B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1794 · 2 months ago

Owned: Barstool Sports

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Today we are featuring an episode from a new show: Owned, a series exclusively on AudiencePlus co-hosted by Anthony Kennada and B2B Growth’s own, James Carbary. Owned is a show that tears down popular consumer media brands and applies key learnings to B2B companies who are building their owned media strategy.

To watch the full episode, get notified of future releases, get access to exclusive content, and more, subscribe for free at audienceplus.com.

Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is B two B Growth. Today we're doing something special. We're giving you a sneak peak of a new series exclusively on Audience Plus, co hosted by Anthony Kennada and B two B Growth very Own James Carberry. Owned is a show that tears down popular consumer media brands and applies key learnings to be two B companies who are building their own media strategy. So, like I said, today is a special sneak peak, but to watch the full episode to get notified about future releases, To get access to exclusive content and much more, subscribe for free at audience plus dot com. Let's jump in. Welcome to Phone, the show where we reviewed popular consumer media brands and see what we can learn and apply to be two B companies who are building an owned media strategy. My name is Anthony Kennedy. I'm the co founder and CEO at Audience Plus, and I'm joined by my co host, James Carbery, founder at sweet Fish Media. James, I'm so excited to work with you on the show. Man. This is gonna be This is gonna be incredible. I've been looking forward to this for the weeks leading up to us hitting record this afternoon, and this is gonna be a blast, man, It's gonna be so much fun. And just you know one thing, just for our our viewers listeners, like, look, we are going to be not really commenting on sort of the topics of that each of these media brands are really going to be creating a content around, but really around their strategy as a whole, be it how they produced the content, how they distribute it, how they sort of activate their audience and community through it. And so I give this disclaimer because we've got a hot one for today. We've got a hot one to kick things off. It's gonna be spicy bro. In fact, I actually brought a prop. I brought eggshells, actual eggshells. I don't know these are are coming into focus here because we might be walking on them a little bit as we talked about this one. And of course I'm talking about Barstool, Barstool Sports, this this brand, ak is. You can't talk about consumer media brands without bringing up Barstool. So when we were brainstorming, we we knew what the concept of the show is going to be. I think both of us like this, this was a brand at the top of both of our list. We're like, how could we not start with Barstool Regardless you know, whether you love it, you hate it, you love their founder, or you think he should walk off a bridge, what they've done in the last ten or so years is impressive. I mean, for the fact that just about everybody when you say barstool, they know what bar stool is. Again, like it or hate it, people know it. And I think as B two B brands we can learn to turn from from how they've executed their media strategy. Totally totally. Yeah, we don't condone or condemn what they're talking about, but we're going to really break down to how so for those of you that actually don't know what Barstool Sports is, Barstools a digital media company that is a mix of podcast, blogs, video series, um featuring many sort of notable figures in sports, as well as their own staff that have become influencers now within this kind of community that they've been able to develop. So Barstool started by a guy named Dave Portnoy in two thousand three in Milton, Massachusetts, and as an entrepreneur, you love the story of you know he's starting by just like passing out flyers in in bars in Boston and organizing these events inside these bars to you know, just just a great classic kind of entrepreneurial story totally. And when the Internet obviously burgendes a means of kind of building community. In two thousands, said that they launched their online property, which really what felt like where they kind of took everything to...

...the next level, and bar Stool started creating a ton of exclusive content around obviously sports, but also gambling and some lifestyle type of content as well, really kind of activating this community of I believe they're called stoolies that are are fans of bar stool. They valued the entire brand about a hundred million in two thousand eighteen before Penn National Gaming came in and bought kind of a big chunk of the business. But more on Dave. I mean, he's sort of found himself in the middle of some controversy. You know, he's got some slack for interviewing, you know, President Trump at the White House. He got some slack for, I believe, handcuffing himself to the headquarters, the NFL headquarters during deflate Gate. As a die hard Satrios fan, right. Actually, I think he and the others were jailed for that, so he's definitely at the center. You know, is no stranger to controversy, and as you mentioned, kind of love him or hate him kind of in the middle of of kind of pop culture discussion today and one piece of content I know we're going to talk about this today has really helped catapult his viewership and engagement. Is this idea of pizza reviews or it's a franchise they run called Pizza Reviews where they travels across the country, takes one bite at pizza, you know, it's more than one bite, and reviews and gives him a score, which has turned into this kind of major kind of motion for them. So very interesting brand that covers a lot of ground, but honestly one that from a distribution perspective is really kind of pend I think, is like this this idea of a new media or a new approach to media versus kind of the more traditional. So, James, does you think about this episode we're gonna talk about application to be to be? What makes barstool kind of a standout media brand? To you? I'm fascinated at that approach to media. They're going and finding really talented personalities to carry the torch of their brand into the marketplace. And I think we have to be more thoughtful about the bub so that that's one of the things that stands out totally, totally, really excited to break down some things that you and I might do a little bit different, but also call out some like you mentioned some really good stuff that I think is very much applicable to be two be brands today and how we think about our own media strategy. Awesome, let's get into it. When't we start first with like the things that you would change? I think we've got we can pull up our stools website here. What are some things that jump out to you that you think, you know, maybe they fell short or maybe there's opportunity for them to prove. Yeah. So so the first thing that as I kind of scroll their home page, there's a few things that it just seems scattered and disorganized. And as we were talking about this offline, a k maybe that's intentional. I don't know, A part of the brand is kind of scattered and disorganized, but uh, you know, it's the brandings, you know, it's it's inconsistent, it's it's messy again, that could be the brand. That could be I think part of the founder story and kind of passing out flyers in bars in Boston, like they might be trying to hold on to that kind of I don't know that that feel and if that's the goal, Hey, they're they're not gonna out of the park, you know. Looking at their shows page, it's a lot of It's just a lot on a single page when you navigate to it. You know, I'm looking at it, going where the categories? How do I know, like what I'm might be interested in, what to stay away from. It's just a lot of cover art, uh, splashing there on the page. So I'm a little like, I don't really know what to do. I'm I'm confused. Like if I don't know that what the franchise actually is, then I wouldn't know where to clip. It could clearly, I think, be displayed in a more helpful way for the consumer to be able to navigate where they want to go. Some have blogs, some don't. You know, we don't really know the format of the show. I guess you can you can kind of suss it out a little bit by the names of the show. And and some of the cover art. You see two faces on something. Okay, that's probably gonna be a banter back and forth, but I think there's there's some work to be done there.

What are you seeing? You know, certainly, I think for for B two B companies, there's we talked about categorization and discovery. How can you make content discovery easier and more intuitive and maybe prescriptive for your audience to you know, we don't really have this notion of ads and and B two B, but you know, we might be sort of putting up secondary calls to action around a book download or other things. And so certainly I think we have this idea of advertisement. I don't think we hit people over the head with it, as you sort of feel as you you hit kind of oar stool dot com here. So this feels like, you know, the last generation of like WordPress template around digital magazines. And I think again they've built a you know, several hundred million dollar business on the back of this. I think, to take it to the next level, how can we bring this into sort of a modern design that's much more intuitive for the reader. And the site gets an obnoxious amount of traffic and so when you go and you see that, you know, some of the most more recent posts only have seven four A comments on them. It's just it's interesting. And when you first brought that up, I thought, well, you know, good on them. They're actively engaging their audience where their audience is. But you can do both. Could if they had a little bit cleaner of a UI, if their site was easier to navigate, could they create a home base where people would actually want to engage with their content on their site, Because on their site, they're obviously going to have access to a lot more information than they would on these third party platforms, which is where their audience is. They absolutely should be there. But I think a lot of times in B two B land we make things this or that. It's like we have to be where they are on LinkedIn or on TikTok or whatever the platform is. It's like, yeah, you do need to be there, and you can also create an experience on your site that is welcoming and that makes people want to go back to it. And so I just wonder if if the UI, if the messiness, if that works against them, as you can see obviously drastically lower levels of engagement on these articles on their site than than what you see them getting on other social platforms totally, you know. And one thing that I noticed is if I were to go and actually create a bar stool account and sign up, that's why that's the bar, right, In order to leave a comment on bar stools, you have to actually authenticate and sort of subscribe to their their audience. Now I'm not met, especially on this page here, with any compelling reason to do that. There's no you know, explanation of hey, you'll get access for a newsletter. We're actually producing exclusive content just for Stools that you can you know, have access to as part of being a member. So no doubt it makes sense to engage in social and these channels where people are and I know that that they definitely do that. But in a world where you want that engagement data, you want that deeper appreciation for what the community has to say about a given piece of content or media, you've got to give them a reason to subscribe. You've gotta make it easy, but you also have to build kind of come helling content that communicate that properly in order to drive a lot of that that engagement. So you know, it would it surprise me if they really invested in that and made commenting sort of a given. That's not the only reason to subscribe, right, I think they might be able to drive some more engagement overall. But let's talk about the good stuff, because there is a lot of things here that we want to we want to learn from, and so what we're gonna do is look at various parts of barstool. We've covered some at a very high level here, and apply the learning specifically to be to be companies and so really excited about this. The first one is actually cadence. And I've heard, you know, when you talk to content marketing leaders or folks that are sort of gaining followership kind of in the space, they talk often about the secret to success is to be constantly pushing, pushing new content to be consistent with the tab a steady cadence of release. And what blows me away by bar Stool is I think we see it here in the latest tab like every ten to twenty minutes their launch a new...

...piece of content. And when you go to social there's a bit of like you know, perhaps and repurposing or amplifying like old pieces of content. But it's down to like, you know, every what is it ever? Every five minutes or so, like an insane amount of publishing happening on the social channels, but even on the owned property here. And I don't think it's fair to make that the bar for B two B marketing companies saying Okay, you have to release content every ten minutes. You know that that's probably a complete model is very different, right, I mean every exactly, you know, every piece of new content is dollars for them, add dollars, no, no doubt. And the only thing I would say that is somewhat positive of Kate, it's not every ten minutes again, but like having the steady drum beat is the sense that there's life, it's alive, it's an active thing. It's not this like static blog. It's like there's every I can come to expect as a member of this audience or community that every so often I'm gonna be met with something that's new and entertaining or inspiring where that's gonna help me in my career as a you know, professional, basic whatever industry that we're in. I think this next takeaway, ok that that I think rolls really well into like how do you how do you get the cadence right? And I think one of the ways you get the cadence right is by diversifying your media property. So really, what I love that barstool is doing. They're creating all of these micro franchises, right, like, all of these different types of shows that they're putting in work to one source the right on our talent, like we talked about earlier, but they're also doing some incredible premise development work, some show development work to say, hey, what's the angle of the show going to be? Because they've allowed themselves, they set themselves up with I think so many B two B brands think about it just in terms of we have our one media property. This is our one show, this is our one thing, and it's like and that premise may not connect, it may not be very interesting to a big chunk of your potential audience, but you're forcing them to be like, it's either this or nothing, because you're not doing anything else. And so I love looking at what barstool has done totally totally. You know, my wife is not the target market at all for bar stool, but she loves pizza reviews because it just cracks her up. It gets it's kind of having these conversations about, you know, pizza in general and what we happen to be in Connecticut, which apparently, according to Day is like the pizza capital of the world. We went out of our way to try whatever number one or number two was, Salies I think, and New Haven. So I love the idea of micro franchises. I think it makes a lot of sense. I think it makes it memorable first of all, and I think you get touched on that as you're talking about it, and it's familiar. It's something that you might have seen before in popular media or consumer media, what have you. We have a format for this show where it's a tear down show, right, We're looking at various media properties and we're talking about what we think is good and bad. It's an opinion show, but it's it's this idea of saying, maybe we shouldn't just think about our our B two B content as a fire hose where it's like all just like one thing and we're doing all of it in one way. Like, let's think about differentiating the formats across again, podcasting, video, live events or live streams, all these types of things. But then like, let's find these franchises of topics that our audience or community or customer or prospects you name it, care about, and let's go deep and let's build something that's memorable. Let's borrow from entertainment, let's borrow from consumers, borrow from the bar stools of the world, from a format perspective, and apply it to the topic that we care about. The third one is interesting. It's this idea of using executive The executives are spokespeople at the company as sort of like personifications of the brand and better or for worse, that is Dave Portnoy. He is the ethos of the Stoolies and he has of course a massive followership here on Twitter. Now again, he himself is controversial, irreverent, you know, not afraid to speak his mind, major sports buff, gambler, like you name it. There's a bunch of things that many ways to describe this man. But that sort of makes...

...up the brand, right that is sort of like what they talk about, It's what their followership wants to engage with. And I think there's a huge, huge learning here for for B two, be in that your CEO or your spokespeople whoever they are sort of become the brand over time has done the right way. Now, your point earlier about let's not just stick a microphone in front of people even if they're not entertaining or compelling or you know, have anything important to say, is sort of an important nuance. But I do think that companies buy products from people. People that they want to follow, people that they inspire, that they're inspired by, Folks who there's some missional alignment behind kind of the movement they're trying to create. And so this whole like notion of purchasing decisions happening, you know, just walking out a checklist and buying a product that checks all the boxes. That's that's not how people buy. People buy things motionally, and so it's important whether it's you as the founder, as the CEO, whether it's you as like evangelist or whoever, somebody that can embody the values of your company and be willing to go on the record, to be transparent, to be vulnerable. And I think that's a key learning and forcing. Unfortunately, I think that's just the way buying will happen and continue to happen move forward. I actually the step that we've taken on this front with sweet Fish is to try to empower multiple people on our team, as we have three, four or five different people on our thirty five person team actively engaging on LinkedIn every single day. I've just experienced the fruits of it being worth it totally, totally. This is the idea of internal evangelists and sort of mobilizing them to be content creators on behalf of the brand. It trement makes a lot of sense, and I think there's a lot of value in there. The other piece, I think this takes us actually the fourth application for B two B companies. You spoke about this earlier. It's external voices. It's how can we actually use not just our teammates, but influencers out in the market. And it's something Bartolo has done really well, and you sort of te examples earlier. I think we're in the early days of influencer marketing and B two B, but you're starting to see it, like I'm seeing folks like my friend Nick Bennett is getting offered brand deals and you're seeing it pop up a little bit here and there on LinkedIn. But what a massive opportunity, and like Gary v says, it all the time, and it's it's under priced attention. Right now, I think that you can go and get a LinkedIn influencer for I would imagine it's pretty affordable because there's just not a lot of people doing it right now. I think what's gonna happen, ak is I think you're gonna see companies start to hire creators. I just think there are some really special opportunities for companies to come alongside and go, hey, we want to take your superpower of understanding human psychology, understanding how these platforms work, and we want to infuse you onto our team because we want to engage our community in ways that you've clearly figured out how to do it on TikTok, Instagram, whatever. Totally. Totally. We've got one final takeaway here for for B two B companies, and it's this idea of being authentic to your community and bar Stool again love mar Hadum reveres their community of stool leaves as as their own, and they've come up with some non traditional ways to actually reach them and serve them. And the one that you and I were chatting about was merch which again seems wild for a B two B company to consider producing merch. But we'll get to that in a second. But in general, what I love about this is they might come up with an inside joke on Twitter or something something happens in popular culture or media or the Boston Celtics or in the finals or whatever, and within twenty four hours they have a piece of merchant designed the launched on the store and they sell out within hours to their community. There's like a speed to it. There's a real events to it,...

...but it's this like feeling of almost like belonging, like I have this T shirt or hat or whatever, and I am a part of something greater than myself, whatever that it means in barstool land. So I know you loved this one as we were talking about tell me why. Yeah. So I just think one. I think if you're thinking about this particular piece of it, right, the merch piece of it, part of what makes the merch, I think. So it drives so much affinity it feeds one another in that if you're thinking about merchant this way, then it's gonna be a forcing function with your kind of your media properties to go, Okay, what's the recurring bit that AK and I can do every week on this show, like, can we comment on something you know where we're always you know, talking about the last episode of the Bachelorette or whatever, because we know one of them has a secret obsession, even though it says that it's it's really his wife's thing. Like those things, when you inject those elements into your show, even though it's B two B and it's you know, you want to be sharing helpful, educational content. When you inject those kind of things, the outflow of that is like people resonate with it, they connect with The thing that I commented on is I was looking at their march. I was like, their merch makes you feel like you're part of the insiders. Like truly, you get it, You understand it. You listen to the show, you understand that the joke. You understand that you're on the inside. And who doesn't want to feel like they're on the inside. You know, I love you said inside joke because I think that is the spirit of this and the mentality of it is we are creating content or programs or campaigns or initiatives that make the community feel like they're on the inside on something and with something like merch having fun with it, right, having kind of a humor elements to it is helpful. This is something a gain side that we you know, again, without necessarily knowing what we were doing. I think did pretty well in the sense that every time we had our conference, which was for the customer success community, we always try to find ways to create an inside joke at the event that became an experience. So we recorded a hip hop song all about customer success and about how no one knows exactly what they do at work every day and have to explain their their existence. And we hired look alike actors from the cast of Friends, and we recreated an episode of Friends where we find out that Chandler's job all along was a customer success manager and no one really knew what that meant. So a bunch of weird things that don't don't go model those exactly merch might be lowering fruit. But the point is finding ways to be authentic as a brand and engage your community in a way that speaks to them as humans, makes them feel like they're on the inside. There's something really powerful there. So that's the five we'll walk through the one last time. Five things we love about bar Stool that b two B companies can apply first as the cadence of content that they release and how they amplify on social seconds is the idea of micro franchises. Third is how they use their their CEO or their founder, their executive team, or folks within the company is overall as influencers or as content creators really representing the ethos of the business themselves. For is how they engage outside voices and outside creators and influencers and bring them on platform into their own network to help, you know, create more rich programming for their audience and for their community, and also serving more kind of authentic voice to their brand. And finally, their way to actually engage their community creatively and authentically with things like merch to make them feel like they're on the inside. So if you're watching this or a B two B company like there, these are things you can apply and how you build your brand today. Okay, man, this is this is gonna be a blast. We're just coming off home plate here on our way to first base, and uh, I'm so excited about what's to come here. So if you're listening to this and and you've got a media brand that you want us to break down, hit up a k on on Twitter,...

...you can hit me up on on LinkedIn, James Carberry c A R B A R Y, Anthony Canada K E n A d AFO on social and let us know, like, what are the media properties that you want us to break down. I'm really excited to keep this going, man, this is going to be a blast totally. And if you want to actually stay in touch with what we're doing on Owned, make sure to subscribe on Audience Plus. That's the best way. We'll keep you up to date on the latest information when another episode drops, and we'll keep you on the inside of our community as we kind of see what we can learn together about all of the great things happening in the super media world. Now we can apply that to our businesses. So with that, I'm Anthony Canada from James Carberry and this is Owned B two B. Growth is brought to you by the team at sweet Fish Media. Here at sweet Fish, we produce podcasts for some of the most innovative brands in the world, and we help them turn those podcasts into micro videos, LinkedIn content, blog posts and more. We're on a mission to produce every leader's favorite show. Want more information, visit sweet fish media dot com.

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