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Content | What It Means to Be a Media Company, Building an Audience, and Community with Anthony Kennada

30 May 2024
Content | What It Means to Be a Media Company, Building an Audience, and Community with Anthony Kennada

Show Notes

Anthony Kennada is is co-founder & CEO of AudiencePlus, a company building software, content, and community to help businesses become media companies. Prior to founding AudiencePlus, Anthony served as the CMO of Hopin, Front, and Gainsight.

In this episode, they discuss

  • What it means to be a media company
  • Building an audience from scratch
  • Why building community is important in B2B marketing


  • () - - Introduction and context from Anthony Kennada.
  • () - - Definition and evolution of becoming a media company.
  • () - - The importance of building an audience and brand-oriented marketing.
  • () - - Discussion on content production and budget constraints.
  • () - - Community building and its significance in B2B marketing.
  • () - - The relationship between audience and community in marketing strategies.
  • () - - Efficient growth strategies and the role of organic growth.
  • () - - Building an audience from scratch and effective distribution strategies.
  • () - - Overcoming challenges in the current economic climate.
  • () - - Reflection on past marketing mistakes and learning from them.
  • () - - Discussion on category creation and its impact.

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Speaker 5: [00:00:00] All right.

Speaker 3: Anthony is here, Anthony. I'm going to let you do the honor and introduce yourself. Give context to your voice before we hop into this 

Speaker 7: interview. Sounds great, man. Thanks so much for having me. So Anthony, Canada, I'm now the co founder and CEO of a company called audience plus, but I've been a CMO now for gosh, I guess, 13, 14 years, something to that end.

Spent most of my time at a company called gain site came in as sort of the first marketing hire built that into a hundred billion dollar error. Our business really learned a lot about thought leadership and content and community and events and how all of these things can. Really help position your brand as a thought leader in a space, but also monetize that equity into revenue and figure out how to sort of kind of build that process went on to a company called front and most [00:01:00] recently hop in and in both of those stops still kind of, I feel like this was sort of the call on, on my career, at least this idea that, you know, through brand oriented marketing.

You know, we can actually drive revenue and drive growth. And how do we really go and operationalize that obviously DG? I know it's, it's close to your heart to this, this, this topic. And so now at audience plus, you know, I've moved from being a operator to being a founder, which is terrifying and awesome at the same time, learning a ton, but really trying to operationalize this whole process that I spent my career kind of working on.

And help other companies become media companies become kind of editorial in nature, build an audience and engage that audience. And hopefully through that. Sort of take this posture of being a community led company in this sort of next chapter of marketing. So early days for us, but very excited about what we're working on.

Speaker 3: Can you define that for people as context? I would love to, it's a question that comes up a lot, but I just would, since you mentioned it, we'd love to hear [00:02:00] your definition when you talk about. Become a media company. What does that mean to you? So several things. I 

Speaker 7: think we have talked about content forever in marketing and B2B marketing.

When we talk about content, we typically are referring to it through the lens of performance marketing or blog posts. Written to, you know, rank on social against a certain set of, excuse me, on search against a certain set of keywords that's going to drive qualified traffic to the site. And we're going to drive them down leads or product led leads or whatever.

And that's great. By no means am I disparaging it. HubSpot, Marketo, others have really championed this movement and we've all participated in it. But a lot has changed in the years since. I think we've all gotten really good at this practice. First is the formats have changed. So we think about what consumers are actually, how they're seeking information and engaging with information.

They're reading blog posts for sure, but they're also watching videos, long form, short form videos. They're listening to podcasts, just like this one. They're participating in [00:03:00] live streams and live events where they're engaging directly with, with some of these experts. And so as this sort of formats have started to emerge.

We haven't fundamentally shifted our content mix in a material way. The second thing is data privacy laws are changing. And so I think, you know, folks, I'm sure every marketer here is thinking a little bit about third party cookies going away completely. I think they're already blocked on most major browsers and Google's blocking in next year.

We relied on third party cookies for things like, you know, winning back traffic after somebody finds us through a long tail search item, kind of following folks on the display networks and trying to kind of get that conversion, a second shot at that conversion that's gone effectively. And we're going to have to figure out better ways to get distribution on our content.

And again, like media companies figure out a way to own our distribution. How can we own that relationship directly with our audience versus kind of renting it from third parties? Which takes me to the third point. Our relationship with social media [00:04:00] is changing. It's not going away by any means, but you know, I think the way media companies really think about social, they think about it as be having a presence in these rented spaces where our audience is today and finding ways to drive them down that audience funnel into an owned space where we can kind of monetize that, that followership or that subscription base.

And so as folks in the creator world are saying, look, my reach, my organic reach is being governed by an algorithm that I don't control. In some extreme cases, I'm giving, you know, 50 percent of my revenue to YouTube. You know, when I can just go direct to customer and obviously double my performance, all of these things are just kind of shifting our thinking about social media.

And so the cognitive reference that people have on how do we address all three new and emerging formats that educate and inspire our audience. Owning distribution of that of that data and of that relationship and then being able to obviously capture and grow media companies are great models for businesses.

I've thought about this [00:05:00] before. 

Speaker 3: There's no sexy one line answer to like what is a media company? I think when we talk about it, like I think of it in exactly the context that you mentioned, Anthony, which is like building an audience that you own. And I already kind of circled in my notes like you talked about.

You call it brand oriented marketing. Most people that I talk to, when you say, like, Oh, go do a brand campaign, they think of display. Yeah. And they think of billboards and search and retargeting, and I like to think about, like, you know, what does marketing look like for a B2B SaaS company in a world where there's no cookies and privacy is, Key.

And I think it goes back to what you said, which is you got to be able to own, own your audience. And I see it like in a firsthand way from having built, even whether it's through my own audience or through exit five, I've done no crazy mark. Like my marketing is not even that creative lately, but like I have just a niche audience in B2B marketing.

They talk about B2B marketing all the time. So I'm from that world. I learned about, I'm learning more. I'm seeing the conversations. I'm, I understand what they might be [00:06:00] interested in want. And then when I have something, I go and create it and I send it to them. And I'm not like trying to troll anybody or like, or be difficult, but like, it takes all of the nonsense that we talk about MQL, SQL funnel stages, all these definitions, it takes all that out of it.

And you're like, wow, this is about building an audience around some type of shared cause or interests leading through education and expertise. And like, why don't we think about how do you do marketing from that? That's damn hard. That's exactly where I think the future is going. And it's different from what you said from the HubSpot world, where it's like, That used to be organic search.

That's still a very direct response. Like we wrote this article, it brought in this many website visitors that led to this many content downloads, but it's not how people buy now. Not, not at all. And 

Speaker 7: what I would argue is what you've built with your audience is rooted in trust and authenticity, right? In the sense that.

They know what they're gonna get from you. And that's why they're there. That's why they want to hear from you and each other, which is an important, I think, nuance to for community, which I know we'll probably talk about. But my sense is like, [00:07:00] that's a harder thing to come by for SAS businesses because we're used to like launching a campaign.

That's a thinly veiled sales pitch effectively. Right? Let me trick you into giving me your email address. I can give you this webinar access or whatever the case is. And What media companies I think do really well, what you're just, you know, obviously pioneering here for us in B2B is trusted relationship building at scale that is authentic and not commercial and a chance to really kind of, you know, do something much differently than what people are currently used to.

Yeah, which 

Speaker 3: is funny because it is really commercial. Like this is a high earning. business. Yeah. However, it's just me. It's not a SAS company. And so there's no, it always comes back to like the reason that we can't make this work inside of a company is because there's, Oh, well we hired people to do this.

And so they, what's the ROI on, on that? We have to measure things. We have to judge performance. And I think that that's the hardest part that I have. And that's the thing that is keeping me from, well, many [00:08:00] things, but like the reason why I don't want to lead a marketing team again, it's just like, From the outside, it's not that hard, but when the inside there's, there's all this like, there's all this nonsense about like, who's going to get credit and how we're going to measure it.

And so I think the path you're going down with this, with organic, like, to me, that's just what it comes down to at the end of the day. Like, if more people know about you, they're going to subscribe to your stuff. If more people are subscribed to your stuff, they're going to be more likely to buy from you.

So then the question is like, how do you create content? That's interesting enough to get people to pay attention to you. And that that's like the fun part. I'm not interested in the MQL nonsense, right? But 

Speaker 7: that's where I think it gets really fun. I mean, I agree. This is the part that is like stimulating creatively, right?

And I think many of us look to consumer marketing as sort of our inspiration. Well, here's our chance, right? To really kind of put that to work and think about things like You know, we're some different show franchises that we can operate, you know, to have different runs of seasons where in the fall we're doing these three shows.

And in the winter we're doing, you know, these other [00:09:00] shows guys like Patrick Campbell at profit. Well, I think really we're ahead for kind of developing that consumer like mentality to the content creation, uh, side of the business, you know, we're appealing. You've said this so many times. We're appealing to like actual human beings on the other end of these sales contracts or these follows or these whatever.

And when we think about how do we as humans interact with information we care about or want to be entertained by it's these types of lessons from the Netflix's and others of the world. That have really, I think, served us well on the consumer side and in B2B, it's, it's green field. Like, here's our chance to really break away.

Speaker 3: So I like the show concept and we'll, we'll get there and build up. But I think that one of the hard things is like, I think that can also be, that's like, you know how to execute on this now and you believe in it. And so you're going to build your new company and you're going to do that cool stuff, right?

Yep. But I think to the average person or to the marketer listening at like the average company, they're like, I want my company to do a show. However, in my head, I [00:10:00] think show costs a hundred grand. How do I get them to justify it? So like, where do you start? Like, what are the tactics of some of how you would think through this type of strategy?

We just went through it. We're a very, very small 

Speaker 7: company. Talk about what you're doing. That's good. Yeah. Yeah. Well, there's eight of us at the whole company, which, you know, two folks in marketing, the rest basically in product engineering and customer success. And so two of us have to figure out how are we going to build a media business that's shipping three pieces of content every week that has like a, an email newsletter that's running distribution strategy.

And for me, it started with like, okay, we're going to try to be the company telling people to become media companies. I need to go get a, like. 200 K contract sign for six episodes with like the best agency in house. Like I was this like, you know, CMO that came from the at scale venture backed kind of background.

And that's where my bias went to. And when I started actually obviously crunching the numbers now as an entrepreneur, I'm like, that just can't happen. Not only can that not happen, but I can't in good [00:11:00] conscience, expect my potential customers to do the same when budgets are getting tightened up and we're competing for resources all the time.

So thankfully what we learned is, you know, I think there's almost this like millennial thing of wanting everything to be like Netflix quality. And that's what we put sort of our premium on is saying, okay, this is content. That is. It's chef's table for B2B. It's great. But listening to what folks in like the Gen Z demographic and folks that are just coming just right after us, they don't want that.

They actually view high production value content in some cases as a commercial or as advertisement. Or like 

Speaker 3: look at, um, anytime you see right now, like, like YouTube is pushing YouTube shorts really heavily right now, obviously, right. But I'll just click on random things and it's like, Someone just talking like it's not high production at all.

It's like it's edited basically the same way as a real would or a tick tock and minimum with no editing or it's just a straight up like [00:12:00] one minute iPhone talking. So like you could have the high production that could be your hook, but you also could be totally more interesting or funnier or more educational or more entertaining or have some unique angle.

So I don't think that the budget thing. I get nervous when people take this advice as like, well, I need X dollars to go and make something because it's like, I would, I'd rather feel good about investing before coming out of the gate, spending all that money. 

Speaker 7: Totally. Totally. And that's what we did. So we, you know, we have three shows now, three or four shows that we're doing all of it shot in house.

We have. Beginning part, you know, a few months ago when we first started recording, it was literally like an SLR on my desk. We did an episode coming out soon here of media house. Appreciate you being on it, Dave. All shot on an SLR and some like Amazon lighting, less than a thousand bucks all in, and we produced a six episode season with some of the best voices and, you know, in B2B marketing, we've stepped it up since we got a little bit better of a setup here, but I mean, it's, I think we're still under like 30 or 40 K for an at home [00:13:00] like studio setup that I imagine.

Company that has an HQ might, you know, might be able to do something similar. But of course, this is our business that we're in all of this, less than one agency agreement. So point is, I don't think to your point, budget should be an inhibitor to getting started, especially if you're experimenting and trying to figure out, Hey, what shows concepts work, what resonates with our audience?

What kind of feedback are we getting? Yeah. We're kind of betting it all on a big contract and whisking it away. 

Speaker 3: What's the goal for you guys? Uh, you all right now, you got a company of eight, you haven't really announced what you're doing yet. So you're not trying to drive you. I'm just trying to set the stage for people like where you're at, right?

Like you're not trying to drive people to sign something up. So how are you thinking about this? Mr. CEO, a former marketer, like what, what's the goal of doing these shows, right? Why do, how do you measure it? How are you thinking about it? 

Speaker 7: Well, I think we both share an affinity for Chris Lockhead, the idea of category design, category creation, you know.

And sort of as you were setting [00:14:00] up this question earlier, this is a transformational shift happening within marketing. This isn't something that is going to be sort of enabled right away. We've got early adopters in HubSpot and the work they've done with the hustle Salesforce work, they're doing a Salesforce plus I mentioned profit, well, recur and you have several others that are, I think, starting and getting it and leading the way for us.

But this isn't a standard practice yet within a lot of B2B companies. And so what we're doing today is basically launching our media company to educate the category, to help put a framework around the category, to bring the voices together of people that are doing super interesting things and owned the media, And for us together as a community to move forward and kind of move the industry along as it were, we're also building a product, but we're a few quarters away, let's say, from from announcing, you know what, what that is.

But the thinking is we're building our audience and trying to serve our audience in order to help kind of shape the category while also learning how to do the job, you know, we're [00:15:00] also. Launching a media company and figuring out how to build our audience, how to get distribution, how to do it in a modern way.

And there's no better way of learning than by doing. So I think we're getting a ton of empathy. That's helping feed how we think about the product over time as well. And something that we hope becomes an enabling kind of platform for people to be able to do this on their own 

Speaker 3: and when they're on from a, from like an audience building standpoint, like, are you trying to measure.

Email? Is it like email opt ins? Is it video stats? Do you have video stats? What are you thinking about? We're looking 

Speaker 7: at a lot of things. I'd say the leading indicator is subscribers. So opt ins. And then, you know, I kind of like borrowing from the consumer language a little bit because an opt in, you know, and by the way, it's standard.

That's what we called it, of course, over the years. But subscribers sort of gives you the sense of this relationship that exists, right? It's a bit more of a, you know, Feels like a heightened responsibility to kind of serve your subscriber base. And so that's our leading indicator of success is, okay, how are we doing on growing our subscribers?

But the second quick part is [00:16:00] how engaged are our subscribers. And so we're launching programs that aren't just like trying to get folks in the door, but do they engage with more kind of exclusive content that we put in front of them? Are they referring folks within their network to join our community as well?

What are they saying on social and some of these other platforms that really kind of help amplify the story. But I, I'd say that I guess tomorrow at the time of this recording, we're going to be four weeks old. So we're still pretty new, at least in the market. We've been building a company for about eight months.

That's the unifying metric that we're driving against is how are we doing on growing our subscribers? 

Speaker 3: I was hoping that you would say that cause it's, it can be that simple, which is like the more people who are on your list, The more people you can tell it and like we had similar thing happen at drift in the early days where we had a podcast first, then when we were ready to launch our product, you all will be able to be like, Hey, you've been watching our stuff for the last X weeks.

Today, we want to tell you about something new. I think that the belief about building an audience before the product is, [00:17:00] I think that's a really strong one. Let's talk about community a little bit. You mentioned that before. What does community mean to you? Is it a place? Is it 

Speaker 7: a thing? What is it? I'm so glad you, uh, you asked this because I think we've sort of muddled up the definition of community a little bit.

Speaker 3: Everybody says a community we're, we're, if I had a dollar for every CEO or startup founder, it's told me that their priority strategic priorities to build a community, I would have like maybe 6, a lot of people are talking about, like we were able to build a community and I'm always kind of like, ah, let's dissect that a little bit.

Speaker 7: Yeah. Well, I think there's the sort of like. Consumer person view of what a community is. And then there's like, okay, we're a company. What can we do about quote community on the person's side? It's tough, right? Like customer success was a community and yet gain sites opt in marketable database did not reflect the extent of the community, if that makes sense.

Right. It was something that was bigger [00:18:00] than just the people who are in our orbit as a brand. And we sort of were able to capture a subset of those folks and be able to kind of nurture them with content and all those sorts of things and opportunities. So I think the person view of community is slightly more complex and slightly more philosophical.

Now on the B2B side, it tends to be a bit more, I don't know, straightforward in that I think what the CEO is trying to say is. We want to build a halo effect around our brand of people that are supporting and are engaging with our content and thought leadership. And we want to grow our community because we see what drip did.

We see what maybe gainsight did using just our experience here, obviously HubSpot and the others that went before us and how they were able to kind of align their brand with a movement that was validated by a market of people, some of which were customers, but many of which were not. But they came to the events.

If you listen to the podcast and they were kind of fans of what we were doing, [00:19:00] consumers of the thought leadership. The thing is, that's, I think what CEOs think when they say community led. Now, when we talk to a CMO, that's not what we think.

When we think community, we think it's like that customer forum thing that we have, and there's somebody in product marketing, I think that runs it. And it's like for upvoting features and that's a community, right? Like, yeah, I've got someone focused on community. Why does this DMO 

Speaker 3: think that? 

Speaker 7: Wake up CMO, not, and I hope not.

Oh man. So here's the thing. I've talked to several CMOs recently. I'm like, is community led growth the next wave? They're like, I'm a little skeptical. And I think it's because they think of it in that context. What I refer to as like little C community. It's like, of course I care about our customers. Like we want to be customer centric and all that, but I got a pipeline target to hit, 

Speaker 3: you know, or if they want to do it, they want to do it, but they want it to be behind it.

They want it to be measurable. They want it to be like on our domain. [00:20:00] Like there was this one SAS company that was like, Hey, would you ever sell exit five to somebody? And I was like, I don't know. Obviously, everybody has a, you know, a price, whatever. They're like, well, the problem is it's, it's on our, our website property.

And I think I understand that from that perspective. However, as a marketing, it's just fundamentally flawed that like the only thing, the only way you're thinking about building audiences that has to be on this property that you own, then that's only going to ever be so big where like, I think, I think of it like a gain site.

You all built a community around this movement of customer success, and there was multiple different ways. You probably had a customer forum. You probably had a subscription. Same thing with HubSpot and Inbound Marketing and Drift and Conversational Marketing. It drives me nuts when, when we go to, we instantly go to the variable that would be easiest for us to measure.


Speaker 7: Well, I think also it creates this disconnect between audience and community, which tend to be two. Different things as well, in that there's this broader super set of people who may or may not [00:21:00] actually be, you know, self identified as someone that's a member of your community, but they're listening, they're watching, they're paying attention, they're following along.

And so it feels like there's almost this like engagement metric or like a behavioral metric that separates someone who's like watching and observing versus participating and kind of getting off the bench and into the game. And so I think it's almost this like audience kind of high level community subset and then like customer forum on property thing that you're talking about that's sort of like the very bottom of that funnel.

But there's folks in the media world that honestly, like I was listening to a video from Alex Lieberman at Morning Brew and he was talking about the audience funnel as they see it, which they Take a completely different slice than what we're talking about. They basically say it's rented, owned, and monetized.

And that's sort of how they see folks working through 

Speaker 3: them. I think they have a, they have a model that is just much simpler to, or at least, at least fundamentally the way we see it. Cause it's like, oh yeah, well, it's, it's a newsletter and content based business. And so they're going to, they're going to.[00:22:00] 

Create a bunch of video content on TikTok and Twitter and YouTube to drive more traffic to their website. If they drive more traffic to their website, they'll get more email subscribers. If they get more email subscribers, they'll be able to charge for more things. When we get into our world, which is where you and I have come from, which is B2B SaaS, it's like, okay, I understand that, but we also have enterprise and we also have expansion.

And we also have, you know, Churn. And we also have this, and we also have that. And I think the more you can try to find the middle ground between those two things is, is better. Right? Like, I think just back to simplifying how you think about the funnel and where content fits. Totally. No, I totally agree.

There was a time at Drift when we were thinking about content. We were, we were thinking about basically having no, almost no public facing content and just going the complete opposite thing. And like having it completely be like, we already had an audience at that point, but have it completely be like log in and get all this stuff.

Content because I think we, we had a belief that we could do it and it would also make everything much the [00:23:00] funnel much simpler because then you're only kind of fishing out of this pool of people. Hey, we only want to sell to you if you've been engaging with our with our content. I totally 

Speaker 7: think that's a way you could go and do this.

I love that because I think then you're basically saying. We've established a relationship with this prospect or potential downstream buyer. There's been this sort of like reciprocity kind of developed in terms of free content, free value, whatever. Then they end up. Buying into the belief, getting educated, they might go to another job or at another company where there happens to be budget.

Next thing you know, they're a prospect. Those are the cohort of leads that end up converting quite well through the funnel. And by the way, when their customer is that, that's the cohort that ends up renewing and buying more and referring other folks, being great advocates. It's tough because when we try to acquire someone through a direct response, you know, PPC campaign or whatever, it's transactional in nature.

We don't have that relationship. And that's sort of the. The leads in my experience, at least that we spent a lot of money to acquire and then they just don't end up closing and then they just get [00:24:00] kind of, you know, into our market or HubSpot ether put on nurture drips for the rest of their rest of time, basically.

So I think that's something really smart of saying, Hey, we want to actually. Nurture our subscribers, but not through this sort of email nurture lens, but this actual editorial kind of approach to helping them, you know, in whatever it is that they're kind of going through as a business, some of the stuff through our products, but a lot of stuff through our content and events and experiences.

Speaker 3: So this brand marketing content stuff, right? How do you see it fitting on a team? Because I find that a lot of times it becomes. Separate and it's like a small team or two people inside of the marketing team doing the brand content marketing stuff. And then it's like, well, wait a second. What about, where does SEO, there's a weird, like a breakup between like SEO and ads and demand gen.

And so like, where do you see this ideally as part of the marketing strategy? 

Speaker 7: I mean, this could be heretical or whatever, but I see this becoming the marketing strategy, if that makes [00:25:00] sense, like it's not to your point. If you sort of like think about the traditional understanding of brand marketing, if you even had a brand marketing person in your B to B team, it was maybe under corporate marketing or VP of brand and kind of separate and set aside from growth.

But the conviction that I have is one day we're all going to wake up to this as like the way to drive demand moving forward. An SEO has a role to play at the very top of that funnel in order to enroll folks into our audience. It's an acquisition channel into our audience, but the whole marketing team becomes more aligned around, Hey, this is actually how we're going to go to market as a brand.

We're going to lead with content and thought leadership ads, if anything, are going to be amplifying our best performing content against a specific audience set, maybe do using LinkedIn or some of these other kind of, you know, channels that help us get kind of hyper targeted. But the whole kind of strategy becomes, we are Executing a kind of thought leadership driven growth, a community driven growth strategy, [00:26:00] whoever you want to call that, that helps us really deeply build relationship with this audience and move them through.

So I think it becomes a logical follow up is okay, I've got a content team or I'm a content manager marketer. I got a long list of keywords that I got to execute against just on the SEO side, let alone to do any of this new stuff. That's true. I think that's where a lot of this, this change is going to start to come.

That's to say. We need to properly resource the performance marketing effort because we have to, to keep the lights on, but we need to start really thinking about long tail organic and be thinking about how we truly build a brand. That's going to help us scale as a function of survival, because if we won't, our competitors will.

Speaker 3: And you can use all the content to achieve that goal, right? Like, oh, I wonder how we could build our SEO. Like, wow, we're creating a bunch of these shows and we're creating a bunch of this content. Is there a way to use that? I'm sure that as you're building a company, you're seeing this, the trend now of just like the change in search behavior.

Search is not just, [00:27:00] you know, Google search, but you got to be across video across all these platforms. That's something that you're thinking about. I'm sure. 

Speaker 7: Absolutely. Hey, YouTube is what the second biggest search engine in the world or whatever. So yeah, absolutely. I think you have to we have to show up where our audience is for sure in the format that's going to break through the attention kind of, you know, difficulties that that are out there and have a presence and make sure that we're driving folks into that.

You're probably, but I do think I do think there is something to be said of going back to the morning brew model of saying we do want to drive them eventually to some type of own to surface because we may not need to measure like the depths of every engagement that comes sort of before that. I think ultimately we need that relationship to happen at some point you go back to the drift thing like we needed folks in our audience that we could sort of like build this exclusive type of experience with and from that subset.

Monetize the software business. And so that's where I think like, we just have to be smart about how do we think about YouTube be discoverable, but also [00:28:00] provide like a compelling call to action to join our community or to subscribe or to follow us directly because that's sort of, I think the The direction that a lot of this is headed.

Speaker 3: What do you think the challenge is going to be in selling this to CMO? Like, you know, a lot of people listening that want to do this, let's, let's help them handle some of those objections. Cause I'm sure you're, you're going through it now as you're building a company, right? Well, one of the things that I think, 

Speaker 7: and I think we touched on at a high level is there's a potential recessionary economy just around the corner for us here.

Marketing budgets are getting. You know, slashed or the red pen always comes out for marketing for sure. When we start having these conversations and so discretionary spend and some of these sort of seemingly inhibitors to getting started, you know, feel daunting and feel big. And so I think we already covered kind of the production elements where you can kind of.

Get off the ground a little bit cheaper than you would think by just sort of outsourcing all production to a agency. But also the belief that I have is not only is this the right way to acquire [00:29:00] customers anyway, it's also pretty efficient at the end of the day. Just in the last few days, there's been headlines from Meta and Airbnb saying that they've basically turned off, excuse me, two different stories there, Airbnb turned off paid media.

For the last several quarters and growth has not slowed at all. In fact, I think the whole travel industry is sort of on pace to have one of the best kind of performing last few quarters here. And so the lesson there is that actually it turns out organic growth or set another way owned media is more efficient than paid media.

And meta, I think the actual article is more about criticizing that their ad business is actually starting to suffer because folks are getting onto this trend again, starting in the consumer world, but we're, we're fast followers and B2B. So I think that the lesson to take to your CMO, as you're thinking about this, is this is actually like a recession proof way to not just build a brand, but generate demand in a way that's super efficient.

And likely has a higher [00:30:00] likelihood to turn into a deal and one that renews over time. 

Speaker 3: My favorite thing is like now like if you have someone like the kardashians or mr. Beast, you know, mr beast launched like uh chocolate bars or cookies or something like that and everyone was like There's all these articles breaking down how he did it.

I'm like, you know how he did it because he has millions of youtube subscribers Just so it's like it all becomes easier when you have the the audience like that's how you get there. It just you it's having that audience. I think like the Airbnb story is like, could any company, maybe if nobody knows who you are, you might need some paid advertising to like, it could be one way, but like now they have an audience.

Was it all like display all paid anything or just search? 

Speaker 7: Good question. I think it was mostly search that they turned off, but I think that the article was kind of highlighting that in general, their overall, the composition of their spend on paid was reduced dramatically, but I'm sure they, that wasn't evenly, evenly distributed across channels, but I think [00:31:00] that the meta story there is their investment in brand, I think brand marketing by their definition, which, uh, in the consumer world, that my understanding means something completely different.

I think a lot of what we talk about is brand marketing very, very Is what has been sort of fueling the gap or filling the, the, the gap in that, uh, spend for them. 

Speaker 3: All right. What else is interesting to you right now? My friend, what, what's going through your marketing mind? 

Speaker 7: I mean, we're literally, I've been sort of hardwired to be a SaaS marketer that like trying to be, first of all, as an introvert, trying to be in front of camera more often has been worthy exercise.

And second, it's audience building. It's crazy. Like you just mentioned, you have to have the audience like Mr. Beast and all that. How do you actually build an audience from scratch? We're almost a month in. And so what, what I can tell you is there's sort of this like, interesting mix. It's not just posting all the time, but it was sort of like, we call it rhythm and jazz.

There's like the rhythms that you have to do. You have, you have to be constantly [00:32:00] delivering, distributing content. There has to be a cadence where you're pushing it and you're activating it through your different channels. There's a compelling call to action, you know, to come back to your subscriber kind of front page.

And that's good. I think it works because. You feel like you're relevant and I want to pay attention. I want to listen to the stuff coming out of audience plus, but it doesn't drive a ton of subscribers, it turns out. And we really distribute a lot through LinkedIn right now, predominantly, although we're looking at all the other, all the other channels too.


Speaker 3: you got to like do crazier studs. Unfortunately, the really good stuff is not what drives traffic. You need to be like this SAS CEO lit his hair on fire and here's what happened. And then like the thumbnails, like your head on fire. But yes, like here's three ways to grow your own. Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally.

You gotta, you gotta 

Speaker 7: stop them in their tracks. Right. And get them to, 

Speaker 3: I'm joking, but that's kind of like why we were going to go the other way with content at drift. It's like some of the. You know, you got to decide, like, if you're going to play that game, like, if you want to grow, if you want to build a TikTok account for audience plus, you can't make it just with the [00:33:00] videos that, like, you and me think are like the meaty B2B sass video that you have to appeal to, like, to the channel.

And so, like, it's not going to work if you're not going to go all in. And I think a lot of people don't think about that when it comes to, like, the channel. And you don't need a big podcast. What if only a hundred of the most influential CMOs in your niche, like, listen to this podcast? So, 

Speaker 7: right. No, totally think that's true.

So I think there's, there's that bucket of things, right? Stand out, create these sort of moments, I guess, online that get folks to pay attention. The other thing we learned is, um, exclusive content goes a long way. So we just did this, uh, CMO off. You remember CMO office hours. You were kind enough. I think you were on the first episode.

Were you on the first episode? So we should definitely do that again. We brought it back with audience. Plus we just did it with Udi from gong. And we got, you know, several hundred subscribers off of that program and then referrals. And so this is something that Morning Brew, I keep talking about them, but they've just done such a good job with this.

They've effectively said, as folks subscribe, presenting them with an opportunity to refer their friends in exchange for either. [00:34:00] More exclusive content. So something that only folks who refer their audience can get access to. And we're working on like a behind the scenes podcast for how we're building audience plus and swag, or like, you know, some inside joke that they could kind of be a part of and on the inner circle of if they share it with their audience.

And so it's interesting because again, in B2B, we don't think like that. We, when we hear referral program, we think like register a lead. And if the lead closes, you get 20 percent of the first year revenue or something. You don't think about like, you know, a like Dundee trophy they can put on their desk or something that is part of an inside joke, but that's the opportunity.

That's what I'm, I know I'm a CEO now, but I feel like I'm sort of a marketer all over again, because I'm learning from a different subset of people. And I think that's going to really help shape our, how we stand out in B2B and how we do these things differently. 

Speaker 3: What would you say to the. Majority of people that are listening to this are B2B SaaS marketers, and some companies are still doing well.

Majority of the companies I talk to [00:35:00] marketers are at are having a hard time driving urgency, like getting people to buy. If you were the CMO right now, or just even as a, as a marketer in this space, like, what do you do right now? Because you can't take the same playbook that you were running for the last six months and keep running it.

You got to make a bunch of changes. Like, how do you think through that stuff? What do you do if people aren't buying? 

Speaker 7: Yeah, 

Speaker 3: it's 

Speaker 7: tough. 

Speaker 3: I mean, I think you've got 

Speaker 7: to think about what do we do to impact the unit economics of the business to play our marketing typically carries the bigger program load, at least from a You know, spend perspective every year.

So I'm sure if you are in this cohort of folks or, or even if you're not, I'm sure you're getting the CFO tap on the shoulder, the FP and a tap on the shoulder and saying, Hey, what can we cut? Right. And, and you know, what, what's working, what isn't let's break down each channel. And so I think internally, there's a bit of like discipline that has to happen in this season.

And it's the kind of stuff that is. Extremely painful to go [00:36:00] through. I'm not referring to the people side, specifically on the program side. Of course, the people side is incredibly painful, but there is something that could come from that in terms of finding the channels that are working, not just for top line, but are actually driving revenue to the business and.

And taking the moment of doing that exercise, not viewing it like, I don't know, sort of a cost cutting exercise, I guess, but viewing it as an opportunity to really figure out how elite, how a dollar of spend becomes a dollar of revenue and focusing in the second part is then creating urgency out in the market to your point in a world where.

You know, maybe buying slowing down or maybe other folks on the buying and are just like having similar discussions internally, right? Do we really need this piece of software today? And I think from there, it's how can we show our why and tell the ROI story? Have we tried to position not just as, you know, perhaps a, uh, what's the saying?

A painkiller, not a vitamin. Like, make sure that we're talking about it. More urgent messaging. And [00:37:00] did you? I know you spent a lot of time on this, like in terms of copywriting and making sure that we're kind of telling the right story with our audience. But it's an important time to remember that we're not sort of in peace time, you know, from a go to market perspective.

So how can we properly articulate the value of our products and services? But I also think there's going to be a subset of folks that are just not going to buy. And it's not going to be because they don't care about your product. It's going to be because Their feet are getting held to the fire and now things are going to get pushed.

So I think it's important to maintain the long term kind of view as well and make sure that these aren't relationships that we're saying you're dead to us, like come back when you're ready to buy. But we're building relationship. Maybe we're creating content that's actually helping them make the same decisions kind of for the industries that we serve.

And so I think it's important, I think, to take a long term view as well for what's not in our control and making sure that when budgets do get turned back on. I mean, I'm I'm an optimist. I think we'll get out of this sooner than later. That were front of mind because we were there with them. We [00:38:00] served them and we were a part of helping them through a real dark time for their 

Speaker 3: businesses.

Are there any, um, mistakes or learnings that you've made through your marketing career that like now with audience plus now, like with your crack to kind of really mold everything, you're like, I'm definitely not going to screw this up again. And can you tell us what a couple of those things are? A famous 

Speaker 7: philosopher once said, don't work for a CEO that doesn't get marketing.

Uh huh. Why? There you go. Two points. Two points. I'm going to get marketing. Hopefully at least a part of it. I just have appreciation for my marketing team as we're building what we're building. Yep. You know, I think several things. I think so much of There's almost this like internal power struggle that happens sometimes between product and marketing.

And it's like, okay, we don't really need marketing. The product will sell itself and marketing is like, Hey, we need, you know, specific features or we need something to launch and product marketing. I've been part of those discussions where, you know, we haven't launched anything in a while. Like, can we, You know, get more from [00:39:00] product and I think that's sort of a false choice or just kind of creates more issues than it does anything, anything good.

I think if we over index on like product led growth, product led stuff, what I found in my years since gainsight that that tends to be a tough channel to acquire a lot. We can acquire a ton of customers, frankly, but they don't want to really talk to us. They want to just use the thing. And so it's really hard to then over time.

Actually get them to talk to a customer success manager to really get insights on the renewal, at least for a certain kind of segment of your, of your customers. And so, you know, I think being on the other end of trying to move from a product led motion to a sales led motion. I've learned the hard way that We need to think about the right touch points in the customer journey where we do insert ourselves with humans or where we do kind of interact and are more consultative.

Maybe that's not for every product, but at least in the experiences that I've had. Yeah, and I think let's see, those are the two things. Third, I think it's kind of more [00:40:00] like a zoom out, but I am fortunate to have worked for an incredible CEO and, and, Really understand, like what values driven leadership means and, you know, build a culture that really kind of embraces that.

And I think, uh, you know, I view this opportunity is a chance to really do that again and build a company that people, you know, feel very proud to be a part of and that our values aren't just like this random thing that. Show up on a slide, but something that we like deeply believe and it actually guides our operations as a business.

And so a little less on the marketing side, but this feels like a chance to do something really meaningful. So I'm 

Speaker 3: super excited about it. And we were way more philosophical than I was. My answer to that question is like SEO and measurement. 

Speaker 7: Yeah. Yeah. That too. That too, though. 

Speaker 3: That's great. That's great.

And, uh, the CEO that you mentioned was, was that Nick? It was Nick. Yeah. Yeah. You guys still talk? We just golfed a couple days ago. He killed me. Dude, he's a golfer now. Wow, that's concerning. 

Speaker 7: Dude, he's a golfer now. 

Speaker 3: Once Vista [00:41:00] comes in, I'll just joke and come on. He's done okay. There was like, I think this guy that I play golf with regularly, he told me he was a, he's a really good golfer.

He was interviewing for this sales job back in the day and they asked him what his handicap was and he said he has a zero. And he said he didn't get the job because the CFO said anyone who can go off and become a zero is never going to be successful in sales here, which is amazing. That's so good. Um, last question I was going to ask you is, uh, are you building a category with this new company?

I think so. Okay, wait, wait, wait, pause. And how are you going to measure that? Is it going to be when G2 adds a category, when Gartner writes about you, when you have X number of searches, how are you going to measure that? Okay. 

Speaker 7: I 

Speaker 3: didn't, 

Speaker 7: so back to the first part, I didn't want to create a category again.

It's as you know, it is a painful, long road. It's just a slog. And so I think the advice to the listeners, if you don't have to create a category, don't do it, [00:42:00] but like us, this is like the action, but if you must, totally, totally. And that's where we're at. We're like owned media is not a thing right now. It sort of is, but there's not a lot of clarity around it.

There's no underlying brand technology that powers own media within businesses. There's no brand in the marketplace that's championing owned media. It's not showing up right now on your. Okay. Ours or whatever. And so that all, these are all signals to me that, okay, there is a category to be created around this bigger idea of what is becoming a media company mean actually like, well, in the context of business, it's, it's our own media.

It's our own space that we go and operate. So we want to be the torch bearers of that. We want to go carry the flag for own media. And you're kind of hearing it here first because You haven't heard much from us on this topic yet. And of course we're four weeks old, uh, to the, in the public, but that's our intention and what we want to go out and do, how will we measure it?

I love G2. I'm [00:43:00] a huge fan of Goddard and everything they've built. I don't think that's it. It's certainly not Gartner or Forrester, even though I'd love. If they would want to write a Magic Quadrant or Wave, we'll take it. I've always long held the belief that customers actually create the category, not the company itself.

So we can go out and sort of tell the story, build the business, but we need to sort of shine a light on our customers and have them kind of validate the message. So I don't think it's anything that's like, Terribly measurable. To be honest, going back to your point, and I don't know that you can actually like crown a category like King or whatever in a sort of way of finality.

I'll give you a quick analogy. Gain sight. There's no magic quadrant for customer success yet, and I think we all kind of long established. It's a thing. Our Gartner rep for the years that I was there was a former CSM from Salesforce. And yet we still did not have a magic quadrant created for Gartner. And so the point is, I don't think we can rest on like these third parties to tell us when a [00:44:00] category is created, but when you're standing on stage at a pulse conference with 5, 000 CSMs in the audience, you kind of just know.

And frankly, maybe if I, Say it another way, like, I don't know that it matters, ultimately, if you can measure it. Like, I think ultimately, the business results, the customer feedback, the anecdotes, that's what's gonna really kinda give you a signal at least that you're on the right path. 

Speaker 3: And if people are listening, just like, listen to him.

Basically, you just said like, I don't know yet. And it's like the, You eventually find out like, you know, you eventually when your audience starts spitting it back at you, and I'm sure through your journey of building audience plus at some point, somebody who's trying to buy you is going to call you X.

And you're gonna be like, huh? Yeah, that's cool. We kind of like that. Let's run with that. I mean, that's how this thing goes. There isn't some some playbook. All right, let's let's wrap up. And why don't you just give a plug in a little pitch for audience plus before we hang up? 

Speaker 7: Yeah. So look, you know, if you, if any of this made sense, if you're interested in, you know, learning from what media companies are doing well, applying it to your B2B software [00:45:00] business, if you're already down the path and creating shows and publishing and kind of building your own audience, we are trying to gather this feedback.

Community of people or audience, I don't even know anymore based on our earlier conversation, but we're trying to like get folks together to kind of help together share the best practices for what this industry will become. And so if you go to audienceplus. com, subscribe there, it's absolutely free.

You'll be first to know what our latest content is. We'll do exclusive events and experiences. That's really exciting ones coming up as well as some live events, potentially, uh, in 2023 that we're really looking forward to. So would love for you to join the movement that we're trying to cultivate around own media.

Speaker 3: All right. Thank you, Anthony. This is great. We'll wrap up. My daughter got off the bus. I'm going to go say hello. I'll hang up. I'll make sure you have this video and we'll email in a bit. Okay. Awesome. Sounds great. Thank you so much.
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