Why Every Company is Becoming a Media Company

Why Every Company is Becoming a Media Company


For SaaS marketers, content marketing has traditionally been synonymous with blog posts.

Popularized by companies like HubSpot, Marketo, and others, we thought of content primarily through the lens of performance marketing – writing content optimized for search that increased organic traffic and drove inbound demand for our products and services. We repurposed and distributed content in third-party channels like social media in order to drive more engagement.

This strategy worked.

Content marketers became a single-digit hire for SaaS marketing teams, and an ecosystem of freelancers, agencies, and communities took shape.

I used this strategy myself building marketing at companies like Gainsight, Front, and Hopin. Not only were we able to drive funnel velocity, but we were able to establish thought leadership and build equity in the markets that we were creating. Leading with content did more than just create pipeline, it created a movement.

But the world has changed.

We’ve received new information that is challenging the effectiveness of traditional content marketing approaches:

  • New Content Formats Have Emerged. Beyond written content, consumers are now engaging with short and long-form videos, podcasts, live streams, and other editorial mediums. That expectation has made its way into the enterprise, applying pressure on content teams to upskill or find specialized resources to meet the moment.
  • The Cookie-Less Future Present. Changes in data privacy laws, particularly around third-party cookies, are challenging proven paid media strategies of the past. For example, brands will no longer be able to retarget traffic off property to influence qualified return visitors. This change – which will be made official by Google in 2023 – puts renewed pressure on brands to build and engage first-party data instead to grow their business.
  • De-Platforming from Social Media. Following a trend first realized in the consumer and creator economies, brands are waking up to the misalignment in incentives with social media and other third-party content networks. One such misalignment is that organic reach is governed by an algorithm that brands themselves don’t control. This, and many other concerns, have pushed companies to de-platform their audience into an email list that they maintain. Companies are understanding the need to own their own audience, and with that, the distribution of content into that audience without outside interference.

So how should SaaS companies respond to these challenges? Thankfully, there are lessons to be learned from an unexpected source – the consumer media industry.

For years, consumer media companies have built their audiences with an owned media strategy. They’ve embraced emerging mediums like videos, podcasts, and others in order to build and engage their subscriber audience. And with thoughtful distribution into channels they themselves control, they have earned privileged access to first-party engagement data that they use as a competitive advantage to impact business outcomes.

In order for SaaS marketing teams to be relevant in this next chapter of our industry, every company will have to become a media company.

The idea that every company is becoming a media company is not new. In fact, its become somewhat of a trope for content marketers over the years. The difference now is that because of the disruptive market forces described earlier, becoming a media company is no longer a cute rally cry – it’s an existential imperative to the success of any SaaS business.

I’m not the only one thinking about this.

In fact, all across the industry, innovative companies are either acquiring media companies or building media operations within their businesses in order to get ahead of the wave. They are producing editorial focused content – amplified by the voices within their communities – in order to break through the attention war and create an exchange of value between brand and audience.

Some examples include:

And that’s just to name a few.

There are countless other examples, and in the near future, every company will be going beyond the white paper, functional specs, and technical content that they’re used to producing to become a daily source of education and inspiration for their communities.

Introducing AudiencePlus

At the heart of this industry transition is owned media – a strategy that is not new in and of itself, but has been somewhat of a shy third-fiddle to its established siblings in earned and paid. Every company will be doubling down on owned media in the next chapter of content marketing, and I’m ready to bet my career on it.

That’s why I started AudiencePlus.

While we are not ready to fully announce everything that we are working on, I can share that we are building software, content, and community to help every company become world-class with owned media. We want to become the conveners and champions of this community, and to help resource it well beyond the products we create.

We’re starting by launching our own media property. We are producing a number of shows that are telling the stories of early innovators in owned media, extracting learnings from consumer media examples, and helping resource content marketers with the tools they need to become modern media marketers.

We believe that AudiencePlus will become one of the most important companies in the next chapter of SaaS marketing. We aspire to become the torchbearers of the owned media community, helping advance the interests of content, demand, and brand marketers tasked with bringing this vision to life for their companies and communities.

Owned Media Will Help Companies Become Community-Led

Let’s be clear that, for most of us, becoming a media company is a means to an end.

But what is that end?

Our industry has evangelized many “ends” over the years. HubSpot and Marketo pioneered the idea of marketing-led growth, earning CMOs a seat at the revenue table. Then came the product-led growth craze that brought marketing and product teams together to scale acquisition with data and in-product experiences.

I believe that the future of commerce will be community-led, and owned media will be how we get there. And thankfully, I’m not the only one who thinks this.

So what do we mean by community?

A community is much more than just your customers (which is basically how we define it today). There is an entire group of people within your audience who are consuming and engaging with the thought leadership that you are creating as a brand – reading your blog posts, listening to your podcast, and attending your events. Seth Godin refers to this group as a tribe, rooted in our very nature as human beings to desire belonging to something greater than ourselves.

Companies in the consumer / D2C world fundamentally understand the potential of community-led commerce. That’s why they invest significantly to build their own audience, to resource their audience with editorial content that educates and inspires, and as a result, to monetize that effort into sales of their products and loyalty within their community.

Not only will community-led business models become an exciting strategy for acquiring customers, it will become the most sustainable way to retain them too.

We are only at the start of this movement in B2B, and on behalf of the entire team at AudiencePlus, I invite you to go on this journey with us.


Why Every Company is Becoming a Media Company

Popularized by companies like HubSpot, Marketo, and others, we thought of content primarily through the lens of performance marketing – writing content optimized for search that increased organic traffic and drove inbound demand for our products and services. We repurposed and distributed content in third-party channels like social media in order to drive more engagement.

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