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Rocket GTM 🚀 - Media is the new marketing 📽
Is this media strategy going to kill inbound marketing?
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Marketing: The old way 📉
The lead based model of marketing focuses on building an ‘offer’ like an ebook, white paper, or salary benchmark and distributing it to get leads.
Offers are gated behind email capture screens to capture information which is then stored in a CRM as a lead.
Leads get scored based on a variety of factors such as company size, industry, buyer persona, number of interactions with content etc.
The higher the score the higher the indication of buying intent.
A lead becomes an MQL (marketing qualified lead) when the score reaches a level that indicates buying intent and should be passed to a sales person.
This model is broken.
Cost to acquire customers is rising (CAC)
According to Profitwell, the average CAC has risen by almost 70% in the last five years alone.
CAC increases because:
the cost and difficulty to create software products has decreased meaning more companies are fighting for attention
more competition floods the market with offers which drives up the expectations of quality and thus cost to create a compelling offer
more competition floods the market with demand making paid acquisition channels like Instagram and LinkedIn more expensive to distribute offers
Not only has CAC increased, but the effectiveness of offers has decreased.
In short, traditional marketing is now more expensive and less effective.
It is incredibly difficult to interact with your customer at the exact moment they are ready to buy.
Leaving you vulnerable to losing them to the competition.
You may publish and promote an ebook in January when the customer isn't interested in buying, but they download the ebook anyway.
Later in April a salesperson reaches out via cold email, but again the customer isn't looking for a solution.
The interactions stop because the customer is not deemed 'active'.
However in September they are ready to buy...
Unfortunately you are no longer in touch with the customer, they've forgotten you even exist, and have found your competitor.
December comes around and marketing attend a trade show where this potential customer is attending.
The conversation goes really well, but they have no need for a solution because they recently implemented your competitor.
Traditional inbound marketing is plagued with timing issues.
What to do?
Increase the number of touch points.
Wouldn't that be spammy?
Yes, it would. But not if you're a media company 😉
Building a media company 📽
Media companies like Bloomberg, Fox, and CNN are able to interact with their audience on average 5-7 times per week.
Compare this to an average SaaS company who interacts with their audience only 1.5 times per week, that's a huge difference.
Not only are businesses less able to interact with their audience, the audience tends to be less happy about each interaction.
Think about waiting for a new episode of Game of Thrones. You can't wait until it comes out!
When was the last time you were excited to receive an email nurturing campaign?
Media companies are amazing at building and engaging audiences, but they suck at monetizing them.
SaaS companies suck at building and engaging audiences, but they're pretty good a monetizing them.
What happens when you combine the two?
Overcoming the timing issue
When you create content so good that your audience is proactively seeking it out, then you can increase the number of touch points.
You go from interrupting your audience with ads on content they're watching, to becoming the content they want to watch.
The goal is to offer a constant stream of value.
Customer's may not be ready to buy when your sales or marketing team reach out, but the moment they are you'll be the first company they think of.
Renting an audience is expensive
As we saw earlier, traditional marketing offers are now less effective and more expensive.
This is partly due to not owning the distribution channel.
Most businesses don't own their own audience, meaning they have to rent access to someone else's in order to distribute content or offers.
This rent (in the form of paid ads) is at the mercy of those who own the audience and is highly impacted by increased competitors bidding for attention.
We've all heard the saying "go to where you customers hangs out".
Building a media company is a strategy enables you to create the place where your customers hang out.
You own the entire distribution network.
Whether that's your subscriber count on Youtube, your Spotify podcast followers, or fully controlled email list.
Becoming the place your customers hang out gives you the ultimate control over distribution and drives down CAC.
Everyone's buying an audience
Companies have been catching on to the power of owning an audience, but few have created their own so there has been a parade of acquisitions:
Instead of spending billions to buy an audience, build your own.
Building your own media strategy
Treat content as a product
Media companies don't see content as a means to sell product, they see content AS the product.
You should content so good that customers would be willing to pay for it as a standalone item, then give it away for free.
When you treat content as the product you have to ask yourself:
is this content truly providing value?
do customers want to consume it?
would they be willing to pay for this?
Viewing content as a product helps you move away from creating content that is purely optimized for SEO.
This kind of content is often hollow, un-opinionated and gets viewed once and never again.
Ranking in Google may bring people to your site but it doesn't mean they'll engage with you brand.
Treating content as a product helps retain viewers once they find you.
Create episodic, binge-worthy content
Traditional content often lacks rhythm and rhyme for the reader.
Content is optimized for SEO or other funnel objectives, but rarely is it optimized for the enjoyment of the reader.
If you're trying to increase the number of touch points with customers and the time spent with your brand then take a leaf out of Netflix's book and create episodic, binge-worthy content that the customers are chomping at the bit to consume.
Creating content through seasons and episodes creates consistency in the value proposition and enables customers to gorge on content.
When Wistia released their 'Brandwagon' season they found that viewers spent more time with their brand during one season than they spend with them in an entire year!
Media is cheaper than an ebook
"Cost to create an offer has gone from an average of $1.2k to $10.4k. This is driven by rising salaries, design and quality expectations increasing, etc." - Profitwell
Ebooks are more expensive and less effective, but to create a thirteen episode season at Profitwell costs under $10k.
Not only can Patrick get over 3 touch points per audience member a week, but the effectiveness of one season actually compounds over time.
Evergreen episodes can be cut up and distributed forever, continually growing an engaged audience.
I'd trade a 2.9 month ebook for a perpetually compounded lead generator any day of the week!
Google's framework: Hero, Hub, Help
Hero, hub, help is a framework of thinking about content and media that can help you prioritize and time an effective media strategy.
Here's an example timeline:
Different content types serve different purposes.
Hero content tends to be your largest budget piece
Perhaps it's a benchmarking report analysis or in 11FS's case they made an hour long feature documentary series about the financial crisis.
They're not selling a product with this content, but rather building an entertaining documentary that their audience will enjoy and associate their brand as the experts in the industry.
Mailchimp has a larger budget and created a Netflix Originals' copy where they invest in bigger budget documentaries called 'Mailchimp Presents'.
Like 'Hand on Hardbody' - a tale of an incredible marketing campaign where participants compete to win a car. Each person has to put their hand on a car and the last person standing wins it. The competition went on for days.
Although not directly related to the Mailchimp products they are created to inspire and entertain entrepreneurs and small business owners, who are their target audience.
Hub content tends to be evergreen.
It works well as in a seasonal or episodic content.
An example from 11FS would be their 'Homescreen' series where they analyze FinTech startup's product flows.
Although not directly plugging 11FS's product this hub content positions them as experts in the industry and provides direct value to their prospective customer base.
It can be created in batch and then distributed on a weekly basis.
This sort of product analysis adds enough value in and of itself that the large banks would probably pay to access it.
Profitwell have created their own subscription service called 'Recur' which presents four separate programs based around seasons and episodes.
Pricing page teardown
Protect the Hustle
All aimed at a specific buyer persona or topic on which they create value through their product.
They've created hub content so good that potential customers are proactively signing up and requesting regular, sometimes daily, updates in order to consume content.
Help content is great for bringing in a new audience
Customers search for a specific answer and come across your content through SEO results.
11FS created a 'Decoding Banking-as-a-Service' series aimed to respond to questions of their customers around this new industry.
Gillette decided to create 'how to' videos like this one:
Chris Walker at Refine Labs
Not all media strategies need large budgets or high production value.
I've been following Chris Walker on LInkedIn for some time now and have found his content on demand generation and marketing awesome.
His strategy is simple. Chris records a video podcast (called the State of Demand Gen) as well as recording live consulting calls which get cut into smaller snippets and shared organically through LInkedIn.
It's a simple media strategy.
Take long form video podcast and consulting calls, cut them up into bitesize clips and share through social media organically.
In 18 months Chris took his podcast from 0 listeners to ranking Top 25 business podcasts in the United States.... all from organic reach.
Chris does a fantastic job of leveraging organic reach through LinkedIn, but you could also use paid social ads on Instagram and Facebook to bring awareness at the top of funnel and acquire new viewers.
Unless a traditional offer, once someone becomes a member of your audience they are subscribing to multiple future touch points so the CAC per audience member falls dramatically compared to an impression on an ebook.
You've now created a marketing strategy that:
increases the number of touch points with potential customers
your audience is excited to view your content
built brand affinity
you'll be top of mind when a buying decision takes place
CAC shrinks over time
leads generated compounds over time
you now own your audience and distribution channel
If you got this far, thanks for sticking with it.
I'm always looking to learn & improve.
I'd love to hear your feedback.
Don't hesitate to reply to this newsletter and share your thoughts :)