How B2B Companies Can Market Like Media Companies

How B2B Companies Can Market Like Media Companies

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Shawn is the VP of Marketing for PandaDoc overseeing all intertwined marketing efforts to scale the company to its next inflection point.

I’ve long admired the marketing machines behind media companies. They don’t just have the budgets to blow campaigns out of the water; they’re also strategic about how they spend that money. This seems to be even truer in this highly competitive digital age. As marketers, we’ve all experienced the challenges that an increasingly fragmented audience present. We not only need to get creative about how we reach potential customers, but we also need to try harder to keep them engaged. As the digital landscape makes the war for audiences more competitive, investing in a compelling media strategy is a wise decision for B2B companies right now. Adopting a content-focused approach like media companies do could equate to more leads and more customers, which is why I keep going back to the media company marketing playbook. Below are a few lessons I’ve taken note of and how to translate what media companies are doing into a B2B approach.

Start An Authentic Conversation — And Draw The Audience Into An Experience

TV shows that see the most success are often those that have “cult followings.” Their audience has been pulled into an experience not just on screen but also across platforms. They encourage and air live Tweets during the show; they have recap shows where the cast and crew answer questions from viewers; and they have a “final viewing event of the season” instead of a finale. These are immersive experiences that help draw the audience into the conversation.

Similarly, savvy technology companies can have sales staff start conversations on their social media channels and have the content team focus on authentic and informational engagement. Even webinars and customer conferences are useful for creating event experiences that are meant to start conversations. Then there are podcasts, which have become valuable platforms for engaging audiences and starting conversations. Successful business podcasts are informational, conversational and entertaining — they pull you in and encourage you to tune in every week. Podcasts aren’t meant to be sales pitches; they are a way to engage a captive audience, which can eventually bring in new customers.

Invest In Content, And Make It A Long-Term Play

Netflix received 129 Emmy nominations this year. When the company pivoted years ago to become a media company, it invested heavily in its content offerings — from the extensive library of licensed content to their exclusive content, their long-term investment in content seems to have paid off in spades. You could spend a lot of money to acquire an audience through short-term plays like webinars, white papers and sponsorships. Those are good tactics but, like Netflix did, I believe it makes more sense to build something organically that keeps paying you back over and over. Would you as an audience member rather give your contact information in exchange for a white paper or tune in weekly to an engaging podcast? The podcast may not bring in the leads immediately, so ROI is harder to see initially. But if you invest in it, nurture it and make the content compelling, the leads will likely follow.

Take Risks When You Have A Leg To Stand On

Of course, investing in long-term plays means you need to have something to keep you afloat until they’re successful. It was likely easier for Netflix to pivot as a media company when its streaming service was already successful. It had a built-in audience and a content library to fall back on. The same could be said about the Walt Disney Company — it launched Disney+ when it had ABC and Hulu to fall back on.

When you have investments that are doing well, you can afford to take risks on new tactics. You can think of it like an investment portfolio in which you have safe and predictable investments, as well as your unpredictable, high-risk/high-return investments. For example, my company’s email and demand-gen efforts are strong and investments in those tactics continue to pay off, which — along with a very talented team — gave me the confidence to launch a podcast. With continued audience growth and impressive engagement on the podcast, we’re on our way to seeing high returns on that investment.

As with all marketing efforts, it all comes down to your audience: how you find them, engage with them, keep them and turn them into customers. I believe media companies are the gold standard for reaching audiences, so taking a page out of their playbook could mean higher returns on your efforts as a B2B marketer.


Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?


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