Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. That is the topic of today's conversation with the incredible Baily Hancock. She is the collaboration queen!
What I really, really appreciate about Baily is the fact that she takes all the intimidation and guesswork out of collaboration, and she just lays it all out there for you. She says exactly what you can do to get started, and spoiler: it has nothing to do with your following. This episode is for you if you feel like you don’t have a big enough following for collaborations, you don’t know where to start, why would brands even collaborate with you? We tackle all of that in today’s episode of She’s Hungry, so let’s dive in!
I am super, super, super excited for you guys to hear this conversation today. Baily is no bullshit, she's straight to the point. Her directness, about how about her process was just so refreshing.
Baily Hancock is a collaboration consultant. That means that she works mostly with women entrepreneurs to help them think collaboratively, and leverage their network and community to succeed at all the things. In practicality that mostly means she's working one-on-one with people who want to share their knowledge. They want to share their stories in exchange for exposure to a well aligned community.
Her clients want to get on podcasts, get on panels, and get guest blog posting opportunities to put themselves out there as somewhat of an expert. They want to put themselves out there as a thought leader in their space to attract the right people.
Aim for an even value exchange
All the collaborations Baily teaches her clients to do are all very barter based. So the goal is always aiming for an even value exchange. What that means is that the person you're partnering with feels like they're getting something of value to them. And neither side feels like they're getting screwed over.
A lot of people are terrified of either they're going to get screwed over or their partner is going to feel like they didn't get enough of something because their audience isn't big enough. Promotion is only one of four gifts that you can offer a partner. If your audience is small, it just means promotion is probably not going to be the thing that you're going to offer them.
The main four things you can offer a partner are promotion, content, hookups or discounts, and barter. Pretty much everything falls under those four categories. And that's the same for your asks, which are all the things you want to get from a partnership. It's all about the value that you can bring, that is going to be valuable to the other party. You can't know what's valuable until you ask.
Referral programmes and affiliates, that's all under the collaboration umbrella too. It's just the asks and gives are slightly different. Referrals and affiliates are one of the only things where there is a monetary exchange that Baily still considers a collaboration.
It’s all about transparency
Should you have an agreement for every collaboration? Baily says that having a very transparent conversation from the beginning is the move. Always, the sooner you can lay your cards on the table, the better. And it doesn't have to feel super formal. It's just saying, “look, here's why I want to talk to you about partnering.” Come prepared with a couple of ideas, but be open to flexibility, depending on the needs and goals of the other party. You want to make it easy for them to say yes. When you partner with somebody, you're amplifying each other's voices to your audiences. So you're doing the same amount of work for significantly more reach.
A partnership is a long term relationship, where there's going to be multiple pieces to it. Baily sees a collaboration like the one off thing that you do. In a partnership, there are a few different collaborations that you're doing together. For example: do an affiliate deal with promotion first. For the promotion of the affiliate deal, you can think of a Facebook Live, a podcast interview, and mentioning the link in your newsletter.
Phase Two is getting promotion to the other party’s community. This can be through a webinar, writing a guest blog post, that sort of thing. You can offer some kind of hookup or discount for your services. Everybody wins.
It's just logistics. For that, it’s important to have an open line of communication, so you can have different phases in your collaboration. You can actually develop a structure through the different stages, so that every single step of the way things are being accounted for. People have good intentions, but sometimes you have to paint the picture and literally be like, ‘here's how you can support this situation’.
Baily uses a template with all the gives, asks, and a timeline for it. Both party’s goals are very clearly outlined at the top. At the end, she usually puts a signature line that's like, ‘you cool with all this?’. That just sets the tone of like, we're going to hold each other accountable to make sure that we're doing what we said we would do. And it sets the tone of open communication and transparency. Regular check-ins are a must, because it keeps you on the same page and enables you to pivot if you need to throw out the partnership because things come up.
You have to understand that until you do something like this with your community specifically, you don't know what your conversion rates are going to be. You can never guarantee somebody else's actions. Of course, you can just promise what you have control over. I could promise X number of reach, I could promise the ways in which I'm going to promote them. But I can't promise results. I can't put blame on myself for somebody else's lack of action.
How to keep track of what your engagement is, or what your conversion is? Baily is a huge proponent of both parties sharing their email list size, and their open and click through rate. People get uncomfortable about that. Let the insecurity go, because list sizes is neither good nor bad. It just is what it is. It's more about engagement, if anything, and that's why the opening click through rate is paramount for Baily. That just helps you make better decisions, it helps you say, ‘Okay, cool, email is probably not going to be the place where we're going to see a tonne of traction for this partnership’. But if your Facebook community is super engaged, that might be a better medium for this partnership.
The perfect partner
Baily’s rule of thumb is you want to have an overlapping mission, vibe and audience to a partner. So mission, why you do what you do, by how you communicate it if you both use language like you. Then you're a good fit. And then the audience of course, who you're both targeting. If you don't share an audience, what are you doing?
What's important for people to remember is that this is business. These conversations, it's business. That conversation in itself ‘hey, I've gotten three clients from you, has this been working for you at all?’ can be scary. Especially if you're all up in your head or this is like the first time that you're doing anything like this. Just going through the framework of this is business, you're only having this conversation to make sure that everybody is satisfied. What we don’t want is any frustration because we just didn't keep that line of communication open.
Before starting collaborations…
There's a million tactics you can use in your business to achieve your goals. Collaboration is one of many, and it’s best used as an amplifier to an existing marketing strategy. Because when it stands alone, you still need that ultimate call to action. So that if you're asking for a promotion, you know exactly what they're going to be promoting for you, you know exactly what goal you have that you're trying to achieve via growing a list or following.
Baily chooses to leverage collaboration as her primary strategy. Because by teaming up with a well aligned individual or community or brand, you're inherently spicing things up. You're bringing somebody else's ideas and language and audience to the table. You're getting in front of a different audience than the one you already have, which is very important, and you're not having to spend money to do it.
Collaborations are a long game a lot of the time, because it's often general brand awareness that you achieve. People then move through the sales funnel in their own time, which can make it hard to show conversion. So it’s great for top of the funnel growth, and then you have to move them down the funnel once they're in.
You can still be professional without being polished
There's a difference between unprofessional and being a beginner. You can come organized and prepared, and not look sloppy and all over the place as a beginner. To do that, you need to come ready to play. You do have to get your ducks in a row before you can really put yourself out there to collaborate.
The main thing you need to have locked and loaded is your call to action. What is it that you want people to do when they learn about you? if you do not have a lead magnet or a Facebook community that collects emails when people join or something, it's a passive call to action. A passive call to action is ‘follow me on Instagram’, or ‘go to my website’. An active call to action is ‘download my lead magnet’, ‘join my community’, something that is going to give them a way to give you their email and get into your circle.
If it's just general brand awareness, it’s very passive and the likelihood of them actually getting involved with your community or your product and moving down that sales funnel is really low. So it's important that if you are going to do a collaboration with the intention of promotion, get that call to action figured out, let it be active, let it be something tangible that will enable you to also besides just getting new people to your community, measure the success of that partnership.
And then I think having a solid enough understanding of your channels is important as well. If you have a newsletter or you have an email list, what is your open rate and click through rate. If you have a Facebook community or an Instagram or a podcast, have that information, even if the information is zero. Because when you come to the table to have that partnership conversation with a potential partner, you need to have something to share with them. That's going to paint the picture of why they should collaborate with you. So having very well defined asks and gives and a call to action. That's like prerequisites before you can ever reach out about a partnership because otherwise, you're not ready.
Why collaborate with other entrepreneurs?
Collaborations and partnerships are free. It's the best way to continuously breathe new life into what it is that you do by incorporating other people's mission, vibe and audience. The world would be a much better place if we all worked together versus feeling like we had to do everything alone. There is too much ego and not enough trust among entrepreneurs.
If you can set aside your ego and get out of your own way, great things can happen. Yes you can do all this by yourself, but it is going to take significantly longer and be far less fun. Most of us actually love partnering with other people, as long it's in the right way. We all have trauma from group projects, they sucked but it was because we were probably the one doing all the work. Now, you're not randomly assigned a partner. In your business, you get to choose who you collaborate with. Nobody's forcing you to partner with anybody. And when you find yourself partnering with a complimentary person, it's one of the best things ever. Because they make up for what you lack, and you make up for what they lack. And together, you create something wholly new, that could never have existed independent of each other.
Part two of this interview will be all about LinkedIn and finding actual partners. Stay tuned!