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By: Jay Acunzo on January 23rd, 2020

Deconstructing Drift’s B2B Podcast Network

3 Clips is the official podcast of Marketing Showrunners. Every week, we deconstruct episodes of shows that inspire us, one clip at a time, so we can all learn to build our audience’s favorite show…and become their favorite brand. You can find all episodes here. In this series, MSR founder Jay Acunzo and managing editor Molly Donovan chat about the highlights of this week’s episode of 3 Clips.

What’s your tweet-long summary of the episode?

Molly: 6 stars only for Drift’s network of B2B podcasts, which strives to engage audiences on a deeper, more resonant level. 

Jay: Drift’s ahead of the pack by launching multiple shows (but could integrate and cross-promote them to reap the rewards and shape a true network)

What’s one thing someone in the episode said that marketers need written across their desks?

Molly: Not to be too much of a teacher’s pet, but I found myself really nodding along with something you [Jay] said, in reference to one of Drift’s common sayings/inside jokes. You said, “In B2B, even if you don’t do a story, maybe think about ‘T-shirt moments’ or ‘T-shirt phrases.’…What are you doing in your show to develop such community that someone would actually buy a T-shirt with that phrase or image on it?”

I found that quite profound. Why should shows from B2C companies and media companies get all the swag and all the intense community support? Why don’t we as B2B marketers think more about developing and serving a true community? It goes back to something we’ve been thinking and talking about a lot recently on MSR, which is to create someone’s favorite show, so you can be their favorite brand. This is the kind of thing Drift is doing, especially by making multiple shows within their Hypergrowth network, which can appeal as “favorites” to multiple personas.

Jay: D’awww, thanks, Molly. Here’s that $20 bribe I owe you for leading with this…

My answer is something that wasn’t actually said, so we need to put words to it. Early in my interview, Molly mentioned how many shows they have and the fact that there are more coming, and she laughed mid-sentence. It was that knowing sort of laugh, that way of saying, “Lord, beer me strength.” 

So, what I want scrawled across every marketer’s desk: It’s always hard.

No matter where you work, who you are, or what you’re doing, this stuff is hard. You and I always say the same thing to each other, Molly: This is chess, not checkers. It’s time for marketers to stop looking for easy buttons and embrace that meaningful work only happens when we plow headlong into the hard stuff ahead.

What’s something this company/show does well that most marketers don’t?

Molly: They really know what their vision and goal is with their content — and that their overarching purpose is not to usher tons of people in the door; rather, it’s to offer something truly helpful for select people, which will in turn engender positive feelings for the brand. 

Gail said: “Drift is not in the business of putting peer content marketing out every single day. I think you can see that across all of our blog content, all of our book content, and hopefully our podcast. It’s not just to promote the product — it’s really to help people become better marketers, become better salespeople, become better product people, all in the hopes of building goodwill around our brand.” I loved that. The idea of spending time and resources to create content that doesn’t directly relate back to your product (and, by the way, whose ROI can be hard to measure, at least initially) can be very frightening. In the long run, though, as Drift’s success demonstrates, it’s worthwhile to spend time creating something that will be truly helpful to the people your company wants to serve.

Jay: Oh, I liked that part too. I’m with you — Drift understands that marketing has long held this false sense of precision when creating content. “We’re gonna create for THIS persona and they like THESE topics.” There’s nothing wrong with personas, it’s just that we get too focused on demographics. Drift seems to believe in psychographics. There’s a thread running through all shows, despite an array of topics (some of which seem irrelevant to the Drift product). That thread is the desire to get better every day. Lifelong learning. Call it what you will. The “6 stars only” tag is like the avatar for that idea — within Drift, sure, but also among Drift’s listeners.

What’s something new you learned?

Molly: I thought it was fascinating (and actually made a ton of sense) that Drift has been able to measure the success of its shows more effectively by having multiple shows within a network. Gail alluded to the difficulty of measuring the ROI of podcasts due to reporting limitations — and Drift has found a bit of a workaround to that problem by creating differentiated shows that focus on different topics and feature different hosts. This gives the company more granular stats and the ability to ascertain how each show — and each functional topic — is performing. 

Jay: The fact that Drift spun out different shows to avoid false positives. That was smart. They had a winning program with the now-sunset Seeking Wisdom (VP of marketing left; CEO focused elsewhere). If you run another series inside that feed, while you may get more attention, it’s almost impossible to measure intent. Are listeners downloading the new show because they genuinely like it, or because it’s in a feed they’ve set to auto-download? Are they giving you the benefit of the doubt due to a previously successful show within the same feed, or are they proactively consuming the new show for its own sake? By spinning out separate feeds (and maybe LAUNCHING the new ones inside the first feed, but only for a time), they’ve set themselves up for success.

Where did you want to go deeper?

Molly: Drift obviously understands quite cogently what its audience wants. Multiple times throughout this episode, Gail and Molly referenced the importance of creating content with specific pain points from the audience in mind. When discussing how the team goes about creating a new show, Gail said they examine what written content is resonating with the audience and why, so they can distill a theme or identify a persona they’re trying to target. This was very interesting to me and made tons of sense — I would have loved to go deeper to hear more about how the team at Drift proactively interacts with its audience to ascertain what problems a new show could help solve. 

Jay: I’d like to see Drift talk about evolving the listener experience more, especially by segmenting their episodes. Sean Lane (host of Drift’s Operations) does a pretty good job of this through narration, but I want to hear the other hosts and even Sean to try using segments in their monologues and interviews to march listeners all the way to the end. Too many episodes leave the quality to chance — if the guest happens to be amazing, the show is too. Without doing much or any post-production, a host can segment an interview. Imagine the simplicity but the power of saying to listeners and guests,“This next section is titled XYZ, which is where we ABC.” It refreshes the experience, teases value to come, and gets people to the end of the episode far better than a meandering, unstructured interview. So whether the segments are overt and spoken out loud, or they’re implicit and only in the mind of the host, segmentation informs WHAT is asked of a guest and WHEN, which adds up to a better listening experience.

What goals does this show network help the company achieve? 

Molly: Drift was an early-mover in understanding the power of a show to enhance brand affinity and jumpstart a closer relationship with customers. By creating a network of shows, the company gives its listeners more optionality — and more opportunities to demonstrate loyalty to a subject, a host, and — of course — to the brand itself. 

Jay: Gail mentioned there’s a obvious, knee-jerk reaction people have: When they see the wide array of shows, they think, “Wow, this company is cool, a media brand as much as a software brand.” And that’s all well and good, but I think a network of shows actually starts to build a platform on which entire companies Drift wants to serve can stand. Think of brands like InVision in design software. They create an array of content (blogs, films, newsletter, and more) all of which lionize and support product designers. They’re building a platform that supports the entire niche. 

Drift’s niche is a little less defined in this case. It’s not product design, it’s not “conversational marketers.” It’s more psychographic. It’s people in B2B who believe there’s a more human, more customer-centric way to interact with prospects and customers. Like an InVision, they create a vast array of content to cement this idea and build that platform for their audience. However, unlike most companies trying to lift up, celebrate, and lead an entire group, a show network feels like a more overt way to do that because (A) a single show is episodic, like a journey you can subscribe to, thus going deeper than elsewhere, and (B) a network of shows provides visible connectivity between ideas and people. It provides that true “platform” feel. It’s defensible from a competitive standpoint, and inspiring from an audience standpoint.

Listen to the full episode of 3 Clips:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | Stitcher



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Founder of Marketing Showrunners, host of 3 Clips and other podcasts and docuseries about creativity, and author of Break the Wheel. 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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