How Owned Media Funnels Quietly Unlock B2B Sales

How Owned Media Funnels Quietly Unlock B2B Sales


This is a contributed article from our friend and content marketing leader Victor Eduoh. He dives deep on the owned media funnel and how you can unlock a powerful marketing strategy for your brand. Interested in contributing to the AudiencePlus network? Email your ideas to [email protected]


What a time for B2B marketing leaders.

The thought of making the most of a shrunk budget keeps us up at night. As if that wasn’t enough, B2B SaaS sales cycles are getting longer. Recent proprietary data by Dreamdata pegs the average time from first-touch attribution to purchase at 233 days (a whopping 1—8 months):

But it doesn’t end there.

Executing marketing that even gets you into prospects’ shopping lists to stand a chance of impacting sales in 1—8 months is also tough. That’s because 80-90% of software buyers said they have a set of vendors in mind before they do any research, and 90% of the time, they buy from a vendor on their shopping lists:

And so today’s bigger B2B marketing hurdle:

How do you even get into tech buyers’ shopping lists?


Keyplay Skipped Shopping Lists with Owned Media

In 2021, Adam Schoenfeld announced PeerSignal, a newsletter where his team analyzes and publishes research-heavy content. The next year, they launched Keyplay, a SaaS with $100k ARR in sales, without struggling themselves into prospects’ shopping lists.

Adam’s secret marketing tonic?

PeerSignal had become a media company, creating a community of sales-ready prospects who didn’t need much thought to buy Keyplay:

We’re dealing with a problem of trust here.

When prospects add vendors to their shopping lists, that sounds like shortlisting those they trust to get their jobs done. Keyplay didn’t even have a site before it started unlocking sales. So for prospects to buy with nothing to show, they needed an audience who trusted them.

PeerSignal helped them achieve that:

If Keyplay didn’t have an audience of people who trusted them, they wouldn’t have prospects emailing for help. But to have (and own) that audience, they needed to own the media that nurtured and funneled them into sales-ready opportunities.

Connect the dots, and you’ll see that…


Owned Media Strategy Begets Owned Audiences

Look at this infographic:

Are these B2B SaaS becoming media companies for the fun of it?

The answer is no.

Today’s reality is that gating an ebook isn’t enough to bait prospective tech buyers into your funnel with search-focused inbound marketing. Prospects rarely open the sales cadences hidden behind those ebooks. But even if they did, sales cadences aren’t what they want.

Tech buyers want to self-educate.

They spend as much as 83% of their time researching in various ways, with just 17% left for talking to reps when they’re ready to buy:

As shown above, this 83% self-educating time is today’s massive opportunity for B2B marketers. Instead of ebook offers at the center of your inbound play, an owned media strategy helps you reach way more people, build audiences of prospects you own, and keeps you at the forefront of educating and nurturing them.

Through Recur, its owned media arm, Patrick Campbell built an owned audience of prospects that drove the growth (and acquisition) of Profitwell.

He shared the same view:

So when you see many B2B SaaS becoming media companies, the reason isn’t far-fetched. An owned media strategy begets owned audiences. Owned audiences beget trusting prospects more likely to be funneled into opps.

The more owned media plays you launch, the more audiences you can grow, and the more trusting prospects you can nurture:

But there’s a caveat.

The Value Isn’t Only in Growing an Audience

Growing an audience is a vital piece of the puzzle.

It’s why from starting a newsletter to launching podcasts, events, or virtual video shows, dozens of B2B marketing solutions are there to get your team started in no time.

However, unlocking the value of an audience requires more than just publishing content and growing the number up and to the right.

Your team needs to actively partake in that community.

That’s how Adam unlocks value from the PeerSignal audience:

So while most tools can help your team grow an audience, discovering that audience, engaging with them, and partaking in one-on-one conversations to make them feel heard and more willing to share their needs is missing.

This is why AudiencePlus is being built.

It doesn’t end with tools, either.

Strategic alignment and proactive execution of owned media strategies are also crucial to successfully funnel your audience members.

Here’s a framework to help your team with that.


The B2B Owned Media Funnel Framework

The B2B Owned Media Funnel Framework guides the execution of owned media strategies so that all efforts are funneled from demand generation to demand capturing.

It marshalls you across five critical steps:

  1. Strategic Narrative design,

  2. Content strategy development to enable media-like content production to edutain the target market,

  3. Smart distribution focused more on getting content consumed,

  4. Owned audience management and nurturing, and

  5. Demand capture measurement to know what’s working.

Strategic Narrative Design

Say every competitor in your niche launches a podcast.

Chances are, they’ll talk on the same topics as you would, try to attract the same star guests, and aim to reach the same audience you crave. With cutthroat competition in SaaS today, this is very likely.

I like how Anthony puts it:

So, to differentiate your owned media strategy, take some time out to design and align on a narrative unique to your company.

A simple way your team can do this is to:

  1. Know exactly who you will (or want) to serve.

  2. Understand and outline how existing direct and indirect competitors are serving (or undeserving) them.

  3. Using insights from 1-2, answer the questions in the 1st step of the Owned Media Funnel Framework, and you’ll articulate a different and appealing Strategic Narrative:

This narrative design step is crucial because media companies thrive on exceptional storytelling that projects your unique PoV.

It ensures your team executes your media strategy correctly by nailing the narrative behind all media efforts at the overarching brand level. Else, you could end up doing product marketing. If you don’t have the storytelling talent in-house, it makes sense to consider this as you invest in media.

HubSpot considered this when buying The Hustle:

Content Strategy & Media-Like Content Production

You want to do two things here.

Develop a content strategy by outlining answers to questions like:

  • What pain points and jobs to be done (JTBD will you educate the market and ICPs on how to address and solve, respectively?

  • In using media to educate them, how will you present your arguments relative to how your product solves those pain points?

  • Who (i.e., Subject Matter Experts) will direct or create content your target market(s) and ICPs will trust?

You need expert-created/directed media content that is actionable and solves real pain points if you want the attention and trust of your target market(s) and ICPs. If prospects don’t trust you, they’ll hardly care about the content you create. And they won’t join your audience.

One way to take this seriously is to go beyond persons focused mostly on generic demographic data. Instead of that, create ICP StoryScripts (a fusion of detailed buyer personas and JTBD) to properly outline who your ICPs are, what their pains are, and their desired outcomes.

Here’s a snapshot of ICP StoryScripts:

The second part of the 2nd step is also as crucial:

  • What topics will you focus your media efforts on?

  • And what content types will you be producing?

Start from your areas of expertise.

But whatever topics or content type you start with, you need to produce enough of them to build topical authority. So build your media content strategy execution around topics from day one.

The Topic Clusters’ Content Strategy Framework can help:

Smart, Consumption-Focused Distribution

Distribution starts with creating really great content.

Once you’ve nailed that part, you must distribute it where your target ICPs hang out. Media is useless if your target audience doesn’t find it, and if you don’t deliver enough in-feed value where they find it, they won’t care.

It’s why Chris Walker opined:

Here’s why having a Distribution First mindset, as Justin Simon recommends, is crucial to the success of your owned media strategy.

Designing a Strategic Narrative, building a content strategy, and producing content all happen in-house. It’s only when you distribute valuable excerpts of that content you begin to reach target ICPs, lure them into joining your audience, and start generating demand:

Owned Audience Management

Once you start distributing content, aim for two things:

  1. New social followers who increase the chances of more people seeing your content on their feeds whenever they engage,

  2. New community members or audience subscribers.

You don’t really own an audience if you have them on rented grounds, where you’re at the mercy of endless algorithm changes. While external platforms like social media are good for increasing your reach, your goal should be to get ICPs into an audience platform you own and control.

JK Sparks shared why:

Once you get people past the front door in an audience platform you control, they become your owned audience. But how well you manage them by participating in that audience community determines how much value you’ll unlock. And that is really how you start capturing demand.

Again, AudiencePlus is being built to help with that.

Demand Capture Measurement

B2B marketing ≠ sales.

Of course, sales through demand capture is an expected outcome of executing an owned media strategy using the Owned Media Funnel Framework. However, the aim of this 5th and final step isn’t to become obsessed with driving sales directly from your media efforts.

So what’s the goal here?

Starting from when people join your audience, have the tech stack in place to measure how you’re capturing demand. Expand your attribution models beyond the first and last touch to see what content types and formats inbound hand-raisers and sales-qualified pipeline are consuming:

Don’t forget.

About 83% of the time, prospects are self-educating. So stick with producing content that educates, engages them, and brings in more people (and prospects) into your owned audience platforms. But use the insight into how you’re capturing demand to know what media programs to continue investing in, altering, or stopping entirely.


Owned Media Unlocks Endless Value

Imagine this.

Prospects emailing you, commenting inside owned audience platforms you control, and telling you what they need. You no longer need marketing tricks to earn their attention and trust; no more struggling to force yourself into tech buyers’ vendor shopping lists.

Adam Schoenfeld is living this dream:

Unlocking such endless value is why AudiencePlus is being built.

Once the platform is ready, you’ll more easily build and execute your owned media strategy in one place. It’ll also enable your team to use your content distribution channels to capture more insights about who your audience members are —no matter where they joined from.

It doesn’t end there.

You’ll get a sustainable way to access your data, and no longer rely on third-party trackers or cookies. Want to see how AudiencePlus can augment and impact your Owned Media initiative? Request a demo today.



Victor Eduoh | About the Author


Victor is a SaaS content strategist and copywriter who developed the SaaS Content Topic Clusters’ Strategy (CTCS) & coined the term Product-Led Storytelling. He’s developed frameworks for these concepts showing how it blends SaaS content strategy, B2B storytelling, and copywriting. These frameworks help develop a authority-building SaaS/B2B content strategy and use storytelling techniques to craft enjoyable, thoughtful content pieces that attract, engage, and convert your prospects directly into trial product users/demo sign-ups (not MQLs). You’ll find his work on top domains like OpenView Partners, QuickSprout, Close, ProductLed Institute, Neil Patel, Product Marketing Alliance, and dozens of others. You can follow him here.


How Owned Media Funnels Quietly Unlock B2B Sales

Learn how to get into tech buyers' shopping lists and increase your chances of funneling them into sales opps, with owned media funnel.

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