Marketing Like a Media Company
In episode 62 of Pit Stops to Podium, Corey Haines discusses how and why marketers need to act like a media company. Embracing the role of being a trusted source of information means raising up thought leaders, creating content that teaches people things, adding value, giving guidance, and solving problems. This is the antidote to the transactional playbook that has failed over the last decade.
Corey is a marketer, entrepreneur, podcaster, and investor. He is the founder of Swipe Files, a membership site that provides content, community, and courses to help you master marketing. His mission is to help people with exceptional products, services, and content get the attention they deserve. Corey curates marketing examples, copywriting help, and more through his newsletter, membership community, and podcast.
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Brand Marketing vs Performance Marketing
To a certain extent you will always need performance marketing (i.e. getting the lead, getting on a call, making the sale), but the way you do this is changing. The key is to lead with a brand marketing effort, which involves building trust with the audience, and then executing performance marketing on the back end.
"We're building trust with the audience, we're getting in front of a lot of people, we're teaching, we're entertaining, we're building up our team, and certain people within our team, as thought leaders."
How to Measure the Brand Marketing Approach
This about converting people in a very non-linear fashion. A good way to measure is by total reach, or the total impressions across all media outlets. You ultimately want all of your attention to be funneled into an owned platform where you have a direct relationship with your audience.
"How wide are we casting this net and how good of a job are we doing at growing this net and making it even wider?"
Balancing Motivation and Accountability on Brand Marketing
From a cultural standpoint, it's optimal for companies to look for people who buy into the concept and want to be seen and heard. It's okay to start with small steps as just getting into the practice of making an effort makes a difference. Overall, the idea is that everyone is a marketer of the company. Everyone can help in pushing the business forward.
"I would encourage people to take small steps and at least get them doing something...just getting in the practice of sharing things."
Connect with Corey
Brendan: Hey everyone welcome to Pit Stops to Podium the RevPartners podcast where we talk to execs who have competed and won. My name is Brendan Tolleson and I serve as the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners and I'm delighted to have with me today Corey Haines for this episode of Pit Stops to Podium. Welcome Corey.
Corey: Yeah thanks for having me really excited to be on.
Brendan: Yeah and um Corey I I had to wear my hat today I've never worn a hat for a podcast but this is you know depending on when this gets to launched the Bulldogs just won their back-to-back national champions which doesn't happen often so I just had to give them something it's uh great to have you on uh I know you know for those who don't know who Corey is Corey uh has a podcast as well called Everything is Marketing uh he's also the founder of Swipe Files um so for our guests they're getting to know you we will have a personal segment but as it relates to you professionally uh maybe give the audience a little bit of context on who Swipe Files is.
Corey: Yeah so uh I have a like a juggling ads going on right now but I have Swipe Files which is sort of like my newsletter and membership for SaaS marketing where I just deconstruct case studies and talk about different tactics and strategies I've seen work in the marketplace um I also have Swipe Well which is my own SaaS product that me and my co-founder working on and when we were actually launching tomorrow officially so that'll be fun but it's essentially a way to curate marketing examples and build a swipe file and uh collaborate with your team to be more creative you know marketing um but yeah I mean I've been doing SaaS marketing for B2B SaaS companies for the last six years now um usually as like the kind of first marketer and um it's a tall order most of the time so I've had to kind of learn all the tips and tricks along the way uh the craft you know nothing like a crash course like life and just experience um but now you know try to do my best to learn everything that I've learned on the way and teach that to others
Brendan: It's always fun to hear origin stories so you know in a lot of kind of experience you've had in that seat to now create a newsletter and ultimately software is always a lot of fun. Um well Corey in addition to getting to know what you do we also like to know who you are uh and so what are three fun facts our audience should know about you outside of work?
Corey: Uh married my wife and I have a dog named Remy's a black pug I'm obsessed with pugs um I love to play Pickleball in my spare time I also had to snowboard but being in San Diego doesn't have happened all that often to have a lot of great choices.
Brendan: Um well you can't feel bad for you when you live in San Diego.
Corey: I know I know America's Finest City yada yada but I love snow Sports I love being active being outdoors uh any sort of competitive thing is fun for me so.
Brendan: All right so oh yeah see like pickleball has uh taken over in terms of the sport of choice for uh young professionals. Um well because I appreciate you sharing a little bit about you and the passions that you do have um let's transition into the big idea today and then you know uh you know for our audience to think about Revenue leaders we're thinking and there's a lot of marketers that are associated with that and it's really about how do we go from high growth to high scale um and so a lot of people are rethinking marketing and the big idea that you're you wanted to talk about really gets into treating your marketing almost like a media company um and so before we kind of dive into how you do that uh why should they be thinking that way?
Corey: Um let me take a step back and we think about you know what marketing is and the point of marketing why are we doing all this um I think it's really easy to have a very transactional view of marketing and sales and you're sort of just like this number is in a spreadsheet and sort of do whatever you need you know the the ad justifies the means and however you can get that lead that Sale close the deal et cetera et cetera but people get burnt out on that and I think what we saw in the last kind of 10 years uh this whole world of SaaS software and technology has really just exploded is that we're going through this Evolution where early on you could be you can get away with being super super transactional you know we've got like the predictable Revenue Playbook of sending cold emails you know Mass massive scale and just sort of like working the Playbook closing the deals same thing with marketing it's largely been a lot about uh advertising and nurturing leads through your CRM your Marquee animation and you're just trying to like rush everyone through kind of buyer's journey to get to the end um I think what we've all realized if you've been in a marketing capacity at a SaaS company is it that Playbook just does not work anymore um the reality is that like the landscape of SaaS categories is that it's super competitive like there's a lot of products and categories that are just commoditized these days features are to have a dozen the products that ever been better right but that makes it almost even harder for customers to choose when a lot of tools do the same thing the same way you know almost look exactly the same they're always in the same kind of bootstraps themes in their UI um so then you know what does it come down to price well then how do you really Market that um you really have to build trust with the buyer with the customers and um you're not going to do that just by sending them an ad and expecting them to convert on the first or second touch or even you know send them to download an ebook and then sending a couple emails and spending to hop on a call like the bar has been raised so much higher customer acquisition costs have risen uh the buyer's Journey has been elongated uh their requirements is sort of like what it takes to earn someone's trust has just elevated so much that you can't have that transactional Viewpoint anymore basically if you're trying to be super super transactional all the time you're going to fail you're going to lose like it just doesn't work anymore so what's the flip side of that this is where I get to this whole idea of marketing like a media company um this whole idea sound from I was skeptical at first too because it sounds like a good idea but it's kind of like okay like what does that really mean you know like let's let's talk let's talk practically what does it look like to Market like a media company um and if you break it down what is a media company well a media company consists of media personalities people that are creating content people that you trust people that you like people that you know people that become familiar uh sources of information trustworthy sources of information even entertaining sources of information and media companies then monetize those media personalities through the content that they create so a media company it has two ingredients you have media personalities and then the content is the product that they sell and I feel like that's an amazing model just for a way to think about a non-transactional marketing Playbook for SaaS companies today because you need people to rise up and be thought leaders in the space to really know what they're what they're talking about you need to create content that isn't just like a ploy or a thinly veiled sales letter to sell your product you need to actually teach people uh in the market you need to earn their trust you need to add value you need to give guidance you need to solve problems even if it's not directly related to your product but you need to think and act like a media company and that you are not just a faceless corporate brand you are a group of people who are trusted sources of information and Authority in the marketplace and they need to create amazing content that even if you didn't have a product to sell on the back end that you would be a source that influence you would be successful in even monetizing other ways like through ads or through affiliates or through other types of deals like that so that way of thinking is essentially the the antidote to the failing transactional Playbook that we've seen play out in the last decade or so I would say.
Brendan: Yeah if I hear what you're saying it's not I mean it it's how do you think differently um it doesn't mean that those old tactics aren't can't work it's just they aren't um efficient or effective um and so it's not the best it's it's not the best way to use your funds and it's funny because we you know at RevPartners we've been thinking a lot like this is coincidence because you know I did not meet before this conversation uh but that is exactly what we're doing right now uh we're thinking through like uh networks uh this is your point whether it's Fox News CNN ESPN it doesn't really matter to your point about like a media company we're treating it like a network and then so what are uh those different um series if you will that we're going to create we're going to have individuals with a point of view um and so it's that point of view to create that trust and entertainment to your point uh what's that value add that you're going to offer uh and so that's exactly what we are embarking upon we'll see if that experiment works but I I do agree with you that um it's a way to differentiate in a very crowded Market um and I'll keep you posted on how that goes but so let's let's talk a little bit let's kind of dive in a little bit um so into okay if that's if that's where my working should have how do they ultimately get there um and so you started to kind of unpack them a little bit um but maybe for those traditional marketers as I hear that that's probably some trepidation because that's a whole new muscle that they've never even exercised before um so I guess it's a two-part question uh one is is it the you know the the Playbook that you described so you know traditional SEO and paid um or they want to rank for a specific keyword uh that's you know whatever for one reason another in their category is the the known the known keyword how do they balance that with hey how do I now embark on this new next Frontier of marketing?
Corey: I think um basically the way to think about this is in terms of brand marketing versus Performance Marketing so like I said you're always going to need the Performance Marketing you're always going to need some sort of transactional you know let's make the sale Let's Get the Lead Let's get someone in the system let's get them on a call let's get them to sign up and create a free account um but the way that you do that is changing because again the the bar has been has been raised and it's just not as easy to do that efficiently at scale um so instead of leading with Performance Marketing going straight for you know the SEO optimized article straight for the Google ads straight for the Facebook ad straight for the cold email instead you lead with a brand marketing effort which is more of that market like a media company um content marketing uh effort and strategy where we're building trust with the audience we're getting in front of a lot of people um we're teaching we're uh we're entertaining even in some in some senses um we're building up our team and certain people within the team as thought leaders in the space and then we're going to capitalize on that attention on that trust through a Performance Marketing effort on the back end and if we really want to get practical and think about like a kind of crawl walk run approach of what does this look like on a small scale to what does this look like on the biggest scale at the very small scale I think what a lot of companies need to think about is how do you just get one person to be the face of the company and to build up a personal brand within the space to be addressed part of the community that person is probably best fit to be one of the founders or the CEO or even like the chief uh the chief product officer whoever is sort of like um Can can most relate to the audience that you sell to with your product and even if it's that one person getting author of that content having a lot of different types of um formats of content uh again if you're just kind of starting out and you're in that crawl phase maybe you start with a couple of channels like um Twitter and going on a podcast let's just say for example super super approachable anyone can tweet anyone can hop on a podcast and talk about what they know we want to talk about like what uh what a you know a walk approach might look like maybe you're adding on you know one or two other people kind of into the media personality team that you're helping to grow and maybe you're adding on a couple more channels as well so now it's going to be you know Twitter LinkedIn YouTube and podcasts and now we're gonna have a couple more places and a couple more formats that we're creating this content and we're elevating three people not one across all these you know four or five channels these four or five formats of content if you will and then the the Run approach you kind of you can build literally an entire team of media personalities you can have different people for different functions in the business um that content can take lots of different formats I can just run through a couple of examples but um you know Drift was kind of one of the OGs at this where they had um you know Dave Gerhart and then they had David Cancel and then they started really elevating um the product co-founder Elias um and then they brought up like the a PM named Maggie Crowley's they gave her like okay now you're gonna be like the product management media personality so let's create a Content or a podcast let's get you up and running on Twitter and Linkedin let's get you on podcasts and then they did that across multiple different functions they had the retention person they had the marketing person they had the sales person they had like the revenue person the product person the design person um we've seen this across the hustle uh profitwell morning Brew um HubSpot has done an amazing job of this uh even like companies like coinbase you know they'll have like a whole news team where instead of being like behold into the crypto news outlets on what's the what's true what's not true and that's like influence in the market so like you know what we're going to create coinbase news we're gonna have a whole editorial team just dedicated to being the destination for the news so they kind of like hold their guessing their own hands um it was like wistia you know a video hosting platform but they're creating like full-on documentaries on how to create documentaries very meta how to um one of my favorite series was a series called 110 100 where they worked gave them uh they wanted them to create three videos one with a thousand dollar budget one with a ten thousand dollar budget and one with a hundred thousand dollar budget and you get to see behind the scenes of what it looks like to create a video for each one of those budgets as well as you know the the process of documenting that whole process too so again like very meta but um yeah yeah there's lots of different ways that this plays out um again if you're just crawling you just want to start out one person one or two channels you know really small but how do you integrate yourself as a trusted member of the community and then how do you scale that out across multiple people multiple channels uh in a really big way.
Brendan: Um going from crawl to walk to run yeah I like that process and it's something that you know speaking I mentioned you were doing this we're undergoing this right now and and last year we did that crawl approach we had a few of us that were creating a point of view and creating a following um and now it's like hey let's open that up to one person each one of our departments and we created crater cohort uh concept and we're launching that next next month um and so that we've got a whole department to support them uh and create distribution networks Etc so it's um we're fully bought in on that I think that the next question that probably a lot of uh folks that have so okay crawl walk we're on approach but how do we measure so how do we determine if this is effective or not I mean do we need anything about demand acquisition demand generation what is the what's the recommendation that you have as people start to implement this approach?
Corey: Yep again it's going to take a little bit of a mindset shift just because brand marketing efforts are generally harder to measure than Performance Marketing efforts so it's not going to be as much about like all right what was the conversion rate from um you know this click from this ad to this landing page uh just because it's going to be there right we're talking about more not like last click or first click attribution we're talking about multi-touch attribution how do you get how do you expand the funnel and over time um you know convert those people in a very non-linear way right um so what I'd be looking for is like really honestly measuring is uh things like total reach like what are your what's your total Impressions across each one of your kind of media Outlets that you have whether it's corporate accounts or personal accounts whoever's on the team looking at total follower accounts um and then you can kind of think down to funnel side this this framework called the orb framework or call it owned rented and borrowed platforms ultimately you want all of your sort of um all of your uh like attention to be funneled into an owned platform an own platform is where you have a direct relationship with your audience things like email a community a text message list like there's no algorithm there's no filtering there's censorship that's ever going to get in the way of you reaching your audience and then we have things like rented platforms which are more like social media sites and news outlets and you're sort of like you're it's peer to play you've got to follow the rules if you're living in someone else's house but you can still use that to funnel people back to your own platform as soon as I think with borrowed platforms it's this is like me going on your podcast or you going to someone else's podcast um you know YouTubers doing collaborations doing guest newsletters and guest posts on blogs anything in that regard right where you're basically tapping into someone else's owned platform their own audience um so again to answer the question about like how do you measure about how do you measure this you want to take a measurement of each one of those categories so I started out with talking about like you know reach and followers like that would definitely very much fit into the the rented platform um part of the funnel just getting an understanding of like how wide are we casting this net and how good of a job are we doing at growing this net and making it even wider even more up the funnel like how many guest posts did we do can we measure anything from that how many podcasts do we go on can we measure anything from that how many X Y and Z just what can you you know what is the frequency and what is the reach of each one of those things but ultimately you really want to be pushing everyone to an owned platform so um a podcast a newsletter a community a text message list those are like the the would say if it's like another way even to convert someone as a user right you're looking at things like that um and they're looking for any sort of signal of that transfer from a rental platform to an own platform or from a borrowed platform to an own platform how often or you know what is the the growth of that relationship how often is that happening how many people are coming into the funnel um and how good a job are you doing in growing your owned platforms especially is what I've mainly been looking at.
Brendan: I like that yeah I think that might be a fun takeaway for our audiences know where they can get that framework um around owner and um let's transition into the last topic that was top of mind for me so we talked a little bit about the process of how you implement we talked a little bit about how you measure it and I think that you know there's kind of a two-part um you know for some of our audience that may say hey that sounds really interesting but and you've answered my objection of how do I measure it the next question I would have is well how do I motivate people to do it and secondly they have day jobs so how do I balance like they're like performance execution around their current role and then we're saying hey on top of that I need you to be doing these things so how do you balance the or yeah how do you balance out of one motivation into accountability?
Corey: Yeah um you know the motivation part like you can never Force someone to do something that they don't want to do so some people are just not going to be bought into the idea and that's okay I would is something that's very core to who you do you want to be looking for people who are interested in this in the first place and we're to it at least right now obviously it's really hard it's a it's very kind of Cutting Edge on the front here this was hard to have that kind of foresight so if you're working with a lot of people who just are not that interested in it then that's okay I would encourage people to take small steps and at least get them doing something even if there's just getting in the practice of sharing things I remember when I first started more active on Twitter any thought that popped in my head or question related to SaaS marketing just tweet it and not worry about editing not worry about like how can I turn this into something that's going to go viral or that it gets shared or that people like but just getting into the practice of training myself to share more um once you get people to actually do that you say Hey you know you're really smart uh you're really good at this whole product design thing like you have so many interesting opinions that you share in meetings I would love for you to share that on social media even if it's just for your own personal gain in your career that will help you go further make more money work with better Brands and better companies get a would love for you to do that personally and also if this turns into something this could be a huge benefit for the company that we would like to basically figure out a way to work this into you know your job as a way to reach more people and get more customers for us at the end of the day I think that there's a big question that people are wondering which is like who is responsible for for growing the company and really if we look at it I think that for a long time we've kind of just put that off on like the sales marketing guys but ultimately like everyone is a marketer of the company um the way that they show out the clothes that they wear the conferences that they attend the stuff they post on media it's all a representation of the company and it's good to encourage them to basically say hey like even if you're not like on the marketing team we're all in this together like we all have something to chip in we can all help just push the business forward even a little bit even if it doesn't feel like you're doing anything just having the output and getting the practice of making an effort does make a difference collectively and just encouraging them to sort of um you know obviously it's easier to motivate people with a more like personal gain up front but then like justifying it with like a a collective hey we're on this in this together you know let's kind of pull together and we're going to figure this out as a team um works well to kind of motivate people.
Brendan: I think that's good advice in terms of um and you plant the seed encourage those that are expressing interest and then to your point in terms of how do you kind of reward that I think that's where it's hey this actually um isn't a distraction it's it enables you to actually be successful both in terms of your function but also as it relates to the company's objectives because to your point um we're all responsible for like stewarding this or this brand um and allowing us continue to grow um so I really like that thought so as we wrap up you know one of the things that we really look at is Corey what's the next step they can take um because this is a big idea and it's there's a lot to be um discussed here so it's a fun conversation so what's what's a way in which they can engage with you it could be with the community with the product um with content.
Corey: Um I'll give it to you sure yeah I mean there's a lot of ways to be honest if you're like really enamored with this idea and you're like man working like a communicate but I want to do that I created a full course on how to do it uh with examples and a lot of really practical steps it's a part of the the membership for Swipe Files so you go to swipefiles.com/membership you'll see you know what today's to get started there would love to have you as a subscriber share stuff like this all the time for free within the newsletter um and then my personal Twitter is probably the best place just like follow along always tweeting stuff about SaaS marketing at Corey Haines Co and um yeah we'd love to see you there teams are always open feel free to ask interact challenge assumptions All the Above.
Brendan: Well Corey thanks for stopping by I know our audience is really going to benefit from it it's been a fun conversation for me and uh we really appreciate it.
Corey: Yeah appreciate you, thanks for having me.
Brendan: All right, talk to you later.
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