What's Working in Marketing™: Marketing Like A Media Company with Corey Haines, Founder of Swipe Files
What's Working in Marketing™ is a podcast where we uncover what’s working across the digital landscape by tapping into the world’s best data-backed research and through candid conversations with industry experts. Join us if you're ready to learn what's working when it comes to your marketing efforts.
On this episode, we are once again joined by Corey Haines who is the Founder of Swipe Files. Corey was interested in this concept of marketing like a media company at an early stage, long before it became popular to deploy marketing strategies that don't come off to end buyers as just that, marketing. Through careful research, he viewed the need to treat marketing like a product that blends performance and brand. We talk about why this trend isn't going away, why you need to think about earning attention from an audience perspective, and how to implement media brands successfully as a marketing engine for your company. Content is more important than ever, so tune in and geek out about owned audience strategies and tactics with us.
Here's a full transcript of our conversation with Corey:
Charlie Grinnell: Welcome to What's Working in Marketing, a podcast for marketers that uncovers what's working across the digital landscape by tapping into the world's best data-backed research and through candid conversations with industry experts. I'm your host, Charlie Grinnell. On this episode, I'm joined once again by Corey Haines, founder of Swipe Files. Corey, it is so great to have you back.
Corey Haines: Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm honored to be a second timer. I guess that means I said something right last time.
Charlie Grinnell: You said many things right last time and so we're happy to have you back again. Today, we're talking about marketing like a media company, and this is a really exciting topic that you have a lot of expertise in and there's been a lot of conversation about it online. And so before we kind of dive into that, could you just kind of just give a quick refresher on your career journey to date? What you've kind of been up to since you've last been on the show, what you're working on?
Corey Haines: Yeah, so I'm trying to split my career into three phases. The first one just doing marketing for startups and working mainly with B2B SaaS. The second one being freelancing, experimentation, being a hired gun, working with a lot of different people in consulting, advising, productized services kind of things. And now try and enter it into this third phase, which is starting B2B SaaS startups myself. So I have one in the works called Swipe Well, a couple other irons in the fire. And so hopefully, next phase will be startup founder.
Charlie Grinnell: Cool. Welcome, jump on in.
Corey Haines: Here we go.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, here we go. Okay, let's dive in into the topic. So this phrase, "marketing like a media company," and we're going to talk a lot about the future of marketing, but let's kind of just set some context. So you're a big believer in marketing like a media company, what does that actually mean? Kind of unpack that for our listeners.
Corey Haines: Yeah. I was wondering that same thing, which is why I started digging into it because I kept hearing and reading on Twitter and other places, if you're doing marketing really well is to really just be looking like building a in-house media company or in-house media brand or the best marketing doesn't look like marketing, it looks like building a media company. That's like a nice soundbite and it's very catchy and it sounds cool, but what does that actually mean? And our company's actually doing that. So I really dove in deep really just for myself to understand and kind of prove out like, "Is there something here or is this just sound nice?"
Corey Haines: And then once I really started digging out, I realized like, "No, actually there is a science here and there's a reason." You know how when you're in marketing and you read the case studies about what worked for people, it's what worked for them a year ago, right? And then now people aren't to the next thing. And so if you're always just reading and copying what other people are doing, you're always going to be behind, right?
Corey Haines: It's always the people at the frontier who are creating these new things, but they don't talk about it in the moment because then they would give up their advantage. Well, this is one of those things where I got into it and I was like, "Ah, this is where marketing's headed. This is where all the top brands are going. This is what bases at the frontier, at the front line of what's the most innovative iteration of what marketing looks like for scale ups, especially." And so then I really started to dig into it, research it.
Corey Haines: And I think what it comes down to, if you really want to unpack the soundbite is it means treating marketing like an inherently valuable product of the company in and of itself. Think about like, okay, let's just say SaaS companies or tech companies in general, the product that they sell is not their blog, podcast, Twitter account, it's a CRM. It's a social network, right? It's something that people can type into and that's inherently valuable for themselves.
Corey Haines: But there are media companies, which a media company is driven by content and people, right? And so when you're marketing like a media company, really what you're doing is you're treating your marketing team and the output of your marketing like a product that is valuable to people. And then you extrapolate that even more, right? And what does that really look like? Well, it looks like creating a lot of media, right? A lot of content, a lot of things that are inherently valuable. I can come in a whole bunch of different ways. But really, I think what it boils down to, if I had to just sum it up was treating our content, treating our marketing like a product.
Charlie Grinnell: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I couldn't agree more. I think one of the things that I've noticed and I'd be curious to get your take on this, we've started to see this shift in marketing where just simple words. So 5, 10 years ago, the word that was kind of used was target customer, target consumer. And now what you're seeing is target audience and this word audience has really kind of started to stick in marketing. And audience is more of like a media word than traditional kind of marketing conversion-focused word. Have you kind of seen that? What do you think?
Corey Haines: Yeah, a lot of that. I've definitely seen the pendulum swing back in favor of more maybe we traditionally call brand marketing as opposed to performance marketing with the kind of .com boom and technology, really coming up to speed, internet, really permeating everyone's lives and gaining mass adoption, everything becoming digital. For the first time in ever, everything was very, very measurable. And so we got really deep into performance marketing, which was like, "Okay, we're only going to do the things that we can directly see and the ROI out of tomorrow, basically," right? And that was great for a while for an era.
Corey Haines: And then as everyone adopts that, then things get more expensive, everything's saturated. Now we have like 1,000,001 brands all fighting for your attention. Customer acquisition costs even a level deeper than that like cost per click across a lot of the ad platforms, it just goes up and up and up and up all the time. The reach across a lot of even organic platforms like social media networks and even places like Google, a lot more competitive, a lot more noisy, a lot less organic reach. And so basically, everything has gotten harder.
Corey Haines: And so people are going back to brand marketing and brand marketing basically is marketing that you're not going to see the measurable ROI of tomorrow. You might be able to sort of correlate things in three months, six months, a year. But really, what you're doing is you're trying to make some investments. You're trying to plant some seeds. You're trying to make all the numbers go up as opposed to just tracking it back to some sort of conversion point, right?
Corey Haines: You're looking at traffic, impressions, service traffic for your brand, just general sentiment and awareness of who you are and consumers awareness of the problems that you solve. And so with that, the stakes get higher. Everything's more competitive. When everyone's doing the exact same things, you have to find what is the next advantage for your marketing? What is the next thing that you can do to beat it out? And I feel like this is kind of, not the final frontier, but I think we're going to stay here for a long time in this whole kind of marketing like media company phase.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.
Corey Haines: Because I don't know else where we would go, right? It was like first we had brand marketing where we're just running commercials and billboards and newspaper advertisements that are completely unattributable basically aside from using a coupon or pushing people to a specific age, maybe that you can try to draw some conclusions. And then we had the performance marketing age and now we're basically seeing the best of both of those where it's, how can you blend those two?
Corey Haines: We're going to still measure everything. Everything is still very measurable. Maybe not as measurable as it was super competitive, but we have to swing back to more brand marketing. We have to do more top funnel stuff and we have to treat our marketing like a product because otherwise it's just not going to get red. It's just not going to get clicked. It's just not going to amount to anything that will see the downstream effects of on the bottom line.
Charlie Grinnell: For sure. And I think it's funny you say that like two things stick out to me in everything that you just said. Number one, people's bullshit meters are at an all-time high. I feel like we can all kind of sniff it out. We know when we're being marketed to or sold to. So that was number one, bang on, completely agree. Number two is really around this idea of this kind of perfect storm of competitiveness. This is something that we talk a ton about with our clients. And I've kind of been talking about in my LinkedIn content specifically is we have this perfect storm where more people spending more time online, therefore more businesses brands are throwing dollars and resources at reaching those people, which means it's driving that competitiveness up and up and up.
Charlie Grinnell: And it's made it really, really hard to earn someone's attention. And I think about what you said around that word attention, if that's kind of the name of the game for marketing is like, before we even bring someone to the ecosystem, how can we just capture their attention? That's a hard enough thing to do in 2022 and beyond, when we're all getting hit with so many different things and everyone is kind of marketing it to the nth degree. And one of the things I always think back to is some of the best brands, whether you buy from them or not, they still do a great job of creating a great experience. And so I think back to my time at Red Bull, whether you bought the product or not, we were going to create a great experience for you through the content that we were creating.
Charlie Grinnell: And you probably have other examples of brands that have done that, but let's even take the obvious example with HubSpot acquiring The Hustle. So whether you are HubSpot, we use HubSpot now as our CRM, we've been using them for the last three years, but I was absolutely reading HubSpot's blog way before that. And I was reading The Hustle and listening to My First Million in that podcast, whether I buy something or not, they're giving themselves an advantage from a brand positioning perspective and so that really resonated with me. And I think that's something I completely agree with you in that we're going to see that moving forward where this is kind of going to be it. Yeah, there might be like little kind of tweaks here and there, but it's going to be about balancing like how can you use that brand marketing side of thing to earn someone's attention, capture that attention, and then strategically set things up to pull them closer to your brand and then potentially convert them if they want to.
Corey Haines: Right. Yeah, exactly. To get more practical and bringing some examples maybe so that it feels a little bit more tangible, you can wrap your mind around it. A couple of companies do it really well. You mentioned HubSpot acquiring The Hustle, a really, really good example, especially on the M&A as marketing kind of strategy of like, "Let's just go buy media properties and then incorporate them into our marketing strategy and marketing organization as a whole." You see them now, they're rolling out a whole podcast network. They're incubating podcasts in house with their HubSpot Creators program. They're cross promoting all their media properties across The Hustle and HubSpot now. So it's basically becoming this whole media world that you get involved in. Once you're in one, you get introduce into another, into another, into another, into another.
Corey Haines: Coinbase has done this really well. Crypto is very news-driven, right? Basically, the stock market, right? Like blockchain. And there's a lot of skepticism and kind of cynicism and a lot of rumors going around. And so they thought, "Instead of just being at the whims of whatever these mainstream finance media companies are writing about, or even some of the more crypto-focused news companies are writing about, let's just build our own PR and news outlet basically." And now they're the ones that are curating the topics, they have their own narrative. They can incorporate themselves in a very natural, slightly biased, but still a relatively objective way. And now they become the source, right? They become the destination where it's like, "You want to learn about crypto? Don't just learn about Coinbase through some other site, go to Coinbase news. And now you'll get all the news that you want and you'll learn about Coinbase."
Corey Haines: ProfitWell done this for a long time where they have a whole recur network of their blog, different podcasts, shows. Wistia has done an amazing job with this for a long time where they have... One of my favorite series of all time was their One, Ten, One Hundred docuseries where they do video hosting SaaS. So they hired a video marketing agency to create three different ads for them with budgets of $1, $10 and a $100,000, documented that whole process and then they also show the end result of that.
Corey Haines: And so it appeals, it checks all the right boxes of one, it's a really fun thing to watch. I just watched all three hours of the content or whatever it was. Two, you learned through it. It's kind of this entertainment category where it's not just this cut and dry blog, here's how to do X, Y, and Z. And it's not just entertainment where you don't leave feeling like, "Why did I just spend my time on that?" It checks both of those boxes. And it goes viral, has a lot of reach out there so Wistia had an amazing job at that.
Corey Haines: There's a whole bunch, I think, particularly in the SaaS space. People have done a really good job with this. But even you think about companies like Tesla with Elon Musk, he is their marketing team. He has the most Twitter followers of anyone on Twitter. He's basically the most popular and famous person in the world. Maybe not the most loved person in the world anymore. He is the media personality driving Tesla's traction.
Corey Haines: Think about even to get a little more philosophical, what a media company is? Yes, you treat your content like a product, but even it's also about who's creating that content in the first place. A lot of people watch certain news networks just for certain reporters or anchors or whoever the show is about. Same thing with journalists, right? You don't want to just hear anyone's take, you want to hear someone in particular who you trust.
Corey Haines: YouTube, right? Anyone who has a big YouTube channel or YouTube network. I was actually just listening to Not Investment Advice podcasts with Trung Phan interviewing these two guys who have these basketball, Instagram and media companies. And they just have a whole bunch of things that are just teaching people basketball techniques, shooting techniques, coaching techniques. They treat their product like that, but it's really about the coaches. It's these two guys, they're each the figureheads of people look to them. They're NBA-level coaches, shooting coaches, technique coaches.
Corey Haines: And so it's about the people behind it in the same way that you treat about your content like your product, treat your people like a product in the way that they're a part of the media, right? They are a part of the thing that you sell. It's, "Hey, come follow Steph Smith at The Hustle at HubSpot." So she just left to a16z running their old podcast, but she's the new host of their podcast. But she's going to bring an audience with her, right?
Corey Haines: Think about people like Jay Acunzo, Jay Clouse, who are really big people in the creator space and the content space and the storytelling space. They joined a company, Jay Clouse is a part of SPI for a while, Jay Acunzo was part of the Sweet Fish Media brand for a while. They bring weight to whatever they're doing. They're kind of like these stars, right? Just like we think about athletes. Now we kind of have this whole, these media personalities as athletes idea in the business space.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. It's funny you mentioned that there are a couple others that come to mind. Later here in Vancouver, there was Taylor from Later, Taylor Loren, and she became kind of the face of Instagram growth hacking, right? And then she went on, she worked at Girlboss and now she's kind of doing her own thing, consulting. And she started a course all about Instagram Reels and has just kind of become her own creator working for herself.
Charlie Grinnell: So I want to kind of double click into that whole developing influencers or personalities in-house because here we are talking about like, "Look, this is a smart thing to do." But there are probably some people listening, being like, "How should brands approach that and kind of go about that?" I think one of the challenges is a business kind of associating themselves or attaching themselves to an employee's personal brand. I can kind of attest as a small founder myself. It's like, "Yeah, of course, you kind of have to do that. That's part of the game." But once the business kind of hits a certain size or if a business is grown to a certain size without having to do that, how would you kind of recommend a business approaches kind of doing that in building those personalities? Or what should a brand be looking for in that type of person?
Corey Haines: Yeah. Well, I think it really starts from a cultural standpoint about the founders, the leadership team, the C-level team, what they believe. Are they invested in this idea because I'll tell you if they're not, then you try to do this no matter what position you are or how much money you have, it's just not going to work because it's not going to be encouraged, it's going to be frowned upon. You're going to get a lot of weird bureaucracy and politics inside, that's going to discourage it.
Corey Haines: So you have to start ground level with leadership and have to be bought into it. And also you want to start with them, start with the founder. Talk about risk of developing these in-house personalities and these media people. Obviously, you want your founder, your CEO, your C-level people to be kind of at the forefront of that because they're the most bought in. They're the most scheme in the game. They're probably going to be around for the longest, right? So it makes the most sense to start there because that way you have the least amount of risk as possible.
Corey Haines: And for founders, it's super simple. It's building public kind of stuff. It's share what you work on, be authentic. Share your wins and your losses. Share stuff that's in progress. Think out loud about how you're making decisions, what you're working on, what the future looks like, roadmaps, upcoming features, spark conversations, build hype, right? Now, you don't want to do it in a misleading way. We've seen this very recently with Domm from Fast and now even Ryan from Bolt where it's like, "Cool, it's not just about the hype train. It's not just about building a big brand, it's also about carrying over to the business."
Charlie Grinnell: Building a sustainable business.
Corey Haines: Yes, that's also important.
Charlie Grinnell: Minor detail, asterisks.
Corey Haines: Right. I mean again, think about people like Elon Musk. Think about people like Patrick Campbell.
Charlie Grinnell: I think about Gary V like-
Corey Haines: Yeah, Gary V is a great one.
Charlie Grinnell: It was like, he became big and then it was like, "Oh, yeah. VaynerMedia, by the way," type thing.
Corey Haines: Yes, exactly. So the founders, I feel like it almost can't be coach. The founder has to really dig into that themselves. A marketing person or outside source can help them and maybe do some of the work of creating that content. But again, the founders got to be bought in and they have to be invested in making that happen.
Corey Haines: Now, if you're thinking about people who are not C-level leadership or the founders, you want to develop other in-house people, just employees. I think you want to create those swim lanes and opportunities for people to do that and treat it more like an experiment on the marketing team. They don't have to be on the marketing team. In fact, I think it works better when they're not because then it's not so obvious. Hang on the director of marketing for X company, now I'm trying to become a thought leader in this space. What do you know? You're the marketing guy, right, but if they're the VP of product management or if they're the head of customer success.
Corey Haines: We see some roles these days like chief evangelists, sometimes. There's this woman, Ana Lorena Fabrega, if I pronouncing it right. She works for a Synthesis, which was a kind of homeschooling startup. Actually, spun out of Tesla and from Elon Musk, but she's this big personality around kids' education. She joins Synthesis as their chief evangelist. And now she's basically just the spokesperson, the media personality. And they hired her on, she was not a co-founder. She's also not like C-level decision maker. She is a glorified spokesperson for the company that works really, really well, right? She gets invited to talks, she goes on podcasts, writes content.
Corey Haines: I think about people from The Hustle and from HubSpot like Steph Smith, Trung Phan, Alex Garcia, there's a whole kind of media mafia that was born out of that whole merger. And they just did a really good job of enabling them to have a voice outside of their day job. That actually became a part of the day job and just encouraging that, right? Sharing the playbooks. I remember Sam talking about how he would encourage step to talk about what she was working on or he would love when she would share so about writing. And then when her ebook took off, he was like, "Just do more of that." He was sharing the playbook of how to grow on Twitter with Alex Garcia. He was telling Trung to tweet more and to really dig into the memes and to the shitposting and just whatever flavor they want to get into.
Corey Haines: Those people have to be bought in as well, they have to want to do it. You can't just be like, "Hey, a part of your job now is going to be being an influencer." It just doesn't work like that and it takes time, but still the playbooks can be shared, it can be encouraged. And I think it's more about culturally, how do you empower all of your team or at least more of your team to be pseudo marketers? To be spokespeople and evangelists for the brand? And not just in the code base, not just in the support system, not just X, Y, Z, but that they have a more active voice in the community.
Charlie Grinnell: Totally. I want to dig into something you said a little while back just around owning the means of distribution. So we kind of talk about to your point of having influencers within your organization and kind of speaking on behalf of the brand or being the evangelist, how does that play into distribution? And so can you kind of expand on this idea of how important distribution is, but also how by doing what you just talked about builds additional distribution?
Corey Haines: Mm-hmm, yeah. I came up with this framework called the ORB framework where it basically boils everything down into owned means of distribution, owned platforms, rented platforms and borrowed platforms. And specifically in that order, because you want to prioritize owned platforms, which are things like email, SMS, communities, podcasts, your own website, where you have a direct line of communication with your audience or with your customers, whichever word you want to slide in there.
Corey Haines: And that's really important because rented platforms like social media sites, third-party app stores or listings, bylines, et cetera, et cetera, one, it's rented land. It's not yours. So it can be taken away at any moment, but also you're going to be subject to algorithms and changes in the platforms, censorship, a lot of risks that take away your effectiveness with that channel.
Corey Haines: And then we have borrowed platforms and borrowed platforms are basically tapping into someone else's owned or rented platform where you're saying, "Hey, let's do a collab," right? Rappers and hip hop artists were the OGs at this where I'll be like, "Hey, do a track. For me, it'll be feature." Yeah, do a feature, exactly. Because I realized that, "Hey, if I can get Snoop Dogg on my track, all Snoop Dogg fans are going to come listen to my music now and Snoop Dogg's going to tweet about it. He's going to post on Instagram. It's going to show up in all the search results on Spotify and Apple Music or whatever it is," and so you're borrowing their own and rented platforms, right?
Corey Haines: The quality matters a lot, right? Again, going back to the platform risk. It's very, very real. In fact, I don't know if you followed Jack Butcher of Visualize Value. Yeah, he's awesome. Makes these amazing visuals and he's been a really great thought leader on Twitter. It was crazy because literally as I was making the course content for Swipe Files on Marketing like a Media Company, three out of four of his Twitter accounts just got suspended out of nowhere.
Charlie Grinnell: What? I didn't know that.
Corey Haines: He had 400,000 followers across all his Twitter accounts. It was at Value, at Visualize Value and at another one. I didn't even know about at the time, it was like a meme account. They are still suspended. He had to move everything to his personal account, which now he has even more kind of centralized risk for the platform risk. But just out of nowhere, he went from reaching actually millions of people every week to zero overnight.
Corey Haines: So basically the point is you use borrowed platforms to get people onto your rented platforms and then you use rented platforms to move people onto your owned platforms. And now with your owned platforms, no one can tell you no. There is no algorithm. You have a direct line of communication. You think about email, for example, it's probably the most powerful with them all. There's no algorithm for email. Yeah, there's a spam and there's a couple of tabs with like promotions or updates or just primary inbox or social or whatever it is. But an email is an email, it gets delivered every single time. And there's never going to be some sort of fancy, crazy sorting or what gets shown or not shown. Every email has potential to get viewed, which is amazingly powerful, right? So I tell everyone like, "You got to at least have an email list."
Corey Haines: Even things like RSS feeds for podcasts, it's an open standard protocol for the web. You have an RSS feed, someone plugs into it. They will get that content every single time, wherever it feeds into. Same with your blog, right? No one can just take your website down. Sure, you can rank higher or lower in Google, but if someone types in your URL, they will get there every single time as long as you pay your hosting bill.
Charlie Grinnell: Mm-hmm. I want to-
Corey Haines: And SMS.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. I want to dig a little bit further into that, because this is something that I, first of all, love the framework. Definitely going to use that and steal that because it's so smart. I think traditionally, there's been the PESO model, paid, earned, shared, owned. That's kind of traditional marketing, I like your spin on that way more.
Charlie Grinnell: What I've noticed, at least, in brands that we talk to and friends of mine who work in marketing, it's typically been this battle between owned and shared. So owned being email, site, app, whatever that is, and then shared being kind of social. And many businesses, I feel like struggle on... It's kind of that necessary evil. You kind of have to be everywhere, but which one should get priority, right? So it's, "Oh, we have this really great piece of content. Well, should this live on the own thing or should this live on the shared thing or both? And how does that incentivize people?" I don't know.
Charlie Grinnell: I have some pretty strong opinions on this, in that people are going to consume the way they want to consume. And so why not make the best stuff and put it everywhere so that there might be some people who, "Yes, I could want them to come to my site, but they're never going to come to my site ever. That's just not how the way they consume. That's not the way they roll, but I still potentially want to earn their attention. So should I build an experience on, to your point, a rented platform or a borrowed platform where they can still have a good experience without them having to necessarily give me my email?" On the flip side of that, to play devil's advocate, totally hear what you're saying with platform risk and the rug kind of being pulled out from what you mentioned with Jack.
Charlie Grinnell: And so this is like a thing that kind of I think a lot about and it's something that I don't think anybody has truly figured out. I think my advice is always make the best stuff, put it everywhere, optimize it as best you can. And then if you can create those kind of strategic pathways where you're incentivizing people to move closer to your brand, off of the rented and borrowed platforms to spend more time with you, great. But at the very least, if not, you're still giving them a great experience in another place. I don't know, what do you think about that?
Corey Haines: You have to be everywhere, everywhere that you can or everywhere your audience is kind of more apt. You don't have to be everywhere, do everything, Gary V used to say, but the pathways are the key. And I think it matters a lot more than people realize. I've seen multiple Twitter accounts now or I should just say people on Twitter where they'll rise to basically 0 to a 100,000 in followers, in three to six months, just absolute skyrocket growth. And then of course, they launch a newsletter and then you'll see vastly different approaches. And you can kind of measure how, while each one is working just by comparing people's email list size.
Corey Haines: There are some people who have... I think about people like Lenny Rachitsky. I think he has maybe like close to a 100,000 followers. Maybe it's more close to 50,000 or 60,000. But he has over a 100,000 newsletter subscribers, that is amazing ratio. We're talking about follower to subscriber. Obviously, it's not one to one but just managing both of those distribution platforms, that's fantastic.
Corey Haines: And then I see people like... I won't name them, but there's been a couple who have just skyrocket, even pass 200,000 followers. And they still only have 20,000 newsletter subscribers because they were never intentional about in their threads, linking back to the newsletter, in their profile, optimizing for newsletter subscriptions. They either launched it too late or they launched it too early or the newsletter is just kind of crap in general and so there's no reason to sign up in the first place. And so the pathways is really, really key.
Corey Haines: I think about it a lot, even for myself being on the smaller end of the spectrum. I have about 16,000 followers, about 7,500 newsletter subscribers. So it's about one half of very follower-ish. I prioritize in value. My newsletter lists a hundred times more than my Twitter following, but I'm always trying to at least keep that ratio going or increase that ratio.
Corey Haines: And so everything that I do on Twitter, my next move is always, "Hey, go subscribe to the newsletter." And if I'm on a podcast, I'm always telling people, "Hey, go follow me on Twitter," because I know it's probably a long shot. They don't know me. They don't know the content that I create. They know my voice, but just go follow me in Twitter. It's an easier ask than "Subscribe to me on my newsletter. Oh, go check out this landing page, download this ebook, et cetera, et cetera." I'd rather just remove all the friction and just trust that, "Okay. If I have him as a Twitter follower, I can probably get him as a newsletter subscriber too."
Charlie Grinnell: Mm-hmm, yeah. One of the things that comes to mind with all that is in talking to some brands, even around team structure, I've seen a lot of social teams for marketing teams be structured by platform. And I've historically said there's platform risk. Do you want to have a Twitter person and an Instagram person and a Facebook person? Because those platforms might not be as relevant as time goes on. Not saying they're going away, but there was a time where it was like Snapchat is the Facebook killer. And if you're a Snapchat person, maybe not.
Charlie Grinnell: And so I think about organizing things almost by function. So when I was working on the brand side, when I was specifically in social, I had a platform person, a content person, a community person who was doing a mix of influencer stuff, as well as building community with employer brand, that sort of thing, and then a performance paid person. Because every one of the social platforms has aspects of that platform, scheduling, posting, creating content, optimizing it for the specific platform, doing influencer relationship, community building stuff, and then the paid side of it. And so thinking about what you kind of said with the ORB framework, it really kind of resonates with me thinking about like, "Yes, you need to be everywhere that your audience is, but you also just need that core competency kind of built in that allows you to kind of be every, in all the places where you should be and be able to kind of tailor those experiences natively."
Corey Haines: Yeah, no, a 100%. One of the other companies that comes to mind that does this really well is Atres. And their marketing team is actually pretty large, I think they're may be close to 15 or 20 people now. But really what you'll find is that they have a whole bunch of content creators and then a couple of content distributors basically. So they have a whole team of writers, a lot of people, even outside of marketing do a lot of writing. And then you have a couple of people who are creating or actually... Yeah, I think it's two people creating video and they're just taking written content and then turning it into video. And then they have a SEO pro, a social pro and then...
Corey Haines: I don't think they're doing any paid ads, but they have someone who's also doing niche newsletter sponsors. And I know because they're a sponsor of Swipe Files, but it's one person, right? But the vast majority of their team is just focused on creating the content and then they have people with pretty broad responsibilities across different platforms to then chop it up, repackage, repurpose, create the video, and then create snippets from the video, and then post those videos to LinkedIn and then to Twitter. And once you have the content, the distribution part is actually fairly easy.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, but takes time. I think that's one of the things is I think about how... And Ross Simmonds is like, "Create once. Distribute forever," right? His kind of whole mantra is like I found marketers will spend a ton of time creating content and they're like, "Okay, we posted it and it's done." And it's like, "No." And everything you just described was like there is still a full on machine of how they're chopping things up and repurposing it to kind of extend the lifespan of a content investment to make sure that you're giving your business or your brand the most chance for success of something taking off or earning someone's attention.
Corey Haines: That's what it comes down to. Again, going back to treating your content like a product and treating your people like a product and they're a part of your team and part of why people come to follow you or buy from you, you can't just stop at publish. You've got to really do a lot of work. In fact, I see today, a lot of people on Twitter, it's not even enough to post once or twice or put it into a drip campaign. You have to test it rigorously. I'm blanking on his name now, but he's a creator who's really big on LinkedIn. And now he is branching into Twitter and he is been sharing his whole kind of playbook about how he's been growing on Twitter. And he shared one case study around how he had this massive thread about basically his kind of course funnel and his creator business.
Corey Haines: And the first time that he posted the thread completely flopped. Second time, worked a different headline, just one line at the top. That was it, that was different. Did a little bit better, but it still wasn't the best. Third time, changed the first tweet of the thread entirely, just completely blew up and took off. And so he's posting the same content to the same people multiple times with drastically different results. And I don't think any of us are nearly as kind of rigorous and ruthless as we could be. Just about optimizing the hooks, the line, the pathways to other means of distribution, it's a lot of work. It takes a lot of time, but it's worth it, especially if you're going to be treating your content like a product.
Charlie Grinnell: Mm-hmm, absolutely. I think I know who you're talking about but I don't have the name, but I know I have that thread bookmark somewhere in my Swipe File. So I feel like I want to figure out who that is and add it to the show notes.
Corey Haines: Yeah. I'll find them for you, I'll grab a link.
Charlie Grinnell: Cool. I want to kind of switch gears here a little bit. A lot has changed since you and I last spoke when we recorded our last episode. What are the things that you kind of get most excited about with where marketing is going? I feel like the audience media company kind of mentality is really starting to become a thing, even in the last year. And maybe that's a COVID thing because people are spending more time online. And I think a lot of brands were like, "Well, shit, we got to figure out this digital thing. And it's not kind of this thing that we'll just continue to push into the future." I don't know. What are the things that kind of get you most excited? What are you thinking about that's top of mind?
Corey Haines: Yeah. I'm really excited just to see people kind of push the boundaries and explore what marketing even means or look like. I hate to keep kind of beating on the drum of marketing like media company, but just the level and the quality of content that is coming out and I think that will continue to come out is really, really exciting. Especially when it blurs the lines between education and entertainment, we get this kind of entertainment side of things as well. I think that's super exciting. I think about more ways to really make it a key part of what you do.
Corey Haines: There are some brands that I follow where I only follow them for their content and I've considered using the product. It's just not a good fit for me, but I am massive fans of their content and I will shop from the rooftops about all the different things that I watch and listen and absorb from them. And I'm always looking to the people that are producing that content.
Corey Haines: And so I think for podcasts, always been a huge podcast guy. There's a lot more room for real produced, serialized content in the Podspace where it's like episodic. You have really narrative-driven stories that are being told through podcasts that go deep. Basically the whole, I think StartUp by Gimlet was one of the keystone podcast that came out that really helped the whole space take off in general. And we haven't gotten back to that level of storytelling and that level of production for podcasts. Shows as well, not just shows in YouTube series, but real actual shows that you can subscribe to, that you can watch. Even more like vlog style content, behind the scenes style content, things that are more about company culture, docuseries, really digging into how things work. Super excited for that.
Corey Haines: Obviously, there's Web3 and the picture as well. And this whole new paradigm and dynamic of "Okay, what if we make all of our customers and fans shareholders too? What does that do to the whole business dynamic?" That brings a lot of like community stuff in play as well. And the Web3 is driven a lot of that where it's like, "How we just get people into make decisions together and produce things together? And contribute in some way in various different levels but all in sync and all for the same mission, all marching to the same tune?" I think that counts as marketing, personally, that's forwarding the mission of the business that it's getting up into more people's hands. As long as it's getting the product into more people's hands, that is marketing, what I would count as marketing. And it's just going to continue to get more fun, more creative.
Charlie Grinnell: It's funny you mentioned the Web3 thing. I feel like I've started to see more, at least, titles on LinkedIn, official titles from brands where it's like, "I'm the director of digital and metaverse," or, "I'm the director of digital and Web3." And part of me is like, "Kind of cringe." But the other part of me is like, "Ah, if it's getting worked into people's real titles or official titles, is it actually here to..."
Charlie Grinnell: Obviously, we're very early days in this and the applications I think still have a long way to go. That's my personal take on it. But at the same time, being early on something and getting ready organizationally of how do we set up structures to handle this topic from a business perspective for us is really interesting. What do you think about that?
Corey Haines: No, I've been taking notes really closely on Web3, crypto, DeFi stuff in general, just to see what is the marketing playbook and how do these projects get traction? Because they'll seem they kind of pop out of nowhere and it feels exactly like the early days of the internet. I was super young when the internet first started popping off. So I didn't have the opportunity to really sink my teeth into it and dissect it like I can today. So I've been following it really, really, really closely. What you'll find is there's a lot of interesting similarities and kind of paradigms where you can see like, "Oh, this is the equivalent of this thing that we do over here."
Corey Haines: And then there's a lot of differences as well. What I normally see for a lot of projects that pop off is basically their Discord link is the new subscribe or drop your email. It's like no one wants to just drop in their email anymore, they want to just join a Discord. Even before they connect their wallet or they follow the Twitter, they're just like, "I'm just going to check out in Discord."
Corey Haines: So Discord's like the new hub, the new way that you capture someone's information and you get them involved in your brand. And that's how they keep up with updates. And they're basically just looking for the announcements channel to have a little shiny, red one to go and check it out rather than an email blast or a tweet update. And then a lot of them, especially in the early days, are driven by giveaways and partnerships and competitions.
Corey Haines: So not necessarily even about the product itself, whether it's an NFT project or DeFi or some sort of like protocol or bleeding edge technology. It's just about getting people involved from other projects who might be a good fit. So very much that be in the ORB, the borrowed audiences, the borrowed platforms, playbook. And then a lot of it has to do with influencers, a lot of it has to do with who are the big names, who are the whales get involved? Who are the people with big Twitter followings?
Corey Haines: A lot of the shady stuff actually is happening with the influencers because the bad ones will basically just be shilling bad stuff and just kind of pump and dump. But even a lot of the good ones, they'll get airdropped an NFT project or a coin because you can just send it to anyone's address. They don't know what it is and then that project would be like, "Look, this crypto or NFT influencer has our project. They're a part of our team." Then they're like, "Whoa, wait, where did this come from? You're talking about me? I've never heard of these people ever before."
Corey Haines: But you can't do that in an ethical way, I saw... I think it was Party Round, I want to say. I could be wrong on this, but they created a VCPunks NFT collection where it looked like a CryptoPunk but they did it off of a bunch of famous VCs. And then they were like, "Look, all you guys have six hours to claim yours. Otherwise, we're just like selling it to the highest bidder." And so they all jumped on it and were like, "Cool. I'll claim mine. Oh, what's this whole Party Round thing? Oh cool, I can become accustom this way. Sweet, now I'm a fan. Now I'm involved in some way." So they got Alexis Ohanian to get on board and all these big time VCs, just because they're basically creating some scarcity and urgency through a project, using kind of Web3 protocols and standards.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. I'm torn and I know the episode is not supposed to be about Web3 NFTs. I feel like this is going to be a whole another episode. There's this video that was uploaded in January on YouTube called Line Goes Up and it's by this channel called Folding Ideas. It's actually Canadian guy here out a Calgary and it's a two hour kind of thing about NFTs, Web3. And then Scott Galloway has written a lot about how he thinks Web3 is actually just a head fake in terms of recentralization in a different form.
Charlie Grinnell: But at the same time, I hear the applications of smart contracts, community like... I hear it and I'm like, I'm so stuck and torn in the middle and I don't know. And maybe that's just like my personal risk appetite of being like, "Ah, if you get in early, you can be super rewarded." Everyone's heard the story where someone bought Bitcoin in 2013 and then all of a sudden opened their wallet and was like, "Oh my gosh, I have a yacht now." But then on the flip side of it, how many people have lost money with rug pulls with unethical things like... Yeah, I don't know. I'm torn, I just have to put that out there.
Corey Haines: Yeah. I'm keeping a close eye because I think that there are some things that we can learn and it's basically like an indicator of where marketing is going. What does marketing look like for the most cutting edge technology? That's probably what marketing is going to look like for everyone eventually. And not like what's happening today exactly is what it's going to look like for everyone in the future because I would really hope that Discord is not the central point for everyone. But I think that the way that people are going about it and why it's working on people is very indicative, right? And basically, how they're able to get traction? It kind of gives us some clues into deeper levels of psychology in the markets today and just how people work.
Corey Haines: Again, the stakes get higher, markets get noisier, there's more competition, costs get more expensive. And so I'm always trying to figure out what's next on the frontier and this feels very much like, "Yeah, not all this is going to transfer, but we're going to see some of this." And this is just how people are going to be used to responding to projects, getting hyped up, staying in the loop, learning about them. Really interesting too, because a lot of crypto projects, the founders are anonymous or they have some sort of pseudonym.
Charlie Grinnell: Totally.
Corey Haines: It was a big deal when the Bored Ape Yacht Club creators got doxxed and they were publicly revealed kind of against their will. But a lot of projects are either like very, very publicly, there's some sort of figure or they're completely anonymous. The fact that that works is baffling to me. I'm like, "Oh, these people," if you can build high for something where no one even knows who's behind it, you're doing something right. I want to know what marketing magic is happening over there. So yeah, there's a lot of things to learn, I think.
Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, super interesting. Okay, we got to wind down the episode. I only have a couple more questions for you. So you're someone who I consider to be very well-informed, very well-read, how do you stay up to date with things? Who are you listening to? Who are you reading? Who are you following? I know you had some good ones last time, but I'm wondering if there are any new people where you're like, "Ah, this person said something smart recently."?
Corey Haines: Yeah. My content diet these days is rather simple. I listen to quite a few podcasts, My First Million, All-in Podcast, Not Investment Advice are probably the three big like staying current with the news and just stories and ideas and definitely more on the entertainment side of things. And then there's quite a few other podcasts just with like, bootstrapper kind of founder podcast that I like to keep up to date with friends.
Corey Haines: I'm a diligent reader of Shaan Puri's Milk Road. That's how I stay up to date all things Web3. And if you're not, I would highly encourage you to join that list. It's a lot of fun. And otherwise, it's mainly just Twitter. I'm kind of stumbling into things. I'm looking at what's trending. I'm following people. I have lists built out for certain topics where I'm sort of trying to curate thought leadership from people, so I'm not missing what the algorithm isn't showing me and trying to get more like a honest view of what people are saying. And then I'm also part of a mastermind group with a couple of other creators, so we're also like once a month sharing notes on what we're doing, what we see other people doing, what's working, what's not working. And they're also a pretty good source for me to try to figure out like, "Where's everything going? What's happening? What's interesting? What should I be looking into further?"
Charlie Grinnell: Absolutely, that all sounds good. I always say like every few months I go back to a few people to see who they're following on Twitter. And you're one of the people that I'm like, "Who is Corey following?" And I go through, I'm like, "I've never heard of this person. I'm not following this person." So yeah, I highly recommend anybody listening to do the same because I definitely do that on a regular basis.
Corey Haines: Sweet.
Charlie Grinnell: Okay. Last question where I'm sure there's going to be more questions from people listening to this episode. So where is the best place for people to get ahold of you online?
Corey Haines: Yeah. Twitter, just @coreyhainesco and then my newsletter, swipefiles.com. I just force everyone to go through the newsletter because one, it's definitely a good product. I put a lot of thought and effort into all the newsletters that go out and it's kind of just the central point where then people can learn more about me and learn more about the Swipe Files community and membership and courses. And I have a whole... Actually, I just mentioned, I have a whole course on Marketing like the Media Company where it goes in, I have... I want to say 30-ish videos from 10 to 30 minutes kind of going through each of the modules. I go through platforms, strategy, building in-house personalities, each one of the owned, rented and borrowed platforms and just kind of give the playbook and here's what I see work and have lots and lots of examples. So if you really want to dig into this, I would say just become a Swipe Files member and take into the course.
Charlie Grinnell: Absolutely. Well, Corey, thank you so much for joining me. Always great to chat with you and we will definitely have you back on at some point in the future.
Corey Haines: All right, number three. Thanks for having me.
Charlie Grinnell: For show notes, other episodes, and more content, check out rightmetric.co. If you enjoyed the show, please subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thanks for listening.
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