An Excruciatingly Detailed Guide: How to Build A Media Brand for Your SaaS Company
If you’re in B2B marketing, no doubt you’ve heard the phrase “be a media company.” While it’s not bad advice, it is totally shrouded in obscurity.
In other words, no one knows what the hell anyone is talking about when they say to build a media company, but we somehow all agree that it’s good advice for B2B SaaS companies to follow.
Now, we can draw parallels and think of all the B2B-equivalent-of-HBO-and-Netflix things we can do, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’ll all still be trying to build towards a similar goal without having any kind of roadmap or guide to follow.
So, after creating The Easy Mode Framework, implementing it at Cognism and refining their media engine, and currently building one out at HockeyStack, I thought I’d take a shot at breaking down what it means to build a media company in B2B SaaS.
In case you’re only here for the tactics (or want to jump to a specific tactic), here are the steps:
- Turn all of your existing content into series
- Create a Netflix-style page on your site
- Give the page a name
- Host and catalog your series on this page
- Copy & paste HockeyStack’s script
- Keep creating content
- Show your series some respect
- Distribute your content on social
- (Optional) gate your platform
- Assess the performance of your series
- Have popular creators make series for your platform
- Begin accepting pitches from other creators
- Host external series on your platform
- Pay popular creators/figures to be in your series
- (Optional) charge companies to advertise on your platform
- Invest more in the platform
- Get more and more popular people
- (Optional) sell your media brand
For everyone else, let’s jump into the deets.
How To Build A B2B Media Company in 18 Steps
In the steps below, you’ll see a few that are optional. That’s because I’ve tried to capture all the potential routes we could branch out into.
Though I feel that we all have a similar end goal, there are a few ways to get there, so I’ve tried to cover everything, regardless of whether it’s a route I’m going to take.
1. Turn all of your existing content into series
To kick things off, the first thing we’re going to do is turn all of your existing content into series. All of your blog posts, all of your video content, all of your podcast episodes – let’s figure out how to turn them into series.
This is important because we don’t want to discard all of your existing content. Nor do we want it separated from the content we’ll build moving forward. We want everything to work together as a cohesive engine.
And the best way to turn existing content into new series is to group similar content together based on a concept or theme, give the series a name, and create further editions based on the same concept or theme.
For example, when I was creating The Easy Mode Framework with Todd Clouser, we needed to serialize all of our content. We noticed he made a ton of videos of himself sitting in his backyard, talking to the camera. So, we simply grouped all those videos together into a series called Backyard Tales.
At HockeyStack, we took the videos I made where I was live streaming video games while talking about marketing and turned them into a series called Level Up. Then, I continued making more videos and used them as further episodes for the series.
Both the backyard videos and the gaming videos were existing content we had that were turned into series down the line by tying them together through a concept.
You can do the same with your existing content, whether that be videos, blog posts, podcast episodes, eBooks, etc.
2. Create a Netflix-style page on your site
The next thing you want to do is create a page on your website where you can:
- Host all of your series in one place
- Provide your audience and website visitors with an easy way to watch (or binge) all of your content
The best way to do this is to create a Netflix-style page on your website.
Another benefit of this is that you’ll be able to prevent all of your content from disappearing into the void. For example, I know many marketers who create for Linkedin. Most, if not all, of their content exists solely on LinkedIn.
Ask them to send you a specific post or video they made before, and they have to scroll through endless activity to find it.
By creating a streaming platform on your website, you can easily reference and link to your content whenever needed.
This also puts us back in control and allows us to use our website to host our content and use social platforms for distribution (the way it should be) instead of hosting our content on social platforms and using our website to dump and forget about our content (the way it currently is).
Now, when it comes to designing the platform, there are a few ways you can go about it:
- If you have the resources, design and develop it from scratch (which is what we’re doing at HockeyStack)
- Use a platform like AudiencePlus
- Buy a template from a website like ThemeForest
The following image is the page Todd and I created for our website. It took me a few hours to design while on a Zoom call with Todd.
One reason I would suggest designing it from scratch is that you want to have an extended level of customization. For example, with the streaming platform we’re building at HockeyStack, we want to host written and audio content and not just video content.
I also want to be able to remove our website’s main navigation so that way, when someone is on our streaming platform, they don’t see links to pages like “our platform” or “pricing,’ etc. I want to fully immerse our visitors so they have a better experience while streaming instead of having these constant reminders around that they are on a B2B SaaS website.
3. Give the page a name
So, you’ve got a streaming platform on your website. Now, the next thing you want to do is give it a name. This helps you distinguish it from your main company brand and treat it as a media brand under your software company.
For example, HockeyStack’s streaming platform is called The Flow. Lavender’s streaming platform will be called LavenderLand. Webflow’s streaming platform is called WebflowTV. Paddle’s streaming platform is called Paddle Studios.
Now, the most important thing to remember is that there will be different levels of branding at play here.
- Your website + company branding will be one layer. This layer of branding will not be majorly present throughout your streaming platform (the way it is on the rest of your site pages), except for surface-level presentation. For example, if your main color is blue, and your site pages are blue, you don’t want the streaming platform to be pink.
- Your platform will be its own layer of branding, and it will be majorly present throughout the platform itself, but not injected into your individual series. For example, imagine if you made every thumbnail for your series in the same style. Eventually, they’d all look the same.
- Your individual series will have their own distinct branding, with no influence from your website + company branding or your platform branding. Each series will be its own, distinct individual world. For example, our series Level Up has a totally different vibe, look, and feel than our series Can You Dashboard It?
This is very important for everyone involved to understand early on, as it’s a bit difficult to initially wrap your head around and understand the full extent of. Plus, not to mention, it goes against literally everything we’ve learned about branding, haha.
4. Host and catalog your series on this page
Now that you have a streaming platform with its own name, we need to supply the platform with content.
Remember how you turned all of your existing content into series? We’ll host all those series here and catalog them under different categories.
You’re also going to be hosting all of your future content series on this page, as well.
Initially, you might want to keep it simple and only employ three or four categories. For example, I feel all of your current series can be grouped under Educational, Tactical, Entertainment, and Thought Leadership.
As you continue to create more series and experiment with various genres and styles, you can expand your categories, but for now, let’s keep it simple.
However, if you have a big backlog of existing content, feel free to create more categories, but remember that you don’t want your categories to be too sparse (i.e., only have one or two series per category).
You should also consider using a platform like Vidyard or Wistia to host your videos, at least in the beginning. Then, you can build towards your platform having native video capabilities over time.
5. Copy & paste HockeyStack’s script
If you’re not a HockeyStack user, feel free to skip this step (though I’d highly recommend not to).
Let’s keep this one short: If you copy & paste HockeyStack’s script to this page, you’ll be able to track all the activity that visitors carry out on this page and see that activity in your customer’s journeys.
If you don’t know what that means, HockeyStack integrates all of your data (HubSpot, Salesforce, LinkedIn ads, etc.) and presents it to you as visual customer journeys.
Imagine also seeing “Played episode 1 of Level Up for 6 minutes” and everything else they do on your streaming platform.
Knowing how your prospects and customers are spending their time on your streaming platform, what they’re watching, and for how long can help you figure out which type of content works best for your audience for different purposes (such as, what works best for engagement, what works best for educating, what works best for spreading your narrative, what works best for pushing prospects over the finish line, etc.).
These are insanely valuable insights that can inform your strategy (that you don’t want to miss out on).
6. Keep creating content
From here, you’ll continue creating new content and series to supply your streaming platform and distribution efforts.
Also, keep in mind that you want to create a variety of content (audio, video, and text) in different genres and types (educational, entertaining, tactical, thought leadership, etc.).
Your existing series are all old content we are repackaging to fit this new approach, but that doesn’t mean your new series will be created in the same manner or with the same mindset.
Your new series will essentially be your content strategy. It will be your new marketing approach, and your streaming platform will be your content engine.
“That’s great and all, Obaid, but HOW do we create new series?”
So, before we move forward, let’s discuss some critical points and concepts that will help you create new series to accomplish your business goals and objectives.
Feel free to skip to step 7 if you’re already familiar with these concepts from following my podcast, my Linkedin content, or my framework. If not, I highly recommend you don’t jump forward since these concepts will help you establish your new content/media strategy.
The Content Journey
The Content Journey is a concept that comes from The Easy Mode Framework. It’s something Todd came up with and we refined together while building our framework.
The Content Journey is a process that helps you establish the purposes of your content, as well as define and segment your audience.
It’s broken down into three parts, which are the purposes behind all of the content you’ll be creating:
- Top-Down Strategic Narrative — This is content that is meant to reach the leaders and executives at your target organizations that can carry out company-wide change. For example, to get an entire company to switch from an ‘old game,’ i.e., lead generation, to a ‘new game,’ i.e., demand generation, you will need buy-in from leadership. This is where things like your strategic narrative and unique POVs come into play.
- Middle-Out Tactical Implementation — This is content created for the managers and leaders at your target orgs that will tactically implement the change your executives carry out. For example, if your leadership team is bought in on demand generation, that’s great, but they won’t be the ones that implement the processes and frameworks that help your company make the transition. This is where things like your learning hub/academy and other tactical content come into play.
- Bottom-Up Evangelism — This is content that is meant to reach the end-users at your target orgs that will drive awareness and admiration from the inside. For example, if your buyer champion asks if anyone on their team has heard of your product, wouldn’t it be awesome if several people mentioned that they love your brand? It makes conversations for your AEs that much easier. This is where things like entertaining and ‘edutaining’ content come into play.
As a B2B SaaS company, any content you make can (and should) fall into one of these three categories.
Now that you know what kind of content you’ll be making, you need to define who you’ll be making it for.
Top-Down Strategic Narrative
If your Top-Down content is meant to reach the executives at your target orgs – who are they? Make a list of them.
An easy way to figure this out is to speak to someone from Sales (if you’re a bigger company) or a co-founder (if you’re a smaller company).
Here are some questions you can ask them to dig out the info you need:
- Who are usually the people who have the final sign-off?
- Who are all the people that things need to be run by?
Questions like these can help you determine who the leaders that drive change actually are.
Once you’ve made this list, you now have real people (not fictional buyer personas) you can learn more about and create content for.
Connect with them on LinkedIn, and set up 15 to 20-minute calls with them to learn about their day-to-day, their goals, their challenges, their actual interests, etc.
Middle-Out Tactical Implementation
If your Middle-Out Content is meant to reach the managers and leaders at your target orgs that will tactically implement the change your executives carry out – who are they? Make a list of these people.
Some questions that you can ask someone from Sales or a co-founder are:
- Who are the people usually implementing your product? Or setting it up for the team?
- Who is on the call during the initial onboarding phase?
- Who from the customer’s team is responsible for onboarding team members beyond the initial onboarding your company does?
Questions like these can help you figure out who the people that will be tactically implementing your product are.
Once you’ve made this list, connect with them, and learn about their day-to-day, challenges, interests, etc.
If your Bottom-Up Content is meant to reach the end-users at your target orgs that will drive awareness and admiration from the inside – who are they? Make a list of these people.
A question you can ask to figure out who these people are is simple: Who are the folks that will actually be using our product as a part of their day-to-day work life?
Again, once you’ve made this list, you now have a list of roles to connect with, learn about, and create content for.
One last thing you want to remember regarding the Content Journey is that you should follow this process for each use case.
For example, if you market a project management tool, several departments can use your tool in different ways. Therefore, you want to determine who these different audiences are for your Sales team use case, your Marketing team use case, your Customer Success team use case, and so on.
This will help you gain more clarity on the different types of people that actually make up your audience and create the type of content they need.
5 Prerequisites of Ideation
The next concept we want to focus on is the 5 Prerequisites of Ideation (which also comes from The Easy Mode Framework). In other words, these are the five things you need to have a deep understanding of before you try thinking of new content ideas.
- Your Product – What does your product do? Who does it help, and how? Do you know all the features? Do you know how to use it? Could you show someone how to use it? When you don’t have a deep understanding of your product, it’s difficult for you to explain what your product does or how it helps in different and simple ways.
- Your Narrative – What is it? Why is it needed? How do we adapt to it or adopt it? Can you provide examples of it in action? What is it trying to change? Do you have any original research to back it up? When you don’t have a deep understanding of your narrative, it’s difficult to create content on topics that people care about in a way that’s relevant to your business goals.
- Your Audience – Who is your audience? What are their challenges? Their goals? Which social platforms do they spend time on? What are their actual interests? (i.e., “I like the outdoors” vs. “I binged watched every season of Black Mirror in one sitting”) Who makes up the segments we split your audience into? Also, make sure that your audience (the people you are connected with on social platforms, the communities you’re in, etc.) reflects your audience (the people your company wants to reach with its marketing efforts, i.e., your ICP).
- Your Objectives – What are your objectives? What are the business objectives? The marketing team’s objectives? And the sales team’s objectives? Everything you create has to consider an objective or tie back to an objective.
- Different Content Formats – Does your team know how to create a wide range of content assets (e.g., videos, podcasts, webinars, memes, animated shorts, etc.), or can your team only produce blog posts, newsletters, and whitepapers? If that is all you know how to create, then it’s all you’ll create.
Many times, when I speak to marketers who are stuck on what to create next, it turns out that they need to deepen their understanding in one of these five areas. Other times, when they know all these things well, they don’t consider these specific things together when it comes to ideation.
When it comes down to it, there are a million things you can consider during the ideation phase (what competitors are doing, trends, SEO keywords, etc.). However, I believe these five things above are the correct (and only) puzzle pieces to consider when ideating content. Everything else is a distraction, and focusing only on these five things (your product, your narrative, your audience, your objectives, and different content formats) helps you declutter your thoughts.
One mistake I see many companies make is that they create fun, entertaining content, and you’ll see them everywhere, but ask someone what their product does, and you hear crickets.
This is a (huge) problem.
The entire point of creating fun or entertaining content is that it helps your brand stay in the minds of your prospects.
However, it is all for nothing if they don’t know what your product does, and therefore, don’t turn to your product when they move in-market for a solution like yours.
So, one way to fix this is to consider product association.
Traditionally, brand association is the emotion, image, concept, etc., that someone thinks of when they hear your company’s name.
Similarly, product association is the outcome, benefit, or solution that comes to mind when someone thinks of your product.
And one of the best ways to associate your product with an outcome without simply talking about your product is to build your content on a creative concept.
Most times, when it comes to creating content, we only consider the format we are creating (i.e., a blog post, a video, a podcast episode, etc.) and the substance we’re delivering (substance being the perspectives, insights, and advice, etc. that we’re providing).
However, sometimes we need to go one step further and build our content on a creative concept or a premise.
For example, if your product is a project management tool, you could create a commercial showing an employee using your product and showing off its features.
Or, you could create a commercial showing how the ancient Egyptians used your project management tool to coordinate the building of the pyramids.
In both instances, you would be showing your audience what your product is and how it works.
The first example can be broken down into format (a video commercial) and substance (what your product does). The second example can be broken down into format (a video commercial), substance (what your product does), and creative concept (ancient Egyptians using your product to help build the pyramids).
To help drive this home, here are two different series we make at HockeyStack that help us associate our product with specific outcomes by building the content on creative concepts.
- B2B Therapy – We recently released a new feature in HockeyStack that added podcast mentions to the customer journey. After we posted the launch video, I wanted to make more content about the feature without making content specifically about the feature. So, I recorded a skit showing a marketer venting to his therapist about leadership not wanting to invest more into their company podcast. Through some back and forth and silly jokes, the therapist mentioned how this product HockeyStack shows you when customers mention your podcast on sales calls.
- Can You Dashboard It? – The dashboard feature in HS is powerful. Based on how you create reports (through different combinations of events rather than predetermined metrics), you can create a report to track pretty much anything. So, with CYDI, the goal was to get suggestions from marketers on things they found difficult to track, then use HS to create a dashboard tracking that thing. We started with our own suggestions, with the goal of switching to suggestions from our audience as they started coming in.
The product association in Can You Dashboard It? is more on-the-surface than it is in B2B Therapy. Still, the common theme between the two is that they are both associating the product with outcomes through concepts, rather than being directly about the product itself (the way that the feature launch video is, for example).
Last but not least, you want to create a variety of content. By this, I don’t mean Top-Down, Middle-Out, or Bottom-Up. What I mean is that you want to experiment with different genres and forms of content.
One thing I’ve noticed is that, though there are several companies taking the media company approach, ultimately, they are still only creating podcasts and webinars, then forcefully presenting them as original series or conceptual shows.
And when you repeat content formats without adding any concepts or variety into the mix, your content can lose its effectiveness.
If you’re only making video content, it gets stale.
If you’re only making written content, it gets stale.
Similarly, if you’re only creating thought leadership content, you’re lacking the other types of content your audience needs.
If you’re only making tactical content, you’re not making any content that will help companies consider a new way of doing things.
If the only form of entertaining content you make is comedy, you’re limiting yourself.
Not to mention, you’re limiting how accessible your content is, given that people like to learn and/or consume content differently.
At HockeyStack, we spread our narrative and info on our product through thought leadership content, tactical content, funny content, gaming content, songs, animated videos, and more.
An Easy Way To Put It All Together
Well, that’s a lot to take in. So, here’s an easy way of looking at it:
When it comes to your role as a marketer, you have two goals:
- Educate your target audience – There are two things you need to educate your audience on. The first is your product, and the second is your narrative. You want to educate them on your product so they know what it does, how it helps, etc. And you want to educate them on your narrative so they understand why they need to use your product and the outcomes it can help them achieve.
- Entertain your target audience – There are two reasons you want to do this. One, not everyone in your target audience will be looking to buy at the moment. And two, when they are ready to buy, you want them to think of your company and come to you. By creating entertaining content around your product, you can stay fresh in their memory (without it feeling like spam), and build admiration for your brand, so they think of you when they move in-market.
The old way of accomplishing these two goals is through a topic-and-format-first approach, i.e., let’s create blogs, newsletters, eBooks, and podcasts on topics we came up with through keyword research, what competitors are doing, etc.
The new way of accomplishing these two goals is through a purpose-and-concept-first approach, i.e., let’s fulfill specific purposes by blending our narrative, product info, and audience’s interests through creative concepts.
7. Show your series some respect
Okay, wow, I thought we’d never get out of step six.
Whew, okay, smooth sailing from here (if you’re still with me).
Now, the next (obvious) thing to do is fix up how you present your series. Here are some things that you should do to present your series (and streaming platform) in a more authentic manner (or at least in a way that people are used to when it comes to a streaming service).
- Create attractive thumbnails for each series – we recently realized we sucked at creating YouTube thumbnails and needed to make them more YouTube-y. But before we could figure that out, we now have to also figure out how to create Netflix-style thumbnails or posters. So, think of your favorite Netflix posters. They usually have prominent, easy-to-read text, some sort of cinematic photography, a person posing in front of a colored background, etc. Try your best to emulate that. You could also experiment with Midjourney, whip up some images based on specific prompts, then throw the series name over it in some awesome typography to create a poster.
- Split each series into seasons and episodes – I feel like this is obvious, but you should split your series up into episodes and seasons. Creating episodes for your series lets you make the most of a concept and makes it easier for your audience to consume that content. Creating new seasons for your series lets you adjust, tweak, or refine the concept without abandoning or totally revamping the concept. Plus, breaking your series down into seasons and episodes lets you do the whole ‘S01E07’ thing, and you know that makes your series seem super official.
- Have several (or all episodes) of a season ready to go – In true Netflix fashion, you can batch record all of your episodes and release them at once. That way, it’s easier for people to binge your content (yes, binging content from a B2B SaaS company is really a thing). However, this might be a bit too ambitious in the beginning, so feel free to keep this idea in your back pocket for when you’ve built a foundation and some consistency.
Speaking of showing your series some respect, a good way to ensure that this content gets made is by having SMEs and leaders on your team create their own series.
For example, at HockeyStack:
- Emir, our CMO, is creating Where’d They Come From?, a series where he analyzes all of a prospect’s touchpoints (from the time they found out about us to the time they became a customer) by using our product.
- Courtney, our Lead Customer Success Manager, hosts Can You Dashboard It?, a series where she showcases the versatility of our dashboard feature by creating dashboards for things that are hard to track.
- Arda, our CTO, hosts Changelog, a series where he goes over recent product updates and releases and how they tie into our narrative of Attribution 2.0.
And, yup, you guessed it, all of these series are either Top-Down, Middle-Out, or Bottom-Up content.
8. Distribute your content on social
Now, there’s no point in making all this new media/content if the people it’s created for don’t see it.
To ensure that they do, you want to distribute your series as native content on the social platforms they spend their time on.
If they are on LinkedIn, build your network with the right people and distribute this content on LinkedIn. If they are on Reddit, distribute this content in the right subreddits.
However, just make sure you don’t stretch yourself too thin by focusing on too many platforms at once. To start with, pick two or three and focus your distribution efforts there.
As mentioned earlier, one of the cool things about this whole approach is that instead of creating content for social and letting it gather dust on your website, you now create for your own platform and use social platforms to distribute it.
You can tease your episodes with previews and get them to watch the full content on your platform, or you could release the full episode on social media and let them make their way to your platform naturally (I’m doing the latter).
You could also consider creating a schedule to follow, where new episodes of series go out on certain days.
For example, at HockeyStack, we publish new skits on Mondays, Can You Dashboard It? on Tuesdays, The Worst Marketer In The World on Wednesdays, alternate between new episodes of Level Up and The World’s First Traveling Salesman on Thursdays, and post whatever on Fridays.
I also see this as the new approach to content calendars: Instead of having blog posts, tweets, and newsletters go out on certain days, we now focus on new episodes of our series going out on certain days.
You can also run this content as ads. This is something we’re setting up soon at HockeyStack. Depending on the nature of the content, you could run ads on Linkedin, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and/or Reddit.
Eventually, or if you already have the resources and are willing to be the first to take the risk and experiment for the rest of us, you could place a billboard of your series at a location with a high(er) concentration of your target audience.
The Worst Marketer In The World billboards in Silicon Valley, anyone?
Trust me, when the time is right, I’m doing this.
9. (Optional) gate your platform
Next, we come to our first optional step, and that is to gate your platform (sounds awful, don’t do this).
However, let’s just go through how we could go about doing this, anyways.
You could have users create a free account to gain full access to the platform (that doesn’t sound so bad, actually). This way, when you get their email, you could at least send them updates about your streaming platform, new series releasing, recaps, etc.
You could also restrict access to your platform by limiting the series they can watch, how long they can watch, or making it to where they can only see previews of everything (sounds awful, don’t do this).
Alternatively, you could go with the classic free-with-ads/paid-without-ads subscription.
Ads, in this case, could be trailers of other series on the platform, ads from other companies, the latest news, or upcoming live events (sounds awful, don’t do this), etc.
On the other hand, you could always find a way to add to someone’s experience if they create an account, instead of taking things away to force them to do so.
For example, you could leave the content ungated, but make it free to create an account and, once logged in, let them do things like leave comments on videos.
10. Assess the performance of your series
Are you even a marketer if you don’t obsess over the performance of your content?
So, because it has to come sooner or later, we’re going to assess the performance of our series.
Now, if you implemented HockeyStack on your streaming platform, you should have a good amount of data to go on when you couple the insights from HS (and its integrations) with native analytics from the platforms you’re distributing on. On top of that, you’ll be able to see how your series fit into and impact your customer’s journeys.
You will want to understand which series are performing the best and which aren’t performing well.
You also want to consider qualitative signals to understand which series are being referenced the most and which ones are being talked about.
On top of that, get in touch with your sales team to see if any series are being mentioned on sales calls and in your self-reported attribution submissions.
Naturally, you’ll want to double down on the series that are performing well and cut back on (and refine) the ones that aren’t.
Through your learnings, you’ll be able to replace the series that aren’t doing well with new series built on better concepts.
11. Have popular creators make series for your platform
Now that you have a full-blown streaming platform and content engine up and running, you can start bringing popular creators, or influencers, from your industry into the picture.
Before I joined HockeyStack, we already had influencer and sponsorship programs running where we were paying popular creators in our space to post about our product on LinkedIn.
When I began focusing on building out The Flow after crafting our narrative, I realized it would be an easy transition to get them to stop writing about us on LinkedIn and start creating their own series for The Flow.
The original plan was to have internal team members create most of the series and sprinkle in a few series from popular creators.
However, I quickly realized that if I did it that way, the popular creators would overshadow internal team members and the platform altogether.
For example, if we make ten series and eight of them are hosted by internal members, and two of them are hosted by influencers, then people would begin referring to our platform as “that streaming platform that (insert popular creator’s name) is creating content for” instead of referring to it as The Flow.
But if I flipped it around, and seven of our ten series were from popular creators, and three were from internal members, then the abundance of popular creators would make it to where people would reference the platform, instead of any one popular creator.
“Oh, have you seen The Flow? That streaming platform with all those creators?”
Now, when reaching out to creators, keep two things in mind.
- You want to consider things like the purpose of a series, which audience segment it will be made for, and product association. The point of these series isn’t just to use popular creators to create content for you, so go one step further and use these series to accomplish specific marketing goals.
- Don’t forget to consider the types of people that make up a creator’s following. If your ICP and target audience consists of account executives, there is no point in using one of your initial few influencer slots/starting budget on a creator whose following consists of graphic designers.
Using external creators this way also allows you to keep your actual marketing team small. It’s how marketing teams of two or three people can produce more content than marketing teams of ten or more. And, of course, when distributing that content, you’ll be able to get it in front of multiple new followings.
12. Begin accepting pitches from other creators
Eventually, creators in your space will begin reaching out to you themselves. At that point, you can begin accepting pitches from creators that want to create content for your streaming platform.
Again, as exciting as it may be, remember that you can’t and shouldn’t accept every pitch.
Accept the pitches that will clearly add value to your audience, help you accomplish your actual objectives, and are built on concepts that allow you to regularly create episodes about your product.
For example, Todd Clouser creates The Worst Marketer In The World for us. Todd and I plan the scripts in a way that allows us to make every third episode about a topic that stems from HockeyStack’s strategic narrative.
That way, not every episode is about our product, but we still have a way to make episodes about our product without it feeling forced, random, or unnatural to the series.
13. Host external series on your platform
You know how Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming platforms don’t only create original series but also host shows and movies from other production companies?
Well, let’s follow a similar path.
When you get to this point, you can begin reaching out to companies in your space that are creating series that you like and ask them if you can host their series on your platform, along with them hosting it on their own site, social media platforms, etc.
Same as creators, companies may also start reaching out to you to host their series on your platform. You can allow it for free or charge them.
Allowing external series on your platform would be a good way to expand on the variety of content your platform offers and get more eyes on your content by expanding into new audiences.
However, be sure to be strict about quality. You don’t want to let any and every series onto your platform. Quantity is good, and having lots of programs to choose from never hurt anyone. It will hurt, though, if a big portion of the series on your platform are irrelevant or just straight-up bad content.
I’ve been reaching out to companies who create series I like and asking them if they’d be open to hosting their series on The Flow, along with their own website/channels.
So far, I’ve only found one I like that much. My friend Maxim Poulsen at Contrast has created an awesome game show called The Game Show, where he and his co-host ask marketers questions on different areas of digital marketing, but they only get two minutes to answer and also have to work around a handicap, such as not being able to say the name of that area of marketing.
For example, when I was on the show, if they asked me a question about brand building, I had to answer without saying the words “brand” or “brand building.”
It was a great experience, and I loved the concept of the show, so I asked Maxim if I could host the series on The Flow, and he said yes.
I also don’t plan on charging companies to host their series on The Flow. In fact, I’ll pretty much only be strict on quality and relevance to our audience. If it’s a good series built on a good concept and I think HockeyStack’s/The Flow’s audience will enjoy it, I’d be happy to host it on The Flow (without charging you).
I’ll work on putting together submission guidelines for companies and individual creators soon.
14. Pay popular creators/people to be create series for your platform
By this point, your streaming platform should be a huge part of your content engine.
It will probably be where all your content is coming from. You should also start seeing this content impact your inbound leads and pipeline.
This means one thing: leadership will now have a lot more faith and confidence in your platform and the overall approach.
As a result, you should be able to begin paying even more popular creators from your space to create series for your streaming platform.
To better understand what I mean by “even more popular creators,” here’s an insightful post from Nick Bennett on the different levels of influencers and creators.
15. (Optional) charge companies to advertise on your platform
Look, I’m gonna be honest: I don’t know much about allowing other brands to advertise on your streaming platform.
It’s not something I’ve done, nor is it something I’ll be doing with The Flow.
However, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a potential logical step for other companies to follow, so I wanted to include it on this list.
The only piece of advice that I can add here is to make sure that your advertisements don’t break the immersion of your visitors.
As mentioned earlier, maybe you create a free version of your platform with ads and a paid version that removes ads. Maybe you only allow really amazing ads that don’t feel like ads and add to the entertainment value of your platform.
It’s your choice. Just be careful not to ruin the experience for your visitor because you allow companies to advertise on your platform.
If you want my perspective on the matter, I say you skip this step and nail everything else first, then worry about this way (way, way, way) down the line.
16. Invest more in the platform
As time goes on, you want to invest more and more in your platform. You can increase your budget for external creators and increase your budget for how much you invest in production. You can also revisit and increase these budgets at regular intervals.
If you’re charging companies to advertise on your platform, you can also gradually increase how much you’re charging them.
Additionally, you’ll also want to increase your budget for distributing all this high-quality content, whether that be through organic efforts, paid efforts, or both. Again, the more people from your target audience that see this content, the better.
Maybe you even consider throwing some billboards, TV commercials, print media, etc. into the mix?
17. Get more and more popular people
The foundation has been set. Everything has been in motion. You have several series up and running. You have industry influencers involved by having them create their own series for your brand. You’ve upped your investment in your platform and increased the production value of your series.
Now, the next thing to do is go even bigger. From here, you want to get increasingly popular creators, actors, and people to feature in your series as time goes on until you’re at Ryan Gosling level.
Sounds like a joke, but really, where else do you go from here? Eventually, this is the stage we’re going to get to. I mean, Ryan Reynolds is killing it for MNTN with his content.
It’s only a matter of time before other B2B companies start doing the same.
18. (Optional) sell your media brand
Awesome, you’ve done it. You’ve built a successful media brand under your SaaS company. Everyone thinks you’re amazing. So many people in your target audience love your series and platform.
Now, convince your CEO to sell your media brand for millions of $$ and use that money to do it all over again, with better production value. That’s the real challenge. Can you do it again?
Just kidding. Sell it, don’t sell it. It’s up to your leadership team. I just wanted to include this here for the sake of being thorough.
If I have a say in it, would we sell The Flow? No.
But then again, I’d sell it for…
Just kidding. Maybe not.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Well, that is a lot to take in. Hopefully, though, this post helps you gain a better understanding of what it means to build a digital media company as a B2B SaaS marketer.
Remember, you have two goals: Educate your audience (on your product and narrative) & entertain your audience (so you stay top of mind).
And the best way to accomplish these goals is to create Top-Down, Middle-Out, and Bottom-Up series that blend your narrative, product info, and audience’s interests together through creative concepts.
Then, because you’ll have a ton of series created that you’ll want people to have easy access to, you’ll host it on your website in a way that they can conveniently read, listen to, or watch it all.
Easy peasy. 😂