Karyn Scott from Flexport Explains the Business Benefits of an Advocacy Program
Karyn Scott always understood the business potential of social media.
But even she was surprised by the turn of events when, at a previous company, she posted a benchmark study on their advocacy platform. Once employees began to share the report on their personal networks, something happened.
One sales leader shared the study on LinkedIn, and it was seen by the CIO of a leading bank. When he re-shared it with his network, it was noticed by three CEOs at companies where they had been trying to get meetings. The result: two meetings with C-suite executives followed by a $1 million deal.
“We were able to get a foot in the door of two Fortune 500 banks in a matter of a few minutes, which is amazing,” said Scott, now Vice President, Head of Marketing for San Francisco-based Flexport. “There’s just no way that I could have asked the CIO of that bank to share the study. But when it happens organically like that, it’s truly a thing of beauty. Peer influence across the C-suite remains the No. 1 trusted communication vehicle. You really can’t buy that kind of influence.”
It’s also why Scott is implementing the Dynamic Signal platform for the fourth time.
The goal of her advocacy strategy is to leverage the voice of the customer through the channel of Flexport employees to help position the company as the leader in using technology to simplify and reinvent the business of global trade.
“The Dynamic Signal platform empowers employees to easily share information, customer stories, market data, tariff updates – a host of content that would be useful to their professional network,” Scott said. “And the power of viral networking and peer influence does the rest.”
And the company has an amazing story to share.
The logistics software startup is transforming the $3-trillion-dollar business of global trade. The SaaS platform changes the game with real-time, end-to-end visibility across the freight forwarding supply chain from ocean to air to truck to warehouse with insurance, financing, and customs brokerage – services all from a single point.
“From a selfish standpoint as a marketer, the most credible way to get people interested in your brand is through your customers and your employees,” Scott added. “So, it helps the business. But more importantly, it’s a gift for employees. You’re making it easy for them to share information that makes them look super-smart and ups their social profile.”
Recognizing that employee advocacy is more than just a company marketing channel is an example of why Scott has been so successful, said Majid Karimi, Vice President of Corporate Sales at Dynamic Signal.
“Karyn is one of those visionary marketers who not only saw the power of social media to move the business forward but also quickly understood that it’s an investment in your employees,” he added. “She just really gets the human element of employee advocacy and why it’s a benefit for the workforce.”
Scott has an infectious enthusiasm that pulls listeners into stories that she tells in a rapid-fire cadence. She jokes that if you had told her in college that she was going to spend her life as a B2B enterprise technology marketer, she wouldn’t even have known what that meant.
In college, she studied journalism and psychology. Her career goal was “wanting to be Christiane Amanpour,” and Scott was on that path as a journalist at CNN and Fox News. (One memorable assignment was reporting how, yes, an egg can fry on a hot sidewalk.)
One tool in her kit has been equipping employees to become company ambassadors by providing them with quality content and the ability to share it with their connections on social media.
“I think about it this way: ‘What is it that I share?’” Scott explained. “Well, I share things that I’m passionate about and things I think will interest my peers and colleagues. If I can put something out on my network, and it gets shared, there’s a ripple effect. It’s the greater good of knowledge-sharing.”
She’s bringing that playbook to Flexport as she builds the Demand Gen engine. Implementing the Dynamic Signal platform will enable employees to easily share approved content about a company that is becoming a quintessential Silicon Valley success story as it leverages technology to disrupt an old-school industry.
There’s a reason why Flexport is drawing comparisons to Uber. The company has grown to about 1,100 employees globally, serves 10,000 customers in 200 countries, and recently announced a $1 billion round of funding.
Yet, Scott added, the company has been sailing under the radar.
“We’re still like the best-kept secret out there,” she said. “We have all of this great content from industry experts, and we just haven’t had the mechanism to get it out there. Now we’ll have a better way to amplify it and share it with the wider world.”
That’s why you’ll soon be hearing more about the Flexport story.
Role: Vice President, Head of Marketing for Flexport – “The freight forwarder for modern logistics teams.”
Home: San Francisco and Napa, Calif.
Family: Husband Bryan; two sons, two step-daughters
Education: Bachelor’s degrees in journalism and psychology from Boston University
Career: More than two decades of marketing leadership experience at tech companies including Salesforce and Cisco
Interests: Reading, hiking, biking, skiing, and scuba diving. She ran the Boston Marathon once, and has done two triathlons and hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim to raise money for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
Volunteer work: She’s on the board of directors of The Overground Railroad Project, which helps legally approved asylum-seekers in their pursuit of citizenship. “I’m passionate about the need to change the conversation about what’s happening on our border. It’s truly a humanitarian issue and not a political one. It’s deeply personal for me. My parents came here on steamer ships and landed at Ellis Island. I wouldn’t be here today if people didn’t help them. Neither would my children. Or my future grandkids.”
Favorite Recent Book: “The Sound of Gravel” by Ruth Wariner. “I literally made a pot of coffee to stay up all night because I couldn’t wait to see how the story unfolded. I love when a book grips you that way.”
Favorite Movie: “Shawshank Redemption”
Favorite TV Show: “60 Minutes”
Best Advice She Ever Received: Be grateful for your problems because 100 people would love to have them. “A boss many years ago had that posted on her office door. As bad a day as I might be having, I always try to remember that there are plenty of people who have it far worse and would give anything for my problems.”
Fun Fact: Her golden retriever, Cinnamon Girl, introduced Scott and her husband. “I was hiking with a bunch of girlfriends, and she ran up to him and ate half of his sandwich. Three hours later, we somehow managed to bump into each again, and my dog went running to her new best friend. I followed to apologize. Then we went out for a beer that lasted five hours, and one thing led to another.”
Five Questions with Karyn
Why is Employee Advocacy so effective?
“You make every person in your organization an extension of the marketing team. People often don’t know how to share their passion for what their company does with the world. But they will if you give them a super-easy way that also just happens to get into watering holes where prospects are hanging out. Take our company for example. We have a little over 1,000 people. Assume everybody has more than 500 connections on LinkedIn. Some percentage of those people work for companies that ship stuff. They should know about Flexport.”
How do you persuade employees to be advocates on social media?
“This is for them. We’re going to help you build your own brand on social media. I know that if I were an employee who was presented with this, I would think that’s great that my employer is looking out for me. There’s absolutely no downside.”
Flexport is the fourth company where you’ve implemented Dynamic Signal. Why?
“I swear, every time I go to a company that doesn’t have Dynamic Signal, I go through withdrawal. I’ll want to post something interesting, and I can’t. For me, Dynamic Signal has become really addictive.”
What do you tell people about the platform?
“I say: ‘How often do you look at LinkedIn on your phone, and see all the great stuff that someone you know is posting?’ It’s perfectly written. There are beautiful graphics. For a lot of people, trying to duplicate that on their own is too daunting. With the platform, we can do all of that for you. So, all you do is point, click, and voila! And people get super-excited watching how often what they post is liked and re-shared. I’ve been in the lunchroom listening to people comment on how many shares they got of this or that. It always puts a smile on my face knowing how excited and happy that makes people.
How has your psychology background helped you be a better marketer?
“Humans are motivated by two basic instincts: Avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. So, really understanding the challenges that your widget will solve, or the benefit it will deliver, is the way to get people to check it out. The biggest mistake I see companies make is when they market features. Honestly, no one cares.”