Zoë Hartsfield: Growing an Army of Brand Evangelists With In-House Creators

Ambitious, devoted, and selfless describe Zoë Hartsfield.

She is people-oriented and tries to help others with all the knowledge she has, without thinking that she’s better than others, but let’s find out more about her.

Who is Zoë?

Zoë is a full-time Senior Manager at Apollo.io where she’s building an executive presence program and enables the entire team to become brand evangelists.

All these besides copywriting, creating sales and marketing content, and handling the influencer relationship management.

She dedicates her free time helping individuals and companies from entry-level to executives leverage their personal brands as their best sales and marketing channels.

For the executives she offers ghostwriting services, she partners with brands on influencer campaigns for products that bring value to her community on LinkedIn, and she offers advice to startups on community, social media, and executive presence.

She also writes content on sales, marketing, personal brand, and career tips on LinkedIn for her audience of 50,000 followers.

What I find interesting is that she offers some of her time to a couple of free sessions per week helping people build their personal brand, helping them grow.

What makes Zoë a B2B creator?

  1. Strategically growing her audience
  2. Offering advice on professional development
  3. Openly talking about monetization
  4. Offering support to fellow creators

Strategically growing her audience

In just 10 months since Zoë decided to invest more of her time posting on LinkedIn she managed to grow her network from 1,100 to 3,000 followers.

She did this by doing an experiment. She sent connection requests to 2000 connections, some without a note, others with a general template, and for others she used to personalize her connection request message.

The personalized connection invites had the highest connection rate, while the connections without note came second, and the ones created with a template came in last,

She ran this experiment back in 2020 when she was still working in sales.

Later she wrote a LinkedIn post saying that when scaling her following from 300 to 3.000 she was engaging randomly and had no clear strategy in mind, but when she started to be consistent with what she published her audience grew to 30.000 a lot faster.

There is also a LinkedIn post where she talks about the strategy she used to grow a community to 50.000 in two years. 

Zoë emphasized the importance of giving without expecting an immediate return.

The idea is to provide value and assistance genuinely, creating positive relationships and attracting goodwill. 

Again, Hartsfield highlights the importance of consistency and offering value over and over again because that will contribute to the growth of a community. 

She thinks that this cycle of giving and accumulating goodwill is an ongoing process and thus maintaining a community requires continuous effort. 

To her the idea of a community is not about personal gain, but a supportive space where everyone contributes to helping each other.

Community is a well we can draw from when we are empty and a place to pour into when we are overflowing. It’s an infinite game. But it’s one worth being a part of.”

What I also like about Zoë, is that she cares about who her audience is so she occasionally takes an inventory to see who reads and engages with her posts.

At the beginning of 2023 she created her TikTok where she gave advice for people regarding carriers in sales, having a promotion, finding mentors, and more.

She posted most of her videos in January and some in February and she managed to raise an audience of 18.600.

In one of her videos she talks about how people get discouraged when they see other content creators getting hundreds or thousands of likes on their posts, but don’t think that to achieve that the creator had to put in two or more years of work.

Zoë thinks that content creation or creativity in general is a muscle that you need to exercise on, the more you do it, the easier it will get to create, and this is what happened to her and what helped her continue to post.

@nottoocorporate

Creativity is a muscle. Just like anything else, if you out in the reps- the motion gets easier. Here’s how you train your brain to be creative: #techtok #corporatemillennial #careeradvice #wfh #sales #marketing #contentcreator

♬ Trap Money so Big (Remix) – Iqbal12

Offering advice on professional development

With everything she shares online she emphasizes on the importance of sharing knowledge to empower others and build a community around professional growth.

Sale advice

Working in sales had a big impact on her career, probably that’s why she is still doing sales prep for Apollo.io, why she continues to offer advice on this matter, and why she has the “sales hype-woman” description on her LinkedIn bio.

In one of her posts Zoë talks about how she managed to generate 3.1MM in pipeline in just 6 months as an outbound BDR and gives away her strategy for everyone who might need it. 

One of my favorite pieces of advice from Zoë is the one where she encourages sales people to learn marketing and vice versa saying they are complementary skills.

This reminded me of Todd Clouser, Creator Manager with a lot of marketing background who worked closely with the sales team transforming them into in-house creators.

Career advice 

Some of her posts are related to building a career and on how to be better at your job to be on top of everybody’s mind at your office when a new position opens.

One of the LinkedIn posts is dedicated to a younger Zoë, and each piece of advice carries a wealth of wisdom for all individuals who are at the beginning of their career journey.

She has a lot of posts regarding promotions, but she also created some TikTok videos around this theme.

In this video below she talks about five steps on how to architect your career to get the promotion you deserve.

@nottoocorporate

Longest route to a promotion is waiting to be asked. These 5 steps will get you there faster. Rinse and repeat throughout your career. I’ve done this at 3 different orgs and found it effective. #techtok #wfh #workhumor #career #techjobs #moneytok #sales #howtogetaraise #howtogetapromotion #womeninbusiness #careeradvice

♬ original sound – Zoe Sells SaaS

She also gives advice on building a side hustle from an early age writing the steps she considers you need to follow. 

Advice on personal branding 

She noticed that people started to ask her a lot about personal branding, so she created LinkedIn posts about this matter.

Zoë’s message encourages aspiring content creators to embrace the discipline of daily creation 100 days in a row.

For each of these days, people should engage in content creation by writing a post, actively engaging with their audience, and creating more connections. 

The goal is to make improvements with each attempt because with every post you just become better.

This is similar to what Mr. Beast or Alex Hormozi used to do.

In  one of her posts she mentioned she won’t create a course about personal branding or ghost writing, but she will create a workshop about it in 2024. 

Talking about her vulnerability

Zoë aims to break the silence surrounding mental health struggles with a post on LinkedIn inspired by a call she had with someone seeking help for their personal brand.

She managed to find her courage and responded to that person’s insensitivity calling her “crazy” and gave a lesson about not making jokes about someone who is working on their mental health.

In that post she reinforces the transformative impact of therapy and medication on her own life and commits to being an advocate for those brave enough to seek help. 

She also wrote a comparison between the perceived expense of therapy and the potentially devastating financial and personal costs of untreated mental health issues and why people should not neglect it.

Zoë’s transparency regarding her mental health reminds me of Amanda Goetz’s openness about her divorce and struggles she faced.

Openly talking about monetization

Zoë talks about the importance of financial transparency and the strategic monetization of a personal brand.

She encourages others to embrace transparency, authenticity, and openness as they navigate their financial and professional journeys.

She actually wished to talk more openly about money with her peers and mentors earlier on.

A recent LinkedIn post offers a rare glimpse into her monthly side hustle earnings showing us how she monetizes her personal brand.

Offering support to fellow creators

Zoë often gives praise to other creators she follows and she talks about them in her posts encouraging her audience to follow them two for advice.

Hartsfield actively seeks diversity in her network avoiding “the echo chamber of sameness”.

She emphasizes the importance of not solely connecting with like-minded individuals and values voices that bring varied experiences and expertise to the table.

She has a post where she highlights the importance of following individuals who don’t necessarily share her exact “expertise.” 

These diverse voices, both in marketing and personal development, have played a crucial role in shaping Zoë into a marketer, seller, and individual.

Being an in-house creator for Apollo.io

Zoë started working at Apollo.io in August 2023 and she obviously announced her new position with a LinkedIn post.

On her personal profile she talks often about how it is like to work for Apollo.io and the jobs they have available.

In one post she writes down her 4 reasons why she enjoys working within this company which are having a great market fit product, the amazing marketing team, the remote work, and the unlimited PTO.

She is very aware that what she does on her personal account on LinkedIn is highly beneficial for Apollo.io and for driving people to the company.

The talks to her audience about the potential of leveraging employees as a powerful marketing channel, particularly on LinkedIn.

Making the employees “digital billboards” for the brand highlighting the impact they can have on generating pipeline and revenue.

She breaks down the potential cost savings by calculating the equivalent ad spend that would be required to achieve the same level of visibility. 

She thinks of a cascading effect, where if more employees would engage on social media the company would benefit from better-qualified leads.

Basically she talks about transforming employees into in-house creators.

I recently had a call with her and we discussed the matter of in-house creators.

She considers that it would be more powerful for her CRO to write a blog about what CROs need to be thinking about in terms of tech consolidation in 2024 then it would be for her or for the content writers to write about it.

So she thinks that we should internally put an accent on the people whose experience mirrors that of the product’s personas on pedestals.

To amplify the voices because that’s gonna make the brand look good, elevate everything and build more trust.

So it’s important to find the people in your business who are your persona and build them into influencers or in-house creators

That’s exactly her role at Apollo.io: to empower and equip people internally to be influencers.

I wonder if she thought about this while being inspired by what Todd Clouser is doing at Lavender empowering sales employees to become in-house creators because she is following the company on LinkedIn and she talks about it in her posts.

She recently posted saying that Apollo.io’s company page has more engagement on LinkedIn than some well-known influencers with similar following and she breaks down the company’s strategy:

  1. Responding to every comment, tag, or shout out on social media, not just as a company, but also as team members to make every interaction count.
  1. Apollo.io showcases partners, customers, and employees to make them feel valued and also elevate each one of their brands (something we’ve seen Chris Cunningham from ClickUp do, which is a company Zoë is also following on LinkedIn and mentions she uses their product).
  1. The marketing team constantly maintains an active presence posting every day more than once.
  1. And the most important one, Apollo.io is actively creating internal influencers and evangelists who serve as extensions of the brand.

In our meeting, we discussed about her blueprint for working with executives which is strategic and tailored to their unique needs and constraints.

Executives often have limited time for intensive engagements so Zoë begins by focusing on achievable victories

She aims to quickly gain their trust by delivering results, particularly because most of the executives she works with are more focused on what’s best for Apollo rather than building their personal brand.

Zoë focuses on thorough understanding of the executives’ goals and motivations, understanding what matters to them and what they want to be known for on platforms like LinkedIn.

Then she tailors her approach to match their personal and professional interests but concentrating on the following three things:

  1. What are the topics the execs want to be knows for on LinkedIn?
  2. What is their tone? – what you want people to feel when they read your content
  3. Who are their personas? To whom are their selling your knowledge?

Based on this, she further recommends selecting a subject, determining the relevant topic, addressing the specific persona, and choosing an appropriate tone. 

Furthermore, Zoë uses a multiplication framework, allowing for the adaptation of a single post to various audiences or the creation of different posts with similar themes. 

This approach maximizes the reach and impact of Apollo’s messaging.

If you thought she doesn’t have a KPI for everything she does, you are wrong.

She is measured by impressions and pipeline.

If the in-house creators have to grow their following, the impressions, develop their relationships, and if they get invited to podcasts and interviews.

What can you learn from Zoë?

The importance of growing a personal brand

From Zoë’s experiments with LinkedIn connections to the importance of consistency and value-driven content, she shows us how a personal brand can lead to significant growth.

Investing time strategically to create a personal brand around your areas of interest, showcasing your strengths, and consistently improving through regular posting will eventually help your brand grow and open the door to new possibilities.

Actively seek new opportunities

Zoë encourages others to actively seek new opportunities, to have their LinkedIn profile and curriculum vitae/portfolio up to date.

Plus, she tells her audience to keep a record of all the great feedback they receive at their job because someday it may come in handy while trying to get a promotion or land a new job.

Her willingness to dedicate free time to mentorship and community-building on LinkedIn reflects the value of seeking and creating opportunities for her personal and professional development.

Have a collaborative mindset

Zoë’s collaborative mindset is evident in her support for her community, her fellow creators, and especially at Apollo.io where she promotes the idea of brand evangelists and in-house creators.

Building a community on your personal account or creating a positive work culture can create a sense of belonging and mutual support, where you, your followers, or your employees could achieve much more together than by being apart.

Final Thoughts

While I was searching for information regarding Hartsfield, I learned a lot about her business, about her ambitions, and about the type of person she is because she’s not afraid of showing her true self which is something hard to find these days.

Zoë already started planning for the next year as Nathan Barry usually does at the end of each year.

Instead of focusing on setting goals she thought about who she is now and what she’ll want to be like next year and I’m curious to find out if she’ll be just as she imagined or even better.