’ve never had anybody say no to a request to be a referral or to provide referrals. Typically, they’re providing them of their own volition because they’re excited about what we’ve done for them.
The thing about referrals that people don’t think about is their endorsements. We go and we would love to be endorsed by somebody or something in the industry that we’re in that says, “You’re great.” I’d love an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey for example. Oprah says, “Doug is the greatest thing on the planet.” That would be great but for me to go get an endorsement for Oprah where I don’t have that goodwill or that relationship built takes a long time. However, if I help somebody who knows Oprah, if Mr. Tony Robbins for example says something to Oprah. Oprah is going to be like, “Sure. I’ll talk to Doug.” It’s that power of connection.
It goes back to what you said performance-based partnerships. In a lot of ways, it is the referral network that you’ve built that’s driven a significant amount of revenue for most companies, no matter what size they are in a very short period of time. I also love the fact that you’re like, “I had no experience pretty much.” You knew how to use LinkedIn from a corporate perspective or a social perspective. You turn LinkedIn into a prospecting tool for you. It drives about 25% of the business. How do you do it? A lot of people think it’s complicated.
I share things regularly on LinkedIn that are funny, interesting or helpful. I engage with people in an authentic way too. People can tell when you’re engaging to engage from a mile away and they hate that. I hate that. It’s like a post on LinkedIn that, “I was going to an interview and somebody cut me off. It was a dog but that dog was the hiring manager at the interview I was going to. I got the job.” That’s ridiculous. I engage with people. I share their job postings. I try to connect them with other people and make introductions. I don’t do a ton of hard selling on LinkedIn. People comment on what I’m saying if they see the things that I’m saying. I start to build up a personal brand and that extends to my company. I have a question for someone about, “Could you introduce me to this person? What do you think about this thing?” It’s much more natural and that’s what I’m doing now.
You’re being authentic. Don’t differentiate, be different. Most people on LinkedIn are not. No disrespect to LinkedIn. I do this all the time. One of the mistakes that companies make when they hire salespeople is they try to hire from a resume. You can use the resume but the resumes full of lies. We all know this. We all beef up our resume. We look great on paper. I start questioning what’s in that resume and say, “Did you instrument this? How did you do this?” You find out they were part of the team but they weren’t the driver of the team. It’s not that people are intentionally trying to lie. It’s a bit of puffery to get them to stand out and get the interview. You’re being engaging and authentic. That is a very big key on most social media channels that are legitimate. Your stuff is funny. What it comes back to is you’re constantly building goodwill. Many companies don’t realize what business they’re in. I think you’re in the business of people.
In a lot of ways. It’s a lot of communication, education and making relationships.
Let’s talk about that for a second. When we educate somebody, a lot of people like, “What do I talk about?” All you have to do is have a little bit of knowledge above and beyond. You don’t have to have three PhDs in a certain subject matter. Offering them help and them finding value in it positions you as an expert.Prove to clients that you have their long-term best interests in mind. Click To Tweet
A lot of times, I learn with my clients as well about their industry. They’re teaching me. I’m teaching them best practices that I’ve learned along the way and we come to something new that works for them individually.
Be authentic, build goodwill and make people laugh. They love to laugh because not enough people laugh. Do it legitimately, stay away from the things that we all talk about politics, religion, spousal jokes and start developing a relationship. A very simple, what I call, permission-based to ask. It’s like, “I was thinking that you might be able to give me some good information on this. You might know somebody. Could I ask you a few questions?”
One of my clients was meeting with a venture capital group. I know a few of my connections knew the founder of this group. I reached out and said, “I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to touch base because I thought you might be able to help me out if you’re not the right person, that’s totally okay. Is it alright if I ask you a few questions about this person?” They were all totally fine with it.
What if they weren’t totally fine with it? What if they were like, “No. I don’t think this is the right fit.” Is the day end or do you move on?
Let’s move on. It’s not personal. You say, “Thanks anyway. I appreciate it. Hope you have a good one.”
The reason I bring that up is because many people want to talk to them about these types of things especially in organizations. They are afraid of the rejection itself. They don’t move forward in courage. You could still be fearful but move forward. What they’re missing out on is the actual outcome of success due to the fact of that. Somebody like yourself has this personality which you talked about the hero being your dad and persevering. You have this perseverance. It’s like, “There’s going to be a certain law of averages. I know that up front. Therefore, it’s not a personal rejection. It’s just the law of averages. Some are going to work out. Some are not. Some are going to stall or long-term.” I see that as a success trait in you and in your business. Obviously for Uber too.
I think perseverance has a lot to do with it and not taking rejection personally.
All of you who are running companies out there or driving sales for companies, persevere because the world’s not broken, no matter what people say. There are people who are growing by $1 million in six months. One of my clients grew by $3 million in six weeks. The reality is a lot of people are focusing on doom and gloom. What I see you doing is the exact opposite of what I teach people, especially in a down economy or down pandemic is push the pedal down on your marketing. Go out there and get into the public square. Be the bigger presence. Go out and drive this thing because during the downtime, firstly, a lot of the competitors are pulled back. You all have less competition but you’re also creating lots of goodwill. Do they call you Janeesa or is it a fictitious thing that I’m saying?
They call me. I’ve had several clients who have said, “We got some of our budgets back. Now that we’re recovering let’s expand our contracts. Let’s get started on this other project we were putting off.”
You have this cool giveaway you wanted to give to the audience.
My Cofounder Julia Lemberskiy and I wanted to give away $500 worth of consulting services to one reader. That could be anything from pitch deck review or practice introductions that help with a marketing channel, a playbook creation or whatever you need. We are still a new company. We would like to get our name out there a little bit and get some more awareness. The way to enter this is to like or follow us on LinkedIn and/or Facebook. If you share our page on your Facebook or LinkedIn, you’ll get an extra entry. One extra entry for Facebook and one LinkedIn.
Performance-based partnerships. Here’s the bottom line. She’s looking at things strategically always from, “How do I get multiple outcomes out of everything I do?” It’s something I teach my clients to do too. I love the fact that you do this. How do they get to your LinkedIn or Facebook page?
If you go to JJStudio.agency, we’ll put both links on the homepage there for you.
It’s been a great pleasure having you here. I enjoy talking every single time we converse. I’m very grateful you came here. I believe that everybody’s going to get a lot out. Remember performance-based partnerships because this is a cool thing in building goodwill. I haven’t asked you this question in the past. If you could be a superhero for a day past or present, who would that be and what would you do to better the world at that moment?
I’ve always loved Batman. He’s a normal guy who does cool things. He uses a lot of tech. He also has a really strong moral code. I’d be Batman for a day. What would I do to make the world a better place? That is such a broad question.
What would you do to make them as Batman, which is a pretty cool character?Engage with people in an authentic way. Click To Tweet
Bruce Wayne is ridiculously wealthy. Maybe, this isn’t even a superhero thing. I’d start a scholarship fund for kids in Appalachia to help them get to college. I would make it a pretty large one.
I have a friend who has a company that drives hero-based membership. It’s all about doing things for the community in one way or another. The fact is a lot of these people are successful even if they’re on their way up being successful, they do things like you just talked about. That is the superhero which ties back to building goodwill. It’s doing the right thing by people. As you said, early on in our conversation which you go above and beyond, do the right thing and build goodwill. I want to thank you for being here. I enjoyed it myself. When you said Batman, I remember watching the Batman movie with my kids when they were little, the Lego one. Janeesa Hollingshead, JJ Studio, thank you for being here. It’s been a blast.
Thank you so much.
Was that a great conversation? I found a lot of value in that. I suspect you have too. Here’s the thing, when you build a lot of goodwill, you’ll get a lot of reviews. You’ve got to get out into the public square first. That means you’ve got to reach out like Janeesa and I talked about on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid of rejection. It’s going to be part of the game. They’re not personally rejecting you. Even if they do it’s because they’re having a bad day, in most cases. You keep trucking on and realize out of 100 people, 1% are going to say, “Heck yes.” $1 say, “Heck no,” and $1 say, “Maybe.” You stay with these people. If you want to build goodwill. Don’t be afraid to use good clean humor because people love to laugh. Many people are having tough days at times. If you can make them smile, they’re going to be far more open to having conversations with you and building out things.
We did talk about performance-based partnerships. I’m a big proponent about building those types of things. If you don’t know how, let me know. I will be happy to direct you in the right direction. We talked about great passionate people, getting creative on the marketing side but low-cost methodology which a lot of people call this guerrilla marketing because Jay Conrad Levinson was the first guy who made this popular. You can do a lot of things to generate business. If you get creative, think and hire the right people. The people who are the Mavericks and who are going to be the drivers. They may drive you a little crazy because there they are drivers but the bottom line is they do a lot of great things. If you allow them to get creative, they will get creative with you. You don’t have to do hard selling. That is a key when you build goodwill, get great reviews and endorsements, the hard selling is no need for it.
Don’t forget to get referrals, use LinkedIn, use the lessons in what you’ve learned in this episode. I thank you for being here. If you like this, please give it a five-star review, comment and get back to me and let me know what you’d like me to talk about in future episodes because I’m going to keep bringing you the brightest and best minds of people who are successful in their fields so that you can then take what they’ve done and model that processes so that you can employ it into your business as well.
- JJ Studio
- The Knowledge Society
- LinkedIn – JJ Studio Agency
- Facebook – JJ Studio
About Janeesa Hollingshead
Janeesa is the co-founder of JJ Studio, a consulting boutique in Chicago that specializes in helping series A&B startups launch and grow their services. Prior to co-founding JJ Studio, Janeesa spent the past decade working with companies ranging in size from idea-stage startup to multi-billion-dollar post-IPO tech unicorns such as Uber.