When you think about binge-worthy shows in the business world, whether that’s a video series or a podcast, chances are a few companies come to mind. You might conjure up the names of enterprise businesses like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Mailchimp. These brands have been in the “show business” game so to speak for a while now, and have even built out content departments to help execute against their goals.
But what if I told you one SaaS company with less than 100 employees actually built out an entire network of shows on their own? That’s right, let it soak in. If you’re having trouble imagining that, then read on to find out how Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell, a software company that helps businesses achieve faster recurring revenue growth, started the Recur Network and launched seven shows on their own.
With the inbound marketing space more saturated than ever before, ProfitWell launched the Recur Network to cut through the noise and separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
“We started looking at what was happening in the world of content and noticed that content was just getting better and better, which is great for the community and world,” says Campbell. “But how do you compete when everyone has really good, 2,000-word blog posts today?”
To find the answer to this tricky question, ProfitWell decided to study the companies that are best at attracting and holding people’s attention — the media industry. “We studied lot of media sites like Bloomberg, Hulu, and Netflix and ended up discovering that the best folks in the world at creating content were, essentially, these media companies,” says Campbell. “Launching the Recur Network really came down to us deciding to be more like a media network and less like a traditional SaaS blog.”
In order to emulate these media networks, ProfitWell split their content department into three teams — production, writing and scripting, and audience development.
As the head of the production team, Campbell serves as Executive Producer. Below him sits ProfitWell’s Creative Lead, Dan Callahan, who runs all creative and production. Underneath Callahan sits a show producer, who focuses on the execution of specific shows from end-to-end, and a creative producer, who focuses on each show’s brand and graphic design elements.
“In order to emulate these media networks, ProfitWell split their content department into three teams — production, writing and scripting, and audience development.”
ProfitWell’s Editorial Lead, Danette Acosta, runs the writing and scripting team that develops each show’s concept, storyline, and script. She manages two writers who are also show-hosts. They split their focus on two different verticals — B2B SaaS and D2C, or direct-to-consumer.
Last but certainly not least, is ProfitWell’s Audience Growth Manager, Danielle Messler. She’s in charge of each show’s distribution and launch strategy, which includes email and social media campaigns.
At first glance, ProfitWell’s content team might seem like one of the biggest in the B2B space. But keep in mind that ProfitWell isn’t simply focused on creating one video series or podcast — they’re trying to build out an entire media network.
“Our team is big for a B2B content team, but it’s not that big for a network. If you think about BuzzFeed, they launched their morning show, AM to DM, with a 30-person team,” says Campbell. “To me, it’s super fascinating to see how we can produce content at a certain scale without having dozens and dozens of members on our team. I don’t know if we’ve figured it out completely, but we’re certainly working towards it."
When ProfitWell first started brainstorming show concepts for the Recur Network, Campbell knew he could bring a ton of SaaS, subscription, and pricing knowledge to the table. But he needed his content team to craft and hone-in on the messaging and helm the creative side of things. So, he tasked them with a job that any marketer (No? Just us?!) would work a weekend for — creating the SaaS versions of their favorite TV shows.
“All of our content folks — who hadn’t worked in SaaS before — would consume content on E!, TMZ, ESPN, Bloomberg, Netflix, etc., and pick out the most interesting concepts that they wanted to emulate,” says Campbell. “We didn’t know how we would apply it to the world of SaaS, but we knew there was probably some way to do it. Once we started to collaborate, we knew what to focus on. For instance, our show The ProfitWell Report is a very news-inspired show.”
ProfitWell adopted a “learn as you go” mentality when coming up with the Recur Network’s first batch of show concepts. And after they produced and promoted them, their approach helped them realize that the network had even more room to grow.
“Now that we had these shows, we decided to ask ourselves, ‘what are we doing wrong?’ For us, we found out that we weren’t targeting certain industries and personas enough,” says Campbell. “We’ve worked on that, at least in a couple of experiments in the past couple of months, and they’ve paid off as we continue to grow the network and build it over time.”
The thought of producing one show, let alone seven, can be a little hard to wrap your brain around at first — and we totally get it. Managing the production calendar for seven different shows sounds like a huge undertaking (because it is!). But, Profiwell has been able to run their network so seamlessly and successfully by not tackling everything all at once, and by working in batches.
“We basically work in different seasons. If we focus on making X-show now, we can also distribute Y-show now and don’t have to worry about producing two shows at the same time,” says Campbell. “Overall, it’s been a very iterative process, and there’s no silver bullet, except for having people who are super comfortable with figuring out things as we go, and not being afraid to get a little crazy once in a while.”
“Profiwell has been able to run their network so seamlessly and successfully by not tackling everything all at once, and by working in batches.”
Interested in taking a peek at some of these shows from ProfitWell? Get a taste of the types of shows you can expect from the Recur Network:
When it comes to investing in the creation of binge-worthy content, it’s not enough to just make the content — you have to get people to consume it. And ProfitWell understands that in order to build a loyal audience, you have to market your content like a media company, too. That’s why they’re relying on building their subscriber base and utilizing email to keep people engaged.
“We’re working to figure out how to distribute multiple shows at once through email. We don’t want to send people too many emails, but, then again, some people want more emails, so we’re learning how to strike that balance,” says Campbell.
“That’s been our mental model — how would we approach marketing if we had a network of sites? The main way we do this is by taking stock from the Bloombergs of the world. What are they doing to push things forward? A lot of times, what it comes down to is creating email digests and sending subscribers everything as soon as it’s published.”
ProfitWell may have spun up seven successful shows as part of their own media network, but their journey was not void of any obstacles, particularly when it came to content creation.
“As soon as you decide to create a video series or podcast, you start to multiply your surface area, which can become super problematic. For us, we first just had to figure out how to create a video. Then we had to figure out how to create a series. And after we created a series, we had to figure how often to shoot it and what the content was going to look like,” says Campbell.
“A lot of that came down to how we could produce content at an affordable cost, how we could prove the value of these processes, and what we learned to completely reformulate our approach.” When it came to troubleshooting, Campbell noted that it was all about taking a big problem and distilling it down into smaller ones that were easier to solve.
“A lot of that came down to how we could produce content at an affordable cost, how we could prove the value of these processes, and what we learned to completely reformulate our approach.”
"Itreally just came down to breaking down the problem. How do we best break down the issues into digestible bits?” says Campbell. “Oftentimes, when you want to launch a network, you suddenly have to ask yourself what that means and how long it’s going to take. So, I think it’s more about breaking the process down into small pieces. Taking on the bigger pieces can get overwhelming.”
There’s certainly a competitive advantage to becoming an early adopter in the show creation space, and thanks to the Recur Network, ProfitWell has been able to break through the noise in their space.
“Producing informative content that’s also just as entertaining is really good for our brand,” says Campbell. “Each of our shows attracts a lot of subscribers and engagement, so they’re really helping us differentiate ourselves."
The Recur Network has generated a substantial increase in traffic, leads, and sales for ProfitWell, too. But Campbell warns against falling into too many rabbit holes when measuring the performance of your own binge-worthy content. They’ve found that you can lose sight of the forest for the trees when you get too bogged down by metrics — and that’s saying something coming from a company that’s all about boosting revenue.
“The one thing I will say is that it’s hard to measure this stuff. That’s why we don’t worry too much about granular ROI. It’s just really hard to measure that,” says Campbell. “Over time, we will worry more about it, and we’ll get better at measuring it, but, right now, we want to focus on the overall investment of the network.”
ProfitWell’s primary marketing focus will be building out the Recur Network for now and in the future. “I don’t know if the dollar amount will increase in terms of actual investment, but the time is certainly going to stay consistent, if not up in certain capacities,” says Campbell. “We’re rolling certain things into the Recur Network, like some of our other content and some new launches, and turning it into our central content hub.”
Regardless of the approach ProfitWell decides to take with their binge-worthy content strategy moving forward, we can’t wait to see what they’ll create. Stay tuned!