A CMO’s Business Case for Branded Shows: Data and Ideas to Get Buy-In
November is Make the Case Month at MSR. Every week, we’ll load you up with the big-picture ideas and tactical tips you need to sell your branded show concept to the “powers that be” within your organization. We know that shows are the best vehicle to help grow brand affinity among your customers; this month, we’re helping ensure everyone else at your company understands that, too. If you’re as pumped as we are, catch up on the content we’ve already published (our introductory trailer and content calendar, the world’s biggest list of branded podcasts and video shows, tips for selling your ideas internally, and advice for audience development) and subscribe for exclusive bonus content and conversations here.
I’d like to propose a corollary to this quote that often goes unspoken, but hot damn if we don’t think it all the time. It goes like this: “Behind every attempt at great content is a marketer who is tired of negotiating with an executive and just wants them to say ‘Yes’ already because, look, we know this is the right approach, so just let us do great work already.”
Okay, so Michael’s is a bit catchier. But my point stands: Whether we’re the CMO or an entry-level marketer, when it comes to making original podcasts and video shows for our brands, we’re often convinced that we both need to do it AND need to do it well … but others often stand in our way. It turns out the job of a marketer has two parts: doing the job, and getting buy-in to do the job. For the latter, we often lack the right data, frameworks, and mental heuristics that could help us make a compelling argument.
To make things easier, we’ve put together an entire month’s worth of content about this problem. In this post, we’ll equip you to make the business case internally, with all the logic, data, and insights you need from some of the world’s best at getting buy-in for their shows.
What You’ll Find Below:
1) How to Get the Yes: We packaged some key data as a logical case for why shows matter to brands today. (This includes a Master List of Examples.)
2) Data Grab-Bag: We’ve also compiled some extra stats about podcasting, video marketing, and word-of-mouth.
3) Expert Quotes on How They Get Buy-In: To supplement your thinking and your internal discussions/presentations, we polled some top executives, influencers, and marketing showrunners for their advice and examples.
Here is some key data packaged as a logical argument to help you make a compelling case internally:
Point #1: The Funnel’s Old Foundations Are Crumbling
💰 Attention is becoming more expensive to acquire. (This means that holding the attention of those we reach is more valuable than ever.)
- The rising cost of consumer attention matched inflation for 40 straight years, but today, the cost of consumer attention far outpaces inflation, rising 7-9x per year. (Source.)
- 1.7 billion people — and 37% of all mobile users — use ad blocking technology (Sources 1 and 2)
🤝 Just as acquiring initial attention at the top of the funnel has become more expensive, acquiring customers at the bottom has, too.
- Customer acquisition costs (CAC) are up >50% over the last 5 years across every marketing channel, and few if any new channels are emerging due to Big Tech acquiring or stifling innovation. Finally, paid and outbound acquisition now cost 30% more than content marketing CAC. (Source.)
- A 2016 study by Salesforce and LinkedIn found that “the average B2B company has a database of 50,000 individuals and spends an average of $150 to acquire a single email address.” This includes the time, resources, and execution to obtain 1 email address. Replacing a brand’s average audience as marketing and sales churn through those names would cost $7.5 million. (Source.)
🤔 One reason attention is becoming more expensive? It’s harder to earn, because consumers are more choosy about where they invest their time. In other words, they trust a narrower list of things, from a narrower list of sources — a direct result of tech and marketing players abusing trust over the years.
- 68% of US and UK consumers do not trust how their data is being used when tracked by companies. (Source.)
- Consumers have narrowed what they trust, moving from trusting large, well-known institutions to peer-to-peer/social media connections to, now, “only that which is close to them.” (Source.)
- In 2019, we experienced a record gap between how much “informed consumers” trusted companies compared to how much the mass market trusted them (65% vs. 49%), meaning that educating and spending time with the buyer became more critical at the same time it became more difficult. (Source.)
Point #2: As a Result, Marketing Now Has a New Mandate
🔒 Don’t just grab attention. Hold it.
It’s now too difficult and too expensive to churn through lots of moments of initial contact with those you intend to reach and serve. Each moment of interaction has become more precious, making it more imperative to make each count. Don’t just grab attention. Hold it.
When we do so, we reap two major benefits:
Increased lifetime value (LTV) of those we reach.
Decreased customer acquisition costs (CAC) to acquire net-new audience, thanks to word-of-mouth created by a passionate audience.
Point #3: The Good News: Shows Are Proven Vehicles to Do This
Original series are built specifically to hold attention, earn trust, and create word-of-mouth. The goal isn’t brand “awareness,” but rather the real thing we want when we talk about brand awareness: brand affinity.
📈 Benefits shows provide include…
- Brand IP: Defensible value for our company that competitors can’t copy and audiences can’t wait to consume and share.
- Subscription-Based Growth: An approach to marketing that looks at relationship or funnel “velocity,” instead of purely top- and bottom-of-funnel extremes. (Compare subscribers from the show to other sources and to non-subscribers, ideally via email subscription, tagging/segmenting, and audience surveys.)
- Compounding ROI: Shows provide a back-log of binge-worthy content for audiences, plus endless internal efficiencies, as each episode can be used across channels in different repurposed forms.
💪 We’re still early, meaning we can create competitive advantages by acting now. (The argument that there are too many podcasts, for instance, does not hold up against the data on an absolute, total-market basis.)
- There are 500M blogs, 23M YouTube channels with 10+ subscribers, but only 700,000 podcasts (on Apple Podcasts). Additionally, of those 700,000 podcasts, 75% haven’t produced any episodes this month — only about 175,000 are still considered active. (Sources 1, 2, and 3.)
- According to a study from the BBC, branded podcasts help drive brand metrics across the board, generating lifts in awareness (+89%), brand consideration (+57%), brand favorability (+24%), and purchase intent (+14%).
- According to the same study, for “ad avoiders,” their engagement, emotional intensity, and memory encoding around brand mentions beat TV benchmarks by at least 22%.
Point #4: What Big Tech and Big Media Do Now, Brands Do Next (Often Too Slowly)
- Netflix spent $12B on content in 2018, projected $15B in 2019
- Amazon to spend $7B on video and music content in 2019
- Disney has invested more than $26B to launch Disney+
- Spotify announces plans to spend half a billion on podcast companies, buys Gimlet Media, Anchor, Parcast
- Apple announces shows exclusive to Apple TV+
- Showtime CEO predicts $100B economy in making original series across networks
Point #5: Top Brands Are Already Investing in Original Series
To help you make the case, we’ve created a master list of brands with podcasts, video shows, or networks of shows, broken out by category: The World’s Biggest List of Branded Podcasts and Video Shows.
- 56% of all content marketers have increased spend on creating content in the last year (2018 vs. 2019)
- Growth in audio/visual content: 64% of all B2B brands, 65% of all enterprise B2B brands (1,000+ employees), 69% of all consumer brands, and 63% of all agencies.
- Growth in audio content: 38% of B2B brands increased spend here, along with 41% of enterprise B2B brands, 27% of consumer brands, and 39% of agencies.
⚙️ Additionally, some forward-thinking tech vendors are already building tools specifically to help marketers make shows. They include:
- Wistia: Channels — Netflix-like functionality for brands making shows to host, measure, and grow their series
- Casted: the first B2B podcasting platform, focused on measurement, sales enablement, and creating content efficiencies from a brand’s show
- Descript: All-in-one audio editing, from Groupon’s founder (The Photoshop of Audio)
- Transistor: Podcast hosting for marketers
- Chartable: Show analytics and link-tracking for better attribution
- Auxbus: Podcast production and workflow tools
- Ripl, Wavve, Audiogram, and others: Tools to create snippets of audio or video to share on social media
Our go-to source for the state of podcasting is Edison Research’s annual study, The Infinite Dial. The world’s longest-running such study covers all forms of audio (streaming, smart speakers, podcasting, etc.), and they’ve also recently built The Podcast Consumer report specifically for the niche.
Click to show stats
- Podcasts are incredibly well-known to consumers: In 2019, 70% of Americans have heard of podcasts, up 64% YoY
- The majority of Americans are familiar with the medium for the first time in history: 51% of Americans aged 12 and up have listened to a podcast
- Monthly active listeners are a fast-growing group: 32% of Americans listen to podcasts every month, up from 26% in 2018 (the biggest single-year jump since Edison began the study in 2008)
- Monthly listeners are also affluent consumers: 41% come from a household income of $75k or more, compared to just 29% of all American households earning that mark or higher
- Weekly listeners are now a huge group: 1 in 4 Americans listen to a podcast every week (also the biggest jump ever, in this statistical category)
- Mobile consumption keeps growing: Two-thirds of podcast listeners listen on a mobile device (a stat which has shifted over the years, from streaming on computers to mobile downloads and mobile streaming)
- Podcasts reign thanks to the ability to multitask: The #1 reason people say they enjoy consuming podcasts: “you can do other things while listening”
- Listeners are fiercely loyal audiences: 52% of listeners finish each episode, while 41% say they finish “most” of the episode
Video Marketing Data:
It feels like every year is the official start of the “Era of Video.” New plan: Video is crucial, and we need to think more strategically about serialized video. These stats can help…
Click to show stats
- Brands continue to dig video at ever-growing rates: 87% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool (up from 81% in 2018 and just 63% in 2017), according to Wyzowl, and 83% of marketers say video gives them a good ROI.
- Video marketing is getting crowded (hence the need for higher-impact videos, like shows): 90% of video marketers say the level of competition and noise has increased in the past year (but 99% will continue to use video in 2019). Source: Wyzowl.
- The good stuff for sales: 94% of marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product/service; 84% say video has increased traffic to their websites; 81% say video has helped them generate leads; 80% say video has increased dwell time on their websites. Source: Wyzowl. And according to Animoto, 88% of video marketers are satisfied with the ROI of their video marketing efforts on social media. Plus, according to Optinmonster, video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year. (Last two stats via Oberlo)
- The argument is getting easier: According to Wyzowl, 44% of marketers said they took the plunge into video marketing because they found it easier to make the case to others in their organization; 41% said it was because video has become more affordable; 39% said it was because it’s becoming quicker to create video; 35% said it was because it’s becoming easier to create videos in-house; and 15% said they now felt clearer on the ROI of video.
- Give the people what they want (i.e., video!): 87% of people would like to see more video from brands in 2019. Source: Wyzowl. 6 out of 10 people would prefer to watch online videos than TV (Google). 54% of people want to see more video content from marketers (HubSpot). Plus, viewers are 95% more likely to remember a call to action after watching a video (vs. just 10% after reading it in text format). Source: Forbes via Oberlo.
- Too boring? We think not. Businesses in high tech and professional services industries publish the most new videos each month. (Source: Impact)
A major benefit of creating shows is the ability to create word-of-mouth referrals. Given the time investment by listeners or viewers, and the depth and intimacy created with on-air and on-camera hosts and subjects, brands can decrease customer acquisition costs by increasing word-of-mouth referrals. Remember: Shows are trust accelerants.
Click to show stats
- Offline word-of-mouth beats online recommendations: American consumers trust offline (face-to-face) word-of-mouth 41% more than online WoM. Think of your favorite shows and how you learned about them: face-to-face WoM is dominant here. (Source.)
- Buyers bias towards referrals as their go-to source of trust and credibility: 50% of Americans would choose online or offline word-of-mouth if they had to pick just one source of information, and 83% of Americans have referred a product or service to someone else. (Source.)
- Friends making free suggestions beat brands spending billions: Recommendations from friends are valued 27% more than advertising when making a substantial purchase. (Source.)
- 72% of people get news from friends and family. (Source.)
- 74% of consumers identify WoM as a key influencer in their buying decisions. (Source.)
How to Instantly Align with a Boss
How a CEO Would Do It: Test Budget and/or Qualitative Feedback
“Two options: Define a small budget that is explicitly for risk-taking or figure out a way to take the risks in internal communication first. Seeing is believing, and you need to find a way to get your boss to pay attention to actual qualitative results. You’d be surprised by the swing just a small amount of qualitative data can have over a busy boss.” – Chris Savage, CEO of Wistia, @csavage. (Current favorite project: Brandwagon)
How a Global Brand Consultant Sees It: Begin with What’s Working, Never the Opposite
“There is a secret about proposing disruptive change: it’s much harder to get someone to change when they have to admit that what they’ve been doing is wrong. So, the first place to start with proposing change to finicky, skeptical, or close-minded execs is to start from a place of evolution from the ‘right’ things we’re doing, rather than correction from the ‘wrong’ things.” – Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer, TCA, @Robert_Rose
How a Bestselling Author Views It: Align the Results of a Show with Results They Seek
“Speak their language: they care about revenue? How much revenue will your new idea generate? They care about leads? How many leads will your idea generate? There’s no better way to convince a boss that your idea is worth pursuing than aligning your results with their focus.” – Andrew Davis, Host, The Loyalty Loop, @DrewDavisHere (Current Favorite Project: The Loyalty Loop)
[Editor’s Note: We talked to about two dozen execs, showrunners, and top marketing thinkers about getting buy-in. They’ll appear across our Make the Case Month content. But here, it’s worth noting that the #1 response to “Where do our pitches go wrong?” was some variation of, “Marketers don’t clearly show how their ideas align with the results an executive already wants.”]
How Salesforce’s Director of Content Strategy Does It: Data and Anecdotes
“Business leaders and toddlers have one thing in common: They ask ‘why’ a lot. I’ve found that content creators often get excited about ideas and craft, but they can lack solid answers to the many “whys” behind a content strategy. Two things tend to break through the skepticism and handle executives’ objections: Data and true stories. Data to prove you’ve done your research, and real stories that bring your ideas to life. That data doesn’t have to be, “We predict this show will make us a million dollars annually!” But it does need to show your ideas are rooted in reality, not passion alone. True stories about you, your customers, or your team will make your ideas stickier and more credible. Cue heads nodding when you share a real story about how a customer solved a problem with your content, and the fact that your new idea will help more.”
What Most Marketers Miss When Making the Case
Agency Founder: Marketers underuse FOMO
“Execs are competitive. They’re freaked out by what the competition is doing. Play the FOMO card and show an example of a competitor who does it well and you’re likely to get some budget dollars approved. If you’re breaking some wheels and there aren’t any competitors doing what you want to do, tell them it’s just a test. Tell them you’ll change it back if it doesn’t work. Show them examples of companies that died because they didn’t disrupt themselves. Show them how undifferentiated you are right now. Make boring look scary.” – Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder, Orbit Media, @crestodina (Current Favorite Project: Orbit Media’s Annual Blogging Survey)
[Editor’s Note: The #1 answer for “Most underused persuasion technique execs respond to” was fear: fear of losing business, missing a growth opportunity already in motion, and/or paling in comparison to competitors.]
Tech CEO: Marketers underuse process and projections
“They don’t make the right case for how an idea can scale if it works. It becomes incredibly easy to take a risk if there is a scalable path behind a crazy idea.” – Chris Savage
Bestselling Author/Former CEO: Marketers underuse internal marketing
“They don’t develop an internal communications program to build support for the marketing philosophy/strategy that will be delivered. Most marketing isn’t stopped because of lack of results, but because someone internally doesn’t understand what you are doing.” – Joe Pulizzi, Author, The Will to Die; Founder, Content Marketing Institute, @JoePulizzi (Current Favorite Project: His debut novel, The Will to Die)
Head of Marketing at a High-Growth Startup: Marketers underuse follow-up questions to understand a boss’s thinking
“Make them also work at the relationship. Be equally persnickety and dogged and meticulous about their feedback. Ask a lot of questions. Get into the weeds on what could have been better or why an idea is being rejected. Ask them to go the extra mile to codify the standards or thought processes they’re applying. That’s a good forcing function for them to interrogate their own judgment.” – Camille Ricketts, Head of Marketing at Notion, @camillericketts
Proposing the Best Ways to Show ROI
Hosts of Branded Podcasts: Measure Resonance, Not Reach (Downloads)
“Podcasting metrics are notoriously terrible. Depending on where you host your show, the statistics can be varied and even then you still aren’t getting the full picture. We look at the numbers for Fueled By Death Cast, and of course we are always weighing them against themselves to see what worked and what didn’t. But we also work hard to ‘fuel people’s passions’ so the audience interaction we can gain from the podcast is just as important, even more so, because it can create a dialogue that will eventually turn into a sale.” – Jeff Ayers, Broadcasting – Death Wish Coffee Company, @JeffWishCoffee
“Sure, downloads are fun to see climb — and of course that’s a helpful barometer to see the general trend of the show’s popularity. But because we are such a niche audience, that metric doesn’t tell as much as it might for advertisers looking at a show with mass popularity. We like to look at our multitouch attribution and see how people are engaging with the podcast as they become leads and ultimately clients — so what is the correlation between people listening to the podcast, and people becoming leads or clients? Still working on building out these metrics, but we are seeing early wins.” – Ryan Estes, Sr. Content Marketing Specialist, Frontline Education Company, @ryestes
“If I had to pick a metric, probably downloads. But the stuff you can’t measure (hat-tip to Drift VP Marketing, Dave Gerhardt) is just as important. That candidate who came in saying, ‘I loved that episode on X and I had to apply.’ Or someone who emails and says, ‘I sent this episode to everyone on my team, can you answer these 3 questions we had after listening?’ I was at an event and a (male) friend who’s a VC in London/NYC said to me, ‘I recommend your show to all my portfolio companies in SaaS.’ For me, as a woman in tech, that seems pretty good.” – Maggie Crowley, Director of Product, Drift, @maggiecrowley
Hosts of Brand Branded Video Shows: Don’t Forget Subscription and Customer Retention
“Start small with your measurements. You can measure everything, so focus on what you care about and make those things the best you can. We focus on: 1. How many people are watching each episode 2. Episode completion rate 3. Subscribe rate.” – Dan Slagen, CMO, ThriveHive, @danslagen
“We tie all the metrics for our shows back to our company goals, which can expand outside of traditional marketing metrics, like looking at shows as a tool to help reduce churn or increase feature adoption by users. Shows have the power to help the collective goals of a company. ” – Alicia Thomas, Senior Marketing Manager, Klaviyo, @thealiciathomas
How Did Marketers with Existing Shows Make the Case?
CMO to CEO: We Have to Get Closer to the Customer
“We’re in an incredibly crowded space and on the surface our product isn’t differentiated enough from our competitors to make us really stand out. Making a show was something I knew would help us stand out amidst hundreds of competitors and was an area we could win attention. After I explained this to my CEO, we had approval. The only thing my CEO said to me was to commit to doing it — don’t just dip my toe in the water. So that’s what we agreed to, that we’d commit to season 1 consisting of 6 episodes in 6 months and the budget and time spent on it would be X. That was it.” – Dan Slagen
Content Marketer to Executive: Lean into What We’re Already Doing, with a Twist
“We were already spending time interviewing clients, subject matter experts, and others. I suggested a podcast as a way to branch out into a new channel, continue to solidify our reputation as a thought leader in our industry, and be a source for repurposing the podcast into other pieces of waterfall content. The team agreed to giving it a shot.” – Ryan Estes
Coffee’s Most Energized Show Host: Have a Plan to Make a True Asset for the Brand
“There are three things I tell people looking to start a podcast, especially from a business/marketing standpoint. Number One is settle on the THEME of your show before making episode 1. This can grow and change throughout the life of the show, but you should have a clear idea of WHAT you are trying to achieve and create right from the start. Number Two is definitely CONSISTENCY. Whether you want to have a weekly show, or a podcast episode once a quarter, pick you schedule and stick to it. The best way to grow an audience is to come out with an episode when you say you will. The best way to lose an audience is to be inconsistent with your release schedule. Number Three is RESEARCH. Listen to/watch other shows similar to the one you want to create, take notes, figure out what you like and what you don’t, then incorporate that into your creation. My podcast is predominately an interview-based show, so I listen to a lot of interviews: the news, behind the scenes special features, and other interview-based podcasts. I know which ones hold my attention and which ones don’t. I try and emulate the ones I want to listen to.” – Jeff Ayers
Why Now Is the Time to Make Shows
“Because shows focus on leveraging the power of a content subscription. Content builds trust. Trust builds relationships. Relationships drive revenue.” – Andrew Davis
“The short answer is because everybody else is. The longer answer: For those that can stick with it, it’s because video and audio are inherently more intimate formats for developing relationships with audiences. They are, perhaps, two of the hardest formats to really get right. But when you do, you can connect like no other type. ” – Robert Rose
“I don’t buy into the idea that the attention span is dwindling. I see teenagers watching 45-minute YouTube videos from their favorite influencers. I do see that creativity has been democratized. We’re all carrying around a super-camera in our back pocket better than what they probably used to film I Love Lucy. In this environment, brands have to be just as creative as that YouTube influencer to get anyone to pay attention. ‘Boring as usual’ won’t cut it.” – Heike Young
“Because they work. Because they connect. Because it’s tough to build a quick emotional connect with the written word. Because they’re surprisingly easy to create. Because interview formats are great for influencer marketing. Because people are finally getting over the fear and vanity that kept them from pressing the record button.” – Andy Crestodina
Why Now Is the Time to Make Our Case
Because It Takes Time and Reps
“I always believed I didn’t start creating good content until after 1,000 blog posts. Creating great content is a process. You generally don’t catch lightning in a bottle. Sell, upfront, the time to your executive team so you can find your voice, your audience, and continuously improve your storytelling.” – Joe Pulizzi
Because It Must Be Truly Original and Deeply Resonant
“There is only ONE way a show can succeed: it has to be somebody’s favorite show on the planet. If you can come up with an angle that is distinct enough to become someone’s favorite, I’ll support the premise [as CEO]. But launching a show that’s 5% different than an existing one, or 5% better is not a rational justification to create a new show.” – Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert, @jaybaer
Because Meaningful, Effective, Worthwhile Things Are Hard — That’s What Makes Them Meaningful, Effective, and Worthwhile
“You’ll never feel ready. If you’re scared, deal with it. Marketing is hard, so don’t be afraid to do hard things or accept that your output as a team will be mediocre. And have fun! Shows are a blast to do and such good team bonding and learning experiences. At our company most of our employees aren’t local business owners, so doing the show is a great way to get them closer to our customers. You’ll be amazed who reaches out to you at your company to say how meaningful your show is because it helps them seem the end impact of their role, even if it isn’t customer-facing (which most roles are not). Absolute worst case, you shoot a season and decide doing a show isn’t for you, but the learnings about your people, process, and video in general will be worth it. ” – Dan Slagen
[Disclosure: Wistia and Casted, which are both mentioned in this article, are sponsors of Marketing Showrunners. They have no say in our editorial decisions.]
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Founder of Marketing Showrunners, author of Break the Wheel, and host/producer of docuseries about creative work. I’m trying to create a world where people feel intrinsically motivated by their work. Previously in content marketing and digital strategy at Google and HubSpot and VP of brand and community at the VC firm NextView. I write, tinker, and speak on stages and into microphones for a living. It’s weird but wonderful.
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