Turning your B2B company into a media company can be transformational, but it also seems like a daunting task. A media company’s content flywheel is all-encompassing – so many channels, so many different types of content, so many potential strategies and audiences to reach.
That is exactly why most B2B companies fail to become media companies. Not because their content isn’t good. And not because they haven’t worked on their strategic narrative. Those are lagging indicators. The real issue behind it is that they try to do too much too quickly. We’ve seen that first-hand at Influence Podium.
Instead, we propose that B2B companies should approach becoming a media company as a product roadmap vs a one-off choice.
Here are just some of the questions/decisions that becoming a media company requires you to answer:
- Should we create content for Twitter?
- What about LinkedIn?
- Is Facebook dead? And Quora?
- What about Tik Tok?
- What happens if new platforms come up?
- Should we start a podcast?
- If so, what should be its concept?
- And the podcast is just audio or also video?
- Do we bring in guests or just internal people?
- How do we distribute it?
- Should we start an email list?
- Should we do events?
- Should we do long-form articles for SEO?
- Should we run ads to distribute those articles?
- Should we build our personal brands?
- How do we balance personal brands vs company profiles?
- Should we do short-term video series?
…there are dozens and dozens of more questions. The truth is, it’s impossible for you to answer them… yet. It’s also impossible for us to answer them for you yet either. Each company is different, and they all require a tailor-fit approach.
Just because those questions need an answer, it doesn’t mean they need an answer now. Think of each question as a potential exit on the road: you can take it, but you don’t have to. And you can always take it later. What’s important is that you keep driving – stay consistent and move forward.
The more you drive, the more data you have – and that allows you to make better decisions on whether potential exits should be experimented on or not. The first crossroad is the most important one: getting started.
There should only be 1 or 2 initiatives that fit that profile. Never start with more than two initiatives, even if you have the budget. (Yes, this makes my company less money. But it’s true.)
When looking for the entry point to your content flywheel (aka your product roadmap’s MVP), it’s very important to start somewhere that fits this intersection:
- Time resources and mental headspace
- Delivers some quick wins
- Highest reverse-engineered ROI (Most Probable Success Path)
As of 2022 and from insights across our clients and experience in B2B, we’ve identified that the two initiatives that often fit the bill are B2B Podcasting and B2B CEO Thought Leadership.
- B2B Podcasting: Leveraging podcasting or a video series to do business development at scale by interviewing champions within key accounts you want to prospect and create a 1-1 relationship that opens the door for a sales conversation. Also using the episode as a content pillar that the best snippets are repurposed into social media content for LinkedIn or Twitter.
- B2B CEO Thought Leadership: Using your CEO’s and/or leadership team’s personal brand to create consistent content on LinkedIn or Twitter. They can create it themselves or use internal interviews and leverage a team of writers and video editors to turn their thoughts into thought leadership like we do at Influence Podium.
Again, this is a generalization. Each company is different and you might have a specific competitive advantage that makes a different avenue the MPSP. It’s best to audit this in a case-by-case scenario.
Let’s say you’ve now started to implement those initial initiatives. You have a good process for them and you’ve made some good hires (or you’re working with us), and things are going well. You want to scale and continue to build your content flywheel. But is it the right time? Where do you go from here next? How do you stop things from breaking as you scale? Good questions.
From our experience, 4-6 months after the first initiatives is a good time to start considering scaling. By then, your existing processes should be smooth and solid so that they don’t break if you put more pressure on them. You and your team should also have a better understanding of how involved you have to be, the time investment needed, and if you’re enjoying the transformation of becoming a media company. You should also start seeing the first qualitative results from the first initiatives.
Just as before, the goal at this stage isn’t to be a full-fledged media company – that will take 18-24 months. Instead, you want to add 1-2 new initiatives. Enough to continue the progress and build excitement, but not too much that you and the team burn out.
Follow the same matrix as before to select the next initiatives: what content avenues or projects have the Most Probable Success Path while fitting your budget, not depleting your time resources, and getting some quick wins? The deeper we get into the journey, the less predictions we can make on what specific initiatives those will be – it has to be worked out 1-1.
Every 4-6 months evaluate your current initiatives and decide if you’re ready for new ones + which ones make the most sense. Look at data –quantitative and qualitative– and make bets on “which exit” to take next. This whole process is based on experimentation.
This article started with the premise that you want to be committed to the overall strategy of becoming a media company, but to treat it as a product roadmap that your market dictates. It’s very important to approach it like a scientist – no one has the answers, you have to test different avenues, content models, types, etc.
It’s crucial to understand that each content channel doesn’t have to be a forever investment. For example, starting a podcast seems daunting… because there’s no end in sight. It’s forever. If, instead, you approach it as a “video/audio series” that has limited episodes, it becomes much more feasible.
Treat content channels the way Netflix treats series: season 1 can have 10 episodes, then listen to the market and reevaluate. If it goes well, we can do season 2, etc. If it doesn’t, we can start a new series and repeat the process.
This strategy gives you more “at bats” to test the market, but it also reduces the pressure on your team from “forever” to “let’s run a sprint/experiment.”
When does the road end:
When do you become a full-fledged media company? It’s hard to say: two initiatives – B2B Podcasting and CEO Thought Leadership – get you further than 95% of your competitors, but is that enough? Not to our standards. There’s no clear finite line.
Truth is, there’s no end road. There will always be new platforms coming up. New content concepts and angles to try. New ways to communicate with your audience and market. If you want to win on brand, you will continue to innovate your content flywheel. It’s a transformational journey for your company.
- Turning a B2B company into a media company should be approached as a product roadmap. Start with your MVP – 1 or 2 key initiatives.
- 4-6 months later, evaluate. Listen to the market, audit how your experience was and, if ready, launch 1 or 2 more initiatives. Repeat every 6 months
- Treat each content channel and concept as an experiment. They’re not forever, they’re Netflix’s seasons. You can double down on them or take steps back later on as needed.
- The road to becoming a media company doesn’t really ever finish. Continue to innovate, keep looking for different channels and concepts, and listen to the market at all times.