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Marketing

Don’t want to hire an outside resource? Consider the story of everyone’s favorite fighting Frenchman

Interest rates are up, go-to-market spending is down, and outside marketing and public relations are overpriced. But the smartest leaders of B2B firms know that taking advantage of the exceptions to these trends in today’s business environment will make or break their companies.

Investing in new messaging and new markets is necessary to land new customers and grow. But your internal marketing and sales team still needs to focus on what’s going to bring the most efficient and profitable revenue today – your existing customers in your existing markets. You shouldn’t distract them with side quests.

Even if you did ask your internal marketing and sales team to engage a speculative new market, they most likely would not give it the focus and thinking required to succeed. Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma” is jam-packed with how and why these distracting side quests are usually unproductive.

If you want to break into a new market, especially if an incumbent is already succeeding there, you need a separate team whose existence is attached to success in that market. Outsourcing to a marketing and public relations agency – mercenaries, let’s call them – entails challenges, however.

Specifically, you need mercenaries who have the relevant experience to win in a new market as well as the mindset and operations that will integrate easily into your firm’s culture and workflows. You want an outsider and a team player who can enter an established market in a fresh, innovative manner that also reflects your firm’s unique approach to business. That’s a tricky balancing act.

Isaac Oates, chief executive and founder of professional employer organization and payroll provider Justworks , described this dilemma perfectly in an interviewwith Brad Svrluga.

“We had salespeople with sales experience, just not this kind of sales experience,” Oates said. “There are a lot of things you relearn from scratch…I would talk with people who’d worked at the incumbents in the space, and they all would say, ‘Alright, hire me and we’ll show you how it’s done.’ I was just like, ‘I don’t think we want that.’…somebody wasn’t going to come in and just put us back to what everybody else was doing.”

So what’s the solution? May I introduce you to Marquis de Lafayette, the hero of the American Revolutionary War affectionately known as everyone’s favorite fighting Frenchman.

Lafayette, we are here

General George Washington met many French and other foreign officers who showed up to help achieve his goals (see Oates’ point above). He needed their expertise, of course, but he didn’t want them to show him how to establish a new nation like everyone else. He was doing something new along with his fellow Americans.

Unlike many of these mercenaries, Lafayette was not expensive for the American treasury. But he asked to be appointed a major general, an outlandishly high rank for a 19-year-old who had never fought in battle. From that perspective, he was an overvalued outside resource. However, the ragtag American army was also not the stuff of the French regulars by any stretch of the imagination. Lafayette, in other words, was arguably taking a risk, too.

How did Lafayette secure his position? He dispensed with any notions that he was superior to his partners.

“I’m here to learn, not to teach,” Lafayette said, as Mike Duncan writes in his biography of the Frenchman, “Hero of Two Worlds.”

That’s an interesting thing for a mercenary to say – quite uncharacteristic. Lafayette wanted to understand Washington’s vision of a new country and leverage the Americans’ advantages while helping the rebels win against their stronger, more experienced European adversaries. B2B leaders should keep this anecdote in mind when they’re thinking about outsourcing to a marketing and public relations agency that will help them conquer a new market.

Outside resources are good. They can be a difference maker in many ways that allow you to break into new markets and see things differently than just plodding away trying to do what everyone else is doing. But they need to show that they’re there to learn, just as much as to lend a hand and figure out the hard things. That’s the perfect mix.

So, when the chips are down – and they were certainly down when Lafayette arrived in the future United States – don’t cut yourself off from outside resources. Invest in them so you can break new ground.

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Marketing

Thought Leadership for Upselling, Cross-selling and New Logos

Gale Strategies delivers a system that activates customer champions to drive upselling, cross-selling and new logos.

Businesses that succeeded in 2023:

  • Said something their competition were unwilling to say
  • Developed peer-to-peer networks of customers
  • Channeled these into streamlined production of customer-driven, sales-ready thought leadership

Click here to download our one-pager and learn more.

 

 

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Marketing

Fostering more interactions between individuals, creating transformative success

How we helped propel PFA Solutions to the forefront of GP solutions for private capital 

Private capital firms tightened their belts in 2023 as the number of deals plunged, interest rates rose, and uncertainty grew. In the same year, however, PFA Solutions welcomed a growing number of private equity and other investment firms, also known as General Partner entities (GPs), to their SaaS platform, FirmView, to manage carried interest and compensation plans. 

 Total assets managed by PFA Solution’s customers passed $1 trillion last year. This success helped make FirmView’s automation and transparency the new gold standard for carried interest and compensation management in the industry. 

 We worked hand in hand with PFA Solutions to develop a plan that moved their marketing program to a new level by studying and listening to their customers with a focus on far-sighted firms whose leaders wanted to retain the best talent; combining PFA Solutions’ multifaceted appeal into a streamlined marketing plan; and building a corpus of thought leadership through multiple channels to showcase how PFA Solutions solved pressing challenges in private capital today. 

The heart of private capital 

Carried interest and compensation plans are at the heart of aligning private capital talent with overarching firm goals and investment objectives. They are the primary reward when a firm’s partners have invested and managed investor capital wisely.  However, they are also notoriously complicated. Allocating rewards, managing vesting schedules for joiners and leavers, publishing documents timely, delivering participant-friendly data, generating distributions, and other related tasks absorb valuable resources and can be prone to “key person” risk and placing responsibility for vital functions in the hands of too few professionals. FirmView simplifies these tasks, delivering transparent management for the myriad carried interest and compensation plans offered at different firms and funds. 

 PFA Solutions Co-Founder and Managing Partner Richard Change knew that private capital needed cutting-edge tools to better manage carried interest and compensation. While many financial firms were making advances in automated and digitizing fund reporting for their investors, or limited partners (LPs), GP operations weren’t getting the same attention. 

 He and his colleagues wanted to reach prospective customers who relied on in-house financial technology solutions or used generic tools not built for purpose. PFA Solutions approached us in late 2021 after seeing LinkedIn marketing associated with our fund administration clients. Following discussions, PFA decided to amplify their sales team’s efforts through thought leadership that included a more robust LinkedIn presence and a new marketing push that could help forge connections with a wider community of chief financial officers, finance directors, chief operations officers, chief people officers and heads of human resources. 

 A roundtable 

 Together with the PFA team, we planned new LinkedIn content and a series of webcasts that catered to decision-makers at private capital firms who oversee carried interest and compensation. This focused stream of LinkedIn posts articulated the industry problems that needed solving, and how FirmView’s automation steps up to address many of the challenges that these decision-makers face – a playbook our team has refined and followed repeatedly to achieve success across clients. 

 

The webcasts featuring top-tier professionals like former private capital CFO Kwame Lewis, PKF O’Connor Davies’ Michael Stellwagen, and Drive Capital’s Isabel Walch attracted attentive audiences, including prospects and allies. This content, in turn, led to more grist for LinkedIn as well as bylines like Richard Change’s “A digital transformation is sweeping through compensation and carried interest” in Private Funds CFO, which is essential reading in the industry. 

  

In January 2023 we helped PFA Solutions organize a roundtable with 40 participants, including private capital CFOs and others, in New York City. The roundtable was an opportunity for networking, intelligence gathering on all sides, and, most importantly, cultivating new relationships. We especially focused on helping forge a key outcome during the event’s discussions: empowering attendees to identify and discuss their challenges with carried interest and compensation while introducing them to new solutions like FirmView that would help them fix these problems. 

Importantly, too, the follow-through didn’t end there. During the roundtable, PFA Solutions surveyed participants to hone their messaging still further. More than 70 percent of survey respondents said that carry and compensation in private capital firms were becoming too complicated for traditional professional services to manage. Almost a third said that their incentive programs frequently added new compensation plan types, too. The climate was perfect for a solution like FirmView, which addressed this pain point through automation and transparency that could scale. 

More customer success 

 In the months after the roundtable, staying on course while other parts of the market foundered, PFA Solutions earned the business of eight private equity firms, two venture capital firms, five real estate investment firms, and two credit firms.   

The survey in part predicted these wins. Pivotally, it informed our LinkedIn campaigns and topics of discussion for webcasts. It gave rise to more bylines, too, like Richard Change’s piece, “Here’s what workflow innovation looks like for private capital fund operations” in Global Custodian and other publications on how automation and transparency can overcome CFO’s challenges in comp and carry. The resulting foundation was a springboard for the Definitive Guide to Carry and Compensation Management, a comprehensive text that encapsulates themes discussed at PFA Solutions’ second roundtable in 2024. 

The new business that grew out of these interactions put PFA Solutions at the forefront of the companies meeting the unmet needs of private capital with new solutions for comprehensive carry and compensation management. New partners and more growth have been the pattern ever since.  

Want to learn more? Are you facing similar challenges in amplifying your message in your industry? We’d love to hear from you. 

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Marketing

Helping 4Pines Lead the Conversation on Co-Sourcing in Fund Administration

How we worked with a leading firm to own a key industry conversation.

Fund administrators help the world’s private equity, venture capital, and alternative investment firms handle the accounting, reporting, and operations for the $23 trillion invested in private markets today. One in particular, 4Pines Fund Services, is directing the conversation around the pivotal issue of co-sourcing: an industry term for digitizing fund operations.

4Pines came to us with a vision of tapping into co-sourcing to help fund managers navigate tougher conditions and more disruption. We helped realize that goal through a methodical approach that started with open questions and conversations, moved to LinkedIn and press releases, and then evolved to generating stand-alone content and making media connections. We believe it’s an iterative process to lean into an idea that some may perceive “risky.” Today, we continue to work with 4Pines to hone their messaging on co-sourcing even further.

Why does co-sourcing matter? According to EY, 95 percent of private companies will consider outsourcing or co-sourcing tax and finance activities over the next two years. This means investment firms will increasingly need to decide whether to manage financial data through SaaS applications with the help of professional service firms or hire service providers that bundle that software into their engagements. General partners, or GPs, at investment firms that opt for co-sourcing will retain direct control and gain the benefits of collaborating with tech-savvy fund administration firms that will use the firm’s SaaS systems on their behalf.

Most incumbent fund administration firms are nervous about giving GPs direct access to software – perhaps justifiably. As 4Pines’ CEO and Co-founder Mike Trinkaus has pointed out, “When replacing a fund admin is as easy to accomplish technologically as turning off a license and turning on a new one, fund admins are much more motivated to perform at their best.”

Getting started

When we began to work with 4Pines, co-sourcing was not a widely used term in the industry, though it was a known approach – and, to some, a threat.

The 4Pines team had already seized on the unique, but technologically inevitable, model of fund administration that co-sourcing represents. They provide the most flexible solution for fund managers who want to outsource and gain the benefits of technology but also avoid the problems that arise when relocating their data to new service providers. With this approach, 4Pines works within their client’s platform but the client retains the license to the software and, therefore, continues to directly control their data.

This was not just a new approach. It was also one that others were shying away from – making 4Pines stand out all the more for leaning into it. But they had to tread carefully, introducing their capabilities while making it clear that they understood the many concerns of getting this shift right. Their co-founders, two of whom are the former CFOs of Portfolio Advisors and Commonfund, made this concern very clear to us. We needed to share a new idea, but to do so through a methodical approach that built on itself over time.

The process

When 4Pines opted to use technology developed by another client of ours, we wrote a press release and a series of LinkedIn posts about the new partnership. Though 4Pines’ leaders had previously been concerned that traditional marketing might alienate members of the finite and close-knit private capital community, they noticed how members of the ecosystem were responding to thoughtful LinkedIn marketing and wanted to try it themselves.

Social campaigns require diversified content that we worked with 4Pines to create, including press releases, webcasts, white papers, and other collateral. Mike Trinkaus wrote a call-to-arms on co-sourcing for Private Funds CFO. A sequence of four webcasts in 2023 featured Bob Chowaniec sharing how GPs can cross the co-sourcing chasm, James Rulli of Old City on the investor relations side of firm operations, prominent CFO thought leader Joshua Cherry-Seto joined, and James DiCostanzo of Allvue Systems. The series garnered press coverage and wider distribution on Spotify, Amazon, and Apple.

These efforts built buzz, audiences, and communities:

  • Engagement-per-post in terms of shares, reactions, comments, and clicks increased from 33 to 53
  • LinkedIn impressions increased, from 46,000 in 2022 to 85,000 through early November 2023
  • A browser search for “co-sourcing” and “fund administration” yields 42 results today (compared to five, a decade ago), with 4Pines’ media coverage and marketing collateral occupying most of the top results. No other fund administrator exhibits this degree of search authority for co-sourcing

Our success with LinkedIn showed we could help 4Pines reach target customers while building up impressions in the markets where 4Pines wanted to find larger clients: GPs overseeing more than $1 billion in assets.

Honing in

An A/B test with prospective clients further proved that 4Pines, backed by months of marketing and thought leadership efforts to explain co-sourcing’s benefits and 4Pines’ unique positioning on it, was indeed hitting home with clients. We sent out two sets of emails – one that mentioned co-sourcing and one that mentioned only outsourcing. The test showed that recipients opened and clicked on links in the co-sourcing emails 16 percent more frequently than those that only referenced outsourcing.

The A/B test was the impetus for the Definitive Guide to Co-Sourcing, a comprehensive document that explains co-sourcing to prospective clients and provides 4Pines with a foundation and roadmap for sales, marketing, social media, public relations, and other communications. The guide is now inspiring a new series of LinkedIn posts that feature new bylines, webcasts, and other content and, more importantly, is spurring more conversations with peers and prospects in the industry.

What’s next

4Pines came to us with a novel idea, and they weren’t scared to say something others wouldn’t or couldn’t. We worked with them to determine how to grow proven buy-in around it. Through intentional, clear ideas that built on themselves over time, we helped them reach the position they’re in today: the voice dominating the increasingly robust conversation on co-sourcing in private capital.

Want to learn more? Are you facing a similar challenge in your industry? We’d love to hear from you.

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Marketing

2023 was the year of Taylor – so, pay attention to make 2024 yours

I’ve been a Swiftie – albeit a less dedicated one than many – since my dad (shoutout) bought her first CD and played “Tim McGraw” and “Our Song” in the car on the drive home from a day of seventh grade. Like many others, I was hooked from the start on her lyricism and musical talent and, like any other angsty pre-teen kid, the feeling that the music truly “got” the feelings of love and heartache – even if I was only twelve.

Fast forward nearly two decades, and Taylor is an undeniable powerhouse not just of lyricism and musical skill, but of building a business and brand. Plenty of articles have been written, especially in the last year, about her insatiable fans, her economic impact, and, in TIME’s recent profilenaming her their person of the year, her ability to create a narrative almost without anyone noticing.

This last point is one that any good business should pay attention to.

Obviously a B2B enterprise is not the same as Taylor Swift. They aren’t dropping regular “easter eggs” to draw in new customers like Taylor does to market new albums. No company is blatantly or subtly calling out other entities or people that they have bad history with as Taylor does in many of her songs (looking at you, “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” “All Too Well,” “Look What You Made Me Do”). And very, very few companies have the complete authority over what they produce and how they do that in the way that Taylor does – they have to report to too many stakeholders.

But the way that Taylor builds a story that continues to iterate on itself is one that every business should emulate.

Here’s what I mean: in 2017, Taylor released Reputation, an album that was, for her, a complete diversion from her norm. It was angry, and threatening, and certainly no longer PG-13 in the way her past albums had been. Her albums always spurred conversation before, but this one prompted entirely new dialogues all around the same question: would this new Taylor be welcome?

Clearly, she was. Because she took a risk by being authentically mad– something most artists, to stay protected by their labels, can’t do. But it was one that her background in musical success, her already engaged fans (though nearly not at the level they are now), and the new industry backers that she had were more than ready for her to take. It queued up a new era (pardon the pun) of Taylor – one where fans knew she would continue to diverge from the “norm” that we’d expected. With every album since, she’s made a dramatic pivot, and fans, whether they like the new album or not, are always watching to see what she’ll do next.

To follow the Taylor formula, businesses need to figure out what risks they’re able to take and lean into them.

That doesn’t mean take a running leap towards them – it means building strategic buy-in over time, refining, and ultimately making the jump, which should really be little more than a large step, when all of the pieces are in play.

This starts, we believe, with being willing to say what others can’t or won’t say. Figuring out what that is often lies within a company’s founding principles but can often be buried by jargon and over-analyzing. It can also be stymied by pushing too hard, too fast to determine what exactly that key, provocative idea is. Uncovering bold thinking often takes a lot of time, and questioning, and testing – not just among your internal team, but also with advisors, and clients, and industry leaders – through earned and owned channels.

Taylor spent nearly a decade building a fan base, trying new approaches to music and songs (think of the shift that she made from country to pop), and slowly building buy-in until she could completely, through strategically, unleash herself.

It doesn’t have to take 10 years for a business to reach a point where they’re ready to lean into a bold idea. Some can do it in as little as a few months, while for others it may take up to a year. The key is this: businesses have to find partners that are willing to push them, and they have to be willing to think about their work through new lenses. This doesn’t mean changing what they do – but it does mean changing how they think and talk about it and being willing to publicly explore that shift with their colleagues and other industry stakeholders.

When it comes down to it, it’s as simple as business leaders having some conversations, working with their partners to turn those into new questions, and then asking those of themselves and the people around them.

Once they’ve nailed down an answer, it may be time to launch a new era (pun fully intended) of their own.

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Marketing

Five lessons on writing thought leadership

Bylines are among Gale Strategies’ most potent tools to establish thought leadership, attract attention, and generate business leads for our clients. Sometimes we ghostwrite them from whole cloth to help clients develop messaging. Sometimes our clients write, and we edit them. Invariably, both sides learn more about the client’s business and their customers in the process.

Once published as so-called “earned content” – meaning that an editor has vetted them to assure credibility versus, say, “unearned content” like billboard space that a company might purchase for an advertisement – these bylines do more than directly engage readers who usually are potential customers or partners. They help hone sales messaging and provide content for social media campaigns, promotions, and other collateral that is necessary for the marketing campaigns that grow businesses.

Following the precepts that I’ve absorbed after years of writing for newspapers and magazines as a journalist and political campaigns and PR and marketing firms as a copywriter, bylines need snappy intros, solid statistics to support their claims or offer context for their discussion, and concrete examples, when possible, that illustrate or provide evidence for whatever point the client needs to make. They nearly always paraphrase or revisit themes that our clients have developed over time that have helped them secure their successes so far.

Based on past successes, the most compelling and impactful thought leadership that we’ve written tends to heed these five lessons as we write and revise it with the help of our client’s guidance.

  1. Who’s the audience? The more we know about your target audience, the better. If customers are a client’s audience, we want to know the ideal customers, their pain points, and how they might be trying to solve their problems (unsuccessfully) today. Other target audiences might include investors, industry stakeholders, regulators, and others.
  2. Espouse thought leadership, not self-promotion. The best publications don’t run advertorials as editorial fare. They want thought-provoking arguments. Executives can write about changes in their industry or new technologies that promise to change markets because they have knowledge and domain expertise. They can leverage that wisdom without overtly shilling their products.
  3. What’s the news? Disruptive ideas make readers think. So they are perfect for thought leadership bylines. What is the client doing that is new? What problem are they solving that has never been solved or even identified before? Alternatively, mainstream ideas and messaging that reflect received wisdom must be packaged in some new way to attract attention. Always avoid the fate of saying what everyone else is saying “but better.”
  4. Tell stories. Stories need settings, characters, plots, and conflicts. They need literary forms, like question and answer, compare and contrast, or persuasive or explanatory approaches. They also need métiers – print, video, or images, for instance. Is the writer trying to explain the hero’s journey from identifying to facing off against, and, lastly, solving a problem? Or are they warning others about inaction? Do they want to draw attention to their new solution in a competitive market? What story is the writer seeking to tell?
  5. Call for action. What’s the ideal state that lies at the end of the sequences of actions that begin when a client’s prospective customer reaches out for help? What’s the change that must occur in an industry for the best companies to survive a tough future? What technology is a must-have? What must regulators do differently? Speak plainly and issue a call to action.

When we follow these guidelines, we can target readers more closely, articulate thought leadership more vigorously, hook readers with better and timelier angles, craft more engaging stories, and convince more people to take the actions we’re calling for.

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Marketing

Ada Lovelace Was a Marketing Genius, Too

Read the original article here.

The world’s first computer programmer could also be described as a pioneer in B2B technology marketing. Her wisdom and discerning insights into the potential of technology not only advanced science but also serve as a guiding light today for those of us tasked with articulating to others tech’s potential.

Lovelace was an aristocrat, fortunate to study mathematics in the early 19th Century. Her mother, also a mathematician, believed what we might call a STEM education could prevent Ada from following in the footsteps of her father, the sensual Romantic poet Lord Byron. Lovelace began studying Charles Babbage’s prototype digital computers in the 1830s.

And don’t get thrown off to that reference to digital. Today “digital” suggests electrons moving around. But here digital means reducing the world to ones and zeroes to better compute what’s going on in it, rather than figuring things out via analogs. Read Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators, for an excellent history of the people who advanced computing for the details.

Here’s where the marketing comes in

What cemented Lovelace’s place in history in 1843 was her translation and ridiculously extensive annotation of an Italian mathematician’s article on Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

Despite her mother’s efforts, Lovelace inherited her father’s gifts with the pen. Her science was like verse. “The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves,” she wrote in one of her notes in the article. The substance of her thoughts was even more powerful. Her annotations envisioned applications of the Analytical Engine that went beyond basic calculations, creating the first known computer program with an algorithm that produced Bernoulli numbers.

Her contributions remind us of the importance of an often-overlooked tool in tech: human perspective. Rather than focusing solely on the nuts and bolts of a remarkable innovation, she considered its applications. She perceived new worlds where the benefits of technology could be brought to fruition.

These insights are extremely important for the future of enterprise AI. Advancements in AI, machine learning, and other technologies have promised ambitious but too-often-unrealized advancements for organizations in many industries. Many of those advancements have yet to be achieved not because AI is incapable of performing them. Rather, too few companies have created AI-enabled applications that busy professionals can integrate into their workflows without significant training, teams of data scientists or other accommodations. Until the hype cycle around generative AI achieved liftoff, selling AI in a general sense wasn’t really moving the industry forward. In other words. business solutions that AI makes possible was the name of the game.

Generative AI has changed that game, but its utility will still be expressed most tangibly through business solutions. And it will be what business solutions can and can’t do that will ground the conversation. You might accuse me of sidestepping consumer applications, and you would be right. But let me save that for a future piece.

First tech white paper?

Lovelace foresaw the distinction. When she wrote her groundbreaking notes, Babbage and his colleagues were hoping that the British government or others would finance the completion of his complicated machines. Unfortunately, they never received it, though researchers have been seeking to replicate and finalize his inventions in the 150 years since Babbage died thanks in part to Lovelace’s notes.

And today marketers might call those notes a white paper, or a document that aims to both inform readers – usually prospective customers or partners – about a complicated technical subject and persuade them of its utility in solving problems. It’s a translation and explanation of a solution, one might say. While Babbage and his team were concentrated on the nuts and bolts of their engines, she was busy showcasing their work to the rest of the world and describing its material benefits to potential users.

She was on the frontlines. That’s where B2B marketers in enterprise AI need to devote their attention today.

When the sugar high of generative AI fades, it will still be delivering understated but significant value in business operations in a wide variety of industries today, from clinical trials for pharmaceutical development, to consumer lending, to manufacturing. Much of that value will originate in incremental advances with AI that don’t garner headlines because it may be more on the user interface side. The momentum is clear, however. AI is at the center of the digital transformations changing the global economy today.

B2B marketers should take a page from Lovelace and clarify just how big it can be, and what stands in the way.

Categories
Marketing

Multiplayer Professional Services Are Eclipsing the Single-Player Variety, and It’s About Time

Lawyers, accountants, and marketers can learn a lot from Fortnite and Donkey Kong

Too many professional services firms are approaching today’s world of Fortnite-like complexity with strategies more appropriate for Donkey Kong.

Here’s what’s going on.

Web1 games and arcades

The concept behind the classic video game Donkey Kong is simple. For 25 cents at an arcade, a player could guide the hero, Mario, up the girders and ladders of a construction site to rescue the distressed Pauline, who was being held hostage by Donkey Kong, a giant scary ape (though actually the protagonist if you know the actual backstory). Along the way, poor Mario would have to jump over or destroy obstacles like barrels and fireballs that Donkey Kong at the top of the steel tower rolled his way.

The whole thing took place in two highly pixelated dimensions and four colors, pitting the player against the CPU-controlled ape. The game was the cutting-edge star of the early 1980s vibrant arcade scene. By today’s standards, it looks painfully dated, but the franchise became a cultural icon, spawning films, and fashion trends.

The podcast Acquired has a great rundown of the game in the context of the history of Nintendo. We can’t recommend it enough.

Enter… more players

Fortnite, in contrast, is much more sophisticated. And Acquired does a great job with that larger story too.

The game presents three-dimensional hybrid worlds featuring zombies, traps, and fights to the death against dozens of live players who are simultaneously online anywhere around the world. Within months of its release, Fortnite — which can be played on any major computer or gaming format — had become a true cultural phenomenon. Four years later, it remains on the cutting edge.

We could keep going with the evolution of this process by tackling Roblox, but let’s keep it to these two.

So, you’re going to extend the analogy to lawyers?

Now let’s apply this contrast to our industry (marketing) and other professional services like fund administration for instance. In fact, let’s focus on fund services where interesting things are afoot.

Fund services are generally the outsourced partner accounting and operations work of venture capital and private equity firms.

One can view fund services as a series of individual workflows. Composing these workflows are many tasks related to each stage of a particular service. Each stage may include numerous financial reviews and revisions, like attorney approvals, name corrections, and adding phrases here or there to documents, before the service can move forward to its completion. The process is like an assembly line. It’s Donkey Kong.

Serial work vs. parallel processing

Automation makes the process easier and faster. An assembly line worker who has been manually installing rivets will be more productive with an electric rivet gun. It’s much more efficient. But it’s still an assembly line. It still requires the worker responsible for one stage of service to complete the job before passing his work along to the next stage. It’s still Donkey Kong.

Most financial services software reflects the pitfalls of the single-player approach. Single-player software is helpful because one person can go in, do his or her work, and leave so someone else can enter and complete the next step. It’s orderly. But it’s also limited. Project leaders and team members, for example, don’t necessarily know where things stand, for anything at any given point, unless they are in the application. None of the people involved knows where they are in the workflow until everything is completed.

In a multi-player professional service or fund administration model that resembles Fortnite, in contrast, far fewer people must wait for someone else to complete their job before another phase can begin. Numerous people can be in an application or document at the same time. Anyone given access can make necessary changes and everyone can see what everyone is doing.

Let the adventure begin!

Multiple actors can simultaneously review and amend documents. Everyone is always dealing with the current version of the text. It doesn’t matter if they are internal, external, or from a third party. It doesn’t matter if they are in the same place or working from points scattered around the globe. Everybody sees the dialogue and decisions that are being made in real-time. Monitoring progress is built-in, making it easier to understand the status of a process at any time. It’s Fortnite.

In Donkey Kong, Mario could only ever rescue Pauline. In Fortnite, you can do so much more.

Real-world

Here’s how it applies to fund services for example: In a single-player financial tech application, a financial services provider can see a document that a limited partnership has sent, verify the data and note that lawyers have signed off on it. When it’s a multiplayer system, the fund services partner can see and do all of those tasks but also observe delays or problems across limited partnerships and, importantly, intervene and act quickly to fix them. In addition to the fund services partner understanding where tasks are within the flow, they have full audit control with transparency across all parties in the flow.

This is where leaders in the industry like 4Pines Fund Services come in. In the software development world, the multiplayer approach is not particularly new. But it was rare in the private equity industry — up until recently. These kinds of changes are generating a buzz as budgets and operations are getting more focused. This is only going to increase.

This is also where a co-sourcing approach to data and cutting-edge fund administration tech stack comes in, for example, to fix real problems. You’re working to close communication gaps and fix transparency issues between fund managers, investors, and service providers. Most importantly, you’re helping chief financial officers and general partners to identify bottlenecks and key performance indicators to improve speed and efficiency. The automated system reduces human error significantly at critical points within clients’ workflows. Everything is near-instantly trackable, traceable, and auditable.

Fund administrators and private equity managers seeking the most innovative professional services are opting for the multiplayer approach. And this is happening in marketing and legal services.

In private capital, it improves communication between general partners, limited partners, and analysts. It efficiently shepherds sub-docs and other correspondence and compliance through quick and efficient approval processes.  It replaces slow pipelines and obstacles with the latest technologies and solutions that keep fund services running flexibly, seamlessly, and dependably.

So what about your industry? Are you ready to play at a higher level? You’d better be.