As all B2B companies become media companies in the next five years, podcasting will be a key element to that. Just like most companies have a blog today, they’ll all have a podcast in five years.
It comes with two main benefits:
1) it’s a long-form content pillar that can be repurposed into social content and
2) it’s business development at scale with internal experts, industry leaders, prospects, and partners.
But if you look at how B2B companies do podcasting, the innovation you’ll be able to create will be linear. If you want exponential change, you need to look to more innovative industries.
In fact, we believe that B2B companies are currently approaching podcasting wrong.
Issue #1: They think of it as a “forever content channel” – something that, if they get started, they’ll have to do forever. And that seems daunting so, to not be inconsistent, they don’t do it at all. And that’s when they fall behind and their content flywheel suffers.
Issue #2: The other challenge with the current state of B2B podcasting is that it gives few audience-testing opportunities. It’s one concept – an interview show –, and that never changes. We’re force-feeding audiences this one concept, whether they like it or not. The future of podcasting will be different.
The future of B2B Podcasting is drastically different – and we have Netflix to thank for.
Netflix and your B2B company are all competing for people’s attention. We all are, really. Netflix knows that, and they’re the best company at capturing it. They have their own content flywheel – the shows they produce and own the IP and the shows they acquire and rent the IP.
There’s a lot we can learn from Netflix about creating a content flywheel. The most important thing they do is something I call content-audience testing:
They approach their content as scientists, and each show is an experiment. Their hypothesis is that this show will be consumed by their audience and that it will build their brand so there is less churn and more subscribers. Then, that hypothesis is tested. Data is gathered, audited, and decisions whether to continue producing the show or canceling it are made.
This mindset is very different from how B2B companies approach content, but it will be the industry standard in five years. This means changes in the way B2B produce content – and specifically podcasts– will have to be made. Let’s dive in:
What the new era of podcasting looks like in B2B:
Now, let’s mirror that to B2B marketing. What does that look like when we apply the same ideas to turning a B2B company into a media company?
1. From “Podcasting” to “Shows”
This might seem like semantics. It’s not. All podcasts are shows, not all shows are podcasts. Shows allow us to open up different concepts, especially when it comes to video content. Podcasts are either a host speaking by themselves or interviewing people. Shows open up a creative universe that B2B has left unexplored. This will make more sense later.
2. Shows aren’t product-focused but audience-focused
Let’s go through a few D2C show concepts and how they can be adapted to B2B. These are just some examples, the key is to be creative and think outside the box:
Here we’re looking for dive-ins on a specific topic. Instead of The Last Dance, imagine a short-form documentary about the founder and early days of your B2B company. Instead of The First 48, imagine a show where we can watch the first week of your next fundraising round – the ups and downs, the yes’s and the noes. etc.
The Last Dance
The First 48
Imagine you’re Gong – a sales intelligence SaaS that targets SDRs and VPs of sales. You could start a game show where you invite influential salespeople and test them on their sales knowledge like Family Feud. Or imagine you’re a financial company and test CFOs against one another. So many ways you can use game shows to create B2B content.
Every industry has their own news streams that are constantly in motion. Why not create a B2B show around them? But it’s not just another news site – picture your CEO on a green screen (they’re $30) giving their own opinion on the 5 most important news of the week like they do at SNL. Or adding his own spin like they do in reaction videos.
Interview shows on different context settings:
Interviews are great because you’re building relationships with the guests and creating synergies between your audiences. But instead of a normal podcast like every B2B company does, change the context. What if your VP of sales played 1 on 1 basketball against other VPs of Sales (or whoever your target audience is) and had an interview after the game was over? Or what if the interview was in an extremely hot sauna? Or what if the interview started after 2 drinks? Much more entertaining and it separates your content.
Cold as Balls
3. B2B Creative Strategist role
As you can tell, these shows require some creative strategy to make sure they’re ideated and produced well. Disney has creative strategists. Youtube does too. Twitch does too. All the great media companies have people responsible for bringing in great content ideas and helping execute them. We believe B2B companies will have that person as well.
It might be in-house or through an agency like Influence Podium, but this skill set is needed to make sure your content stands out and there currently isn’t a role for these people in B2B companies. It will be fun to see which companies are brave enough to invest in them, and more importantly, they give them the creative freedom needed to do this right.
4. Shows have defined seasons
B2B Podcasting forever shows are a unified trend of episodes. They’re constant. Hot having defined seasons makes it harder to audit how the podcast is performing + it reduces the anticipation and publicity of a good launch campaign. It also makes it more daunting (“how many episodes do we want to produce? I don’t know, forever?” vs “twenty”). And it makes it harder to cancel or pivot the show concept.
5. Data is gathered, audited, and drives renewal/cancelation decisions
At the end of every season, Netflix looks at the data and creates insights on what shows should be renewed for another season and what shows should be canceled. B2B companies will do the same – look at qualitative and quantitative data and make decisions based on that.
With more resources, you can test different concepts at the same time. The shows that are doing well, double down. And the ones that aren’t, decide if there is still potential or if those resources would be better spent testing another concept. Shows that don’t perform are not failures, they’re just a hypothesis that was proven wrong – be a scientist. Or, like an investor, have a diversified portfolio of companies (in this case, concepts) that you just need some of them to work out for the whole investment to be worth it.
As a side note, views is one metric for you to measure performance, but it’s not the only one. Brand equity isn’t just measured by impressions – that’s why you need to use both qualitative and quantitative data to make the best decisions.
6. Attention → Brand Equity
For people to buy from you, they need to be problem/solution/product aware. You need their attention, and you earn it by creating content that they want to consume on the mediums they want to consume it on.
By using the 6 elements we’ve outlined in this document, your B2B company will have a content flywheel that is guaranteed to pioneer your industry and, if well-executed consistently, to command the attention of your market. Get the attention, then you win on brand – higher win rates, shorter sales cycles, more inbound opportunities, larger recruiting pipelines, etc.
Tangible results will come – you just have to persistently win the fight for attention through a new-age content flywheel.
Before you say it – I know. As a B2B company, you don’t have the same production value as these TV shows, documentaries, etc. I get that, and no one expects you to. While B2B companies will invest more and more into this type of content, you don’t need the team and resources as those shows to build something special.
First, the bar is so low in B2B content that putting some thought and being open to trying new concepts will push you to the frontline of innovation vs your competitors. And second, your objective shouldn’t be to replicate these types of shows but to think creatively about how you can adapt them to your audience, resources, etc.
You probably can’t bring in a whole camera crew and rent out a studio, but can you bring a videographer once a month? Or can you invest in good cameras for your team? At whatever level you can play at, play there. At the end of the day, the production value is often a mental excuse for not creating more content. If you have a good concept and you provide good value (inform, educate, entertain, etc.), the production value is secondary.
If you want your B2B company to become a media company and also believe that you need to leverage creative, innovative content to earn the attention of your market, we’d love to chat and see if we can make that happen together.